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AnneWellman’s Travel Diary

Monday, 28 Feb 2011

Location: Peru

MapMon 28 Feb, Tues-Weds 1-2 March

Anne: Lima. Checked out the main square, called Plaza de Armas apparently in accordance with South American law - every single main square throughout S America has been called Plaza de Armas and all have had a cathedral, a government building and a hero on a horse. Lima no exception but the architecture is interesting: overhanging Elizabethan-looking wooden balconies built in Spanish colonial times. Long lines at a monastery as people waited to go in with flowers for a particular saint's day. On our second day in port, visited some wonderful museums crammed with pre-Columbian pottery, gold and silver and textiles - such amazing cultures which go way back even before the Incas, the existing culture at the time of the Spanish conquests. The geometric pottery and textile designs seem so modern. Two more facts about Lima - it never rains there (ever) and the local drink is called Inca Cola.
Before the ship sailed about 50 children came on board from two orphanages supported by the shipping line to be treated to a barbecue and ice-cream and organised games. Played a couple at ping-pong - completely destroyed by an 11 year-old.

Martyn: Cusco. 0430 start to fly to Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire and at 11,000 feet altitude. Two cups of coca tea to ward off altitude sickness, then tour of city and local ruins. Interesting mix of Inca and Spanish architecture in town, though of course all the gold was removed and melted down in the 16th century. Inca walls were made of huge blocks of stone carved to fit precisely and lean in such a way as to survive earthquakes. Although the Spanish made the locals copy their style in building new churches, the locals inserted their own touches, like a plate of guinea pig (local delicacy) in a painting of the Last Supper, and naked ladies carved into pews. Guinea pig is indeed on the menu today, with or without head, but I chose alpaca steak instead, which is lean and tasty.

Martyn: Machu Picchu. Another early start next day to wend our way across beautiful Andean scenery and along the Sacred Valley as far as the village below Machu Picchu, then up the steep and winding road to M.P., which only becomes visible once you have shown your ticket and entered the site. A breathtaking view, already familiar but stunning in reality, and the weather was perfect. Tour was led by a very informative local guide, though some of the symbols he pointed out stretched credibility ('look at those hills, imagine them sideways and you can see the Inca king's face'). Got the de rigueur photo of a llama in front of the ruins. Back at the hotel below, my room overlooked the river, which was a raging brown torrent and as noisy as Niagara, but I slept well with the help of earplugs. Treated myself next morning to a soak in the hot springs outside the village, and an 'Inca' massage (no, they don't tear your heart out). More alpaca for lunch, then back to Cusco. Next day, 3 flights to reach the Ecuadorian coastal city of Manta, where I was due to rejoin the ship (and Anne). Doorman at this hotel had a gun, so I decided to eat in.