Archive for January, 2012

Lima, Peru

We were in Lima, Peru Sunday & Monday,  January 15 & 16, so this will be a two day posting.  We actually docked in Callao (pronounced Kai-yow) which is the nearest port, about 25 miles from downtown Lima.  02 Port Of Callao, from ship

Lima is a huge city, 8 or 9 million people depending on who you ask.  Much of it is very pretty, with beaches (pretty rocky ones, though), cliffs, parks and lots of beautiful flowers.

11 Beach at Miraflores, Lima on horizon  09 Beach at Miraflores 11 Beach at Miraflores from cliff  05 Cliff at Miraflores

29 Red & purple flowers in Lima park  04 Fishing from the dock, Miraflores, Lima Peru

However, it is also a city with a lot of poverty (in fact, we have seen this throughout Peru).  We were told that 11% of the population of Lima live without electricity or water service.  You can see thousands of what are essentially huts (someone said they look like ship containers) on hillsides, occupied by squatters.

14 Squatters hill in Lima

16 Squatters' hill in Lima

On our first day in Lima we were on a tour booked by one of the other passengers that was supposed to take us to the 2 best archeological sites in Lima.  However, when our van pulled up to Pachacamac we learned that  because there was a major car rally finishing in Lima that day they had decided at the last minute to close Pachacamac at noon.  So we did not get to see the site that was the main reason we booked this tour.  The rally was a big deal, with cars from all over the world competing, & lots of folks came out to see it, but that was a disappointment.

15 Gate to Pachacamec ruins, which we couldn't enter 13 Pachacamec, perhaps, from the road 12 People waiting for road rally finish in Lima

So, having seen nothing up to then, they took us to lunch.  We ate at a nice Peruvian buffet place where we could sample a large variety of Peruvian food, including the largest corn kernels I have ever seen.  I also tried a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru & Chile (and thus a dispute about who originated it).  And on our table was a small pot of hot sauce that tasted very much like what you can get at local Peruvian chicken places in Arlington such as Crisp & Juicy, which is our favorite.  The comparable restaurants here are called “Pollo de Brasas.”

23 Front of peruvian restaurant where we ate in Lima 20 Mary in Peruvian restaurant in Lima 21 Rick in Peruvian restaurant in Lima 18 Peruvian hot sauce

After lunch we visited several parks.  The first one, on the edge of a cliff in the Miraflores district (a wealthy suburb), contained a sculpture the Peruvians are very proud of picturing two indians kissing.  It also has a wall that was inspired by Antonio Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona.

24 Kissing Indians statue in Lima park 26 Bay from Lima park

25 Panarama of Gaudiesque wall in Lima park

The second park was all olive trees that were planted by the Spaniards more than 300 years ago.  They are set out in neat rows.

57 Olive tree park, Lima 56 Olive tree park, Lima

Finally, we visited an important archeological site, right in the city, called Huaca Pucllana.  It is a large pyramid that is in the process of excavation.  The most interesting thing about it (for a visitor, not an archeologist) is the “book style” technique of laying the adobe bricks, which we hadn’t seen before.  We were told that the entire thing is made of bricks; there is no space inside.  Apparently, each generation would build a new layer on top of the old one.  According to our guide, the last picture in the group is the remains of some human sacrifices uncovered here.

32 Mary at Huaca Pucllana 37 book-style adobe bricks at Huaca Pucllana 45 Huaca Pucllana 41 Adobe finish over bricks at Huaca Pucllana    90 Rick at Huaca Pucllana 43 Perhaps remains of sacrificed indians

And here is the skyline of Miraflores from the top of the pyramid.

93 Miraflores skyline from Huaca Pucllana

Also at the Huaca Pucllana site we saw our first llamas, some guinea pigs (which Peruvians eat), and some Peruvian Hairless dogs (which are exceedingly ugly).

50 Llama at Huaca Pucllana 97 Llama through chain link fence at  Huaca Pucllana

53 Guinea Pig (Peruvian delicacy) at Huaca Pucllana 47 Peruvian hairless dog

The last thing on our tour was a park with a variety of creative fountains, called the Magical Circuit Of The Waters.  This park was very popular; lots of local people there on a Sunday evening (even though it cost to enter), with everyone taking their pictures in front of the fountains.

