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On Board with a Bit of S. America

Author: Nancy Plencner
Date of Trip: January 2012

Manta, Peru had an unsuccessful history of warding off pirates, but today it is known for two things that we experienced first hand….. mosquitos and Panama hats!  Sailing out of Manta’s mangrove swamp port, the on deck party was in full swing, with over 200 of the 700 guests jauntily wearing their recently acquired Panama hats when the bugs hit, I counted 25 bites on my legs alone.  Thanks goodness the Yellow Fever shots are still in affect!

How quickly the terrain changes.  The next day in Trujillo, Peru we awoke to soaring mountains of rocks with not a shred of green to be seen, their lower regions totally immersed in sand spreading out as huge dunes that swept to the sea.  No mosquitos here I thought!  In Truijillo we saw colonial homes several hundred years old.  Pizarro conquered the city, signing conquering documents for Spain with the sign of the cross because he could not sign his name, illiterate unable to read or write.  Conquering new lands for Spain apparently required no advanced degrees!  We strolled Truijillo’s flower packed, monument dominated, tiled walks, main square with it’s sun drenched yellow and gold Basilica soaring over in one corner.  Mass was in progress when we visited, and because we were already contemplating our flight home on AeroMexico, I marched down the marble covered, pew lined isle and took Communion with the locals…one can’t be too careful when flying non US airlines!  Across the square we were hosted in one of the Colonial homes to Pisco Sours (fermented brandy, with whipped egg whites) Peru’s national drink along with chicken empanata appetizers.  The umber colored Colonial home is still lived in today housing a family of locally renowned artists, designers and architects.  Their kitchen was about 12 x 12 in size, but overall under roof space was over 10,000 sq. ft. with 25 ft. high ceilings.  The matriarch of the family raised six children in the home….a small family by Peruvian standards.

Once again Leo and I evaded the treacherous on board tradition of “Crossing the Equator” where unsuspecting cruisers are systematically “shaved” and dunked into the pool.  This charming ceremony dates back to 1529 when sailors, as a tribute to Neptune God of the Sea made offerings thanking their lucky stars to still be alive and not to have run out of food/water!

Lima, Peru called the City of the Kings served as the capitol of Spain’s S. A. empire for over 300 years.  It has a feeling quite similar to Barcelona with it’s graceful churches and elegant houses revealing how wealthy this city used to be.  We had the pleasure of visiting here twice over the past few years, it is one of our favorite cities and home to Peru’s rich equestrian culture and it’s unique Pasa horses.  Born with a gait that was inbred over centuries of traveling through the sand and dunes of Peru these horses appear to dance.  Here in Peru, the potato is king dating back to the Inca’s who grew over 2,000 varieties (I must have been an Incan in other life because I would kill for McDonald’s french fries).  We linger here in Lima until tomorrow savoring this two week love affair with South America before we have to depart for home and leave this lovely ship..

If you ever dream of a six star trip with incredible pampering, food that would make an anorexic eat, wine and liquors that flow like streams.  A place where the bed linen is likely better than a Pharaoh’s an environment of quiet elegance, entertainment unknown on the sea, and staff that anticipates your every need, than you simply must save your pennies and Google, Regent Seven Sea’s Cruises.  We are close to selling everything and moving onboard full time!

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