Published: August 8th 2007June 13th 2007
I think one of the main reasons why we were looking forward to Lima was being back at sea level again, and thus, hopefully, feeling a bit warmer! Alas, we'd been warned that there would be too much fog. And so the story would be.
Also, the suggestion was made to stay in Miraflores, the "ritzier" tourist part of Lima, in the Inka Hostal. I think neither we would recommend to anyone, unless you like concrete, shopping malls, and have industrial strength ear plugs.
But anyways, it's still the nation's capital, and there were things to be seen. So we made a management summary, and made sure we did it all ASAP!
So day one we got organised, and morning day 2 we got picked up for a half day city tour, yes, another one. Not much better or worse than the other ones we've had, doing a bit of zig-zagging through town to make our way into the centre. First stop for some photo ops was the Plaza San Martin, some churches and the usual statues in the centre. Next stop the main square with the government palace and the cathedral. As opposed to the all white
San Martin area, this square had a bit more color, albeit mostly in yellow. The other thing for which Lima appears to be famous are it's many balconies, most in wood, most closed. Indeed, there were plenty of fine examples around the square, and all well maintained/restored.
Finally, of to Convento de San Francisco (Convent of Saint Francis), where we actually got to go inside. Not all was restored, but there was a colourful collage of woodwork, tiles, murals and painting. But no pictures please. Finally, we got to enter the bowels of the convent, the catacombs, in which (and numbers vary) at least 25000 people were burried!!! The only things left are an assortment of thousands of bones and skulls, all sorted by length in different sections/graves. Something you'd expect in an episode of the Adams Family, but maybe not in an innocent tourist city tour.
Rest of the day was pretty much spent on domestics, lunch, post, etc. Highly exciting stuff. Dinner by the water side (Larcomar shopping paradise!) was quite nice actually, and the Pisco Sours are up to decent standards (and strength and size) again. The Cebiche I tried was, ehm, a "sour delight"
as well: Raw fish marinated in lemon juice (which cooks the fish meat). It is a local specialty though, and with the Alpaca and Guinnea Pig I think we've ticked enough food boxes so far in Peru!
After some considerations about costs (the city tour was ok, but the company seemed pricy, to say the least) and options, we did decide to book with them again for the more expensive Pachacamac tour.
Pachacamac is a (pre) Inka site 30kms south of Lima. It's a bit hard to describe, as it's more or less all built out of adobe (=mud) bricks. So needless to say most of it has eroded away, and restorations seem to be going on all the time, and very slowly. Lima is also in a desert area of Peru, and this site pretty much is all desert dunes.
On top of the site was the temple of the sun (no surprises there) with high walls, and approx 100m above sea level (which we could verify as we were that close to the ocean). Again, it's an impressive site, but completely different from something like Machu Picchu. Alledgedly they did also sacrifice humans here, but
only the selected few, and all were women..... Again, no surprises there.
The final temple was the house of the women. Alledgedly not all women who stayed here met their maker on top of the temple of the sun. No, some were spared, and were allowed to mentor/teach other women (who WOULD meet their maker at the aforementioned temple).
One interesting thing about Pachacamac is that the first Spanish did find the site, and did stay there. But after that it was lost for some centuries, until rediscovered end of the 19th century.
The good part of this tour as well was that the 30kms on the way south were broken up with stops along the coast. Even though there was plenty of fog still, it was good to get out and see a few different parts of Lima (even though we zipped past most of the slums). On the way back we got none of that, straigh back in via the Carrera Panamericana.
We did get a friendly drop off at the National Museum though, which was a very, very square concrete building. Wonder who commisioned this to represent such a colourful Nation.
was dirt cheap, by any museum standard. The lovely lady at the front desk ensured us it was very hard to get lost in here, only one way to go around! There were some interesting relics, rock statues, tapistries and god knows what else. It didn't take too long before we found out that most of the big stuff on level one are all replicas..... But still, a good chronological overview of Peru through the ages. You do get tired of so much ceramic pots and pans though, no matter how big the fallic sympols on them are! One interesting original (I think) at the end was the "Idol" which was found at Pachacamac, a very slender totem pole with some fine wood carving on it.
We got lost trying to work our way around the old and contemporary art sections, but by then we were a bit museumed out (like Pachamac there were heards of school kids running around as well), so time to head on. Booking a bus ticket on the way back to the hotel, and finally managing to see Pirates of the Carribean 3 (that was the longest 2.5 hours in quite a while in
that cinema) that night.
We opted for the 7.30am bus OUT of Lima the next morning........ it was too big, too soon! Lima tours
There are more photos below