After leaving General San Martin we had a couple of sea days. You wonder what you do on Sea days. Well,  we got to have a session with the Captain and other lecturers, work on puzzles and relax, and I have also joined some ladies in a Mixology class. It is a fun group and I thank my friend Celeste for recommending it to me. 

However, the last 2 sea days have not been fun for me. About  50 or more other passengers we were recovering from the severe mosquito bites we got from our visit to the Pisco area. Many of us complained to the excursion desk as they made no mention of needing to have sprayed ourselves with bug spray. And there was definitely a run on Benadryl and hydrocortisone from the ships store. 

We’ve   buddied up with a Canadian couple who have joined us for dinner and tours. They are from the Alberta area. Sad, they will be getting off in Santiago which is our next stop. So about 1k passengers will be getting off and about 900 will be coming on. Our total passengers count is about 1250. 

The weather is definitely changing as it has been very warm but today when we landed in Coquima it is foggy, dreary and misty. This town is probably not one of my favorites we have visited. We did a quick and easy city tour. So I’m caught up for now. 

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12/02/2022 General San Martin and Pisco

This port town is named after the General who helped Peru get its independence from Spain.
They are big produces of red table grapes, onions, pecans, asparagus, chili peppers, avocados and of course grapes that are used for the alcohol called Pisco.

We drove out to the Pisco area, which in 1977 it became a protected area for the production of the Pisco grapes. Pisco can only be made in 5 districts in Peru, which General San Martin is one of them. It is made from 8 different varieties of grapes and only in Lima can it be made from the Evina grape. In Pisco, they grown Quebranta, Mollar, Nedra Criolla, Albilla, Toronto and Italia. We visited a winery whose wines were pretty good and then went to a distillery for Pisco tasting and a very nice lunch.

I will be honest, Pisco alone is not my favorite drink. I will take Tequila over it any day. No matter the different levels they had us taste (from they called Green to Premium) it was dam strong and fiery tasting.

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Our 3 days of tours in and around Lima, Peru

On our first night, we did an evening walking and dinner tour of Lima. We drove to the Plaza Mayor which is UNESCO world Heritage site and walked through the old Colonial part of Lima. The Bala ones on these older buildings are absolutely beautiful. We saw the night lights shining on the Cathedral in the main part. We then walked over to the Casa Alisha. It is built on land in 1535 given to Jeromimo de Alisha who is the cofounder of Lima, the home has been in the family for 16 generations. It is beautifully decorated. We had some wonderful appetizers and a wonderful 3 course meal served with lots of wine. And yes they served us some Pisco at the end and I can tell you it is very strong fiery tasting. We far more enjoyed the Pisco sour.

Day 2– we first visited a museum that has some most extensive collection of Peruvian pre-Columbia’s art. We also saw some beautiful textile work and hula o ceramics and tools the ancient Peruvians used to produce metal instruments.

Next we visited the town of Pachacamac which was built in AD700. We saw the temple ruins that were once dedicated to the ancient sun and moon gods.  It was so interesting to see these ruins on the desert sand. The government has put up fencing to prevent squatters from establishing cities and over taking the ruins.

We then visited a beautiful horse ranch where the famed Cabala de Paso horses are bred. These horses are unique to Peru. They are not large horses but are beautiful. It was pretty interesting to be driving through these rough dirt roads and come upon this beautiful oasis of a property.

As we passed cement companies, they have planted trees to prevent squatters from encroaching on their properties. There appears to be squatters who come down from the highlands who create pop up cities. They left the highlands as they were being harassed by terror groups. With these pop up cities they have to provide their own electricity and water.

Needless to say it was a very long day.

Day 3- we did a more leisure tour. We again did a walking tour of old Lima, visited a church and toured around an area called Miraflores. This is where a lot of foreigners live. It has quite a lot of shops and restaurants and is within walking distant to the beach.

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11/29 thru 12/01 Some facts on Lima and Peru

Some facts on Lima

Main source contributing to the economy are:

1–Mining (silver, gold and copper) with copper being the largest being mined by the US, China and other European countries. 
2–fish oil and fish flour
3–exportation of natural gas, which they are beginning to use more within Peru

The terrain is very dry and desert like which surprised us. In fact Lima is the 2nd largest city in the world built on a desert landscape.They receive very little rain, maybe 3-4” a year but have high humidity. The locals call their skies, the donkey belly as it is foggy in the am and then cloudy. The country has about 33M people of which 11M live in Lima. Lima has 43 different districts and 43 different Mayors and then 1 head Mayor. And traffic is the number 1 headache and we can attest to this. They also have a large Asian population as Asian’s were brought over as workers in the early 19 century. Spanish is the main language spoken.

