Our past travels have been for the most part east or west...directions you can never find an end to...whereas there is just so far you can go north or south. This trip would take us south of the equator to our final continent (with the exception of Antarctic). I faced this trip with some trepidation, as I was totally unfamiliar with this part of the world. Hence, I had arranged our travel through a local agency, Trip Peru.
30 April/1 May 2014 Wednesday and Thursday. Our daughter drove us to Denver to catch our flight. Our tickets stated that we were pre-checked so that we didn't have to take off our shoes or take out the computer. We did have to go through the x-ray, where I remembered at the last minute I had my Swiss Army knife in my pocket. I put it in my backpack, but TSA still found it. I can't count the number I've given up. We caught a flight to Dallas/Forth Worth, and from there a seven hour direct flight south to Lima, Peru, arriving there just after midnight on the first. The flights were uneventful. Our first inter-nodal connection was in Lima...would
the car be there to meet us? It was with considerable relief that we saw a lady from Condor Tours holding a sign with our name...this bode well for future connections! We got to our hotel in Miraflores about 2 am, checked in, and went to bed immediately.
We awoke about 9 am and after a continental breakfast walked the three blocks to the Pacific Ocean. The weather was overcast the entire day...fairly typical weather for Lima. We walked along the pedestrian walkway that borders the top of high cliffs with the ocean far below. We had to compete for space on the path with joggers and bikers, dog walkers, and couples snuggling on the benches. This was May Day, a holiday around the world with the exception of the U.S. We found a spare bench and watched the surfers...maybe one in ten caught a wave the first try. We then headed north as far as the Garden of Love, then walked as far south as a cliff side mall with designer stores and chain restaurants like TGIF and Bennigans...not something which interested us as we wanted to experience Peru.
We returned to our hotel about noon to
meet our tour agent to review our itinerary for the time in Peru and Bolivia, and have all our questions answered.
Our first tour started at 2 pm; a tour of the modern (Miraflores), pre-colonial and colonial center of Lima. We were joined by two couples from Argentina and one from Brazil. Fortunately, the tour was bilingual. The area has been occupied since about 200 BC by a variety of pre-Inca civilizations. We visited a pyramid built by the early Huallamarca people. The Inca didn't arrive on the scene until the 15th century and their empire only lasted about 100 years before Pissaro and his fellow conquistadors showed up looking for gold and silver, which they found in abundance. Lima was the capital of the Vice-Roi of Spanish America, initially one of two, the other being Mexico City which was conquered by Cortes. So the rest of the day was spent visiting colonial Peru.
We visited an olive orchard that used to have upwards of three thousand trees all planted by black slaves in the 16th century. Somehow, one of the slaves became one of the first saints, and it is now tradition for newlyweds to pose in
front of a specific olive tree. Now there are only fifteen hundred trees left, with the remainder of the land converted to an exclusive residential community in the 1930's.
Our next stop was the area around the Main Square, where all the important government and church buildings are located. We walked around the square, but most buildings were closed for the holiday. We visited the Dominican Monastery a block from the square. The most interesting part was the library with 500 year old books. I tried to check one out, but it wasn't that sort of library.
With the tour over, we asked to be dropped off at Kennedy Square at a restaurant that served Peruvian food. The guide gave us a list of dishes to try out. His recommendations were spot on...I tried the Ceviche with Pisco Sour and Linda had the Lomo Saltaldo with Chicha Morales. We have been working down his list ever since. We then walked the six blocks back to our hotel to turn in for the night as we hadn't got much sleep the night before.
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