Thoughts for Today
From the real world, sublime and challenging
Peru to Panama
Wednesday 18th February saw us drawing close to Lima before our four day onward sailing to the Panama Canal.
Early in the morning we awoke to the sight and sound of hundreds of birds flying low outside our porthole. They were mainly Guanay Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies hunting for their anchovie breakfast.
As we approached the Peruvian port of Callao and our own breakfast, marmalade sandwiches came to mind in anticipation of seeing Paddington Bear. Callao is just 9 miles west of the capital city of Lima dominated by grand colonial buildings. The fine Cathedral, Archbishop’s House and Government House in the huge Plaza Mayor are guarded by armed police.
Callao became a port of significance in 1537. It was hit heavily by earthquake and tsunami in 1746. In 1949 it was most famous for its export of cocoa and cocaine.
We disembarked to the district of Miraflores and on our shuttle coach journey there we saw the huge beach side developments and sporting facilities being built. Miraflores is a modern seaside suburb of Lima. The US Embassy is at the top of the Marriott Hotel which gave us a very good internet connection back home. Hang gliders came close to the tall buidings.
A walk along the front took us by a shrine to Our Lady, and to a sculpture in Lima’s Love Park (opened February 14th 1993) called ‘El Biso’ which means ‘The Kiss’. It depicts the Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin kissing his wife and was inspired by Gaudi’s ‘Park Guell’ in Barcelona with mosaics and undulating walls and benches. In the photo I love the pigeon looking on…the walls also have loving quotes from the Peruvian poets like – ‘My dream is a lost island’…’Also loving we know the pain’…and ‘Love, great labyrinth.’
Back on Miraflores main front we became reacquainted with Paddington Bear (the sculpture) ready with his suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches for his great adventure sailing to England from Callao. Back to the ship we had an evening performance with the loudest and most colourful dancing display of all things Lima. It was a rich tapestry of cultural extremes of threatening devils and joyful movement backed by so many enthusiastic drummers. Lima actually means ‘threaded cords’ and that evening brought them all together.
The following day we said farewell to Lima with a service of Holy Communion reflecting on all the sights and experiences of Peru and South America so far, through the story of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus. He experienced more than just new sight as he received the transforming living touch of Jesus. This latest port of call in South America brought to mind the variety of so many colourful experiences of sight, sound and taste. Vivid life and exuberances of so many kinds, from rainbows to mountains, lakes, overwhelming waterfalls, glaciers and wildlife beyond description. We held our breath for the next part of our voyage to the Caribbean.
The communication of the world in terms of trade and sustenance is a story of transformation. During this looking through a lens of pandemic it has made us even more aware of food production chains and transportation systems. Also in this green ‘Creationtide’ of August, September and October of Trinity highlights our inter-connectedness.
The Panama Canal transformed the trading of the world linking the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Opened in August 1914 it is 51 miles of waterway. Today it takes over 8 hours to sail through (pre booked). In this decade it has seen on average 815,000 vessels a year sail through. As recently as 2016 they added a wider lock to accommodate the ever-growing number of super large container ships. Their cargo is diverse and includes automobiles, grain, soya beans, natural gas and all energy renewable and otherwise.
Panama who took over the administration of the canal zone in 1977, control the charges to traverse the canal. For our cruise ship (710 cabins) it was charged 138 U.S.Dollars per cabin to go through.
The locks (as seen in the photo) are 14,000 feet long, 180 feet wide and 60 feet deep. The French began the project in 1871 and lost so many workers from mosquito related illness. The USA took over its management in 1904 until opening in 1914. Today the UK has £3.3 billion in holdings in Panama and exports from the UK there exceed £149 million a year. They include whisky, organics, chemicals, medicinals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment including expertise in green sustainable technology. Panama City is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and is quite a sight.
Next stop, Puerto Limon and the delight of Costa Rica…
Edward and Jane