Well, this blog entry was written about a week ago but for some very frustrating reason it didn’t save so here I go again !!
A couple of weeks ago we had a booking for a 5 day Kayak trip with 2 clients from Alaska, Tim and Karen, both very experienced Kayakers. I was to be “land support” during the trip whilst Stefan went out on the Kayaks with them.
Day one, Stefan and I collected them from their hotel and we set off for San Bartolo. We were due to be spending our first night in Hostal 800 so it was great to be seeing my friends there again ! On arrival in San Bartolo both Stefan and I could see that something was “odd” – the waves were huge and spread right across the bay. Being something of an expert of monitoring the waves from the balconies of Hostal 800 I knew something was amiss. It turns out there had been an off shore earthquake the day before hence the state of the ocean. So, we headed down to Pucusana to see what it was like there, the plan had been to take the kayaks on the boat and go out to find some dolphins and let Karen and Tim do some kayaking alongside them. However, we all agreed that wasn’t a good option so they restricted themselves to a little “bimble” around the harbour whilst I went to refuel the boat ready for our next trip out.
Puerto Viejo on the way to Bujama
Day two was to be an excursion from Bujama beach (about 20k’s south of Pucusana) round to Isla Asia but, once again the ocean conditions were still a tad dramatic so we rearranged the itinerary and headed south to Paracas National Reserve, about a 3 hour drive. Once inside the reserve we drove off road to Lagunillas bay and I was pleased to get them into their kayaks and off paddling in fairly calm waters !
Some calm waters for Kayaking
Fisherman's boat stranded in the desert
We were staying in a nice house (or a “mom and pop” place as Tim and Karen called it) in the residential area of Paracas.
Day three and we were heading over to the other side of the reserve to Mendieta beach. Whilst we were securing the kayaks to the jeep Stefan mentioned to me that, as Mendieta is very isolated and I would be left on my own whilst they were off kayaking I needed to be aware of my safety. Occasionally, in the past, there had been instances of tourists being attacked there by gangs of passing ne’er do wells. So, he then proceeded to tell me that if anything happened I was to use his gun on them. Hmmmmm. On the drive over there I was a tad preoccupied as you can imagine.
Mendieta is beautiful, the desert comes right up to the ocean and it really is very isolated. Once I’d got them into the kayaks I pondered what to do, a few hours alone, in the desert, with Stefan’s words ringing in my ears and all the while his bloody gun in the jeep with, what seemed like, big flashing neons over it. I sat down and leaned against the jeep and surveyed all possible areas of attack, thinking, “if anyone comes they can’t exactly sneak up on me, I’ll see anyone coming for ages before they get here” ….. then after more thought I accepted the fact that I don’t think I could ever use the gun so I came up with a plan of action. One, be vigilant. Two, enjoy where you are. Three if anyone comes and I feel at all in danger I’ll just bloody walk into the sea and swim to one of the fishing boats !
So, I then proceeded to pass the time by making my own little Nazca line in the desert – hopefully leaving my mark for years to come …… OK, maybe not, but at least for a couple of weeks ! Then I decided to go for a meander up on the rocks, locked the jeep (with gun inside) and off I trotted. Mid-trot I had a thought ….. “hmmmmm, although I can still see the jeep and anyone approaching it, what if they think there’s no one here, they break into the jeep, find the gun and steal it ….” Not quite sure I could live with myself if that happened and the gun ending up in the wrong hands, sighing, I about turned and trotted back to, in effect, guard the jeep and the bloody gun. After a few more minutes of gun guarding I “had a word with myself” took the bloody gun out of the jeep (looking as if I was holding something that had spent a considerable amount of time in a sewer), put the gun in my bag, locked the jeep and off I went again !! Had the fishermen been watching my to-ing and fro-ing I’m pretty certain they would have considered me some sort of mad gringa !
In the end of course, nothing happened, Stefan, Tim and Karen had a lovely time out on the ocean and (not withstanding my paranoia) I enjoyed the solitude of Mendieta beach.