 62 Circuit of the Waters 67 Water tunnel, circuit of the waters, Lima 68 People in fountain, circuit of the waters 73 small fountain, circuit of the waters, Lima

69 Red & purple Bougainvillea, at circuit of the waters, Lima 74 Old church tower, from circuit of the waters in Lima

That night on the ship a local folk dancing group put on a really terrific show (which included an old Peruvian folksong written by Paul Simon).  The last dance, of which I did not get pictures, had two young fellows doing some impressive gymnastic dancing (back flips, etc.) while holding a long scissors in their right hands with which they kept the beat of the song.  I wonder how much blood was on the floor while they were learning to do that!

75 Folk dancers on Prinsendam in Lima 76 Folk dance show on Prinsendam 78 Peruvian folk dance show on Prinsendam 82 Peruvian folk dance show on Prinsendam 85 Peruvian folk dance show on Prinsendam  86 Peruvian folk dance show on Prinsendam

On our second day in Lima we visited two archeological museums.  The Larco Museum allowed photos but the Gold Museum did not.  Larco was an archeologist/collector who collected a huge amount of pottery & sculpture, mostly in northern Peru, early in the 20th century when it was still legal to do so.  He established a museum in what used to be his hacienda, a beautiful building with fabulous gardens.  We had an excellent guide & learned a lot at this museum.

Most of this collection is pre-Inca.  The Inca conquered much of Peru in the 12th & 13th centuries, so their empire was only a few hundred years old when Pizarro came and conquered them (that’s an interesting story in itself, since he did this with a total of 168 men).  Other civilizations in this area, such as the Moche & Chimu, lasted for 6 or 7 hundred years before declining.  Many of these pots, which are in astonishingly good shape, are actually water vessels (you can see the long spouts on the top), but probably were never used for that since they were made to put in the tombs of noblemen.  In these tombs they have also found the skeletons of dozens of other people who apparently were the nobleman’s retainers, buried alive to serve him in the next world.

12 Pre-Inca indian water vessel with person (1000 -2500 years old) 15 Water vessel pottery with skull sculpture 17 Man's head pottery water vessel (Moche, pre-Inca) 16 Woman's head pottery water vessel

There is also a room containing ancient textiles that were in the tombs.

19 Moche textile, closeup (Lorca museum) 20 Moche textile, closeup

In a separate wing of the Larco museum is a collection of extremely explicit pottery, demonstrating that these Indians knew how to have a good time, & expected to continue doing so in the next life.  I was going to post some pictures of these but Mary prevailed upon me not to include pornography in the general blog posting.  If anyone really wants to see these, email me & I will try to email you copies of some of the pictures (not sure it will work on this spotty internet connection).  You can specify the type of sexual depiction you are interested in, if you like, since these Indians pretty much covered the field!

The Lorco museum also has gardens with beautiful flowers hanging over walls & giant cactuses, so I will share a few here.

\10 Red & blue flowers at Lorco museum 37 Mary at Lorco Museu  05 Flowers on wall at Lorco museum in Lima 06 Flowers at Lorco Museum in Lima 38 Red & yellow flowers at Lorco museum 07 Cactus & flowers at Lorco museum

36 Cactus at Lorco  museum

Here is a “Chifa” restaurant, which is a Peruvian version of Chinese food (we didn’t get to try any), and the national library of Peru, for the librarians in the audience.  Also, we have here laundry drying on the roof of a house, which we have seen quite a bit of here in Peru.  Note that there are steel construction rods sticking out of the roof on the building nearer the front.  You see this all over Peru; we are told this is because property taxes are lower for unfinished buildings so people keep their houses permanently “unfinished.”

40 Chifa Wong restaurant in Lima 42 Peru national library

43 Washing on roof & unfinished roof, Lima

Finally, here is the monkey towel animal we received at the end of the day and a bread sculpture of a barrel with a bunch of grapes at the lower left made out of 2 different colors of bread.

