12/19/12 - 12/23/12
This post will feature reports on our two most recent ports: Callao (Lima), Peru, and Manta, Ecuador.
Callao is the port that we were scheduled to be in the longest: three whole days! It’s an ugly little port city about an hour’s drive from Lima, which is the largest city in Peru. During our first day we spent the morning on a walking tour of Plaza de Armas, which is the main square in the old section of the city. We toured Casa Aliaga, the best-preserved colonial mansion in the Americas that has been occupied by the same family since 1535 (we even saw one of the current residents there, known as “The Count”). Next we walked through Santo Domingo, one of the oldest convents in Lima and an “architectural masterpiece.” After the tour, we met up with one of Paul’s friends who happened to be visiting Lima, which is also his hometown. We ate lunch at a fabulous restaurant called “La Mar,” where we sampled some delicious ceviche and I tried the famous Peruvian drink called a pisco sour (tasty but definitely sour!). After lunch, we checked out a beautiful park in the Miraflores section of the city called JFK Park (they love Kennedy in Lima) and then did a little bit of shopping at the Indian Market. We headed back to the ship in the late afternoon and in the midst of traffic. We had one more night in Peru, so we started thinking about staying in the city for our second night instead of trekking all the way back to the ship. We came back and searched online, found a reasonably priced and well-situated hostel, so that’s what we did for our second night.
The next two days in Lima were spent doing a lot of walking, exploring Miraflores and the neighboring section of the city, Barranco. We visited a mall built into the Cliffside called Larcomar, walked along the ocean on the Malecon, and went to a spectacular nighttime fountain show, complete with bright lights, lasers and music. The one major drawback to Lima that I feel compelled to mention is the traffic. Wow, can it get bad! We made the mistake of heading to the fountain show at about 6:30pm, right at the height of rush hour. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there, about 20 minutes of which were spent at a dead standstill. And we’re not talking about a specific accident sort of cause for the traffic. No, this was just daily gridlock. After the fountain show ended, we headed back to almost the same spot where we had left from and it only took about 12 minutes. Crazy.
After Lima, we spent one day at sea as we sailed back to Ecuador for our second stop in that country. Jonathan Murray has joined the ship, and he gave his first keynote talk yesterday. He’s the Murray of the famous Bunim-Murray production team, responsible for MTV’s “The Real World,” E!’s “The Kardashians” series and its various spin-offs, and a number of other reality TV shows. He spoke about the reality TV genre and gave us some insights on how cast members are chosen and what it’s like behind the scenes. He also gave us some sneak peeks at the new seasons of his shows. It was a pretty interesting talk (I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I do love his work!).
Today we were back in Ecuador, this time in Manta, which is a small fishing town just below the line of the Equator known for its tuna fishing. We spend a couple hours on the beach and then joined a tour to the Pacoche Forest. We learned about all the flora and fauna, watched families of monkeys play high in the trees above us, and even saw two tarantulas (fortunately, they were dead). We ended the day with a great-tasting and very inexpensive Ecuadorian seafood dinner.
Tomorrow we sail toward Costa Rica, which I’m really looking forward to! Immediately after the two days in Puntarenas, we have one day in Nicaragua and then another in Guatemala. Tomorrow night is our special holiday dinner on the ship. Should be lots of fun!