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07.04.10: Pisco, Peru

Happy 4th of July in Pisco, Peru

Happy 4th of July! This morning we embarked on a 40 minute bus ride to Pisco, a town on the west coast of Peru. Home to the National Reserve of Paracas and the Islas Ballestas, Pisco is a definitely a vision to see. At least that's what the guide book said. Had I written the chapter on Pisco it would have read a little differently. Something like, "Picture a pile of garbage. Now picture a pile of garbage with a beach in the background. That's Pisco."
I read, in my trusty 'Frommers Peru’ that the Islas Ballestas were a must-see attraction and referred to them as the 'Peruvian Galapagos.
We flagged a taxi from our roach motel in Pisco to Paracas (the only acceptable portion of Pisco) and hopped in a motor boat for our Islas Ballestas tour.
Clad in our blinding orange life vests, we watched pelicans dive for food while the boat filled up.
The motor putted and we cruised along the coast of the Peruvian pacific. One minute we were dry and the next we were soaked, covered in choppy salt water, smiles broad on our damp faces.
The first stop of the tour was to the famous candelabra, a huge engraving on the side of a cliff off the coast.
The guide explained that people are unaware of why it is there, what its purpose was, or how long it's been there. Historians believe that it may have been a map of some sort but they are uncertain. No scientific tests have been run to find out what era it was made, because it is a "protected area". In other words, a few decades ago, Paracas realized that they needed a new tourist attraction, so they had some Peruvian carve a half-assed candelabra looking thingamajig into the side of a cliff and they now use the lack of viable knowledge of it to add to the 'mystery', therefore raking in more tourist bucks. But that's just my cynical spin on it.

After that mind-blowing experience, it was on to the Islas Ballestas, homes to penguins, birds, sea lions, and dolphins.
An impressive sight to see if you were raised in Idaho, Kansas or some place along those lines, however, being a California native, I was not thrilled to pay inflated prices to see the same crap I can see back home.
The scenery was appealing and the rock formations were cool but we weren't even permitted to get off the boat, we only saw four lethargic sea lions and one or two penguins.
The islands were, however, filled to capacity with birds. There must have been thousands of them. The guide was explained that because of the amount of birds there is an extraordinary amount of excrement covering the islands. Ok, that's an easy conclusion; shit-ton of birds equals a shit-ton of bird shit.
Doesn't take a rocket scientist. As he, so eloquently, put it, "The birds, they make the shit over 350 times a day and we use the shit for planting." Well said my man, well said. You could see a device on the top of one of the islands that was used to scrape the droppings off everyday, later to be turned into fertilizer. All the more reason to go check out the Islas Ballestas! It is educational and fun!
We returned from our hour-long excursion, damp and disenchanted and decided to celebrate the 4th of July with some lunch and cocktails.
Shots of pisco to start with, followed by a piña colada, ceviche and a fresh fish sandwich. We toasted to Independence Day and gazed out into the ocean as we sipped on our drinks.

We walked around for a while, collected some sea shells, and explored the variety of garbage they piled up around the beach before heading back into Pisco. We walked around and went down to the market place, overrun with street vendors of all kinds and decided to grub on some street food. We found a lady slangin' spicy shredded chicken over french fries covered with ranch and ketchup.
An American dream on the 4th of July. We walked around a little more and I got a glass of emolente (a delicious Peruvian drink that tastes like warm apple cider) and crashed out.

Posted by emichele 17:00 Archived in Peru

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