01 Monkey towel animal 02 Barrel made of bread, with bread bunch of grapes at left bottom


Trujillo, Peru

Hi again.  Its been a while since we have posted to the blog.  This is because we had 4 consecutive port days with land tours that didn’t leave any time for blogging, then 2 days of me (Rick) being sick (which isn’t really over yet).  So, there is a lot to catch up on, & I think it will take several postings.

On Saturday, January 14, we were in Trujillo, Peru.  This is a city of between 800,000 and 900,000, depending on who you ask.  It seems to be a very poor city, with most people living in what amounts to brick or adobe shacks.  We saw  lots of small fields of sugar cane, chili peppers & other vegetables, as well as cows & a lot of dogs.  We were on a bus tour to three fascinating archeological sites in this area, so we did quite a lot of driving around the area, much of it on bumpy roads that, as Mary said (quoting Big Bird) “really shook up my giblets.”

Anyway, here are some pictures of adobe brick walls at residences outside Trujillo, & the local church in this village.

01 wall, Trujillo 20 Adobe wall outside Trujillo 19 Church in village near Trujillo  18 Street in village near Trujillo

Here is a field of sugarcane (with the foothills of the Andes in the background).  They tell us that they harvest the sugarcane by setting fire to the field.  Only the leaves burn, & then they come along & slice off the remaining with machetes.  The second picture is of sugarcane harvesters carrying the cane from a burned field.  They are trying to convert the industry to mechanical harvesting to avoid releasing so much carbon dioxide into the air but that is still in an early stage of acceptance.  The third picture is a street vendor with a bunch of sugarcane stalks on the right side of his cart for sale.  And then a store selling Inca Kola, which is ubiquitous around here and can be purchased in Arlington Va as well (although Carrie tells us its pretty vile).

23 Sugar cane & mtn outside Trujillo 22 Men harvesting  Sugar Cane outside Trujillo  50 sugar cane stalks (right) on street vendor's cart 49 Inka Cola sign

The first archeological site we visited was called El Brujo, and was a good ways north of the city.  This was a temple/pyramid built by the Moche people, who lived in the area about 1500 years ago. long before the Aztecs.  The pictures below really don’t do justice to it; the figures on the walls are a deep & vivid red.  In the large picture, the figures have a rope around their neck, which indicates that they are captives who will be used for human sacrifice.  That does not mean they were captured in war necessarily; these people engaged in a sort of ritual combat within the community and the loser would be sacrificed.  It appears that they did this most often by drugging the victims with some sort of potion they drank, then they would be taken up to the sacrificial alter & the priest would cut the artery in their necks & they would bleed to death (although sometimes they were just thrown onto rocks below).

At the El Brujo museum (where photography was forbidden) there was a mummified body of a woman who was apparently some kind of shaman & a noble person.  Her body and face are covered in tattoos.  There are a lot of mummies that have been found in this area; they have survived in very good form because of the dryness of the weather & can be seen in quite a few museums, we are told.

05 Mary at El Brujo  15 Archeologists excavating at El Brujo

06 El Brujo, captives on wall

 14 Rick in El Brujo 12 El Brujo wall decorations closeup

The second site we visited is called Chan Chan.  It was a city built by the Chimu people, who lived about 800 years ago & were conquered by the Incas.  The frustrating thing about this site is that apparently much of this stuff is “reconstructed” to look like they think it did originally, and its very difficult to tell what is original & what has been enhanced or reconstructed.  So with that caveat here are some pictures.  This was a large palace, with many decorations carved in the adobe walls.  You can see what are thought by some to be squirrels, then fish & then birds.  The even horizontal likes are thought to represent the water in the sea nearby.  The cross-hatch design in the large picture below are thought to represent fishing nets, and these people are thought to have subsisted largely on seafood.

24 Mary at Chan Chan  28 More squirrel walls at Chan Chan  31 Wall with fish decoration33 Bird decoration37 Chan Chan

Below left is an interesting looking duck that was in a pool inside Chan Chan, and below right is one of several hokey folks who help give the place a Disneyworld tinge (consistent with the “reconstruction”), that seems a bit out of synch with an important archeological site.

