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Day 5 - October 22, 2009 - Callao, Peru (Port Of Lima)

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 12°03.041’S, 77°08.694’W
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 17C
Wind: 10 – 15 knots

Well...today certainly did not go as planned, but it ended up being a fun day anyway.
Our morning’s destination was a small group of islands called the Hormigas de Afuera – literally translated as the ‘Offhore Ant Islands’ – not because there as any ants on these remote islands, but because they are so small.

But let me start at the beginning of the day, sometime about 0645am. The rolling of the ship was one of the first things I noticed when I woke up. And, sure enough, as soon as I reached the Bridge it became evident that the likelihood of disembarking was slim. The swells were very large and the islands were far too small to offer any shelter.

However, we were going to try, none-the-less, to lower the Zodiacs and see if we could stabilize the ship enough to carry on with our plans for a two-hour Zodiac tour of the islands to see the South American sea lions, Inca terns, Peruvian boobies and other seabirds.

The Captain anchored the ship and the crew started to set up the sidegate. But, it soon became evident that the ship was rolling far too much to be able to run safe Zodiac operations. So, unfortunately, the morning’s activities were cancelled, and Robin West, the Expedition Leader, announced the new plan – the first of what would turn out to be many different plans for the day.

Since I was already scheduled to give my lecture on Marine Mammal Adaptations in the afternoon, Robin simply rescheduled it for 09:30am, while the ship relocated to another group of islands closer to the mainland. However, despite the Captain’s and Robin’s efforts, the Peruvian officials would not allow us to access the other islands on such short notice, so the only option we had was to head straight for Callao – the industrial port of Lima, Peru.

Our revised arrival time was 0100pm – so the Expedition Team hurried to arrange an additional tour option for the afternoon through our Tour Agent in Lima. But, once again all the best arranged plans were disrupted when the port authorities changed the time we could come alongside in Port from 0100pm to 0300pm. But plans were rearranged and the afternoon tour was modified once again, with the added benefit that JJ (our birder) was able to give his interesting lecture on seabirds of the region.

After the lecture, many of us gathered out on deck to watch our approach into this busy port. Compared to many of the other large cargo ships that we sailed past, the Prince Albert II looked like a toy boat! Once alongside, the buses came to the gangway and we were soon on our way to one of the best archaeological museum in the region – the privately owned Larco Herrera Museum.

This museum houses the most extensive collection of pre-Colombian art in Peru. There were literally thousands of pots, textiles and silverware pieces. This museum is especially well-known for its collection of ‘naughty pots’ – depicting various erotic scenes. Since we had already been to the ruins of Chan Chan, seeing many of the pieces from there in person was exciting!

After our tour of the museum, we were given about an hour to shop in a fantastic marketplace with lots of traditional artwork from the region – including silver jewelry, pottery and of course brightly coloured alpaca wool sweaters, scarves and hats.

A few of the guests decided to head into Lima for dinner in town, but most of us headed back to the ship for another delicious meal onboard followed by a good night’s sleep – no rocking tonight since we were tied up in port all night!

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