Interesting their #1 Delicacy is Guinea pig, so if you see a sign that says pork that may be what it is, yuck. Their claim to fame drink is a Pisco Sour. It’s made with Pisco (which is 45 % alcohol equivalent to 95 proof), lime juice, sugar water and an egg white. It tastes like a Whiskey sour.

Lima also produces 3k different varieties of potatoes. 

Their port is the one of the largest in South America. 

The  next post will be on what we saw and visited. As to pics, I’m having a difficult time with the fabulous WIFI, thank goodness it is a perk we got as it is the pits. I’m hoping by the time we get to Santiago I can upload some pics or it may have to wait until we home.  

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11/27/2022 Manta, Ecuador

We next ported in Manta, Ecuador. We did another semi-walking tour. Manta main industry is the exporting of Bananas and Tuna. Our ship is docked was a large commercial port and we saw some large fishing tuna ships. Our guide told us they export tuna for some of the large tuna fish companies we know (Starkist, BumbeBee, etc). While some things are reasonable for their cost of living, buying cars are very expensive. Our guide told they have a huge import tax on vehicles.

First we visited a small history museum that turned out to be quite interesting. In fact one of strawhut houses they had in the museum was very similar to the house our tour guide grew up in and he provided some great information on life out in the country. Next we visited a very small family run weaving business. They harvest Agave leaves and strips the fibers from the leaves for weaving. Have to say the highlight was visiting this button factory. The Tagua nut is harvested from trees and dried. These pods are huge and are very heavy. After they are dried, they peel back the shells and get these nuts which they slice with a power saw, polish and make into buttons, jewelry and miniature sculptures.

Local currency here is in US dollars as well. Manta’s main industries are Fishing, agriculture for exporting and tourism. As with some of the other ports we have visited, they are happy to see tourism restarting. As in the US some small businesses struggled and didn’t make it back and news ones began during the pandemic.

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11/25/2022–Panama City

We got off the ship in Panama City and did a tour of Old and New Panama City. Have to say, we were stunned at the amount of new high rises and the beauty of Old Panama City.

It was definitely a very hot and muggy day on our walk. Facts we learned from our tour guide:

1- PC is designated as a free trade zone

2- Their top 3 industries funding their economy are fees received from the use of the Canal, Banking and Tourism

We got to see where Noriega holed himself up before he finally gave up. I had forgotten he had taken refuge at the Vatican Embassy. The traffic in Old town was horrendous and we were lucky to be walking otherwise we would still be stuck in traffic, hahah

Old town has some beautiful old style architecture and the cobblestone streets can be a little challenging. While we had a small amount of time to ourselves, we walked around some craft booths, however, the call of a cold beer was more inviting and we sat in this beautiful hotel enjoying the air conditioning and the cold beer.

Driving out from the port, you can see some of the old US military buildings which they have repurposed and looks like they have been updated as well.

Local currency is US dollars.

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This and That

After finishing going through the PC a couple of things happened. The mandatory mask wearing was removed but it was still recommended to be wearing a mask if you had a cough or not comfortable in large groups. We were then all required to take a Covid test as Panama was only going to allow passengers who tested negative off the ship when we ported in Panama City. The dynamic foursome all tested negative. They have told us we will be taking another Covid test again.

We’ve had some great lectures and presentations along the way. Dennis, Cathy and I have all been participating in the Music Trivia games and doing quite well. However, if we had our Aussie friends Tracey and Russell with us, as Tracey says we would be acing it.

