Thoughts for Today
From the real world, sublime and challenging
Peruvian Galapagos, Ballestas, otherwise known as
‘Poo Island…’ the unlocking of light…
Life on the Balmoral was never dull. The Sunday afternoon before our arrival in Peru gave us concerts by the passenger Ukelele Band of fifty and the Choir of twenty. Both took part in our services during the voyage. Many participants had not played or sung seriously before the trip. We worked closely with the Ukele coach and Choir leader and chose the featured music together. Glorious creativity on the move!
This week we purchased avocados and the label stated ‘product of Westfalia, Peru’. I always thought that Westfalia was a reconstructed VW campervan. In fact, it is a fruit exporting company based in Lima, Peru. The name Peru comes from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘the sun’ and the ‘ocean’. The meaning of ‘Paracas’, our next port, is ‘sand rain’.
Islas Ballestas is the Peruvian Galapagos and our boat ride from Paracas was to these volcanic islands. On the way we saw El Candelabro in the sand of the Paracas Hills by the sea. As can be seen from the photograph it is enormous, 595 feet high and is a prehistoric geoglyph called ‘the Candleabra of the Andes’. On a good day it can be seen 12 miles away at sea. It reminded me of the tree of life of the Garden of Eden. In the guide books it is described as a possible Mesoamerican tree, symbolically ‘the Tree of the World’. The most practical explanation I heard from the guide was that it was a pre-lighthouse beacon indicating landfall to sailors. This site is not far from the famous inland Nazca Lines dating back to 500 BC. They are still a mystery and are best seen from the air.
A flying pelican overtook us on the way to the Ballestas. ‘She’ heralded the sights ahead of enormous Sea Wolves (larger sea lions), fur seals, Peruvian Boobies and thousands of sea birds of all kinds. All contribute to the bird droppings. The distinct aroma of the ammonia-Guano gives it the name of ‘Poo Island’. In the 19th Century this was a large export ‘poo’ business around the world for fertilizers. Even the Cornish inventor, Humphrey Davy (of miners lamp fame) gave lectures in 1813 which unveiled its distinctive properties of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium and its use in the manufacture of gunpowder.
The photo gives you a sight of the seal and sea lion intensive care unit on the beach. The breeding season is from January to March in their summer season. Here is the care of orphans, some in the sun or shade and some in the ocean. They just love basking and making sure their territory on the beach is safeguarded. You would not argue with a Sea Wolf, the largest of the ‘big boys’!
The sheer diversity of wild life in one place was overwhelming and loud. The noise from the beach was only distracted by some fishermen near to the shore-line hauling in Octopus.
We saw Humboldt Penguins, Guano Albatross, red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Boobies and Inca Terns. Amazingly, there is no ground fauna at all. 300 types of sea algae form part of the rich food diversity and many species of fish attract great migrations of so many types of birds there.
It was a calm sea day with a breeze rather than the high winds that are famous in that part of the world. On our return to the jetty we relinquished our life vests and made our way back to the ship. Our fellow travellers agreed that this day had been a true highlight of sun, Pacific Ocean and awesome nature sustained by a very protective National Park.
May we all have the candelabra of hope leading to the unlocking afresh of the redemptive light as lockdown is eased. It will symbolize the intensive care, the ‘seal beach’ of sun, shade and the refreshing ocean of sustenance.
The Peruvian port of Callao for Lima beckons…
Edward and Jane