42 Ducks inside Chan Chan  44 Reenactor at Chan Chan

Our third archeological site was Hauca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), another temple built by the Moche.  Of course, that is a name given by modern archeologists and there is no evidence that the Moche called it that.  Anyway, it was the most spectacular of all in terms of preserved artwork uncovered on its walls.  I think the god in the picture in the top right below looks a little like Homer Simpson (if you disregard the hair & the fangs).

54 Wall decoration at Temple of the Moon  55 God on wall of Temple of the Moon56 Face on wall at Temple of the Moon 57 Face on wall at Temple of the Moon

Those pictures were all on the inside of the temple, but there is an even more spectacular display on one of the outside walls.

67 Inside wall with hole made by Spaniards, Temple of the Moon

The bottom row above shows captives to be sacrificed, the second row shows a line of  Indians holding hands, the third row is spiders, the fourth row shows warriors carrying clubs & the top row is snakes.  The big hole at the top was made by the Spaniards, who were a lot like the Taliban (who destroyed the ancient giant Buddhas) in their efforts to destroy everything that wasn’t Christian oriented.  Below are some closer pictures of some of these images.

    65 Captives being taken for human sacrifice, Temple of the Moon63 People holding hands, inside wall at Temple of the Moon

66 Spiders, inside wall of Temple of the Moon 64 Warriors carrying war clubs, inside wall of Temple of the Moon

71 Rick at Temple of the Moon70 Mary at Temple of the Moon 

Then there was this particularly intricate wall at the Temple of the Moon, with a close-up of some if its busy decorations.

68 Wall at Temple of the Moon 69 Closeup of wall at Temple of the Moon

And finally, lest we forget what this was really all about, here is a picture of the spot where they conducted human sacrifices (many skeletons were found in this area), and also a picture of the nearby Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), which is bigger than the Temple of the Moon but has not yet been excavated.

75 Human sacrifice spot at Temple of the Moon   60 Human sacrifice site, Temple of the Moon

52 Temple of the Sun at Trujillo

Back on the Prinsendam that night we discovered that there is a talented bread artist (of all things) on board.  Here are a couple of his or her sculptures, baked entirely of bread.  There will be more of these in upcoming days.

77 Lobster bread sculpture on Prinsendam  78 Alligator bread sculpture on Prinsendam


Ecuador

Today we finished up our two days in Ecuador, where we visited the port cities of Manta (Wednesday) & Guayaquil.(Thursday).  We continue to be thoroughly frustrated with the Internet service on the Prinsendam, which is expensive ($.25 per minute or more, depending on how big a plan you purchase) & hardly works at all.  It is galling to sit and wait minute after minute while gmail loads, with the meter ticking away.  Then it will helpfully inform you that “this is taking longer than usual” (as if we didn’t know that) and tell us to start over by reloading the page.  So, if you aren’t getting timely answers to email that is the reason, and also the reason why these blog postings may appear a day or two after they are written.  So, please be patient, “this is taking longer than usual!”

I also wanted to mention that when I looked at the Panama posting on the internet it didn’t look like the draft I was working with in Windows Live Writer.  As you could tell by the text, the smaller pictures were supposed to be shown 2 on each line, but at least on my computer the posting on the internet showed all of the pictures in a single row down the page.  So, today I’m going to try making the smaller pictures a little less wide on the page in the hope that they will appear on the internet where they are supposed to.  If the Panama posting on your computers appeared with the small photos two abreast like it is supposed to, please let me know in the comments; it wouldn’t surprise me if my internet connection here & small laptop screen were screwing up my view of it.

Manta is a city of 180,000 in the northern part of Ecuador.  It is known for Panama hats, the best of which are made in a town near Manta called Montecristi.  In fact, all Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador.  Apparently they were originally exported from ports in Panama, from which they got the name.  Or, a better story, Teddy Roosevelt got one of these hats while inspecting the construction of the Panama Canal & called it his “Panama Hat,” and the name stuck.  That sort of thing happened a lot with Teddy Roosevelt, who was something of a celebrity before there were celebrities.  Anyway, here is Manta & some panama hats & some flowering trees:

03 Manta from aft dining deck 07 Pile of Panama Hats  08 Panama Hat stand

06 Tree with orange & purple flowers 12 Red flowers on trees

Of course, everyone bought Panama hats in Manta, including yours truly.  All I need now is a 3 piece white suit & a cigar to complete the look.

