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Published: April 22nd 2018
Raul our Guide
great guide. Knowledgeable and very concerned we have a great time
Today began with an excellent buffet breakfast. There was french toast, actually a toasted it tasted and looked like a peanut butter sandwich cut into 4 pieces.There were eggs and cheese scrambled, various fruits, cold cuts and cheeses. There was even sausages and other fine delicacies. Coffee was interesting. When I poured it out of the pot it looked very black and very thick. I assumed it would be bitter so I pulled our 5 sugar packets. I added a little hot milk to the coffee and it lightened up immediately. I added one sugar and tasted, hummmm, pretty good. Not bitter at all in fact it was perfect. Three cups later I was really buzzed!
Our tour today was in two parts. Part one was a city tour of Lima followed by lunch then a trip to the Inca ruins. There was also an optional tour which was one hour at the Lima City museum of archaeology followed by a sumptuous meal in the museum. The cost was a little steep at $85 so We all passed. One of our 4 is a little under the weather suffering from an ear situation that causes him to feel dizzy and
gets car sick, so he is not having the best time. He is trying out some antihistamine to see if he can get some relief. We all hope it works.
So we hit the bus at 8:00 am for the start of the city tour. Some facts, Lima is the largest city in Peru wit 9 million people. It is also the capital. Lima is on the coast so we have access to the South Pacific Ocean as well as the Andes Mountains. Lima is a desert with only 3 inches of rain fall annually.
We visited Plaza Major which is the spiritual , economic and political center of the city. Plaza Major is a beautiful park-like setting in the middle of Lima. Here we have banks, government buildings and of course a cathedral. The cathedral is interesting in that the two main towers fell during an earth quake and were rebuilt in the 1950's. Unfortunately due to lack of funds they were built too short and the cathedral has an odd look to it. It should be noted that the first stone of this massive cathedral was laid by Pizarro himself who conquered the Inca in the
name of Christianity.
Funny story about Pizarro. He came to this land from Spain and was so aghast that the Inca practiced ritual sacrifice of animals and humans that in the name of Christianity he decided the kill them all. He also stole every pound of gold and silver he could get his hands on. There is still the Pizarro family in residence.
We also visited Independence Plaza dedicated to Jose de San Martin who is credited with driving out the Spaniards from Peru. The 200th year of freedom is to be celebrated in July of 2021 and will be hosted in this very square. We were told there will be much celebration and drinking and all are welcome!
From here we went to the San Francisco Monetary. Of course it is dedicate to Saint Francis and is run by a cloister of Monks. The monastery was built in the 17th century and was absolutely beautiful. Our local guide, Jose, was a teacher and was very knowledgeable concerning all aspects of the monastic life. the highlight was the catacombs under the church which has the bones of 25,000 faithful neatly arranged in beautiful art work throughout the
catacomb. The people wanted to be buried under the church, the quickest way to heaven after death. Well the bodies of 25,000 people were just too much for the facility to handle, so the monks devised a plan to bury the faithful in quicklime which rapidly reduced the body to a few large bones. What was left was basically the femur, pelvis and skull. These they arranged throughout the catacomb as a display of the deceased. It was really interesting to see the arrangements of the bones.
From here we went to the city center and saw more of modern Lima. Lima, as I said earlier, is the capital of Peru and is very busy. People do have personal cars for the most part. With 9 million people there are only 1 million cars. Most take the bus. A typical worker may spend up to 3 hours a day on the bus to and from work! Buses are old, crowded and plentiful, snarling traffic even on this Saturday.
next we went with our guide for lunch. This was our first on your own lunch and so we all went our own way for lunch. I chose to join
our guide, Raul, for lunch at his favorite fish restaurant. It was a short bus ride to the locale and there were about 10 of us in this very tiny restaurant. No English was spoken and the menu was mostly fish dishes. Raul suggested we order a rice and fish dish, soup and ceviche, a mixture of raw sea bass and onions with some corn and potato.
Not knowing any better I took the suggestion and was offered a delicious dish of fried rice with octopus, squid, prawns and sea bass with alight mix of vegetables. It was delicious. Next came the ceviche, or raw fish. It is not actually raw, per se, it is cooked with a mixture of spices that chemically alter the fish to what passes for a cooked state. I admit it looked a little off, but once passed the lips it was superb. I passed on the soup. I did add an Inca Kola for a beverage and then it was off to Pachacamac Inca ruins. Now the meal was a little pricey, about $30, but well worth the taste treat. Ceviche is one of the top 10 foods to taste in Lima, so
I can take that off the bucket list. I also had an Inca Kola, another must have when in Lima.
We took a 45 minute ride on the bus along the South Pacific coast and learned a little more recent history. It seems that in the 1970" there was a revolution in the communist block and many people fled persecution. Millions came to Lima. With no place to go they became squatters. The filled the hillsides and the valleys by the millions building shanty towns all along the hills. The government tried to stop the hordes but to no avail. More and more came and squatted until the situation was out of control. Still they live on the hill sides, outside the normal society running illegal stores, stealing electricity and without water or school system found a way to survive. After 2 decades the government permitted many to stay and more to just keep living on the hill sides. It is like having an entire country within Peru. sort of amazing.
We reached the state park of Pachacamac and the center of Inca civilization in Lima. Here we had up to 25 ancient pyramids, 16 of which are
somewhat visible, the rest still under the sands that swallowed them up centuries ago. The government is trying to revive the pyramids and has created a great tourist attraction. We say several well preserved pyramids, flat topped of course not like those in Egypt with their classic pointed apex.
We walked around the Great Red Pyramid, dedicated to the sun. It faced south west and was aligned to the winter solstice as viewed across the ocean. This site was amazing. We walked among the ruins for about 2 hours when we were called back to the bus for the ride home.
At 5:30 we had our first meeting to go over the rest of the tour plans. We will be leaving in the morning for Cuzco at 5:30 AM, so the wake up call is 4:30 AM. The only thing that was good at the meeting was the offer of another of Lima's taste treats a Pisco Sour. An interesting concoction of Pisco, raw egg and sour mix. It was good, I had 4.
next came a more modest dinner where my traveling companions and I went to a local restaurant and enjoyed a fixed menu dinner of chicken, salad and a nice piece of cheesecake with coffee and beverage all for $7!.
So it is about 9 PM her ein Lima nd I am off to shower and sleep. Can't wait for tomorrow as we fly to Cuzco.
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