Sunday, November 13, 2016

Iguazu, Evita, and interesting sculptures...

Perhaps you noticed that I have not been writing in my blog since October 22. Flu is the reason. And before you have to ask, no I did not have a flu shot; I have never (nor has Randy) before had the flu and my general philosophy is, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Anyway, I was down for the count for about two weeks and am really just now recovering.

I won’t try to bring you up to date on everything we’ve done since then except for Iguazu Falls which was just so spectacular that I have to share our experience. That and Montevideo, Uruguay.

Before we left I made arrangements for a private tour at Iguazu and in Buenos Aires. That worked spectacularly well even though I was not totally up to snuff for the tour. I was not about to give up Iguazu, however, so I powered through not feeling totally well.

We worried every time that the driver wouldn’t show up but they did, every time! Kind of nice pretending to be rich people with our own driver and guide everywhere we went!

On our flight on Aerolineas Argentinas, Randy sent his card to the Captain of the flight and as a result, the captain got permission, since the weather was so, so fabulously beautiful, to do a scenic flyover of the Falls. And later we got to get our picture taken in the cockpit (a bit more lenient than in the US—we even got to bring water through security!) with the Captain and the co-pilot. It’s a nice fraternity to be part of!

This is pretty much the entire Iguazu Falls from our airplane coming in to land. If you look carefully at the Falls at the top center of the photo, you can see the walkway from the main part of the Park. It's about a mile walk to the Throat of the Devil, where the most water flows over the edge. It is, I believe, the 3rd most water in one spot in the world.

 This is from up-river, above the view in the first photo.
 Randy and me in the cockpit of the 737-800 and the crew that flew us to Iguazu. Randy was somewhat surprised to note that the cockpit hasn't changed much since he was a 737 flight engineer in the early 1970s.
Part of the walkway that takes us out to the Throat of the Devil at the top of the Falls. It is constructed so that it can be dismantled when there is a large flood. Previous walkways have been wiped out by floods. You can see a bit of the spray from the Throat in the distance.
Randy and me at the overlook. We ARE getting wet!

Some of the wildlife at the park. I have no idea of the birds' names but the mammal is a coatimundi (I would have called it a coati, but our guide was adamant that it was a coatimundi. There are signs everywhere in the park to NOT go near the coatimundis, that they WILL bite!)
The entrance to our room at the hotel where we stayed, an eco-lodge deep in the jungle around the Falls, about a 30 minute drive from the Falls.

After Iguazu we came back to Buenos Aires in time for a Tango Show. They didn’t allow photos so I have nothing to show. The dance part of the dinner lasted one hour and 45 minutes. That was somewhat interesting but very touristy and about 30 minutes too long.

The next day was a wonderful tour of the highlights of Buenos Aires, including, OF COURSE, Eva Peron’s mausoleum. Our guide was not a fan of the Perons but she did a pretty good job of presenting what went on during their—and it was truly THEIR—“reign.”

 A walk through a street market where I bought one of the few items we have purchased, a Christmas gift for Kathy, our daughter. And no, Kathy, it isn't one of the below signs.
 We took this picture for Ken, for the sign in row three, second from the left: "In case of accident, give me BEER."
 A huge metal flower in a park, it opens and closes with the sun. This is the closed position.
 There are street performers everywhere there is a traffic light. Hoping we will tip them, of course!
 Just one of the mausoleums at the Recolleta burial park. It is just like a city with street names and taxes due every year on the mausoleums. Some families have stopped paying taxes and thus the mausoleums are deteriorating badly. Not this one, however.
Evita took the name of Duarte (what happened to the Duartes is up for speculation, most likely they were "eliminated" by the Peronistas. At least according to our anti-Peron guide!). All of the dates are since the movie and music for "Evita." She actually died in 1952 at age about 33 from ovarian cancer.

 Any pilot will recognize Randy's arm position. He is talking to a man who started a museum for the flight 571 that crashed in the Andes (known as the Miracle of the Andes, El Milagro de los Andes). A unique viewpoint of the museum is that it wasn't the pilots' fault, that it was just an accident, compounded by some engineering decisions, not the least that ONE of the engines auto-feathered when the pilot pushed the power up to try to avoid a small obstacle called a mountain.

 This is what Uruguayans call a "pizza." By no stretch of imagination is this what WE call a pizza!
 This is a private, armed guard for a bank deposit.
Hollywood has nothing on Montevideo!

