12:12.18S 77:10.44W The case of the lost handbag and Lost Portaloos Hotel
We were herded, like a sack load of jungle frogs, into the departure lounge of Lima Airport bound for Cusco, no room to move but a good opportunity for a chat with Wendy and Peter from Hampshire, who were sharing our flight and the tours for the next few days.
On arrival in the airport a day or so before I had been thrown by the fact we had to run our luggage through the exray machines. I thought they only did that before departing on a flight. Anyway muggins here managed to leave her handbag in the exray machine. It wasn´t until we met our guide at the exit I realised it. I ran back in to the security area and was stopped from proceeding to where my lonesome bag sat on top of the machine. A tall, (handsome) young Peruvian stood beside me. "What did you forget" I asked him.
"I have my grandmother coming to stay with me and I completely forgot to collect from the carousel her PORTALOO." I felt that my embarassment was secondary to his. We chatted calmly as we both knew the authorities would not particularly want to retain his lost baggage.
A nice chap led me back to retrieve my bag, "what colour is your mobile phone?" The correct answer and my bag and I were united.
Back to the departure lounge and I had just told this story to Wendy and Peter when Peter asked which hotel we were staying in. "Los Portales" I replied and the four of us looked in disbelief at eachother and fell about laughing, "Lost Portaloos". It shortened the wait.
A very short while later Rob and I found a perfect bar for us, up a steep flight of steps, Nuevo Mundo (new world) was rustic with floor board tables and seats of two heights, low and up you go! local Draft and bottled beers were numerous and it was a choice from 4.1% to 9+%. The stairs were steep and our Machu Picchu experience close so we stayed on the low % ones, besides we could try more that way.
There was a medical reason too, beer is the beer lovers diaralytic, containing essential sugars, bubbles and clean water to aid the recovery of our tummies, well not a bad excuse eh.
Opposite our pub was Pussy cat Park, well the authorities call it Kennedy Park for some unknown reason but our name is better as it was full with very healthy, chilled out moggies. Hope they are enjoying their lives as unbeknown to them they are being fed on contraceptives, so their numbers will dwindle.
22nd April Mud bricks and Miss Universe
I was catching up on earthquake news in our room when the story of a 6 magnitude quake came out on the BBC World News. They got that wrong I thought. To our horror it was another earthquake, this time 10 miles off the coast and estuary at Bahia and 6 miles under the sea bed. Even closer to our little home town and Zoonie.
It was Emily who told us there was no tsunami announcement. But to date (26th April) we still have no news of her fate.
Our sunny morning in Lima was spent on a photographic errand in Pussycat Park and then a visit to a Kodak shop. A young talented lady helped us solve a technical problem. When we left Zoonie we decided not to take a computer with us so I left the camera computer leads on board. Well of course we really need to upload our photos onto memory stick and onto the blog otherwise I will get way behind and have a large number of photos at risk in one place. We bought from her a universal card reader that will store and display the pics on a computer and tv but now must get another memoory card so we can delete them from the cameras and install them on our own computer.
Well you can guess where we had a light lunch before our afternoon guided tour with Miguel. I had a cheese and avocado quessadilla and Rob tucked into a bloody (literally) beefburgher. As he munched merrily through the beef and bacon, blood ran down the lettuce leaf and down his hand, ugh.!!
Charismatic Miguel is reckoned to be one of the best in Lima whereas his son is an actor, and he confesses is one of the worst in Lima. We stopped firstly at the 2000 year old pre Inca sight of Huaca Pucllana where the natives worshipped many gods and the gaps between the millions of hand made sun dried adobe bricks were to stabilise the building in earthquakes. How has that knowledge been so broadly ignored by modern builders? Miguel used to ride his BMX over what were then soil slopes of the as yet unexcavated site when he was a boy.
Women then had a tough time. In the event of a terremoto (earth movement or earth quake) one woman would be sacrificed to appease the angry gods. Similarly when a man died his wife was executed and buried with him, because when he wakes up in the next life she would be with him along with his animals and possessions. However, when a woman died her husband was allowed to take another wife, I can see where that was going and why, as a wife, it paid to behave.
Miss Universe was sitting in pride of place in the open air restaurant that was part of the temple site surrounded by her guards and guests, I hope she felt better off than her ancestors.
The cathedral was an architectural marvel with careful attention paid to earth tremor risks but also an exploitation of the minimal annual rainfall, 2 - 3mm. The pillars are made of bamboo and wattle and sound hollow when tapped, and there are holes in the high, thin wooden dome because it just doesnt matter.
The Incas arrived in the 16th century intent upon destruction. So when the Spanish arrived shortly after, the pre Incas thought that by befriending them they could unite and destroy the Incas. They didn`t reckon on the Spanish, who were not colonialists, bringing with them families etc, but were intent only on finding gold to take back to their bankrupt king. Soon the pre Incas were destroyed by war with the Spanish and the Incas by disease and warfare with the invaders. The Incas had ruled for just 35 years in Lima and the Spanish then ruled for just over 200years.
Simon Bolivar is remembered throughout Peru and Ecuador for his role in eliminating the Spanish, but they had to return to Spain anyway to fight wars in Europe, and no doubt many remained since they had inter married and comprise part of today`s multi cultural society.
There is the mosaic clad tomb of the Spanish leader, Fransisco Pizarro which is still as bright and beautiful as the day he was interred. A mural on the wall shows this Spanish leader banishing into his own boats naked Spanish soldiers who refused to fight.
Our final stop of the afternoon was the catacombs of the dominican monastery of St Francis (of Assisi, therefore Italian in origin) where the monks wear brown. There are reckoned to be 45,000 complete skeletons there at 206 bones per unlucky person makes 9,270,000 bones! Many remain undisturbed in graves containing 8 cadavers laid one on top of eachother. The numerous wells around the crypts are dry and there to absorb earthquake vibration into the air cavities.
The mini bus took us back through San Isidro, the most desirable part of Lima with its long olive grove running down the middle towards Miraflores, our area just a short distance from the shores of the Atlantic, reminding us of Zoonie a few hundred milkes up the coast.
Our hotel in Lima was delightful and in a street full of inviting restaurants and bars, which we would not have time to sample, and a fresh fruit vendor on the corner into the main street.
We met Allan and Lorna, friends from Oakham, who will be on Machu Picchu the same morning as us. We had dinner in a Swiss restaurant and caught up with eachothers news. Our hotels were close and as we parted I promised to have my pale blue umbrella up in a few days time so we could meet again at the vast Inca site.
On our flight to Cusco the next day we enjoyed a snack of crackers, cake and maize niblets which beat the inflight offering of a toffee on a previous flight!