Monthly Archives: October 2013

GENERAL SAN MARTIN, PERU

General San Martin was named for Jose de San Martin who liberated Peru from Spain nearly 200 years ago. For thousands of years, pre-Columbia societies utilized systems of irrigation to transform the coastal desert into productive farmland. The area round General San Martin is again reminiscent of a moonscape. It is an extension of the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth.

Keith, Gregg, Joe, and I secured a taxi and driver at the port for 2.5 hours of touring for a price of $30 pp. We visited the Reserva National de Paracus. This desert landscape on the Pacific Ocean is incredible. I saw turkey vultures, American oyster catchers, and Peruvian boobies. There were loads of jumping fish. I delighted in watching the sea otters. Our guide found a small red crab whose iridescent colors were magnificent. The water temperature is 13-14 degrees C. (55-57 F.), however, I stuck my hand in the bay, and the water did not seem that cold. We picked up turritelas, marine fossils of cone shaped snails.

After returning to the ship, I took a walk along the pier. What a sight!! Huge jellyfish in reds, yellows, and multi-colors were near the pilings. There were also large pelicans, much larger and prettier than the brown pelicans found in Florida. Dozens of cormorants and a few Peruvian boobies were also on the pilings. After watching the jellyfish for a period of time, I spied something out in the bay. Sea lions swam near the pier. All in all, a lovely afternoon.

Shipboard LIfe

The Zaandam singers and dancers performed music from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

I purchased photos of the jellyfish I had watched earlier in the day. While I was taking photos with my iPhone, the ship photographers were taking photos. Although I was pleased with the photos on my iPhone, theirs were better.

This was my favorite port so far. And really,there is nothing here… nothing unless you look… and then it is filled with wildlife.

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CALLAO (LIMA), PERU

From the Explorer: Callao was founded in 1537 and quickly became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific. The merchants suffered English raids from Drake, Hawkins, and others until the 1746 earthquake that caused a massive wave which completely destroyed the port.

Callao is located just six miles from the capital city of Lima, but it takes 45 minutes to get into the city. Traffic is murder! The weather here is in the high 60’s, low 70’s, and mostly cloudy. It is perfect touring weather.

HAL chartered a shuttle bus from the ship to the Indian Market in Miraflores for $30 pp round trip. Thinking I could get to the Marriott and the shopping center on the Pacific Ocean from the drop off spot, I bought my ticket and rode the bus the hour’s trip to the market. When arriving I discovered that it was at least 13 blocks from where I wanted to be. The Inka (Indian) Market is huge. And it seems most every stall is selling the same goods! After walking around for two hours, I purchased a t-shirt and boarded the bus to return to the ship. All in all, a very disappointing day.

Arriving back at the ship, I discovered a small market on the pier. This market was selling the same items as the huge market… only it was free to get to!

The ship was docked in Callao overnight. The second day I stayed on board and just enjoyed the shipboard activities.

Shipboard Life

Having coffee in the Lido in the mornings is enhanced by the presence of Sinta pushing the coffee cart. She is delightful and remembers passengers’ names. Sinta would like to work the Grand Voyages on the Amsterdam.

Known as runa simi or “the people’s language”, Quechua is the most widely spoke language of the indigenous people of the Americas with 8-10 million speakers. Tinkunanchiskama means “good night” in Quechan. These little tidbits of knowledge are printed on the cards found on our beds at night. An interesting and educational plus.

Shimaku is a language of the Uranina, an indigenous tribe of the Peruvian Amazon basin. The speaking population is estimated to be around 2,000 people. Eeen, ian, turi means “Welcome to our home”.

The cooking demonstration featured fresh fruit smoothies. Culinary Arts Center Host Lauren prepared three kinds: fresh fruit, protein banana berry, and berry banana and flax (without the flax because there wasn’t any on the ship).

The second afternoon I went to the movies on board. The Wajang Theater was so cold that many people, myself included, brought blankets. Star Trek into Darkness starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, is perhaps the worst Star Trek movie I have ever seen. After 2 hours and 12 minutes of shivering, the movie ended. Why did I sit through the whole thing? Another movie goer said, “Because you are a trekie.”

The Callao sail away party featured the national Peruvian drink, the Pisco Sour, never a favorite of mine. I had a lemon drop martini, $7.99. The party featured the HALcats providing the music. But again, it was a non-party party. Very few people came.

