Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Last few days in Lima, Peru
I generally try to pay attention to endings of trips. I had reserved 5 days in Lima thinking that there would be no end of things that I would like to do, but if truth be told, given an open agenda I have faltered somewhat in my motivation. My attention has turned to coming home, so a note to myself to always finalise in fully active mode with planned events and activities. That said, I have enjoyed some diversions; dabbled in a little salsa, spent 2 evenings at a jazz club, enjoyed cerviche with Maria Ynes and her family and tested some gourmet foodie places. Most notably I swam with sea lions, 'los lobos del mar'.
This latter trip was to the somewhat textured community of Callao about 8 miles up coast. Callao is a very large suburb but the part I visited is a commercial sea port, marina, army fortress and naval barracks. More than anywhere that I have visited in Peru people were very direct in their warnings for me not to stray into the barrios beyond the clearly defined limits around Plaza Grau a small tourist and commerce centre.
In view of the pending boat trip I lunched lightly on an empanada, tasting of Cornish pastie and fruit juice. This was the most costly tour of my time here in Peru and at $35 I was told it would last 4 hours. The company, Ecocruceros and the boat seemed of a high standard and I was joined by a group of 14 happy Belgians, a Flemish flag-waving group from the North who had been in Lima for a festival and were now in relax mode. It seems that flags and waving them are quite popular in Belgium something of which I was unaware.
We had to motor out for about an hour towards a collection of hilly brownish uninhabited sand islands, one of which was home to a high security prison back in the days of the 'Shining Path' revolutionaries, La Isla el fronton and the other, La Isla San Lorenzo we were told is the largest Island in Peru. Behind it were some smallish islands, Islas Palomino where a colony of sea lions reside. As we drew closer occasional groups of heads popped out of the water checking us out as if to welcome us to their home. We arrived to a cacophony of barking and a nauseating stink. The smell was from the next little island which is made mainly of bird poop or guano, now quite fashionable as a fertilizer on organic farms. The combination of the the sea swell and smell was too much for some of the flag wavers who heaved productively but without the aid of their flagpoles.
Four of us, myself included, gamely elected to swim with the guide and to brave the surprisingly cold waters. By this time they were teaming with ducking and diving mammals cheered on by hundreds of their neighbour onlookers from the vantage point of the island behind. Whilst I wasn't too frightened neither was I overly brave. I happily kept to the rear of our group but even so was approached and under-swum several times by these apparently playful and curious creatures. We were reassuringly told that they had never attacked tourists but nevertheless we should stay in a group so we appeared bigger. With the cold water and a certain rush of adrenalin 15 minutes up close and personal with these 7 foot doggy faced beasts was ample and truly exhilarating.
After our swim we returned to land enjoying Inca Cola and banana crisps in the fading afternoon sun. I returned to Miraflores by combi but was aware that the scent of bird shit was carried with me such that at least one person changed seats.
Posted by malarkey at 13:08