36 Rick in Panama Hat 39 Mary in Panama Hat

Manta is a fishing port, with emphasis on tuna.  You can tell tuna is important here because they have erected a public statue of a tuna & a tuna fountain near the entrance to the port!  I also got some pictures of a ship unloading a tuna catch next to our ship.

15 Statue of Tuna in Manta 16 Tuna fountain in Manta

18 Unloading Tuna 22 Unloading tuna

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city with 1.8 million people.  I find it hard to believe I had never heard of a city that big until signing up for this trip.  It is also Ecuador’s busiest port, although you have to sail several miles up a river to reach the port, which is still 30 minutes from downtown by bus.  Most cruise ships can’t sail up this river; ours is one of the few small enough to do so.  Mostly, Guayaquil is a big & fairly ugly city, with nondescript high-rises & fairly rundown neighborhoods lacking in character.  Our shuttle bus dropped us off in the center of town, at a park known as Parque Seminario (its across the street from the cathedral),  & also as Parque Bolivar (it has an equestrian statue of the general), & also as Plaza de Iguanas.  It must be confusing to have so many names for one place.

Its called Parque de Iguanas because (you guessed it) there are a lot of iguanas that live there.  It turns out that iguanas like to climb trees, & the local hotels come out a couple of times a day to give them food (looks like lettuce), since they are a tourist attraction.  Very cool, in my estimation.

28 Iguanas 08 More Iguanas

26 Iguanas with birds on their backs 10 Iguanas in tree with pigeon

05 Iguanas fighting over food 27 Iguanas in treetop

The park also has a statue of fighting wild boars, which should make Texans feel at home (and Cincinnatians, although these pigs don’t fly), and across the street is the cathedral, with a statue of General Bolivar in front.

12 Statue of fighting pigs in Parque Bolivar 13 Cathedral & statue of General Bolivar (the cathedral is really white on off-yellow in color, very pretty)

Walking along the Malecon (the riverside park) we saw the “rotunda,” a columned semicircle with a statue of Bolivar & San Martin shaking hands.  They met here but didn’t get along (they say San Martin wanted monarchies in South America while Bolivar wanted Republics), and Bolivar refused to ally with San Martin despite an offer to serve under him.  San Martin soon withdrew from the fight for independence & retired to Europe.  So its hard to understand what there is to commemorate here, but they have done it anyway.  There is also an attractive Moorish style (why?) clock tower & many pretty flowers & gardens.  Mary had to use the “banos” here & found to her dismay that you have to pay for toilet paper; fortunately she had some kleenex since she didn’t have any coins.  Live & learn.

17 Statute of Bolivar & San Martin 16 Statue of Bolivar & San Martin meeting in Guayaquil (they didn't get along &  reached no alliance)

14 Moorish style clock tower (10 minutes slow) 15 Bolivar rotunda on the Malencon (riverside park), with colorful hillside of houses

21 Portrait artist under trees on Malencon 23 Possibly a Banjan tree on Malencon

22 Red flowering tree over bridge on Malencon 19 Yellow blooming trees

Tonight on the Prinsendam it was Panama Hat Night.  So, I took this opportunity to introduce you to the other two couples assigned to our table at dinner.  Steve & Kathy (in picture with Mary) are from Fort Worth, although they live now on the coast of Alabama.  Steve is a retired firefighter.  Bing  & Barb are from St. Louis but have lived for 8 years in Tampa. Florida.  Bing has been a very successful gambler on this cruise.  They are all nice people & we have been enjoying their company.

30 Mary & Steve and Kathy Beasley, Panama Hat Night in Prinsendam Restaurant

31 Barbara & Bing Bingenheim, Panama Hat Night 34 Rick & Mary, Panama Hat Night

And finally, every night the room crew leave us a towel animal on our bed.  Its pretty silly, but kind of fun since they are different every night.  Here is one of the best so far, to end this installment.

35 Elephant towel animal 24 Towel animal on pillow (seal, perhaps)

We have a sea day tomorrow (Friday), then four consecutive port days in Peru, so the next posting will probably not come until after that (assuming, as always, that the internet permits).


