Hello Lima, Goodbye Oceania SirenaDecember 11, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C
No matter how luxurious the cruise, when it is time to get off, it's hard not to feel like you are being thrown out with the trash! Generally, everyone has to be off no later than 9:00 a.m. Wendy and I were assigned to the first departure group as we had to meet our driver to the SkyKItchen cooking school at 8:00.
The port was once again an indusstrial, commercial port. The area assigned to the Sirena was quite small and when Wendy and I walked off, it was full of luggage, buses and men waving their arms. We wormed our way through the crowds to the shuttle bus which takes us out of the port area, to a different part of the port where the taxis and tours awaited. When we got off the shuttle bus, we were swarmed by taxi drivers who were generally polite, if persistent. All under the eye of two very disinterested heavily armed police officers. Fortunately, our driver was waiting for us and whipped us off to meet, Diego, our cooking instructor.
I found it interesting that the port and the airport are in a distinct district called Callao. It is surrounded by the city of Lima but is a separate district. This is the area of Lima that tourists are cautioned not to walk around in (even during the day) and it was easy to see why.
We met up with Diego at the local Mercado which is a huge indoor market that sells pretty much everything needed to run a household. But we were there to see the wide variety of fruits and vegetables used in Peruvian cooking, many of them native to the area. After 40 min. in the market, we headed to the SkyKitchen cooking school which is, somewhat surprisingly, on the 3rd floor of a residential building in Miraflores (an affluent part of Lima). The owner lives on the first floor of this 2 story apartment and has converted the 3rd floor to one large kitchen/dining/patio area. About half of it was open to the sky, hence the name of the school. As it was another beautiful sunny day, it was a pleasure to be up there.
Diego had us taste a variety of fruits, some of which we were familiar with and some which were new to us. Needless to say, some better than others. The most surprising was the cucumber melon (a green melon like honeydew that tasted like cucumber) and an apple banana that taste like, well an apple-flavoured banana.
Wendy and I were joined by 2 hikers from the Netherlands and a man from Kansas City. The other half of the class were 3 Spanish speaking women with their own teacher. We learned to make Causa (a tower of mashed potatoes, avocado, and chicken salad; (way better than it sounds), ceviche (fish salad cooked in vinegar - a national obsession in Peru), Lomo Saltine (a beef stir fry) and Picorones ( a sweet donut dipped in a cane sugar syrup which tasted a lot like molasses).
A couple of comments about the food. Everything had lime juice in it and so it all tasted fresh and tangy...really nice. A ubiquitous condiment is a paste made out of the Yellow Pepper (which is actually orange). Diego warned us that it is impossible to recreate with peppers available to us here and encouraged us to source it through a Peruvian grocery store when we got home. The beef stir fry seemed a little out of place until Diego explained that the influx of Chinese workers in the 1800's resulted in a Peuvian/Chinese fusion cuisine called Chifo; there are lots of Chifo restaurants in Lima.
Menawhile, Brian, the Hadleys, Trodds and Bonnie were stuck on the ship till 10 a.m., as it was chaos where the shuttles were trying to unload the passengers. As we thought we couldn't check in to our hotel, the wait was not a hardship. Brian hired 2 taxis that were relics from the 2nd World War to take us to our hotel and by the grace of God we all made it shaken but not stirred. The hotel staff were great; no hassle having 2 families sharing each room. The concierge found us a tour of Lima that picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. We had time for a nice lunch in the hotel then off to explore.
We hit the main tourist spots: the view from the cliffs of the ocean and daring para-sailors; the main square, the 'mud made' pyramid; the Jiron De La Union & Museo Convento San Francisco y Catacumbas, (the latter, a monastery built in 1673, with a Spanish Baroque church and discovered in 1943, catacombs containing the bones of 25,000 bodies).
The rest of the crew left for the airport that night and I was on my own so I went to Wendy's hotel to have dinner with Wendy and Christine. The food was surprisingly good for a hotel dining room (Christine had a terrific fish soup called Suda Suda; a fitting end to a cooking school day.)
The next morning while Christine waited in Bogata, I had a lovely, leisurely stroll of the area, got a haircut in a shop about the size of our bathroom and had some delicious empanadas at a local cafe. My ride to the airport was a pleasant one (a new car, thank God) as my driver wanted to be an English teacher and used the opportunity to practice. Once checked in, I had a great cup of coffee and a pleasant conversation with 2 missionaries on their way to a new postingRead more