Editor’s Note: Frequent cruise and Cruise Talk contributor Mary Alyce reports on her South American leg of her back to back cruise aboard the Holland America MS Statendam.
We are in port at Manta, Ecuador. It is just below the equator. Yesterday as we traveled over the equator the ship had the Polliwog Initiation for crew who had never sailed over the equator. They make a big production with King Neptune and lots of gooey things thrown on the polliwogs. Eventually all the initiates end up in the pool. Needless to say the pool has to drained and cleaned after the ceremony. It is a fun time with lots of laughter. It was very sunny and warm and sunblock was definitely the order of the day. Today, we went into town and did a walkabout. Panama hats are made here and very cheap. We went to a grocery store and it was interesting to see ll the different fruits and veggies. On our way back to the ship we found the casino and ran into passengers and crew there. They had some cool machines I put 25cents in one and took out $12.
We wandered to the beach lined with swaying palms and then marched with the demonstrators (we do not know what they were demonstrating for or against) but there was a big police presence at the entrance to the port. There is a great archeological museum here only $2 entrance. Historians believe this area has been occupied since 1500BC. We will learn more as we visit the ancient ruins on our next stop. It is a very busy port with lots of boats delivering huge frozen fish to the dock. I guess this is Ecuadorian sea bass. At sea tomorrow and the Mariners luncheon takes place. Our friend Helene receives her 100 day medal. We even have the inauguration on big screen. Looked for our friends Peggy & Dick but everyone was too bundled up to see them.
Yesterday we were in Salaverry, Peru. It is a port city at the edge of the foothills. The landscape is grey and dull, not what you expect at all for a city near the ocean. The houses are brick square structures with maybe 2 doors and one window: all brick since there is very little wood in the area. They all have rebar sticking up at the corners. I guess they just keep adding to the top when they have enough solas. The ruins at Huacha are brown and hot. The ruins have only one entrance to the pyramid and lots of levels to climb. The atmosphere is very hot and sunny and lots of clay structures. The Incan ruins at ChanChan, are huge and in the process of being uncovered and restored. It was so hot there I took to the shade and let Jim do the photography. The engineering skills the Incans displayed is amazing. Their steps are about 18″ high. They either had long legs or great thigh muscles. On the way back to the ship the taxi was like being in demolition derby with near misses everywhere. The driver cut through gas stations and parking lots and around buses with an inch to spare. I was holding my rosary most of the way.
Today we are Lima, Peru (the port of Calloa). We are staying close to the ship today and are going to Miraflores tomorrow. They have all kinds of great craft and jewelry booths set up here. Their silver is beautiful and the alpaca hats and scarves are really neat. We had our pictures taken with our Peru hats. The Peruvian people are really kind and friendly. Boy can they shake their booty.There is a band and dancers down on the pier and those men and women have all the moves.
We spent yesterday in Lima. It is a big metro area with very poor sections, some really ritzy areas and lots of Inca influence in jewelry and architecture. We went to Miraflores a resort area in Lima. It has a large beach (stony) and lots of surfers. The area has many resorts, casino and likes to compare itself to Las Vegas. We thought is was really not quite Vegas, but it was a fun place to explore. It even had a shopping mall built in the side of the cliff four stories down to the beach. The beach is down the side of the mountains that are dessert like. Traveling the roads with the local drivers here are like being in the grand prix. Stop signs are a suggestion and traffic lights are sometimes obeyed. Watch out for the traffic circles as everyone just zooms into the circle. No merging here, just toot and go. Today we had a quiet day at sea and won trivia again. We are playing with people we met on the Prinsendam.
We docked at the container port instead of Punta Arenas so there was not much to see and the town was 10 miles away so we spent a quet day on board. It is hot & humid and sunny . We are enjoying the cruise and the sea days. Tomorrow we will be in Chiapa and are going on a tour of ruins and a chocolate factory.
