The weather is partly sunny and 78 degrees. There's a breeze blowing and it's very pleasant in Lima, Peru.
El Callao is the port of the city. It was founded by Spanish colonists in 1537, just two years after Lima. It soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific. At the height of Spanish occupation, virtually all goods produced in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina were carried over the Andes Mountains by mule to Callao, to be shipped to Panama, carried overland and then transported on to Spain via Cuba.
Our tour guide on the bus gave us all the important facts about Peru. There are several classifications of peoples: white (Spanish), mestizos (mix of Spanish and Inca), black (African) and Chinese (China) and of course the Inca (indigenous peoples). Their industries are fishing, mining gold, silver and copper, tourism, and agriculture. Their health care and education are free. Their taxes are very high. The language is Spanish, except for the northern part of the country where they still speak the Inca language. They get no rainfall. The last rain was in the 1970's sometime. Their major problem is earthquakes. They sit on a major, active fault. They get a major earthquake every 5-10 years but get tremors every few weeks. Their buildings aren't very tall because of the earthquakes. They get their water from the three major rivers that flow out of the Andes. They have some parks and a couple of golf courses and grass and flowers down the middle of their streets. These get watered every night by big water trucks. I don't know how the golf courses get watered but it's by some kind of irrigation. The main religion is Catholic and there are many, many churches located all around the city. The people are still very active in their religion.
We first drove through the poor section of Lima, closest to the port, before we got to the city center. Some of the houses looked like they weren't finished being built. That was due to the taxes. If your house doesn't have a roof or windows, the taxes are lower. Plus since there's no rain....... There was very little graffiti. The streets were clean. Oh, the cars are mostly imported from Asia, plus a few Chevy's. They have a good trade relationship with China, mostly fish.
Our bus then drove us through the rich part of town. This is where the embassies are and where the politicians live. Very nice area of course. The poorer parts of the city are dusty, the rich part wasn't.
Then we drove to the middle class part of town, mostly businesses. The average salary is equivalent to about $1000 US dollars monthly and housing averages about $300 monthly.
We stopped of the Love Park and saw the Kissing Statue. It is located on the Pacific Coast. The view was beautiful. We could see the surfers, not many waves today though.
Then we went to Lima's main square. The north side is dominated by stunning government buildings, and the city's cathedral is located on the other side. Although the first stone was laid for the original cathedral in 1535, construction of the current structure began in 1746, and several earthquakes have resulted in much of the cathedral being rebuilt over time. It is basically built of wood since wood can survive earthquakes.
The Archbishops' Palace is next to the Cathedral. It has a spectacular ornate facade and is a prime example of Neo-colonial architecture. The main feature is the Spanish balcony covering the front of the second floor. It is really an enclosed balcony and this one looks like a confessional.
There is some Moorish style architecture around, although the Muslims never came to Peru. It was the Spanish who brought this style because they had been occupied by the Muslims from Morocco for hundreds of years.
We visited the Monastery of San Francisco, a catholic order. It features a cloister inlaid with glazed tiles, most of them from Seville, bearing the dates 1620 and 1639.
What we're not seeing this trip is Machu Picchu, which is a must-see on any trip to Peru. However, today's trip was 8 hours, to get there, see it and get back to the ship. We are saving Machu Picchu for a separate trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) when we can spend several days there. One description of it is "the cloud-kissed Inca city of Machu Picchu above the city of Cusco". It is a 5000-year-old site perched 8000 feet above sea level. It is a remarkable interlocking series of plazas, buildings and temples.
We got back to the ship late for lunch, but they kept the buffet open for us. They don't want us to starve. Doug and I are doing well with eating our small breakfast, salad for lunch, then pig-out at dinner.
Tomorrow we visit a small city further north up the coast of Peru.