Day 9 |
Nov 05, 2011

Paita, Peru 

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist lecturer

Co-ordinates: 5º05’14”S 81º17’20”W
Weather: clear skies
Air Temperature: 25ºC

This morning we still had a ways to go before reaching our destination for the day – Paita, Peru. So, as usual for a morning at sea, we had a leisurely breakfast before the first lecture at 10 am. Claire Allum, our archaeologist, presented her lecture entitled “Myth vs Reality: Ritual Life of the Moche”. The Moche civilization flourished on the north coast of Peru between AD 100 and AD 750. These peoples are known for their beautiful pottery and metal work. Claire showed us many examples of the ruins from this area – some of which we will visit in Salaverry in a few days’ time.

We arrived into Paita during lunch, and the busses and guides were soon ready on the pier for our departure at 2pm. There were two options for the afternoon – one was a tour of the main plaza in the city of Piura and the artisan town of Catacoa, while the other was a tour to the San Pedro de Vice Wetlands.

I was heading off on the town tour. It took us about an hour to arrive to our first stop. I was absolutely amazed at the dry barren desert conditions of the area, given that only the day before we had been in an area with lots of greenery and lush vegetation. The dry climate here is a result of the cold Humboldt Current that comes up from the south and runs along the Peruvian coast.

Our plans were to have about an hour to wander around the Piura Plaza and visit the Cathedral, the San Francisco Church and the Miguel Grau Museum. However, unbeknownst to us, all these places were closed. Well… that was a bit of a surprise, but we ended up having some free time to explore the immediate area with some of the beautiful colonial buildings.

We then headed out to Catacao, known as the best artisan location in the area. It is best known for their work in gold, silver, leather and ceramics. We had a short demonstration by some of the local silversmiths that specialize in detailed filigree silverwork, and then had about 45 minutes to browse and shop at the local artisan market.

The main commercial street was lined with stalls displaying colourful artwork. This particular region is known for their distinctive ceramic ware. There were large pots, vases and figurines in many bright colours. How I wished that I could take a few home with me!!

We arrived back at the ship just in time for dinner. The birders who had gone out to the wetlands were not back yet – they showed up a bit later. Despite the long bus ride out and back, the guests that I spoke with said that they enjoyed their time at the wetlands and managed to see many birds.