|Sunday 8th June 2014
Huanchaco to Lima, Peru
Today we set off at about 7:00am and drove along the Pan American Highway to the south. The day was misty and overcast and quite cool - only about 18C. It didn't warm up much all day. The weather here looks as though it could rain, but it never does at any time of the year, as it is a desert. Any crops are grown with irrigation from the rivers that run out of the mountains. The ancients first set up the irrigation hundreds, even thousands of years ago and they still grow crops in the same way. We passed through a couple of quite large towns/cities after driving through bone dry desert. It is a very odd climate and yet it is close to the sea, sometimes bordering the sea. We stopped at 2 sites today, the first one a really amazing ancient ruin (2000 BC) set into the side of a hill. There were carvings of people in the rock walls (they had been cleaned in recent imes) and also an interesting museum. The area we drove through this morning was all devastated by a large earthquake in 1970 and in one town alone, 20,000 people died when a landslide covered the town while they were asleep. Some smaller towns have never really recovered but the larger ones have been rebuilt over time. We had lunch at this site and then continued towards Lima. There were two Peruvian dogs at this site - they are black and have no hair except a line of gingery coloured hair on top of their head between their ears. We have been told that they have been here in Peru since the original inhabitants lived here. We drove on and at about 3:30pm we reached another ancient ruin, this time again on top of a hill. It is supposed to be a temple to the sun and one to the moon as well. This site is looked after by a municipal authority and is surrounded by fields of sugar cane that are irrigated by a river that empties into the ocean about one kilometre away. It is set very high with a great view of the surrounding countryside. We set off again and reached the outskirts of Lima, a city of about 9 million people, at about 6:30pm. The final stages of the drive is amazingly spectacular as the road runs right next to the sea and is above the sea about 150-200 metres and between the road and the sea are almost perpendicular sand cliffs. Never seen anything like it anywhere else. This landscape continued for about 20 km before we reached the northern part of the city. Finally reached our hotel in the centre of the city at about 7:20pm after negotiating the Sunday afternoon traffic. The first room allocated to us had a strong smell of smoking so we asked to be moved. The new room further alone the corridor was not quite as big and only had one bedside table and lamp. As we hadn't closed the first room door, Lynn popped back in and moved a bedside table and lamp into the second room, plus she switched towels as the first were better quality! We then went out to dinner with the group at a restaurant near the main square, where we will do some exploring over the next couple of days. Quite cool here in Lima, considering it's still well in the tropics, almost always dry.
Monday 9th June 2014
Up late today and had breakfast a couple of blocks away. We then came back to the room and then at around 11:45am, we went out for a walk in the city. We watched the last of the Changing of the Guard at the Presidential Palace on the main square. The main square (Plaza de Armas) is truly beautiful as befits the oldest Spanish established city in South America. Lima was established in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro and was the capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty that included Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile in addition to Peru. It is a surprisingly spacious looking place with grand buildings that are very well maintained . After we looked around the main square, we did some shopping and then had lunch. Because we were on a mission to buy a suitcase (yes - we have finally started to acquire things), we headed over to the China Town/Central Market area where you can buy everything imaginable in the whole world from small stalls that are absolutely everywhere. Once we had bought our suitcase, we walked back to the hotel and had a drink before heading out to dinner. Quite a relaxing day. Cool and overcast, but dry.
Tuesday 10th June 2014
Up late again today and then went down the road to breakfast - not very good today - We then had to print out our documents for the final weeks of our trip in Chile in an internet and print shop. We then went out to visit the Museum and Convent of San Francisco Church and which offers an english speaking tour. This is a fascinating place as it has catacombs in the basement that hold the bones of 70,000 people who died between the early 1600s and about 1820 when the place was closed up and only rediscovered in more recent years. There are 40 monks living there now (not in the catacombs). After we had lunch in a local restaurant, we then walked to the Museum of the Inquisition, a very ominous place where people were tried as part of the Spanish Inquisition from the 1600s until about 1820 (when Peru gained its independence from Spain) - liberated by Simon Bolivar, whose statue on a horse stands in a park in front of the Peruvian Congress Building just opposite the Museum of the Inquisition. In the dungeons there were tiny cells and implements of torture. It was fairly horrible but fascinating. We then did a bit of shopping for breakfast tomorrow as we are moving on again early, bought a SIM card for our phone and then went back to the hotel. David then had a haircut. Tonight we are meeting with the new people who are joining us here in Lima and then we are going out to dinner.