Last but not least, back to Patagonia and one of their national parks. There was a wooden sculpture that the park wanted money in order to lift it up and see...

 Wait for it...

Happy travels, everybody!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pictures from Ballestas Island, best sh*&, uh, guano in the world!...

 These are pictures from Ballestas Island that I could not post before using the ship's internet. Now that we are in port in Coquimbo, I can use my skyroam hotspot which has much better internet access.

Pinguino de Humboldt, or Humboldt Penguins are everywhere on the island.
Everything you see that appear white, is guano. And, apparently, really, really, good guano!

Nesting birds. More guano.

And yet more birds and yes, yet more guano.

Millions and millions of cormorants. And more, well, you know what.

and sea lions, who, like cats, can sleep anywhere.


Penguins abound. And yes, they, too, produce guano.

We could get quite close to the ones in the harbor.

Our small group about to board the boat for Ballestas Island.

Safety first!

Home away from home.

We dock in such lovely spots!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ballestas Island has the best sh**, uh, guano in the world…

We are in the middle of six days of not having a sea day and we are, in a word, pooped. Which has nothing (much) to do with the title.

Beautiful cathedral in Trujillo, Peru. The colors are even more vivid than this in real life.
In my previous post I said we’d have a sea day and then get off in Lima. I completely forgot our fabulous independent tour of Salaverry, Peru, the first of four stops in Peru. An “independent tour” is a tour arranged by one of the participants in the Roll Call on (a sister website to They usually only have between four and ten participants and so are much more congenial (and, incidentally, about half the price) than the ship’s tours which most often have 40 – 50 participants.

Wendy arranged this tour and we saw fabulous sites like the Huaca del Sol and Chan Chan, two of the temples of the ancient peoples of Peru. We also visited the main square in Trujillo, Peru, and one of the old colonial homes (now a bank, that’s how grand the home was), and—this is really important—we stopped in Huanchaco to have a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru. You have to love a country that has a national drink!

Peruvian Hairless dog. Definitely a candidate for ugliest dog.

Randy at Huaca del Sol

Some of the excavations at Huaca del Sol

These are the original colors at the temple (Huaca del Sol). They were preserved by having whole new temples built on top of the old one, covering the paintings and bas relief with adobe bricks.

Something, the archeologists don't know what, happened here because the ancients built a wall around this natural outcropping of rocks.

In the house that is now a bank. The upper pot was porous stone, water was poured in and then filtered through to the pot beneath, thus getting pure water.

Same house, and all over Peru, this vibrant shade of blue was used both inside and outside.
Lima was next and I arranged two days of independent touring in the city and surrounding area. First day we had Bernice and Joe with us (Canadians from Kelowna, Alberta, Canada) but they were leaving the ship in Lima to go to Macchu Picchu so Randy and I toured by ourselves with Enrique on day two.

I had no idea how many temples (Huacas) there are in Lima—according to Enrique, hundreds in the city alone. My feet know there are miles and miles of temples to tour! So we walked and walked; my cane/seat is a lifesaver! When a guide stops to talk, I sit. Wonderful.
Chan Chan temple in Lima. These are fish.

The roof over the excavated parts was because of El Nino last winter. They expected heavy rains but didn't get as much as they worried about.

The diamond shapes denote fishing nets.
In the fishing village of Trujillo these are traditional boats made of reeds and only expected to last about three to four months. Guess why Randy took this picture!
Close-up of the reed boats. The fishermen will take tourists for a ride. The tourist sits in the well where the fish are usually kept.

Yesterday was a stop in Pisco, Peru, and a visit to Ballestas Island. We could have flown from Pisco to see the Nazca lines, but decided that that visit needed to be in the early morning or late afternoon (for the low sun angle to emphasize the lines) and we were only in port from 10am – 2pm. Besides who wouldn’t trade the lines for the best sh…, uh, guano viewing anywhere?


That’s what our guide said, that the Ballestas Islands, covered with Humboldt penguins, cormorants, boobies (not the blue-footed kind), several other species of birds (and sea lions), have the best guano in the world. Although the price has dropped considerably, it is now worth only US$300 per ton. Who knew sh*& was worth even more than that in past years?

Now on to Arequipa, two hours from the port of Matarani.