22 November 2017
A civilised start to the day at 9am, and off high up above the city to a marvellous archeological park, where we saw Inca temple remains, alpacas, the statue of Christ given to Peru by grateful Palestinian Christians in the late 1940s, for giving them asylum and right to remain. The climb was a bit of a challenge, but the view of the city from the top was worth it. We were a group of six people, with our guide, Gladys, and our driver, Edwin.
Then off again even higher to a site of a temple to the water god, and earth god. The Spanish had a nasty habit of building churches right on top of Inca temples of the sun etc, but some of those we saw today were too remote for the conquistadores to bother. We discovered loads of information from our guide, including the fact that local people still observe these religious practices, so Señor Pizarro didn't get it all his own way in the end. There were local people everywhere at these sites, selling all kinds of wonderfully colourful merchandise. Very tempting, but nything we buy we will have to schlepp around from bus to hotel to train to airport for the next two weeks, so I think we'll wait a while and get stuff when we are back in Lima prior to going home.
Inca astronomy was amazing, they identified the Milky Way and documented the seasons so as to know when best to plant crops and when to harvest them. As they had no pack animals and no vehicles Inca farmers had to carry their crops long distances to markets, on foot. No horses, donkeys or cattle, no chicken, pigs or sheep prior to the Spanish introducing them. Yet amazing achievements in architecture, moving massive slabs of stone just using log rollers and human muscle.
The food here is good, and lots of it are largely unknown to us. Fruit, vegetables, grains, with names that haven't stuck in my memory. I have had Criole Soup twice, it is bsically tomato soup with angel hair pasta, tiny bits of cooked beef, and a poached egg on top. Today it was Quinoa Soup, divine!
They say the weather here is very changeable. It has been sunny two days running now so we are indeed fortunate. But we don't move a muscle without rain gear.
Tomorrow we check out of our second hotel, after two nights, and set off by coach to the Sacred Valley, some distance lower than here, so we will spend a couple of nights in a hotel there, before setting off to Machu Pichu. We are at 13 degrees south, 71 degrees west. How about that?
21 November 2017
Our flight from Amsterdam was amazing. The first excitement was to look down from 34,000 feet and see London, unmistakeable because of the Millennium Dome, and the meandering Thames. We seemed to be chasing the sun as we flew south-west over the Atlantic Ocean for many hours, finally crossing the coast of South America into Guyana, following the track of a river (sorry to say I can't name it at the moment). On board there was lots of entertainment, films, music, games, flight tracking and tv series. We were very well fed, too. I had a good thriller with me, so I set about reading that from first to last page.
The sun disappeared finally over the western horizon in a red glow, then we flew in an arc over the Pacific to line up for Lima Airport, and we had arrived!
I had managed to put my watch on to Peru time, so although my body said it was after midnight, it was only 7pm in local time. Our bags emerged and we were met by our courier, who took charge of us, got us into a minibus and checked into our hotel, after a hair-raising drive along the coastal highway, to Miraflores, a nice quarter of Lima. Our hotel was central, and very comfortable. We checked in, got to the room, and headed for bed.
We had an eventful morning on our first full day in Peru (more of that later), ending up with a nice walk back to the hotel in time for lunch. Our first organised excursion was with a local guide, Miguel, in a minibus, who showed us some of the great sights of the city, including Inca remains, the President's Palace, the Panamerican Highway which runs from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego down the west coast. We saw 'black buzzards', really vultures, in great crowds. We saw the tomb of Pizarro, who turned the Inca kingdom into a Spanish conquest, and learned a great deal about why South America lagged a bit behind the Old World, since nobody knew it was there!
Our guide was really interesting talking about the difference between colonising and conquering. The Spaniards apparently never brought their families to live here, only plundering the country for its riches and sending them back home. He maintained that people who came to Peru to live became integrated into society, so did not form ghettos or subcultures. Pointing out the large slice of the population who came from China, he told us that there is no Chinatown in Lima. Everybody is or becomes Peruvian. Interesting.
After a long tour we headed back to the hotel, learning on the way that there is indeed a statue of Paddington Bear in Lima. Gifted to the city two years ago by the Lord Mayor of London. This we must go and see.
Very early start on Tuesday 21st November, to breakfast at 6 and be whisked off to the airport again to fly to Cusco.
Again a courier from Llama Travel (pronounced Yama) came with us, sorted out our boarding passes and sent us on our way. The flight took about an hour, and took us up 3,400 metres, or 11,000 feet. About two and a half Ben Nevises.
I had been obsessing about this for weeks, thinking I would crumble at the first gasp of thin air. But it's fine, I'm fine. Again Yama Travel got us to the hotel with minimum fuss, where cups of coca tea are freely on offer. We had some, it was nice. Apparently the locals chew coca leaves all the time as it lessens the effects of altitude sickness. Our first day in Cusco, the legendary capital of the Incas, is being spent resting and acclimatising. A minibus tour awaits us tomorrow.
Journeys without Reg
19 November 2017
Sorry we have been a bit quiet since our return from Orkney. We have not done any further trips in the van since then.
Now however we are off on a new adventure, a trip to Peru. So we will chronicle that trip here. At the moment we are in a transfer lounge at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, for a few hours between flights. The next flight will take us to Lima, and five hours later in time. Or is it earlier, I can never work these things out. In any case we are leaving an increasingly cold autumn for a considerably warmer spring! Watch this space!!
By the way, Little Else is currently in Jamaica, and looking for a new owner, her present owner having had a wonderful time taking her there via many other countries. Check out her Facebook page. We follow it out of sheer nostalgia!
Photo of our view from home the other morning.