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Published: April 11th 2011
Friday 8 April – Lima
Lima is a big city which stretches for kilometres to house the 11 million people (I think my last blog listed it as 8 million people which is incorrect). Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or "The City of Kings" It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area..
We stayed at The Place Hotel which was in the Miraflores district which is an up-market area close to the beach. A Hilton Hotel was being built opposite us. There are many casinos in this district also and many banks. There was JF Kennedy Plaza Shopping Centre in the area as well as a massive shopping mall down in the front of and cut into the cliff which went down to the beach. It was a great spot.
As Lima is built on a desert and next to the beach, and with predominant onshore breezes, every morning and evening, the
sea-front is misty, and so thick that the tops of the sky-scrapers can’t be seen. Lima summer sunsets are well known for being colorful. As such, they have been labeled by the locals as "cielo de brujas" (spanish for "sky of witches"), since the sky commonly turns into shades of orange, pink and red around 7 pm. Today the temperature was about 20-25 degrees and a little overcast.
For breakfast, Diego took us to a supermarket so that we could buy some things for breakfast. We took our purchases upstairs to the restaurant. We then bought coffee at the restaurant. I only had juice as I was getting over sharp abdo pain which only lasted ½ hour but I didn’t feel hungry. Lima is known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas due to all the immigrants from the many different countries: African, European, Chinese, and Japanese.
After that Claire, Tom and I caught a taxi to the Gold Museum (Sala Museo Oro del Perú Larcomar). It cost 20 Sol (exchange rate 2.77 Soles to US$1). The Ono (Gold) Museum was fascinating and massive. They had one floor full of gold, silver and platinum made clothing, ornaments, earings,
San Martin statue
He lead the revolution which resulted in Peru;s independence
wrist and ankle bands, bowls, drinking receptacles of the Chimu and Inca communities since 900 BC. The large sequined clothing, chest plates, head-dresses where very intricate. There were a number of mummified bodies on display. They were not embalmed like the Egyptians method, but they made sure they wrapped them and buried them in a dry place. There were a lot of ceremonial items on display also. Some were missing as they were on display in Japan. Tom & I had automated guide headsets which was really interesting.
On the second floor of the Museum housed guns, saddlery and military uniforms from the Japanese and all other countries that have invaded the western coast of South America. There must have been hundreds of guns and rifles displayed. A lot of the armoury was like the English knights as was their battle uniforms.
After we came back, we met our new Peruvian guide, Maddy who lives in Cuzco. He gave us a briefing of the next 26 days in Peru and Bolivia. He obviously loves Peru and has been working with Intrepid for 1 ½ years.
He talked to us about the number of significant changes in Presidents of
Peru in the past 2 decades. The present one is quite old. Previous to him, there was a part-Japanese guy who was President for 10 years. He was 35 y.o. when he was elected. Even though he raised substantial revenue through the drug trade, he made a substantial positive impact on the country’s economy and developed Peru to the extent that more jobs became available, more international countries were investing in Peru and the people’s wages were increasing.
Saturday 9 April 2011 – Lima
Maddy, our guide, took us on a city tour. We saw the balconies which were a major feature of Lima's architecture during the colonial period. In 1940, an earthquake destroyed most of the city, which at that time was mostly built out of adobe and quincha. In the 1940s, Lima started a period of rapid growth spurred by migration from the Andean regions of Peru, as rural people sought better opportunities for work and education.
The first settlement in what would become Lima was made up of only 117 housing blocks. In 1562, another district was built at the other side of the Rimac River and in 1610, the first stone bridge was
built. Lima then had a population of around 26,000; blacks made up around 40% of the population, and whites made up around 38% of the population. By 1748, the white population totaled 16,000-18,000. In 1861, the number of inhabitants surpassed 100,000, and by 1927, this amount was doubled. The population, estimated at 0.6 million in 1940, reached 1.9M by 1960 and 4.8M by 1980. At the start of this period, the urban area was confined to a triangular area bounded by the city's historic centre, Callao and Chorrillos; in the following decades settlements spread to the north, beyond the Rímac River, to the east, along the Central Highway, and to the south. The new migrants, at first confined to slums in downtown Lima, led this expansion through large-scale land invasions, which evolved into shanty towns, known as pueblos jovenes.
The city center is located 15 km inland at the shore of the Rimac river, a vital resource for the city, since it carries the drinking water for its inhabitants and fuels the hydroelectric dams that provide electricity to the area. While no official administrative definition for the city exists, it is usually considered to be composed of the central
30 out of the 43 districts of Lima Province, corresponding to an urban area centered around the historic Cercado de Lima district which we visited..
Today the Lima community is highly multi-cultural and has influenced the way people live in Lima.
Lima is the industrial and financial center of Peru, and one of the most important financial centers in Latin America. Today it is home to many national companies. It accounts for more than two thirds of Peru's industrial production and most of its tertiary sector. We saw many university students.
We saw that Lima's architecture which is characterised by a mix in styles as reflected from shifts between trends throughout various time periods of the city's history. Examples of early Spanish colonial architecture include such structures as the Monastery of San Francisco which we visited, the Cathederal of Lima and the Torre Tagle Palace. These constructions are generally influenced by the Spanish baroque, Spanish Neoclassicism and Spanish Colonial style Many of these constructions were greatly influenced by French architectural styles. Many government buildings as well as major cultural institutions were contracted in this architectural time period.
During our tour of the city's we saw many churches dating
from as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, the most noteworthy of which are the Cathedral of Lima and the Monastery of San Francisco, said to be connected by their subterrestrial catacombs which we walked through. Unlike the catacombs in Rome, which we visited, we didn’t have to crawl on all-fours at all. Both of these churches contain paintings from various schools of art, Sevilian tile, and finely sculpted wood furnishings. La Iglesia de San Francisco. These underground catacombs featuring over 25,000 real human skeletons (buried between the late 16th and early 19th centuries) arranged in artistic patterns, and also a beautiful library with mysterious, oversized books and spiral staircases in Harry Potteresque form.
Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor, is the main square of downtown Lima. In the Spanish tradition, it's bordered in four sides by Government/Presidential Palace or Palacio de Gobierno, the Cathedral and Archbishop's Palace, the Municipalidad or City Hall, and assorted businesses. All the Government buildings in Lima are painted yellow. One of the buildings around the Plaza is now a restaurant and Hotel which was where we had a beautiful meal.
After lunch we headed back to our hotel to pick up
our bags and hop on a bus for 4 hours which took us to Pisco.
On the way we saw more of the sandy desert which continues to meet the sea. Every now and then, where there was a river and underground water, there was much produce being grown, including grape vines. We saw a beautiful sunset that evening before arriving at Pisco at about 6.30pm.
I will leave Pisco until my next blog.
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