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Ica - Paracas - Ballestas Islands - Lima

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.


View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Christian told us yesterday that breakfast is served from 06:00; this was also confirmed by reception last night. It is a shame nobody told the restaurant. At 06:00 there are a few items of fruit, but not a lot else. I like fruit, but we do actually have American Breakfast included in the price of the room, so it is disappointing to miss out.

Carlos drives the mini bus to Paracas. We are four now, plus Miles of course. At Paracas we board a boat that is already crammed to capacity with Germans. We manage to squeeze in right at the front behind the wind shield. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise as we are out of the wind. The seat is not wide enough however and I’ve got nowhere to put my left leg.

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On the way we pass the prehistoric geoglyph called 'The Candelabra'.

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Isla Ballestas more than make up for any discomfort though. Billed as a mini-Galapagos, they certainly live up to their reputation. The rock is porous and the colourful strata are showing in many places, the cliffs are craggy and there are lots of tunnels, coves and ‘bridges’.

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The main attraction of course is the birds: boobies, shags, oyster catchers, cormorants, terns and others. Not to mention penguins, it is rather unusual to find them this far north.

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Blue Footed Boobies

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Humboldt Penguins

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Shags

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Inca Terns

The sea lions manage to get high up on the rocks – how do they do that? In one cove there are hundreds of sea lions crawling over each other on the rocky shore. We name it ‘the nursery’ and the noise is deafening, like an out-of-tune rock band. The sea is full of little sea lion heads bobbing up and down around the boats and the birds fly in formation low over the water. Colourful crabs dot the rocks.

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We get up to try and take photographs while the boat is moving and at one stage I manage to sit on a German woman’s hand. Result! (I’m not vengeful. Much.)

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Back at the Paracas Hotel we take lunch with Bobby, an English travel agent from Seattle in the US. The menu is partly in English and partly in Spanish. I am feeling adventurous and order something from the Spanish part. I can understand the word Chicken, and it has Paracas in the title so it is obviously a local dish. I am not disappointed. The chicken breast is stuffed with prunes and ham, wrapped in spinach leaves and served with a caramel sauce. It is delicious, easily the best meal so far on this journey. The hotel is another large resort with a swimming pool full of loud Norwegian women and a disgusting beach.

The return coach is not as nice as the one we came down on, but as we are only eight passengers we can spread out. Three more get on at Paracas Bus Station. Marcello is waiting in Lima to take us back to hotel La Castellana. We are concerned that Bobby’s driver is not there to collect her. Marcello makes a few phone calls, and he turns up just as we leave. I do like a happy ending. The hotel is still musty.

Both Marcello and the hotel receptionist recommend Pardo Chicken for dinner. This restaurant is just along the road, and is themed for Halloween with spiders on the waiters’ shoulders and skeletons along the wall. Halloween is big business in South as well as in North America and all the shops and restaurants have decorated their premises accordingly. Although essentially a fast food restaurant, it is quite rustic and full of large groups of local youngsters. I know we should not eat salad abroad, but I have never been one to take heed of such warnings, and yet again order Caesar Salad for starters. A meal in itself (even though we ordered one to share between two), I am full up by the time the enormous main course of ribs arrives. David’s chicken nuggets are smaller but equally tasty. With four beers we are not unhappy about the bill for £15.

Walking back to the hotel the long way round through the glitzy shopping streets, we feel perfectly safe. Despite the uncompromising security measures everywhere, the only threat I feel is from my stomach. I am beginning to wish I hadn’t had the salad. I only just make it back to the hotel before the salad says its goodbyes.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:16 Archived in Peru

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