Tag Archives: Pisco

16 December 2019:
General San Martin, Paracas and Pisco, Peru:
Pelicans and Hidden Necropolises in the Sand

By Corey Sandler

When I was a child, one of my paternal grandmother’s favorite bits of poetry–and she had many–was this:

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.

I thought of her today, as we strolled along small resort town of Paracas, midway between the port of General San Martin where our ship was docked and the city of Pisco.

A Pelican in Paracas

We’ve been here before, but it still is amazing to see the sprawling desert that comes right down to the sea in this part of Peru and in Chile to the south. There is not much fresh water to be had, but the ocean is full of fish and the pelicans are well-fed.

Viking Sun at the pier in the port of General San Martin. The port is named after the man considered the liberator of Peru from the Spanish; San Martin was a compatriot of Simon Bolivar
Pierside loading claws at the port

Paracas is a Quechua word that refers to the hurricane-like winds that carry sand. The desert near Paracas is stark beauty, mostly shades of red colored by iron deposits. In 1925 several major archeological sites were found in Cerro Colorado, the Red Hill.

Two sets of tombs were found on either side of the road, one holding about 40 sets of remains and the other hundreds. The larger site is considered much older, but the pair indicate this was a special place for the Paracas people. The older Paracas Cavernas is believed to date from about 800 to 200 BCE, and the nearby Paracas Necropolis from about 200 BCE to 150 of the Common Era.

In both places bodies are wrapped in textiles, many in a sitting position. Peru has done some basic excavation and research, but most of the artifacts are preserved as they were beneath the ground in this dry, remote place.

Cerro Colorado
A modern hotel’s garden in Paracas, lit by the strong morning sun
At the market in Paracas

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

9 December 2019 to 4 January 2020:
Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles:
Crossing the Equator on America’s West Coast

By Corey Sandler

We flew south all through the night from New York to Santiago, Chile. We left the wintry East Coast of the United States and landed in summery South America.

Viking’s Viking Sun will spend the next 28 days heading northwest and then north, calling at ports in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and then San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States.

This is just one month in a record-setting eight-month-long World Cruise. We will cross the Equator as we sail along the appropriately named nation of Ecuador. In fact, across the eight months of this cruise, this ship will cross the Equator four times heading south then north then south then north again. A hearty few dozen guests will be aboard for the entire journey, while others will partake of various segments.

I’ll be posting photos and comments here throughout this cruise. I hope you’ll join me here.

25 October 2017:
Pisco, Peru:
The UFO Refueling Station?

By Corey Sandler

Pisco is an island-like city in the midst of a desert-like stretch of southern Peru.

The surrounding desert was the home of the Nazca people…and, according to some, an airport for UFO landings.

And perhaps not coincidentally, it is the world headquarters for a very strong grape-based brandy.

An island in the desert with breweries for high-octane alcohol and an airport for aliens. Makes sense to me. (Just like Las Vegas…)

Speaking of booze, the firewater of this region is called Pisco, a colorless or yellowish brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit.

It was developed by 16th century Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain.

Annual pisco production in Peru is about 10 million liters, but they don’t much drink it here.

Like the asparagus crop, though, Peru makes the product mostly for export with neighboring Chile a major consumer.

Here in Pisco, they prefer to offer visiting aliens a whiskey to refuel their spaceship.

Sadly, Pisco was all but leveled in the earthquake of 2007.

Pisco, An island in the Desert. Photos by Corey Sandler


On this visit, I went with guests on a boat trip due West offshore to the amazing Ballestas Islands, a mini-Gallapagos that is home to uncounted millions of birds, sea lions, and other creatures.

Along the way we sailed abeam of El Candellario, an ancient figure drawn into the sand and soil of the coast, a cousin to the better-known Nazca Lines inland. No one knows what the drawing means, although it almost certainly does not represent a candelabra, since the ancients had no such device. It may represent a cactus, or it may be a road sign pointing the way inland to Pisco or out to sea toward the Ballestas.

Here is some of what we saw:

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.


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