Episode 46 – Lima (Cool Beans!)

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.

One sad unused excursion ticket.

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 Plaza Dos de Mayo (second of May) memorializes an 1802 victory against Spain. The gorgeous blue buildings on the square are in a state of total disrepair, with businesses occupying some of the first floors. People can rent apartments on the second or third floors really cheaply for 30 or 40 dollars per month, but there is no water, and no one to do maintenance.
Plaza San Martin includes a statue of General Jose San Martin (liberator of Peru) on horeseback, in the square in front of the Hotel Bolivar.

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.

The sprawling Government Palace
The Archbishop’s Palace. Note the beautiful carved wood on the exterior.
The Municipal Palace. More beautifully carved exterior wood.

A very visible police presence in anticipation of protests in the city’s capital.

The beautiful library which, once a month, is also a train station for the “tourist train”.
The Plaza des Armas bronze fountain, still working after almost 400 years, backed by the Lima Cathedral.
The incredible cathedral entrance. Zoom in on the area above the door if you’re reading this on a tablet.
L: The walk to the main altar. Look up. The ceiling is WOOD covered in gold leaf. R: detail of the altar.
The final resting place of Francisco Pizarro, the Spaniard who “conquered” the Incan Empire.
An incredibly ornate wood and gold secondary altar.
Another secondary altar/shrine, with enlarged detail of the figure on the right.
The shrine of the Holy Family, with enlarged detail of the heavens above them.
Clockwise from top left: the Cripta de la Capilla de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (crypt of the chapel of our lady of candelaria – the February 2 celebration of Jesus being presented at the temple) ; a depiction of the head of John the Baptist on a platter; the nativity scene; a beautiful wooden shrine inside the church
Look carefully. That tired little girl’s “backpack” has feet! She is carrying her baby sibling while mom sells coca leaves from her basket.

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.


  1. I’m enjoying following the pictures & comments of your trip…sorry to hear that you’ve fallen ill..get better soon, thanks, Jasmine ( Wasaga Beach)


  2. BEAUTIFUL, indeed!!!!!!!! Ted really DID do a good job!

    SERIOUSLY, I hope you are feeling well enough to participate with everyone before too much longer.

    Sent from my iPhone


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