My version of the Nazca Lines.
The jeep at Mendieta Beach
Paracas National Reserve
Day four and Stefan decided I should do the guiding as the day was to be a gentle paddle around the bay of Paracas hopefully finding some dolphins. We weren’t particularly hopeful of finding any as, although in the past there had been a resident group there, on the last few occasions Stefan hadn’t encountered any. Reason being, dolphins in general don’t tend to reside in one particular location. A few years ago a dominant male had been injured by one of the boats taking tourists to the Ballestas Islands, in effect, amputating it’s dorsal fin so the dolphin wasn’t very mobile after that and adapted to feeding from the waste fish from the fisherman’s boats in the harbour. As he was dominant he kept a group of dolphins with him. As the dolphin hasn’t been seen recently it is assumed he has died and therefore the remainder of the group are free to extend their home range. Now dolphins are seen in the bay but just passing through. Anyway, the 3 of us had a relaxed couple of hours around the bay, we found a group of sealions in the water and paddled up to them. As they are such inquisitive creatures we just sat there in the kayaks whilst they swam around us and kept staring at us !! Both Karen and Tim later said I was a natural guide, explaining everything, very communicative and very relaxed – how nice of them !!
Our B and B in Paracas
We got out of the kayaks at El Chaco beach and met Stefan and he took them on a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands whilst I stayed on the beach with the Kayaks. I got talking to this guy called Luis who was part of a group of singers who tried to earn money from the tourists by singing to them as they disembarked the boats. He was asking me to translate the words of the English songs he was singing into Spanish so he could understand what he was singing and then was asking me for phrases to say to the tourists ……. So, if you are ever disembarking from a boat from the Ballestas Islands and you hear someone shouting to you – “Hey pretty lady, come here and I will sing you a song” …… then I apologise !!!
Day five and we headed back north, hoping to stop off at Bujama for the Asia trip but on arrival at the beach they all agreed the waves were too big to get the Kayaks into the water safely so we headed to Pucusana, loaded up the Ocean Spirit with the kayaks and headed out to find some dolphins. Quite quickly we found a group of about 40 so, with Tim and Karen in the Kayak we watched from the Ocean Spirit as the dolphins were swimming around the kayak and even bowriding ! It was great seeing the big grins on their faces – Karen and Tim that is, not the dolphins !
So, all in all a very successful trip and we headed back to Lima to take them back to their hotel, said our goodbyes and I even got a $40 dollar tip – woohoo !!
Thanks to Karen I have learnt of the existence of "CNN Pyjamas" – one of her friends was moving to Oklahoma and was a bit concerned about moving to an earthquake zone. Whilst on the telephone just before the move her friend told Karen that “all was packed, everything’s ready, I’ve got my CNN pyjamas …….” Karen had to stop her there and ask the obvious question …..apparently, if you live in an earthquake zone you should always have these garments at hand, preferably good design and of high quality silk. In the event of finding yourself standing in the street, in the middle of the night, in the aftermath of a natural disaster you want to look respectable if CNN turn up and want to interview you .......
A few days ago we took an American lady (from New Mexico) on a birding tour of Parque El Olivar and the wetlands of Pantanos de Villa, she was very interesting, an author and playwright who was filling in time whilst her husband was attending a conference on adobe restoration in Lima.
Horses at Pantanos de Villa
So, that’s about enough rambling from me for now, tomorrow we’re out on another dolphin research trip with a tv crew who want to film some bits and pieces. There’s been a lot of interest since the discovery of nearly 800 dead dolphins and about 500 dead pelicans up in the north of Peru, probably from some sort of virus.
Couple of interesting facts I’ve learnt –
Latin Americans with any amount of indigenous blood in them don’t go grey. Never occurred to me before that you hardly see any grey haired elderly people here.
The Peruvian fire service doesn’t get paid – all voluntary.
More news soon I hope, probably with tales of my anguish and incomprehension of Spanish grammar, yes, tomorrow I start Spanish lessons in an attempt to be able to speak in sentences that involve more than the present tense !!