Another long bus ride landed us in Lima, Peru’s large capital. The 9 hours however passed quickly on the plushest bus we’ve travelled in yet: with more space than your standard plane we had reclining seats, wifi, films and meals, snacks and hot drinks served at our seats! My low attention span for films, I spent the majority of the journey with my nose glued to the window admiring the dramatic scenery as we drove through the desert.
On reaching Lima, driving for an hour through the city on huge highways felt quiet alien in comparison to the quiet beach towns we’d left behind.
The next day we were up bright and early to head downtown as Fredy took us on a walking tour of the historical centre. Large colonial squares flanked by colourful mansions, churches and the presidential palace gave a wonderful sense of the old city. We got chatting to a fireman who gave us a quick tour of the local Bombadier station and told us how in Peru, all firemen are volunteers and have to buy their own equipment and uniform, that gets imported from the States. The whole service relies on donations, sponsorship and fundraising, and even the vehicles are second hand.
Stef and I had to locate the post office (not easy). Unfortunately my letter was not waiting for me but after being fingerprinted, handing over a copy of his passport plus 100 Peruvian soles Stef accomplished sending a parcel. Fingers crossed it arrives!
After lunch (more rice) a visit to the Inquisition museum demonstrated the numerous ways people were tortured in the name of religion, including lashings, water boarding, stretched and imprisonment. All housed within a rather beautiful building.
A quick roam of Chinatown and then it was time for more morbid sights as we visited the Catacombs. Below a still-functioning monastery, the catacombs are thought to contain an astonishing 70,000 bodies and there are still large sections that are yet to be uncovered. It is believed that the network of passages connect back to the presidential palace. To me it seems strange that this hasn’t been investigated, surely that’s ripe for an assassination attempt?!
The low and narrow rooms contain old tombs that are now filled with carefully sorted bones: a section of tombs full of skulls, another set full of femurs, etc. rounded off with decorative display of concentric circles of skulls at the bottom of a well. All in all a bit gruesome!
Inside the monastery were some beautiful decorative tiles and murals and a fantastic old library that could have been lifted from a Harry Potter book, with winding wooden stair cases and hundreds of dusty volumes. Sadly no photographs are allowed within.
The girls had disappeared to go shopping but Stef and I were craving cake so we plonked ourselves down in the nearest cafe and watched the world go by with a huge slab of tiramisu.
Our hostel is located in the Miraflores, Lima’s more upmarket and safest area. It has some great bars and residential areas and we are a 10 minute walk from stunning views across the Pacific.
A fleeting visit, next stop Pisco!