|Day Two – July 14th
Up at 7:30 and a rather bland breakfast of fresh bread and jam, scrambled eggs with cheese and orange juice. I had tea but the also server a small pot of very dense coffee that you were supposed to mix with hot water to your liking. Almost syrup...
Then met our guide – Sybil – and a bus ride around town. Saw some pre- Incan ruins that were being excavated – they were built to absorb earthquake shocks with open channels through the solid structure, Current buildings have more modern techniques but ones into this century have bamboo as the shock absorbing mechanism. They haven't had a “big one” (over 6.0) since the 1970s and they're due.
A bit of interesting insight into democracy – If you are 18 to 70 you are required to vote. If not, a $75 fine. Commercial vehicles are fitted with GPS. If they go over the speed limit they're automatically issues a ticket! However, traffic reminded me of Egypt – just not as many cars. People blow their horns before intersections and just zoom through. It would not be fun to drive here!
Then to the Cathedral of St. Francis – dating from the 1600s. Interesting Spanish, Moorish, and Incan aspects. Through the catacombs and the bones and skulls of many buried under the Cathedral. Apparently the whole city is covered with (over?) hundreds of thousands of graves...
In the square nearby we watched a parade by a local village in preparation for National Day – the 15th (we'll be out of town...). Also watched the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace – accompanied by a brass band and a couple dozen soldiers outside armed with machine guns...
Back to the hotel and a free afternoon. Alice wanted to stay at the hotel but I wanted to explore. Went to the local “craft” market, most of which, I think, was made in China. Brokers were not as pushy though. Then the big mistake.
Took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in a less touristy part of town. Asked a guy for directions and he told me how to get back to the square I was looking for. A bit later I turned a corner right into a group of about 8 – 10 teenagers – who proceeded to grab my camera and pack. I elbowed and and hit another, but then I was on the street with a guy trying for my wallet... Then they all ran off. I was (and am) fine other then some skinned knuckles. A young lady, more upset than I was, approached me and motioned me to follow her. She took me to the local police station to report it – and they brushed her off – said they could do nothing... Then she got a taxi and drove me to the square I was looking for, met her mother, and said goodbye. I thanked her as well as I could and walked off.
Got back to the hotel and told the tour guide, but asked him not to tell the rest of the group. Figured it would make them paranoid. I also told Alice and she said she'd never go anywhere alone ever – nor would she let me! Although not at all a pleasant experience I guess it's one of the dangers of travel. That and Montezuma's Revenge... I'll just avoid getting lost in future!
Anyhow, out again and bought a new camera, then back to meet with part of the group to go to La Dama Juana Restaurant for dinner and a show. Buffet menu with over 40 different dishes – including at least eight different potato dishes and way too much food. I tried over 25 different things. Especially liked the chicken stuffed potatoes!
The how was fantastic with lots of costumes and dancing – from Spanish to Incan to Caribbean to a mixture of them all. Even one where they set each other on fire (but just a little). Then, to top off the day – rain! It's the dry season, and Lima gets less than five inches of rain a year... High temperature today about 70. Low about 60... Cloudy all day.
Tomorrow we have to get up at 5:30 for the trip to Cuzco – 10,000 feet.