The show in the Mondriaan Lounge featured guitarist Fabio Zini.

Notes
Betsy, so glad you are enjoying the blog. Jennifer and Susan, thanks for following the blog.

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SALAVERRY (TRUJILLO), PERU

The Mochica, Chimu, and Inca civilizations all inhabited this area before the Spanish arrived. The area has several archeological sites including the Temples of the Sun and Moon and the enormous city of Chan Chan. The landscape can best be described as a moonscape.

HAL chartered a bus to take passengers from Salaverry to Trujillo for $15 pp round trip. Since I visited the area in 2012, I did not take an organized tour, but rather toured on my own with friends. Once in Trujillo, Joe, Joan, Emerald, and I negotiated a taxi at a cost of $40 US ($10 pp) to take us to Chan Chan, wait for us 2 hours, and return us to Plaza de Armas in Trujillo. Entrance fee to the Chan Chan archeological site was $5 US pp. Returning to Trujillo, we visited the square, the cathedral, McDonalds (the wifi did not connect), an internet site, and generally strolled the streets looking into shops.

There were several stalls selling handicrafts set up at the dock. We saw crabs crawling on the rocks near the ship.

Shipboard Life
The Murder Mystery Dinner Theater is always one of my favorite events. The evening started with a champagne reception in the Explorer’s Lounge, followed by dinner in the Pinnacle Restaurant. A cast of colorful characters joined the passengers as the mystery played out during the dinner. The mystery took place in 1925 Chicago, the victim was the millionaire’s second wife, and there were suspects galore. The dinner menu: pan seared foie gras with cane sugar crusted figs and Hawaiian orange salt foam; creamy soup of slowly roasted green and red Bell peppers garnished with crispy leeks and basil oil; grilled southwestern style scallops with tomato confit, simmered in olive oil and served with orange black olives and shallots; intermezzo of spiced passion fruit granite; duck confit and honey berries crusted duck with asparagus cream cheese crostini, crunchy potatoes and poultry jus; assortment of international cheeses, exotic fruit chutney and caramelized nuts; chef’s chocolate surprise. Two of the suspects were seated at our table; one of which was turned out to be the murderer.

In the Mondriaan Lounge, Lee Bayless had the audience laughing for the entire show. He started with the HAL flight itinerary and continued through the life drill and onto settling into his inside cabin. His own particular brand of viewing the cruise is hilarious. Don’t miss his show if you get the chance.

We learned that the Central Arawak language is also known as Piro and is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes and the Amazonian basin. Handathe is Piro for good night, pronounced “hahn-day-tha”.

Notes
To Tracy from South Africa: The Zaandam looks good since her refit. However, there are still kinks being worked out. And I’m glad you are enjoying the blog.

I have received multiple comments concerning the rule of not being able to eat the food that we prepared in cooking class. Barbara says, “Ridicuous. How are you supposed to learn if you can’t cook and taste? Good to know. I won’t bother taking any cooking classes on board again.”

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AT SEA, TRAVELING TO SALAVERRY, PERU

Trujillo
Salaverry is the port for Trujillo which was the resting place along the Spaniard route between Lima and Quito. It was founded in 1535 and was named for the birthplace in Spain of Francisco Pizarro. Trujillo was the first city in Peru to declare independence from Spain in 1820.

Pizarro and the Inka
The Inka was the largest empire in Pre-columbian America. The Inka civilization is believed to have arisen in the highlands of Peru in the early 13th Century and was formed by conquest and peaceful assimilation though trade. Quechua (ket-chua) was the official language. Inti (sun god) was the primary god. The first major emperor, Pachacuti, 1435-1472, built Machu Picchu.

Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez was the product of an affair between his army colonel father and a woman of low rank named Gonzalez. Although Pizarro used the name Gonzalez, history has “cleaned up” his heritage and dropped the name. Pizarro traveled with Balboa on an expedition to the New World, betrayed him, and after Balboa was executed, took his place. After several failed expeditions, Pizzaro succeeded on his third. He sent emissaries to the Inka who were turned away. Pizarro then attacked and defeated the Inka in the Battle of Cajamarca in 1532.