Panama Canal

Before we get to the Panama Canal, on Sunday we visited a small town on a tropical island off the coast of Panama called Bocas Del Toro.  It is one of a group of islands, largely owned by United Fruit Co., which exports hundreds of thousands of tons of bananas every year, mostly to Europe.  They tell us that Columbus landed here on one of his voyages, & repaired one of his ships on one of the islands in this group.  Anyway, here is your opportunity to finally see this place you have never heard of before, and probably will never hear of again.  As mentioned the other day, if you hover your mouse over a picture, a caption will pop up.

Bocas Del Toro

Town Hall, Bocas Del Toro Many rooted trees in park, Bocas Del Toro

Simon Bolivar statue, Bocas Del Toro Christmas Tree in park, Bocas Del Toro

Library, Bocas Del Toro, with Mary

Leaving Bocas Del Toro we saw this unusual island, which reminded us of a certain animated character some of you might be hip enough to know.

Lionturtle, near Bocas Del Toro

On Monday we traversed the Panama Canal.  Interestingly, because Panama is shaped like an S the canal runs from Northwest on the Atlantic side to Southeast on the Pacific side.  After entering the canal from the Caribbean, you are lifted about 85 feet by 3 levels of locks at Gatun.  Then you cross a huge man-made lake, created by damming the Chagres River.  Then on the Pacific side you descend about 85 feet, one level at the Pedro Miguel lock, then two more levels at the Miraflores locks.

The current canal is only big enough to handle about 94% of the ships in the world, so they are building a new larger canal that will be able to handle the rest.  The larger canal, which is quite near the current one, was actually started by the United States in the late 1930’s but never completed because of the war.  Ships have to make a reservation to go through the canal more than a year in advance; it costs about $50,000 just for a reservation and another $250,000 or so to actually go through (rates are determined by weight), and all transactions are cash-in-advance.

The French tried first to build a canal across Panama in the late 19th century, but failed because they tried to do the whole thing at sea level (with no locks) & because of mosquito transmitted disease, particularly yellow fever which killed more than 25,000 workers.  When the Americans came in, they were able to exterminate all of the disease-carrying mosquitos, an impressive feat (particularly because those at the top refused to believe that mosquitos were the cause of disease).  There have been no cases of Yellow Fever in Panama since 1907.

Anyway here are a few of our pictures; the narrative above is designed to help you place where the pictures were taken along the canal.

Entering Panam Canal on Caribbean side - to left is the new canal under construction, to right is the old canal

First 2 locks at Gatun, with ship on second level on right entering lock at Gatun, dark part of lock doors will be underwater when ready to move to next level

Gatun lock doors tucked into canal wall Mechanical mule

You can see in the picture on the left above how the lock doors fit flush into the walls of the canal when open.  On the right is one of the mechanical “mules”; two of these on each side help guide the ship through the locks with ropes.  Below are two workers in a tiny rowboat next to the ship; the mule’s ropes are thrown down to them & they take them over to attach to the ship.  It looks pretty precarious from where we were standing.

Men in rowboat waiting for mooring rope from Prinsendam

Rick & Mary at Gatun Side of ship & canal wall

I tried to insert some video here of the locks opening, but apparently I can’t do that without being online.  So I probably won’t be able to do videos, since the internet is spotty & expensive onboard this ship.  Maybe I will figure it out later.

Mary at last lock door at Gatun (2)   Rick & Mary viewing canal from front of Prinsendam Pelican by the canal

05 Lock door opening at Gatun 08 Mule surmounting incline at Gatun

15 Rick at GatunWindstar 4 mast yacht moving from 1st to 2d level at Gatun

The ship above right is a 4 mast yacht operated by the Windstar cruise line.  Our captain told us near the end of the canal that he had been captain of that ship for 4 years.  Small world.

Below left are islands in the man-made Gatun lake that were mountaintops before the dam was built to create the lake.  The crest in the distance in the  picture below right is actually the top of the earthen dam built by the Americans to create the lake; it is half a mile wide at its base.

