Day 12 — A Relic of Peruano Naval History Restored

Tuesday — April 14

From our balcony at Casa Andina, I had noticed a boat docked not too far away. On the ride back from Chucuito to Puno, I asked Percy if it might be the Yavari, a gunboat-turned-museum. He said no, explaining that it was a sister ship, the SS Ollanta, which is in the process of being transformed into a restaurant. When he went on to say that the Yavari was docked at the Sonesta Posada Hotel del Inca, I suggested to Mui that we make a detour to check out a piece of the country’s naval history. Percy and Leo dropped us off in front of the Sonesta and off we went to explore the former gunboat.

The MN Yavari is a museum that may one day become a working vessel again.

In 1861, the Yavari, and her sister ship, the Yapura, were ordered from a shipbuilder in England. The two gunboats, and the drydock required to assemble them, were shipped in 2,766 pieces, traveling to Perú via Cape Horn (no Panama Canal yet to speed up the journey). From the port of Arica (then Peruvian), the pieces were put on a train to Tacna. Over the next six years, mules were used to transport the pieces up the Andes Mountains to Puno, where the boats were re-assembled. On Christmas Day 1870, the Yavari was launched; the Yapura followed two years later.

The Yavari served as part of the Peruvian Navy for 100+ years before it was acquired by an Anglo-Peruvian association in 1975. The boat was converted into a museum with the eventual goal — yet to be realized — of offering day-sails on Lake Titicaca.

The capstan on the bow of the Yavari.
(the ship off the bow is the SS Ollanta, which will be getting a second lease on life as a restaurant)

We were welcomed aboard by Antonia, a ten-year member of the crew. She gave us an excellent tour that took us from the engine room in the bowels of the boat, to the cabins below decks, to the wheelhouse above decks. From the shellacked wood surfaces, to the gleaming brass accents, to the black and white paint job, the boat was in shipshape condition. Obviously the restoration of the Yavari is a labor of love for the small crew charged with maintaining it on a daily basis.

In what used to be the captain’s quarters, we were invited to watch two short videos that gave us background information about the boat and the ongoing project to restore it back to working condition. In fact, the boat has successfully passed its “lake trial.” They are currently working on the next stage — bringing it up to safety codes so that the Yavari can provide day cruises on Lake Titicaca. Now that’s something I would like to do one day.

Our tour of the Yavari took us from the cabins below decks to ...

… the engine room and the wheelhouse.

A video presentation is part of the tour of the Yavari.

After adding our small donation to the coffers of the restoration project, which by the way, was made possible with the support of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (aka Prince Philip), we took our leave of the Yavari.

You can find more information on the Yavari here.

When he dropped us off at the Sonesta, Percy had shown us where to catch one of the red “collectivos” (shared taxis) to get back to Casa Andina. It sounded like a good idea at the time. As it had grown considerably chilly since then, however, we decided to have the concierge at the Sonesta call a taxi for us. Ten minutes later — half of which was spent waiting for the cab to arrive — we were at our hotel. A cozy fire in the corner hearth in the lobby and a cup of té de muña (Andean mint tea; tastes like spearmint) helped restore the warmth back into our chilled bodies.

A warm fire is welcome on a cold evening on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

We went down to the dining room around 6:30p — early by Latin standards, but we were starving. Both of the fireplaces were lit, adding a sense of coziness as we enjoyed a delicious meal at our window-side table with a view of the twinkling lights of Puno studded against the inky darkness of the night. Having enjoyed my sampling of Mui’s lunch entrée, saqta de gallina, I ordered it as my main course. Mui decided to have the “other red meat” — alpaca; he deemed it to be cooked to perfection. We rounded out dinner with a chocolate and passion fruit tart layered with English cream and topped with homemade ice cream — heavenly.

We’re not the only early birds in the Casa Andina dining room.

Left: Saqta de Gallina is a chicken stew commonly found on menus in this part of Perú.
Right: Can we bear to destroy this work of art? You bet!

The rest of the evening was a quiet one. We spent it checking email (free wifi in the room) and backing up photos. With a full day on Lake Titicaca awaiting us the next day, we called it an early night.

Next Up: Day 13 — Islas Flotantes de los Uros

No comments:

Post a Comment