Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 1 in Peru - Part 1.

We are docked in the port of Callao (pronounced “ kayow” for the linguistically inept like myself), which is part of Lima – a city of 7 million people, and today we drove with them all. We went on an all-day tour of the city (which we will tell you about in two parts) and had to drive with, against and across the craziest traffic I have seen since Beijing.

All in all though an interesting and fun day made all the more interesting by our articulate and incredibly knowledgeable guide, Sonia. She led “tour 9” with a firm but fair hand.

On the way to the Plaza Major we passed through the Plaza 2 de Mayo – the entrance to Lima proper. There was a demonstration going on there by sugar farmers who are apparently not getting treated very well. Either because of that or, perhaps it is usual, there was a pretty marked police presence – groups dispersed with demo gear (like cell ‘phones to call home) and see thro shields and water cannons (just like in Cairo). Parenthetically there are also two police outside every bank we saw and houses and buildings have razor wire / electrified wire security.

Plaza Major is a lovely square with the Cathedral and Archbishops Palace on one side, The presidents palace on another, City Hall on the third and shopping on the fourth. We spent quite some time in the Cathedral.
Archbishops Palace
Presidents Palace
City Hall

A few Peru facts: pre-Incas were here for ages and ages, Incas I gather had their time and were doing fine when Pizzarro  discovered Peru for Spain. According to the Family Tree they show in the Cathedral he had a family in Spain and married an Inca woman in Peru so fortunately there were plenty of sources for familial DNA (see later). He was murdered by his own crew because they weren’t doing well enough in the treasure department and his remains were thought to be in the crypt on display in the Cathedral. 

Bizarrely, after an earthquake (in the 1970s I think) they found a body under the main altar 

and the trauma demonstrated by the skeleton (see the picture – they nearly cut his head off and all sorts of other damage) led them to doing DNA analysis (see above) and turns out that the hidden bod was that of Spains main man – who now resides in the crypt for real.

The nave of the Cathedral has had regular damage – earthquakes are plentiful here (they had ~ 100 last year mostly small) – but the side chapels are well preserved and beautiful. Merle also came across the library – a bit small but very old!!!

I like the reasons the Indigenous population took so well to Christianity – as explained by Sonia. Turns out they accepted Mary very easily – mother earth / fertility etc were all female deity oriented so no problem. Jesus needed a bit more work but they had / did practice human sacrifice so the could see that and they believed strongly in reincarnation – hence mummification and all the Inca Gold in the tombs etc. So that part was good. The Cross had special meaning from before because they saw the Southern Cross and saw it as linking Heaven and Earth. They also worshipped birds and so Angels came to fit in quite well too.

Quite lovely. Tomorrow you get the rest………..


  1. Fascinating facts! Keep on keepin' on :)

  2. Still hard to believe that the remains really belong to Pizzarro. Always thought they found a stand-in.