Islands in manmade Gatun Lake used to be mountain tops Dam of Chagres river near Gatun.  Far shore is a manmade earthen dam, half a mile thick at its base

Calebra cut, with terracesContinental Divide

Above left is a small portion of the “Calebra Cut,” which was several miles of solid rock they had to blast through to create the canal.  The terraces are where earth moving equipment & rail cars were brought to cut out the walls, layer by layer.  On the right is another portion of the cut, at the continental divide.

Blue Heron next to canal Dredging canal for larger ships from new canal (2)

Everybody likes wildlife, so above is a blue heron (I think) standing by the canal.  On the right they are dredging the canal to make it big enough for the larger ships that will come through the new canal locks.

People stopped to watch the ship pass Crowd at viewing platform at Miraflores locks watching us

Above are people stopped to watch our ship, first near the Pedro Miguel lock and then at the viewing center at Miraflores.  It was odd to see people taking our picture!  We had to stop at Miraflores for one of our passengers to be taken off in an ambulance.  Since he walked to the ambulance, we are hoping that nothing was seriously wrong.  Below left is a beautiful bird with swallow-like divided tail, many of which we saw at Miraflores, and below right is the Panama Railway, the first transcontinental railroad.  Then pictures of the Bridge of the Americas (where the Pan American Highway crosses the Panama Canal on its way from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego), and of Panama City at the Pacific end of the canal.

Swallow like bird at Miraflores locks (2) Panama railway, the first transcontinental railroad

Bridge of the Americas (4)

Panama City from Pacifi

That’s it for Panama.  Today it’s raining cats & dogs here in the Pacific Ocean but we are hoping for better weather tomorrow when we go ashore in Manta, Ecuador, where we will arrive at 4:00 AM.  The Captain has already apologized for waking us that early with the maneuvering engines but I’m sure an apology won’t seem like enough tomorrow morning.  We will probably post again after leaving Ecuador in a few days.


Prinsendam

We haven’t reached any ports yet (except Georgetown, Grand Cayman, which we have been to several times & didn’t love very much, so we stayed on the ship).  However, I wanted to see how the blog posting goes, particularly since our internet connection on the ship is spotty & VERY SLOW.  So, today we will share with you some photos taken aboard the ship.  Assuming this all works as it should, if you hover your mouse over a picture (ie. don’t press any buttons), a caption should pop up that will tell you what you are looking at.

First, here are a couple of paintings of the ship.  The first one is of the original Prinsendam, which sank in 1980 (everyone on board was rescued, but its not pleasant to think about, for those of us on board).  The second is of the ship we are on.

Painting of original Prinsendam

Painting of Prinsendam

On Thursday we sailed past Cuba, so here are a couple of pictures of Cuba:

Coast of Cuba 1

Coast of Cuba 7

Today we sailed past the Columbia Archipelago, a group of 3 islands in the Caribbean near the coast of Nicaragua (don’t know why they are Columbian, but they are).  Not much of a picture, but here it is anyway, just because I can:

Columbia Archipelago 2

And finally, some pictures aboard the ship: the Atrium, which contains the spiral staircase in the center of the ship, much more modest than on other ships we have been on, but more tasteful & less gaudy, in my opinion.  Also the aft dining deck, which is a great place for an outdoor breakfast or lunch (today we saw a whole lot of leaping tuna over the side of the ship there), the library (of course, for anyone who knows Mary), the view from our stateroom & some shots out on the deck.

Prinsendam Atrium, with etched & frosted glass ship pictureMary eating on aft dining veranda

Water on deck in sunPrinsendam Library

view from library window (with Rick's feet)View from our window

Mary looking out at Grand CaymenAft dining veranda

Oops, that wasn’t all!  Here is the piano trio playing in the lounge, & a huge painting of an unidentified sea battle (you can bet the Dutch are the good guys, since this is the Holland America Line) that is hanging rather impressively in that same lounge.

Rosario Strings in Explorations CafeRosario Strings Trio

Naval Painting in Explorers Lounge

Tomorrow we will stop at Bocas Del Toro, an island off the Caribbean coast of Panama, & the next day we will go through the Canal, & then to Ecuador.  So there should be more to post within a few more days.