Sunday, January 17, 2010

Peru - Swimming with Sea Lions

Peru is wonderful. We spent two days here, in Callao/Lima. I saw penguins in the wild for the first time. I hadn’t realized penguins lived so far north. We’re still not that far south of the equator, but Humboldt penguins live here.
I know this picture is not of penguins, but I don't like any of the pictures I took of them.  So here are other birds that I saw.


There are also lots of sea lions on the islands just off Callao. Callao is a port city, and used to be separate from Lima but, as cities tend to do, they both grew and so are now one large metropolitan area.

One thing you do not want to be is a male sea lion. The dominant bulls tend to have harems of about ten females. They know the young males are potential competition, and so often kill male pups once they reach the age of about two. The females take their male pups over to a nearby island, so they won’t be killed, and there the males live on their bachelor island. Once in a while one of them decides to swim over to the larger island where the bulls, females and younger pups live, to challenge one of the older bulls, but success is difficult. Most of the males live with the other males for their who lives.
We went by boat to see the islands, and were offered the chance to jump overboard and swim. Out of two boats and about 60 people, only Melissa, me, and one man decided to do this. It was the high point of the day. You need to swim backwards towards the sea lions, as they are afraid if they see your eyes. Once you reach an area near the island, which was very rocky, where there’s a group of them swimming, you can turn around. They get afraid, but they are also intensely curious animals. Their eyes are huge and liquid and show such a gentleness that even though they are so big, especially the bulls, 1000 pounds or more, I was never afraid. They are funny, too, because being both curious and afraid, they tended to look at you, then duck underwater, then come up again to keep looking.

The people on our boat were very impressed that we did swim. One man told us we were his heroes. This surprised me a bit because, while we were swimming, they all had to sit on the boat which was going up and down on the Pacific swells, getting seasick. But they were really thrilled that two women from their boat did it.
For the quilters and knitters among you, Peru has some fabulous weaving, knitting, and felting. Lima has a big artisan’s market, and the prices are so cheap that most of the time I haven’t bothered to haggle, even though I enjoy doing that. I just figure that these people have so little money and material objects compared to me, and since the prices are good, I pay them. The weavings are either done with fine yarn and are used for table runners or wall hangings, or are done with coarser yarns for rugs. Ponchos are woven or knitted, and all are beautiful. They use a lot of alpaca yarn, so the items are soft and drape well.
Today we walked around with Bob Morrisey, who’s on board to teach the other new program, acting. He’s been in a lot of movies and TV shows, as well as acting and directing on stage. When he was younger he was in Cats and other Broadway musicals. Like most actors, he’s very entertaining to talk to. He was in one scene of the Katherine Heigl movie The Ugly Truth, which happened to play in the ship’s theatre last night. He hadn’t seen it, and so we went to watch with him, determined to do our best to embarrass him. When his scene came on we cheered and clapped. Today a man who had also been there watching it said that we obviously must have enjoyed the movie very much, since we applauded in the middle. It’s actually an ok movie, not great, so we explained the situation to him. When the move was over I asked Bob for his autograph, and he must have detected sarcasm, for he refused.
We had a good time walking around today. We went to a museum which has a lot of gold artifacts dating from over 2000 years ago. They are kept in a room that has a vault door that makes most bank vaults look easy to break into. Later we walked along the cliffs along the shore. Dozens of parasailers kept drifting overhead, creating a sense of a gentle stream, only in the air instead of the ground. We followed them to their source, noticing that each one had two people, and discovered that for fifty dollars you could go up for a ride. We were keen to do this but unfortunately there was quite a line up and we didn’t have enough time before we had to be back on the ship.
I’m having technical difficulties getting photographs onto my blog. I’ll keep trying, but if I can’t I’ll post them on Flickr and Facebook so you can see them.


  1. Swimming with sea lions sounds amazing! And I'd love to see the woven items you described. Hope you figure out how to post photos soon--I'd love to see them.

  2. Great tale about the actor, Bob Morrisey, Judy. Anyone ever told you that you're good at telling a story? Loved the sea lions and the backwards swimming. Well done, intrepid Judy and Melissa!