After that battle, the Inka emperor Atahualpa was seized by the Spanish. Atahaulpa offered to fill a room with gold in exchange for his freedom. The Spanish agreed. After the room was filled, the Spanish betrayed and killed Atahualpa by garrotte.

The Spanish founded Lima on January 18, 1535. Among the people Pizarro had betrayed was another conquistador named Almagro who had been executed. In retaliation, Alamagro’s son killed Pizarro on June 26, 1541.

Shipboard Life
Dr. Larry Selig continued his lecture series on Israel talking about Caesarea Phillipe and the Gates of Hell, from Matthew 16:13-20.

Location Guide Patrick lectured on the Inka and Pizarro. A summary of which is found above.

The Hands on Cooking Class with Lauren Pomeroy, the Culinary Arts Center host, featured Latin American Cuisine. Aided by Chef Michael from HAL, five of us donned chef hats and aprons and cooked: Tequila shrimp and avocado ceviche, Best ever fish tacos, and Bananas Foster (my contribution). Because the US government is protecting us against any and all disease that could possibly befall us, we were not allowed to eat the meal we had prepared. Instead it was discarded. Then the five of us went to the Pinnacle where their chef recreated the meal we had just prepared. I had a great time but bemoan the waste of good food…however, I have a new chef’s apron to add to my collection.

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MANTA, ECUADOR

During the night, the Zaandam crossed the Equator. We are now in the Southern Hemisphere. In pre-Columbian times Manta was home to the Jocay, an indigenous community distinguished for their maritime accomplishments.

Manta is the tuna fish capital of the world. Both Starkist and Bumblebee have their canning factories in Manta. A single tuna fish can weigh up to 180 lb. Rightly so, you will see statues of tuna here.

Manta is my favorite port for shopping. The ship arranged a shuttle from the port to the Plaza Civica which ran all day for a $7 fee. There is a market in the Plaza Civica which is financially better off after my spree today. I purchased literally dozens of items of alpaca because it is so beautiful and reasonably priced… I will be wearing quite a bit to avoid an overage on the weight at the airport!

After adding to the local economy, Joe and Susan and I walked around town. Stopping at the Museo Ethnographic, we toured the exhibits of artifacts of everyday life in 19th and 20th Century Ecuador. The early settlers were usually either fisherman or cowboys. Following this, we adjourned to a cafe at the plaza to listen to local music and drink beer labeled Pilsner. The vendors quickly arrived… and we added even more to the local economy. All in all, a pleasant day.

Shipboard Life

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Yesterday Joan, Emerald, and I went to the movies to see Man of Steel starring Russel Crowe, Christopher Meloni (of Law & Order), Henry Cavil, and Amy Adams. 2 hours and 28 minutes of action and sighing over Henry’s body.

On sea days, Reverend Larry Selig has been giving lectures on the Holy Land. I learned that the Sea of Galilee was split with the Jews living on the east side and the Gentiles on the west. The series is quite well attended.

The show was the Zaandam singers and dancers in Love Broadway.
I loved the costumes by designer Bob Mackie.

Notes
Judy, Suzanne, and Margaret: Thanks for following my blog. I downloaded Elizabeth George’s new novel to my kindle but read it before I left home!

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THE PANAMA CANAL

Although this is my fifth time to the Panama Canal, I am still in awe of the engineering marvel which is the canal. And with the country of Panama which is beautiful. The Zaandam’s cost for transiting the canal is $280,000. The cruise ship with the most expensive tab to transit the canal was the Norwegian Pearl at a cost of over half a million.

Shipboard Life

The Mariner Society reception was held in the Explorer’s Lounge. I had been looking forward to this event since I would be receiving my 500 day medallion. After several 100 day medallions were given to recipients and the obligatory photo with the Captain and Hotel Director taken, the four 5 star guests were introduced. As the reception was winding down, someone noticed that a 500 day gold medallion was still there. Quickly, I was reintroduced, the medal placed around my neck, and a photo taken. It was all sort of an afterthought. After the reception, a luncheon was held. There were no tables set aside for the 5 stars. Of the 5 stars aboard, two are an older couple with over 1200 days, a travel agent with over 500, and myself with over 500. All in all, another poorly done event. I am now sure that I will never sail on a HAL ship unless it is a Grand Voyage or it is a ship with an extended exotic itinerary.

