Lima, Peru Sun Feb 25 sunny 82

Lima, Peru Sun Feb 25 sunny 82

As a slight morning drizzle glistened the pier, I was reminded of the complete lack of rain in Pisco. They measure their rain in minutes rather than inches. Last year they got 45 minutes total. The TV weatherman is a recording.

I had my last breakfast aboard on La Veranda’s patio. What could be a better memory of the extraordinary service on Mariner, than a waiter coming by my table and unscrewing the top of my miniature honey jar. Forgettable, however, was the daily schedule Passages’ apparent disconnect with reality. The last Passages delivered to departing passengers had a copy of our Buenos Aires to Lima itinerary next to a map of the voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires; a visual memory of someone else’s trip.

My taxi was there at exactly 9 o’clock, but there was not where I was. I was on the pier next to the ship, and the taxi was about a half mile away at the port security gate “sin permiso”. Lesley from Venere called me on my cell and explained the situation. What to do? I could never manipulate my bags to the gate, and the porters had no interest in leaving their lucrative shipside tips. Oh, and the other thing, I had no idea where the gate was.

I put Lesley on with a man in charge of local tours. He talked for awhile and hung up. He and another man discussed this in, what seemed to me, agitated Spanish. One guy decided he would take me in his personal car to the gate. When we got to the gate my taxi driver was on the other side waving a sign with my name on it, but we were not allowed to drive out. My helper and I grabbed bags and attempted to walk out. “No, senor, not without permiso.” I waited while an official put my bags down on the pavement and checked the contents. I had permiso, and went to the car which was actually a van with the logo “

My cell phone rang. It was Lesley. I told her I was in the taxi and she got very nervous. “The taxi?” she asked. Well, the van, I said. That calmed her. When I checked into La Castellana, she called the hotel to make sure I was OK.

The hotel was lovely on the outside, but my room was the most depressing I’ve ever occupied. An overhead fan supplied the air conditioning, but the warm day, combined with the hot water heater in the closet, were more than a match for the whirling blades. The desk clerk spoke English and said the dining room was still open, and since I had to leave in the evening, I qualified for the included breakfast. The complimentary breakfast was made up of four pieces of toast, two balls of butter, a small bowl of jam, and coffee. I really shouldn’t complain; the room cost just $56.00.

I walked for a bit, ending up at Parque Kennedy, where I took in the sights, and checked out the sidewalk art. Lunch was at a sidewalk café, Café del Paz. My choice was a Peruvian specialty; Choclo Serrano con Queso. This turned out to be two large corncob halves with kernels the size of dimes, a meek white cheese, and a saucer of mildly spicy sauce. To wash it down, a bottle of Peruvian beer. The total? $6.00 including tip. As I ate, two street musicians serenaded diners. Both played guitar, plus one had an instrument with two vertical sets of different sized bamboo tubes around his neck which gave off a flute-like sound. When he played, it was as if he was vigorously nodding “yes”. After lunch I paid a dollar for a shoe shine.

This town is inexpensive, at least to eat. For dinner at the hotel, I had soup, fried chicken, French fries, flan, and a diet coke. $8.20 including tax and tip. The only strange thing about dinner was the napkins. Each napkin was slightly bigger than one square of toilet paper, and of the same consistency as the hotel’s toilet paper (I checked).

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