Today’s port of call is Callao, about a 9 mile, 45 minute drive from Lima, the capital of Peru. If 45 minutes to do 9 miles seems ridiculous, keep in mind that this is a city of 11 million people, the third most populous metropolitan area in the Americas, after Sao Paolo and Mexico City….. and everyone who has a vehicle is going somewhere.
The port city itself is not particularly safe, nor are many areas within Lima, but we travel in groups of 10 to 30 people with a guide, and are all old enough to pay attention when we are told not to flash money around or wander off on our own. And the spectacular architecture of the colonial centre of the city is worth a little extra caution to see.
Unfortunately, I had to forego the tour. I saw the ship’s doctor this morning, who confirmed that the crazy coughing spasms I’m having seem to be due to some kind of environmental allergy (he ruled out bronchitis, pneumonia, flu, and “the ship virus”). What sets me off more than anything else is the strong chemical/floral smell of the deodorizer that is used on the tour buses. Once that hits my lungs, they are determined to expel it, and I cough so hard that I choke. Not taking the bus into the city today, plus a couple of sea days, an antihistamine, and a 4 day dose of Prednisone will hopefully have me back to normal by the time we reach Ecuador on December 20th.
In the meantime, I am on the deck, a glass of cold white wine and a cone of decadent hazelnut gelato at hand, watching the huge cranes stack containers onto the outgoing ocean freighters, and getting a wonderful view of all the smaller boats, too. Peruvian flute music drifts up from a busker in the covered market near the ship’s gangway.
Ted’s route into the city passed through two interesting squares on the way to Lima’s centre. He picked up some trivia as well: the reason we see so many flat-roofed buildings here is that draining is not required. There is no precipitation requiring the use of extra building materials to create sloped roofs for drainage!
The tour’s highlight – and actual destination – was the Plaza Mayor / Plaza des Armas. I sent Ted with instructions to make sure to take pictures of the beautiful Cathedral of Lima (completed in 1622) and adjacent Archbishop’s Palace (300 years later in 1922), the Government Palace (1938), the Municipal Palace (1944), and the city’s original bronze fountain (dating from 1651). He’s wonderful at following instructions, so came home with a ton! I’ve included a LOT from the cathedral, whose opulence rivals any we’ve seen so far in Germany, Hungary and France, although it is different in that there is a lot of wood in the construction. I simply couldn’t choose just 3 or 4.
A very visible police presence in anticipation of protests in the city’s capital.
I think you’ll agree Ted did an amazing job of capturing the day in pictures today.
…. and yes, if you’re curious, lima beans did originate in Peru.