Lima: A First Impression and a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas

It has been an amazing yet quick first week here in Peru. Though the time has gone fast I have already seen and learned a lot about Peruvian culture. Of course I have only scratched the surface and am excited for what is yet to come.

When I first arrived in Lima I was greeted by Julio and Tim at the gate. The moment that we stepped out from the airport into the nights humid yet chilly air, Julio greeted me by saying, “Welcome to Lima, the most depressing city.” Though he meant it in the context of the looming grey skies that bear above the city I have found that the people of Lima make this city far from depressing. They seem to be happy and jovial people who are always smiling while walking along on the street. It is not to say that economically a lot of the people here are struggling but the esprit of the general people is upbeat and kind. The few times that we have walked down the streets of downtown Lima I could not help but notice how people are laughing and joking with one another and enjoying each others company. It is a breath of fresh air from my beloved New York City. As much as I have grown to call NY home it is often too noticeable that people (myself included) don’t take the time to enjoy themselves, their surroundings and their company. The hustle and bustle of a large city still exists within Lima, after all it is a city of roughly 8 million!

This past weekend Shannon, Tim and I had the opportunity to go down south and visit Huacachina, Islas Ballestas and the Nazca lines. On Sunday morning we woke up before the roosters started crowing in order to catch an early departure of the Islas Ballestas tour. We were picked up at our hotel and driven to the port (about 50 min) where the boats take off.

Candelabra Geolyph
Candelabra Geolyph

The Isla Ballestas, known as the poor mans Galapagos, are situated off the Paracas Penisula about a 35 minute boat ride away from the port. On the way there we were able to see the three-pronged Candelabra geolyph that is etched into the hills. This amazing etching is huge, over 150m high and 50 m wide. No one knows who, why or when this was made but there are many theories that float around such as it was used by sailors for navigational purposes. Although it is named Candelabra (candle) many suggest that the drawing more likely represents a cactus. Whichever the case, it was truly an amazing site and I was totally taken aback by how large it was.

Our boat then continued along its way to the rocky Islas Ballestas where we were able to see penguins, sea lions, seals and many many different types of birds. There were SO many birds! For those of you who know me, you know that I have a bit of an aversion to birds, so seeing so many was a little overwhelming. Despite being told to bring a hat to avoid being pooped on the birds resisted and kept their business on the rocks of the islands. The islands were quite beautiful themselves, besides the large amount of bird droppings that coat the surface.

sea-lionsThere are many caves and arches which all provide essential shelter for the animals living there and the water is a beautiful turquoise blue. All in all the trip to the Islas Ballestas and our other adventures during the weekend made for a great first excursion while in Peru.

Sophie Ball

Hi all- My name is Sophie, originally from Charlotte, Vermont. I graduated from the University of Vermont in the spring of 2007 and for the last two years I have been living and working in New York City. Within the last couple of years I have become deeply interested in ethnic cuisine and therefore will be researching and writing about all that Peruvian cooking has to offer while I volunteer with Perupedia. I am thrilled about this opporuntity and hope that my research will help expand all of your knowledge about Peru.

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