We finally made it to Lima and met up with Carrie’s brother (William), Chris from San Diego and Chris from Phoenix. Pam, from San Diego, rode the buses / airplanes down from Ecuador with us. What a trip! We left the boat the night before we were to meet the others on a relatively painless bus ride to Guayaquil. We spent the night in a crappy room in an otherwise nice hostel and then caught our INTERNATIONAL bus to Tumbes, Peru the next morning. I stress INTERNATIONAL because the crossing from Ecuador to Peru through the Huaquillas / Tumbes border is notorious for being difficult and full of rip-off artists.
Well, you know how the best laid plans often go. Our bus stopped in the middle of almost nowhere when it encountered a long line of parked vehicles. After a couple of minutes, the bus turned around, shifted into reverse gear and reversed its way down the side of the road for oncoming traffic to the front of the line of cars nearly a mile away. At that point we were told that there was a miners strike and that they had blocked the road with a mound of rocks and dirt. If we wanted to continue to Tumbes they would get our bags out, give us a couple dollars of our bus fare back and wish us good luck.
We didn’t have a choice since we had already booked a flight to Lima out of Tumbes for that night. So off we went with our backpacks on our backs in a state of serious confusion to cross a tense picket line. On the other side of the picket line a missionary and his assistant took pity on us and helped us get a collectivo, at an inflated rate due to the strike, into the next town where we could catch a bus to Huaquillas. There were no direct INTERNATIONAL buses to Tumbes. Drag! We managed to catch a bus fairly quickly and just as quickly we zoomed past the Ecuadorian immigration office. When we figured out what had happened we jumped off the bus, with the missionary still assisting us, and hailed a taxi to take us back to the office. Now, with properly stamped passports, we taxied to the border. What a zoo! The missionary made arrangements with a taxi driver to take all of us to the Peruano immigration office, then drop the 3 of us off at the airport and finally him and his helper off in Tumbes proper.
Well, the taxi driver (aka: rip-off artist) got us through Peruano immigration unscathed and then drove us right past the airport. Aeropuerto! Aeropuerto! We cried to no avail. He insisted that we had to go into Tumbes, 15min away, and check-in at the airline office. Well, if it sounds like crap and smells like crap ….. . Anyway, after much hassling with the taxi driver in a language loosely resembling Spanish and some intervention with a policemen, we made it to the airport on time and escaped only a few dollars shorter than we should have. Lesson learned: TAKE THE INTERNATIONAL BUS!
After a safe arrival in Lima we enjoyed views of the Miraflores section of Lima from the rooftop of our hostel. We stayed at Kusilla’s Backpackers. It was a really excellent hostel. We found it through http://www.hostelworld.com .
We also played ping pong and listened to music on the roof.
Our friends Iain and Aly on Loon III were moored in Lima, so our little band of gringos headed down to La Punta for a visit.
We invaded Loon III and drank all of Iain and Aly’s rum. It was very fine rum at that, 7 year old Flor de Cana from Nicaragua! We owe you one guys. (Clockwise from top center: Chris from Phoenix, Pam from San Diego, Chris from San Diego, William from Tucson / Carrie’s brother, Aly and Iain from Canada cruising aboard Loon III and Carrie. Pat is behind the camera.)
After our refreshments aboard Loon III, we took a stroll around La Punta. It is a very tranquilo and touristy place nestled in the midst of a commercial port.
Of course walking makes one thirsty. Pam and Chris enjoyed a pisco sour … or two … or was it three???
We didn’t have a lot of time in Lima before we needed to move on. The Islas Ballestas, or poor-man’s Galapagos, were next. ‘Hey Jaime, can you recommend a hostel in Pisco?’ ‘No’ he said. ‘Pisco was terribly destroyed by an earthquake.’ So much for using an old copy of Lonely Planet! Jaime was a great help and found us a better alternative.
The road to Paracas from Lima took us by many shanty-towns.
The ride through Pisco revealed the damage from the earthquake that hit the area about 8 months prior. It was terrible. There were many people still living in temporary housing that looked a little more durable than a cardboard box.
Rubble and debris created by the earthquake littered Pisco.
The reconstruction effort in Pisco is a huge task and seems to be progressing very slowly.
We splurged a little (relative to our budget) and stayed 1 night at the Hotel Mirador very close to the pier where the boats left from for Islas Ballestas. We enjoyed some very good food in the on-site restaurant and spent the night hanging out around the pool. The staff was very helpful.
Since there were 6 of us, the ‘Directo’ bus bound for Paracas stopped and dropped us at the door of the Hotel Mirador. We arrived just at sunset. We suppose this is why the hotel is named ‘Mirador’.
Whoa! Did you see that?!
Bright and early the next morning with mouths that tasted faintly of pisco sours, we arrived at the dock to take a tour of the islands.
Group after group showed up and a couple of hours passed. We waited and waited for the clouds to clear and the tour boats to depart.
Finally we were under way even though the clouds had not cleared.
Paracas has its own version of the Nazca lines. There were many theories as to its origin and meaning. We like the theory that the creators were celebrating some hallucinogenic plant. Why would anyone push around all of that dirt if they weren’t on drugs?!
Thousands of birds flew overhead. Look out below!
The tour boats really got up and went for the ride out to the islands. We are not sure why my brother was trying to push Chris out of the boat. He probably deserved it though. Don’t be fooled by that innocent grin.
Boobies! I wonder if you can get more pictures of birds if you type ‘boobies’ into your search engine.
Typing ‘penguins’ into your search engine probably DOES result in photos of birds.
The islands were full of bird life. Billions of boobies roosted on the rocky shores. Boobies, by the way, are about the dumbest birds we have ever encountered. They attack fishing lures trolled by sailboats and get caught in the lines frequently. Idiots!
The rocky islands had many natural arches. Some of them were large enough for the boats to pass through the island.
These two were up to some hanky panky as we motored by. We can’t remember what type of bird they were. Maybe some kind of cormorant. Perhaps our bird-knowledgable friends can help. Leave a comment.
We saw the rare orange-backed tourists that arrive from various countries at that time of year.
If you think you have a crappy job, try working here. This is literally a crap factory. The guano is harvested from the rocks and loaded onto boats at this pier.
‘Whatcha lookin’ at?’
The king and his harem.
Fishermen collected mollusks from the waters around the islands. There was a diver at the other end of the hose leading over the edge of the boat.
Hope this update didn’t bore you!