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Day 6 - October 23, 2009 - Callao, Peru

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Weather: Slightly foggy with clear patches and warm

Today, unlike most days onboard the Prince Alert II, started with us having been tied along side in the port of Callao over night. As expeditions go, being in port let alone along side over night is a rarity. As my clock struck 0700 I made for the Observation Lounge and the Early Risers’ coffee and pastries. Usually a relatively quiet place at this time in the morning, several guests were up and about enjoying a coffee and reading their respective papers.

With our planned activities beginning at 0830, I took my time reading the paper before heading onto the pier to meet and greet out guests at the buses. As everyone made his or her way off the ship it was evident that everyone was looking forward to today as much as I was. As we boarded the bus, our local guide Victor greeted us as he passed along quick jokes and bottles of water until all were seated and we were underway.

Our first item of the day was to make for the Lima’s City of the Kings centre and visit Plaza Mayor. During the approximately 45 minute drive through Callao and Lima, Victor passed the time with interesting historical facts and points of interest. Quickly we all noticed a reoccurring theme in Victor’s narrative as he told story after story that included the Pisco Sour!! Our mouths now watering for a Pisco of our own, we were informed our chance would come later on during our tour.

Disembarking the bus on the edge of Plaza Mayor, Victor held up the busy traffic of Lima so we would be able to cross as a group and not lose any time in our visit. Crossing the plaza, we shared views of the Archbishop’s Palace, City Hall and the Government Palace before entering the Cathedral for a look at the inside of this beautiful building. Once inside, I was blown away by the stunning architecture and attention to detail within. Before we knew it, the time had come to return to the buses and hit the road. Ahead of us was an hour drive to the site of Pachacamac.

First occupied around 200 A.D., its name stands for “The One Who Animates The World” it has come to be considered as likely one of the most important religious sites of the Andean people of its time. Once we arrived. we toured a small museum at the entrance to the site before taking a step back in time. Painstakingly restored to its present condition, it can be hard to imagine life as it would have been when at the height of its days. Will our cities one day be archeological sites like this?

As the noon hour approached, our minds once again returned to the Pisco Sour and lunch at Hacienda Mamacona. A short drive from Pachcamac this private hacienda breeds the famed Peruvian Paso horse. Entering the grounds, we were greeted by a band and four men on their Paso horses before several trays of Pisco sours arrived in front of us!

Sitting in the shade, we were welcomed by the owner, introduced to the Paso horses and treated to what I can only describe as one of the best horse shows I have witnessed. Known for their canter, the Paso horse is genetically predisposed to this unique style rather than trained. It is said the even the worst rider can look like an expert upon one of these beautiful creatures.

Upon the show’s completion, we proceed to the house for an amazing spread of local cuisine and hospitality. As we ate our lunch, several of the Hacienda’s men and horses arrived to take those who wished for a ride. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to mount the Paso for most!
This however proved difficult to pull those interested away from. The time had come to board our steeds and make the trek back to Callao and the Prince Albert II.

With smiles on our faces and our bellies full of delicious food (and Pisco Sours!) most spent the trip home with their eyes closed, myself included. Once we arrived back at the ship however, the excitement of our day came alive again as we recounted our experiences to those who had not joined us.

Although our day started unlike most days start onboard the Prince Albert II, it most certainly ended the way we are used too, the chatter of excitement and smiles on our faces.

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