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08/05 – 09/05 2010 Deepest, darkest Peru

My flight to Miami from LA is uneventful, although I won’t be flying American Airlines in a hurry as I don’t think they have updated their ‘planes since the 1950s. Miami airport is huge and full of disgruntled people as AA have cancelled most of their flights into Europe due to the second volcanic eruption in Iceland.

I soon become disgruntled myself because my flight to Peru is delayed by two hours and when we land, we sit on the tarmac for a further hour because air traffic control were not expecting us. My evening gets worse when my driver from Intrepid (from here on in to be called ‘Insipid’) says that I’m in a different hotel from the rest of the group and someone will call me tomorrow morning to let me know what time we are meeting.

I’m pretty fed up by now but head to bed and await a call the next morning. The call doesn’t come and I have to get a taxi to the other hotel where I eventually meet the rest of the group and we go on a walking tour of the colonial part of Lima. The group is small: me, a retired Australian couple, two brothers and a sister from NZ and the group leader.

Lima is very polluted and overcast but there are some pretty buildings in the colonial part and we visit the beautiful Franciscan Monastery and Museum, founded in the XVI century. Lima is situated right at the coast, 133 m above sea level. On 18 January 1535 the emperor Francisco Pizarro founded the city with the name Ciudad de los Reyes. The "City of Kings and Vice kings" apart from Mexico was one of the most important cities on the American colonies only a few decades after its foundation. In 1551 some Benedictian monks joined the Universidad San Marcos in founding South America's first university.

This Franciscan monastery is located in Lima's centre. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 1646, it was replaced by a smaller complex. Inside some interesting paintings as well as a tremendous library containing 15,000 books and old manuscripts dating back to the 15th century but they housed in direct sunlight and not temperature controlled and I fear will all be ruined in the next 10 years or so. The placed is covered with tiles from Seville the catacombs were used in colonial times to house the bodies of Lima's dead (estimated at 25,000)

I have an early night as we are leaving at 4am tomorrow for Paracas (a 4 hour drive) and to v visit the Ballestas Islands, before heading for our hotel in Nazca (a further 3 hour drive)

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