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Port Day 3–Passing through the Panama Canal

Well going through the canal began very early, so we thought. Originally, we were to begin going the canal locks at about 5 am, but we didn’t begin until 6:30 a.m. if you have never been through the Canal it is an amazing engineering feat. The French originally began the construction but after quite a few years there, about 20k loss of life of workers, and actually an incorrect way on how to build the canal they left. President Teddy Roosevelt decided the American would give it a try. The French thought that trenching and digging thru the landscape was the way to go, but the American Engineers came up with the lock system. They dammed up one of the rivers, which became one of the biggest fresh water lakes in the world. With the use of the fresh water, it is what feeds the locks. When you come in from the Atlantic/Caribbean ocean side as you come into the first lock, the gates shut and then they fill it up with water which rises the ship to the next lock, then you go the next lock and the same thing occurs until you reach the lake. As you are sailing on the lake you pass through rainforests and other small islands. You also can see the dredging that was originally done by the French on the Hill sides.

As the ships are in the locks, there are ropes attached to each side of the ship and then they are guided up on these mini tractor/trains called mules. They are called Mules because originally they used real Mules to guide the ships through the locks. I forgot to mention they have built a new lock which allows larger ships to utilize the canal. The old locks as they are called can only allow ships up to 110’ wide, the new locks allow ship up to 180’ wide. Ships have to make their reservation for going through the canal 1 year in advance. The canal now operates 24 hrs a day with the installation of lights along the canal route and the locks.

As most of us know, during the late 1990’s stewardship and running of the canal passed over from the US over to Panama, the director who runs the Canal stated in a talk the transition was a very smooth. Additionally, with Panama now running the operation of the canal has provided good paying jobs for the Panamanians.

Holland America opened up the bow of the ship and along with the bow balconies for floor 5 thru 9 which allowed everyone to have some great views as we entered the locks and you could also go up to the upper deck in the back to watch as we left the locks. We also found out our ship the Oosterdam was on its maiden voyage going through the Panama Canal. I will post pictures when we get to Lima and I have better internet connection.

Everyone must be doing Happy Hour as the internet seems to be better.

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Hello all, well I’m having issues with the wonderful internet here on the ship. Have attempted 3 times to write a post only to be knocked off. Frustrating….anyway, when we get to Lima I will post some updates. As I’m learning to post my trip notes on notepad and then I’ll do a copy/paste. Celebrating Ron’s birthday tonight at one of the specialty restaurants. And today we crossed over the equator.

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Sea Days and Aruba

We departed a little later from Florida and headed out for a couple of seas days before we ported in Aruba. It was definitely a. Ice way to get over our jet lag, unpack and find our way around the ship. You know you must know where the dinner/lunch/breakfast places are, along with knowing where happy hour is and the other bars.

Our first Sea day, I treated myself to a nice Bloody Mary and just vegged after getting unpacked. We have as a perk free premium WiFi and a free Drink package. I believe lots of people also got the WiFi perks as the availability on a Sea day was pretty frustrating. As to the drink package, you get 15 drinks a day, Wow I’ve only been able to do 5-6 drinks a day.

Our Tour of Aruba and a little History:
We landed in Aruba and we did a walking and tasting tour this morning. Our guide gave a great history lesson on Aruba. It was first settled by the Indigenous people, then the Spanish for 134 years and finally the Dutch. People born in Aruba have Dutch and Aruba passports and so are able to travel over to the Netherlands. However, people born in Holland do not receive a passport from Aruba. They have these Blue Painted Sculptures of Horses that are placed in various parts of the downtown. They represent the area of the town that used to be underwater before the local government extended the downtown area and fill it in for businesses and the ports.

Aruba is 85% Catholic, 15% Protestant, then a small percentage of Jewish, Muslin, Christian, Tourism is their main source of income for the residents. During the Pandemic, Holland (the country) was providing them with financial relief until the pandemic was over and the cruise ships and tourists started returning to the island.

Our guide was sharing with us that during WW2, in order for Aruba not to be bombed or have an attempt for invasion, they would change the flags based on the ships that were sailing near their island.

We came upon a Protestant church that had the clock handles removed and someone in the asked why. Our tour guide explained the church asked the local municipality for funding to have the church clock fixed, when they were told they wouldn’t get the funding, they removed the clock hands so no one would be able to see the time, lol.

I am working on uploading pics from my IPhone as I did not take my camera into town. So bear with me.

Oh yes as to the tasting part of the tour, we sampled a morning breakfast treat that we reminded me of an Empanda except instead of meat it was stuffed with Gouda and then we had a cornmeal cake all were quite good.

We head out tonight and will be going through the Panama Canal tomorrow morning. We will be stopping half way and spending the day and evening in Panama City.

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