I’m sitting at a coastline restaurant tonight in Lima, Peru, enjoying the view, the 70 degree night, and the local cuisine, preparing to write this introduction to our next two weeks in the land of the Incas.
First, a few words about the travel here…We flew from DC, via Miami on American Airlines. The flights were on time and relatively comfortable. Lima is eight hours due South from Washington…That makes it about the same time as a flight to London, but there is no jet lag. The scene at Lima’s airport was highly chaotic…Hundreds of locals, behind cordoned-off ropes waiting for arrivals at 9:30 PM. For those of you who remember the film “Ghandi,” there is a scene with a mob of people waiting for a train because ‘He is coming…’ This mob reminded me of that. But we got through it and arrived in the touristy area near the coast.
Lima is actually situated in a desert…Our guide told me that it is the second largest desert city on the world (Cairo being the largest). Civilizations in the area go back roughly 6000 years, but more recently, the Incas claimed it as part of their empire in the 1400s…The actual city of Lima was founded in the mid 1500s by Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish soldier and explorer, who conquered the Incas and established Lima as his capital. Why Lima, if it is really in a severe desert??? A few reasons: First, the area is fed by three rivers which allows for the growing of crops and a good water supply. Second, Lima has a very suitable harbor. And third, despite being in a desert, the cool pacific waters keep the temperature at a moderate sun-tropical climate year around. The Spanish built a beautiful colonial capital that was overrun in the late 1800s. Today Lima is a metropolitan area of over 11 million people…Third largest in the Americas and about a third of the population of the entire country. Lima is the capital, but also a thriving financial center, home to some of the oldest colleges in the New World, and a stable democracy. In fact, people here are REQUIRED to vote, and fined if they don’t…A President can only serve two five year terms, and not consecutively. AND the last President tesigned after one year because one of his companies inadvertently won and completed a government contract, a big no-no here.
On top of all this, they pride themselves on their food.
We went to a local restaurant for lunch where I ordered a local guacamole, prepared table side. I am not sure, however, if I will sample the Inca delicasies of Alpaca and Guinea Pig !!! Oh well, I’ll figure that out when we get to the Andes tomorrow…