Thursday, March 9, 2023

February 11, 2023 – Callao, Peru – Mostly Cloudy – 85F

This morning, the view out the porthole was calm seas and fog.

Azamara Onward is not scheduled to arrive in Callao (Ca-YOW) until 1 PM so I had my usual wonderful breakfast of waffles. cottage cheese, and assorted jams plus some scrambled eggs for additional protein.  Almost zero visibility at breakfast due to the fog (it took a long time to clear).

We had the morning to relax and read - also to grab an iced mocha decaf from the Mosaic Cafe.

Lunch is also out on the Sunset Veranda. Something completely different today – three slices of pizza (Margherita and veggie) plus a Cesar Salad. The pizza on board is not the best - generally a tad undercooked.  While we were having lunch Callao appeared on the starboard side.  

The landscape had that gray brown Salaverry look.  Very dry and desert like.  As we got closer to the pier, the water was filled with a flotilla of small boats.

The pilot boat followed us into port.

We are on an afternoon excursion – “Glimpse of Lima” leaving at 1:30 PM.  Our group, #2, departed the Cabaret Theater right on time and found our bus right in front of the ship.  I should mention that this is the third time we have taken this tour starting in 2011.

Our guide, Vanesa, a native of Lima, speaks pretty much perfect English, with Spanish and even some Brit quirks. She is also quite funny and really knows her stuff.  She told us that Callao is now a city of 1 million people, and that Lima now has 11 million people.  The currency is the Sole (one USD = 3.86 Soles) and gas runs between 5 and 6 dollars a gallon. 

It is an hour ride from Callao to Lima (distance and traffic).  Callao is mostly low-level housing and in a lot of cases not finished (rebars but no third floor).  We do pass one of the main streets in Callao and it is clear that this is a big city.  The international airport is also located in Callao. Practically all the homes are protected by electrified fences - less messy than razor wire, I guess.

The busses, and there at a least four from our ship, park on the street bordering the Colonial Section of Lima.  

Our first stop was the Santo Domingo Convent (we’ve been here before).  There is a "Moorish" like feel to the column and wall decorations (Spanish influence).  The convent is a grand structure with a large courtyard, ornate columns, and arches. The landscaping is well maintained..

I read somewhere that the Monastery has the only steeple in Lima (sounds farfetched but here's the steeple).

The Moorish influence was clearly seen in the mosaic on the courtyard wall. The picture is fuzzy because the camera had trouble focusing on the elaborate design.

We next went inside (it was very hot and stuffy inside even though the doors were open).  Vanesa described how facial reconstruction was attempted on three skulls belong to important people from the Colonial era.  The skulls were sent to a lab in Brazil where scientists were able to render images from them.  

The masks and finally a painting of the three were completed and on display at the Convent.  

We walk several blocks to the Plaza de Armas.  There are two City Signs at the entrance of the Plaza.  The first is constructed of plants and is one of the most unusual city signs we have seen on our travels. 

The second sign is a more standard type. It would have been a postcard grade shot if not for the photobombing.  The background including the Cathedral would have made this one a keeper.

We did get a nice shot of the Plaza and the Cathedral of Lima,

and the Governmental Palace

The Palace is where the embattled President of Peru is living at the moment. She could be tossed tomorrow but that is her residence now.  We got a glimpse of the changing of the guards through the bars of the front gate.

The Plaza is essentially empty due to the government curfew imposed on the city as a result of the demonstrations of the past weeks.  Our first stop is the Cathedral.  There was a wedding going on in part of the Cathedral (that must have set that family back some serious Soles).  The group went into the other part of the massive Cathedral – it was seriously hot and humid and musty in there so after a few minutes of sitting in the pews, we went back outside until the crew reappeared.

The group was actually in the Cathedral for quite a long time – eventually, we went back in to see where they were, and they were just making the final turn before the exit.  Timing is everything.  The Cathedral was basically our only stop and we started our walk back to the bus pickup area.  One of the sites on our return walk was "The Museum of Peruvian Food".

Along the way, we saw amazing colonial buildings in disrepair.  

Vanesa told us that private individuals and companies were teaming up to restore and maintain these buildings.

I also spotted an installation similar to the blue horses in Aruba and the cows in Chicago.  These were women dressed in Moorish garb.

We found our busses (so glad to be out of the heat and humidity). 

The drive back took a little over an hour.  We went through, according to Vanesa, six diverse neighborhoods.  The first was San Isidro, an upscale area with restaurants and lots of greenery.  The greenery was amazing since it doesn’t rain in this part of Peru.  The plants get their water from the humid air. Our next area was Miraflores, probably the ritziest neighborhood in Lima.  

Condos are in the millions here. The place has a huge below ground mall and today, the Malecon and Larco Mar Mall were packed with young folks.  If we got off the bus, we would raise the average age of the people in the Malecon by a couple of years. It is also located on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where today there are lots of surfers.  There is “Love Park”, which has a mosaic lined walkway with a statue “Amor” at the center.  

We have been here in the past (when for some reason, the place was deserted).  We didn’t get any good shots of the amorous couple from the bus.

We did, however, get a nice shot of the Pacific Coast.

From Miraflores, the bus went down the hill and got on to the Ocean Highway, which will take us all the way back to Callao.  The highway has dramatic, sheer walls, most of which are draped in heavy mesh to prevent landslides.  Depending on the wealth of the area, the cliffs have more or less vegetation. On this day, hang gliders were using the cliffs as jump points.

The ride back to Callao, from where we were, took a little over an hour (probably more when there is traffic – today the traffic was light). 

Late lunch or more appropriately early dinner, in the Windows Café was slammed as all the tours returned at the same time, but we did manage to get a seat.  Eating outside on the Sunset Veranda is not as desirable because the constant noise from the trucks idling and the ships unloading their cargo.  Fortunately, you cannot hear this noise in the Café or in the cabins or this would be a major annoyance. Salad and tuna sandwiches comprised the meal.

Since a lot of people are packing there is only one show, the final production show, “Wanderlust” at 9:30 PM.  We are pretty tired from our hot and humid day in Lima, so we plan to see this show on the next cruise.  Instead, we took in East Pearl in the Living Room, 

and they are really good – mellow music that we all recognize.  I feel bad we have missed them for the past 16 days, but we will make up for it on the next cruise.

Martin shared some information – Roy Ryan, the Assistant Cruise Director, has tested positive for COVID and was in isolation.  Martin and Astrid, who work in the same office are close contacts – they have both tested negative but will be wearing K95 masks over the next few days as an added precaution.  We were also around Roy so we will be monitoring our health – so far, nothing.  I am also concerned about the people around Roy during “White Nights”, when he was probably contagious and singing with the rest of the troupe.  I am sure that all medical precautions are being taken.

We are in Callao for a couple of days.

No comments:

Post a Comment