The ship has docked about an hour earlier than planned so we’re all up and milling about. We’re here for 2 full days. We’ve discovered that our tour “Lima Highlights” is actually scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) so we have the morning and afternoon to ourselves. We’ve decided to take one of the complimentary shuttles to a local market and mall. I’m on the hunt for some Alpaca fibre.
First a little about Callao, the port area where we’re docked. Callao was founded in 1537, just two years after Lima, and soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific. The origin of the name Lima is unknown as both Indian and Spanish sources have been credited, but is certain that it was known by that name since 1550. Callao was basically a transhipment point for goods (i.e. items looted from the Inca nation) being sent back to mother Spain. There are approximately 200,000 people living in Callao it’s a fairly nice area – not affluent as many people, approximately 69%, are considered poor or working poor and pay no income tax. They keep the area beautifully clean – they appear to be a proud people. The balance or more affluent people (31%) pay high taxes – and a small percentage of those make a LOT of money with no visible means of how that money is made (Ahem!!).
Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru, as well as the capital of Lima Province. It is the cultural, industrial, financial, and transport hub of the country. The city is located in an area encompassing the valleys of the Chillon, Rimac and Lurin rivers, laying on a deserted coast adjacent to the bay in the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is also known as the “City of Kings”. For over three centuries, Lima was the most important city and the greatest metropolis in South America with regards to politics, economy and power relations. Lima has become an expression of Peru’s heritage, with nearly one-third of the nation’s population living in its metropolitan area. The buildings in Lima are truly beautiful with both Spanish and French influence. The amount of details on many of the buildings is just quite extraordinary and it’s hard to believe most if not all was carved by hand. There is no rain in Lima!, watering is done from wells and from high humidity levels only. As a result many poorer houses have no actual roof. A tax loophole lets you live almost tax free if your house is not finished!
We arrived at the mall area in Miraflores district (approximately 30 minutes from the ship) and it’s just a fabulous area. Beautiful parks, play areas containing soccer setup for the teenagers, areas for the little ones to play on miniature slides and swings.
We had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant overhanging the bluffs at the Pacific Ocean. I had Thai Chicken salad, Gerrit had Cebiche Mixto (the local specialty of mixed raw seafood with lime juice.) The views from here are magnificent as is the sound of the surf on the pebble beaches below.
I managed to pick up two different types of Alpaca fibre (). The first is a lovely Baby Alpaca (2 x 50g) in grey and the other 3 balls of Alpaca and silk (300 grams). The arts and crafts are just amazing – the colours are vibrant and complex in design. A 100% baby alpaca cardigan can cost $80-$100 US. I’d easily pay close to $400 in Canada. The workmanship is truly amazing. There a little market set up close to the pier so we’ll walk around that later.
Tonight we have a “Candle light dinner at Casa Solara Aliaga”. This is a private home belonging to Senor Aliaga. The home has been in his family for over 17 generations (473 years!). The house is truly stunning with over 78 rooms. We dined in one of the main dinning rooms with ‘only’ 80 places set aside for dinner. And since it’s a private residence we’re the only people in residence. The family still live in the home – the current Senor Aliaga has 2 sons and 1 daughter and they will carry the name into the next generation. It was like walking into the early 1500’s – the number of paintings on the walls were just overwhelming and of course, all originals. When we arrived we were served “Pisco Sour” – it’s a local drink and extremely popular in Peru. (It’s also very strong and dangerous ). We were served hors d’oeuvres of pate, the like of which I’ve never tasted before – it was just amazingly light; we had potatoes wrapped in, what looked like, deep fried wonton wrappers and served with a very nice spicy dip.
The main meal was then served – starting with asparagus mousse soufflé – just amazing. The next course was beef served with a light cream sauce, tiny potatoes, broccoli and honey coated carrot and sweet potato. OMG just amazing. All washed down with copious amounts of wine (tinto et blanco). Dessert was crepes filled with apple and enormous raisins with a wonderfully light vanilla cream sauce. Coffees, teas were served and following that everyone was served their choice of liquor (Baileys, Crème de Menthe, Brandy, Pisco and some others I didn’t get to see). I tried the Pisco but OMG it’s just way to strong. Thankfully Gerrit wasn’t driving so he had mine.
We got back to the ship around 10:30pm and were exhausted. I have the start of a really bad head cold (the air-conditioning the in buses is just way too cold) so I’ll wait to see if I’ll go on the Lima Highlights tour or send Gerrit on his own.