Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Leaving Lima

Today was a day to explore this remarkable city. A 20 minute walk through the city brought us to the beach, where there were 20 or 30 bodies bobbing in the surf, hoping to catch a wave. We enjoyed walking out on the pier, which was lined by little shops, with a beautiful restaurant at the end.
The bright coloured crafts are beautiful to look at!

In the afternoon, we took a tour to downtown Lima, and toured one of the oldest churches. Our Inca guide, Edwin, was a wealth of information about the history of the area. Once Chris Columbus discovered America, it was all over for the aboriginals, as the natural wealth of the area was a highly sought after commodity. Unfortunately, in order to get at the gold and silver, the Spaniards had to wipe out much of the Inca population. According to Edwin and some of the history books that I have been reading, the Incas were naturally friendly, and welcomed the Spanish with gifts and hospitality. This naivety allowed the Spaniards, who numbered around 160 plus a few slaves, to wrest control of Peru from the Incas, who numbered in the millions. Through direct slaughter, along with the help of diseases like smallpox, it is estimated that for every 59 Incas before the arrival of the Spaniards, there was only one left by the end of the Spanish conquisition.

In touring the city today, we learned that in colonial times, only the very rich were allowed to live in the city, and all the buildings, including the train station and the post office had to be palaces. Where did these riches come from, you might ask? Well, from the plunder of gold and silver stolen from the Incas, of course!

The Peru of today is proud to be independent of Spain, and there are signs everywhere of the country coming into its own. It is a very clean city, with not a piece of litter in sight. There is a strong police presence, and our tour guide assured us that Lima is a very safe city. Indeed, we felt very safe as we travelled around. The transit system is clean, cheap and efficient, and they are presently building a subway from the center of the city to the airport.
Tomorrow, we are to be up at 4:30 am (2:30 home time) to catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado, which is east of Lima, very close to Bolivia. We will be staying in the jungle in an eco lodge, exploring the Tambopato River, which is tributary of the mighty Amazon!

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