My favorite afternoon tea is the Indonesian Tea… and such a disappointment. I sat with friends who had sailed on the 2012 Grand South American voyage on the Prinsendam. We counted the ways the experience was diminished: No special spread on table; no headdresses on waiters; no special menu cards; no teapots; few scones; and they ran out of fried bananas before we were served. All in all, I came away regretting that I had gone.

Dinner in the Pinnacle was superb as always. Joe and I joined three other Cruise Critic members for a delightful evening. My dinner consisted of perhaps the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had, steak Diane which melted in your mouth, asparagus, baked potato, and a raspberry cheesecake which was a work of art.

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Aruba

Oranjestad, Aruba
After writing a lengthly post and having it disappear into the ether, this post shall be short and sweet. It was hot and humid. After walking around for about an hour, Joe and I returned to port. The town is made of up jewelry stores with a casino in the midst.

Shipboard Life
I attended the interdenominational service on Sunday with Dr. Larry Selig. Larry and his delightful wife Ida are Presbyterian and from Orlando.

Captain Pieter Jan Van Maurik and Hotel Director Rene Tuinman hosted a cocktail party in the Crow’s Nest. I had assumed it was for 4 and 5 stars… but discovered that others had been invited. The Captain was not in the receiving line, but did attend later. To show you what a dud the party was, I left early…. this is unheard of when free drinks are involved.

The show was Southern Nights with the Zaandam singers and dancers. Perhaps my favorite nighttime activity is the Piano Bar with Buddy Mitchell. So far the trip was been disappointing.

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ARUBA

Oranjestad, Aruba
We docked at 8 a.m. along with 3 other cruise ships… one of which was the Zuiderdam. Joe and I walked around a town almost entirely made up of jewelry stores. Stopped at Starbucks for free wifi and iced tea; the tea was excellent, the wifi not so much! After about an hour, we returned to the ship, dripping with sweat.

Shipboard Life
A Taste of Aruba Sailaway was held on the aft deck. Vivienne and the HALcats provided the music with a Caribbean flair and waiters served the Dutch specialty of Bitterballen, a meatball like appetizer. This was not a well-attended nor a memorable event. In fact, I found it disappointing that the party atmosphere was lacking.

Captain Pieter Jan Van Maurik and Hotel Director Rene Tuinman hosted a cocktail party. I had assumed it was for 4 and 5 stars, but discovered that other guests had been invited also. Again, it was not a memorable event. The Captain was not in the receiving line but did appear later. Actually I left early to catch the show… now when free drinks are involved, it is rare to leave a party!

Southern NIghts in the Mondriaan Lounge starring the Zaandam Singers and Dancers was a repeat of a show I had seen on another ship. It was enjoyable. Perhaps my favorite night time activity is the Piano Bar with piano man Buddy Mitchell.

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And so it begins…

Getting to the ship
The full moon seemed to be my guide on the way to the Jacksonville Airport early in the morning of October 18. Large and glorious, it seemed suspended over the interstate. It almost made up for the mistake of allowing HAL to make my air reservations…. to get to Ft.Lauderdale, I had to fly north to Atltanta, and then back south. Upset with myself for not asking for an air deviation, I was standing in the TSA glass box with my feet spread and my arms above my head when the lights and sirens went off, “code red, code red, code red.” The idiot, and I use that term meaningfully, in front of me had packed a handgun in his backpack. As he was led away in handcuffs, he was yelling, “I forgot, I forgot.”

Arriving at Ft. Lauderdale, I looked for the HAL transfer and discovered that the Zaandam, Zuiderdam, and Maasdam passengers were sharing the same bus. An hour later, it left for the port. A more disorganized mess one could not imagine.

Shipboard Life
The first thing one notices is that the daily program has been changed. It is now “today on location” and is in color. I am sure it is better than the old “Explorer” but having used the old format for so many years, it is poignant to see it go. However, it returns as a full color brochure of the voyage… replacing the old port flyers.

Our Captain is Peter Jan van Maurik and seems to have a great sense of humor.

Juan Pablo Subirana, Latin American pianist, received a standing ovation in the Mondrian Showroom. Surprising to me, since I had considered skipping the event, Airborne, a juggling act, was tremendous!

Finally, Joe and I lucked out with our tablemates. Joan and Emerald are from Saskatchewan; Vern and Susan from Georgia. We get along well.

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