Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Day 16 – Cusco to Lima, then to General San Martin/Pisco, Peru to embark Rotterdam

We are up at 6AM for a 7:20AM transfer to the airport for our 9AM flight to Lima.  These early mornings will come to an end today once we return to the ship, thank goodness.  Our LAN Peru flight arrives on time at about 10:30AM, but the checked bags take awhile to show up on the belt before meet our driver in the Arrivals area.  He only speaks Spanish and there appears to be an issue with something, so he calls the office so I can talk to them in English.  They explain it is a 3.5 hour drive, and they want to ensure we arrive on time, so want to know if skipping the lunch stop along the way is OK with us.  I readily agree and hand the cellphone back to our driver, so he can be told of our decision in Spanish. 

We are out of the airport parking area by 11:00AM, which gives us plenty of time to drive south of Pisco to the deep-water port of General San Martin, where Rotterdam is docked until a 6PM scheduled departure.  All three of us are out of bottled water, so we know the Spanish word is “agua” and the driver understands we need to purchase some water before we go too far. Clearing the worse of the traffic snarls in Callao and then heading south through Lima takes the better part of an hour before we hit the toll road where our speed increases to 90 kmh.

Picking up some bottled water at a gas station convenience store, we are ready for the next 3 hours in the Hyundai minivan.  The air conditioning is on, and we are all in good spirits as we head south down this toll road.  Just south of Lima are the high-class areas of Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos.  Beautiful, mostly empty beaches dominate this area, with lots of beach facilities available.

The changing scenery outside is amazing: huge amounts of sand I have not encountered since my trip to Libya.  There is sand everywhere…dunes, beaches conglomerate ridges, and lots of beautiful colours. Further south along the coastline are numerous communities near the beaches, which are obviously vacation homes for the rich since they are within an easy commute to Lima.  I see three vultures and one hawk sitting quite close together on a gravelly hill.

Winding our way through Pisco is tricky, since the main road along the shoreline is closed; so all the big trucks are all turning tight corners in city streets, which aren’t designed for heavy traffic. Once we leave that congestion behind, we sail along the coastal road south of Pisco.  We spot the Rotterdam in the distance across the bay!

It is very sandy and incredibly flat in this area.  A tsunami would do some serious damage in this area, since the bay is shallow and the land is flat.  Even with a warning, it would be virtually impossible to escape a tsunami since there are no elevated areas for many kilometers inland.  There are refineries on the inland side of the road and fish processing plants between the road and the shoreline.  The stink takes awhile to clear out of our vehicle as we proceed around the bay, heading for the ship.

We arrive at the ship by 3:30PM, so we are nice and early since the ship departs at 6PM. Our driver did a great job maneuvering through all the traffic today…he must be exhausted.  We are very glad to be aboard the Rotterdam – our home away from home, and we are looking forward to exploring new ports and she sails northward up the Pacific coast of South and Central America.

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