We were off to see the Mayan ruins in Izapa, outside Tuchalapa. They are from 1600 BC and are considered the first of the Mayan settlements. It is believed to be a school and temple They have an ancient ball field and alters for human sacrifice. Their symbol for god is a macaw. They started with a wood god, went to a fire god, then a corn god and ended with the macaw. We climbed through the ruins and studied the stone carvings. Selene was our guide, a bright beautiful college student. We then went to the Tuchula where they are celebrating the feast of the Blessed Mother of the Candelaria. The church was decorated with lots of flowers and candles. This town is the center of the chocolate trail, hence, famous for its chocolate. We tasted fresh crushed cocoa beans and bought some spicy chocolate. They had a carnival set up. The rides appeared to be from 40 years ago in the states. They had dancers to entertain us. We then returned to the port which is quite new and well equipped. They have shopping, entertainment, a big pool and bar. It was a fun day had by all. Off to Hualtuco tomorrow.
We had a great day in Mexico. We stared the day with a catamaran ride to the five bays of the Bay of Santa Cruz. It was a beautiful ride with great scenery of hills, mountains, sandy beaches and majestic homes and hotels. We had an open bar with beer and margaritas. We are picking out our space on the hills overlooking the bay, now only if we win the lottery. We had lunch on the beach and watched them cook our paella over an open barbecue. The pico de gallo and hot sauce with fresh tortilla and fried corn tortillas was magnificent. We slowly sauntered back to the ship after a stop for my favorite: vanilla and some cerveza for Jim. They have a lovely open air chapel on the beach so we overheard mass while having lunch and watched a baptism after mass. The port was bright and welcoming and the people smiling and happy. The local people seem to have diverse ethnic heritages, as I observed many nationalities represented in the faces of the people we saw.
Today we had a fun day exploring the market. We left the ship and avoided the taxi drivers and walked to the old city. We picked up a guide who walked with us to the market. His name, Guerrimo, he had 7 children and he kept telling us this over and over. He guided us to his Daughter Gloria’s shop and her sister who was next store. They gave us coke light and beer to encourage some sales. We then moved to his brother, neighbor and nephews’ shops. He guided us back to the docks through the back streets. We saw the tortilla factory with the tortillas being made on the conveyor belt. We then went past the taco stand, fish market, a car wash, and a hand wash. It was a fun tour and we made some purchases and spent all our cash we had on us. We tipped him with a few pesos we had left as we left him to return to the ship. He was a character and took a nap as we perused the shops. His job is to bring people to the market. We walked about 3 miles in total. It was a fun day with lots of stories to remember. Sea day tomorrow and Cabo San Lucas Wednesday.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
We had a perfect day in Cabo San Lucas. It was sunny and 89. We tendered into port and headed out to Hard Rock about a mile walk. There were lots of peddlers and photo ops with iguanas. We enjoyed browsing the shops with lots of colorful pottery and clothing. We then walked over to Cabo Wabo, famous for Waboritas and its owner, rock star Sammy Hagar. If he was there we did not recognize him. We had a couple of Waboritas and chips and salsa. We headed back to the port and enjoyed all the life on the water. The sky was blue and made a great picture with the mountains in the background. We played trivia and watched the whales as we left the port. About 10 whales were spouting and cavorting in front of the ship there were also a few dolphins. At sunset we observed a pod of about 100 dolphins next to the ship. It was an amazing display as they jumped and cavorted for about 10 minutes. Tomorrow we are at sea and we end in San Diego on Friday. I hope the snow is melting in Michigan.
San Diego, California
We had a quiet day at sea with a few wale sightings. We will be staying overnight in San Diego and having dinner with a classmate of Jim’s. It has been a busy cruise with many new places and cultures to explore. We have learned lots about the Incan and Mayan cultures, their ways of living and worshiping. They were a creative people and very inventive in their agriculture technology. I hope you enjoyed traveling with us. We enjoyed sharing with you.