2011 January 15 – Day 11 – Callao (Lima), Peru (Day 2)

It was a beautiful sunny day in Peru, with a slight breeze to keep everyone comfortable. The first stop of our all-day tour was the National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Lima.

This museum has a very large collection of pre-Inca cultural artifacts with several very, very old tapestries and really fascinating bowls, containers, and figures; plus a lot of mummies.

.  This piece is similar to a North American totem pole with the carving in the rock telling a story.  The tablet was upside down and used as a table in a peasant’s house.  A guest, who was an archaeologist, reached under the edge to wipe his fingers and felt the carving so he got down on hands and knees to take a look and discovered this ancient, precious artifact. We were able to wander around for an hour and a half, which was not nearly long enough and yet, was not a rush through from entrance to exit either.  Since I love museums I rarely feel I have enough time when I am in one.  We had an excellet guide who was very knowledgable about the various civilizations and their impact on the formation of Peru. It was an hour’s drive (through insane, crazy traffic) past some lovely parks and lots of beachside shops to get to our next stop; the archaeological site of Pachacamac.

 These fellows are laying out the pattern of one of the clifftop Nazca Lines (I think it is the hummingbird) that will be planted with yew to make a hedge pattern like the one below. Pachacamac is a large temple site dedicated to the Sun and the Moon.  Pachacama means “The One Who Ordains the Universe.” The ruins cover about 100 acres and are likely even larger but over the years shanty slums have been built nearby so no exploration can be done there; although archaeologists are very sure there is more to the temple site and many more artifacts that could be discovered.  Finances are limited but they are protecting some of the other land in the area.   The area has about 1/2″ of rainfall per year so everything is very dry but the people that built the temple city around 700 AD created a sophisticated irrigation and resevoir system. We spent quite a bit of time roaming around the site and were able to climb right to the top to enjoy the lovely ocean views.  They have unearthed 15 different temples so far. This site is believed to be about 1500 years old. There is river that flows into the ocean not far from the temple ruins and there is fertile river bottom land where Mamacana Hacienda is located.  It is a beautiful Andean-style ranch that breeds, raises and trains Caballo de Paso horses, a breed unique to Peru.   The breed was protected by governmental decree in 1992 and were declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation. We were welcomed at the gate by the owner and walked a roadway between two rows of Paso horses with a mariachi band playing at the end. (Truth be told, it was the chance to see these lovely horses that made me take this tour.  I loved the museum and the ruins, but I was thrilled to see the horses.) Two couples entertained us with a display of traditional dances.  After the dancing the men provided a display of the Paso horse’s unique gait and riding skills. This four-beat lateral gait (left fore with left hind, right fore with right hind) makes for such a smooth ride you can carry a water glass on your head.  It is not a trained motion, it is inherent in the breed and even young foals move that way.  They were absolutely beautiful animals. A mare with her champion three-week old colt were brought out so we could see that even young animals exhibit their unique gait.  The horses don’t trot, but move from a walk, to the four-beat lateral gait, then to a canter. Several other horses were brought out for us to see, then we watched some more dancing that culminated with a routine between the two ladies and two men on horseback.  Really cool. The best part – although disappointing to those of us that can ride a horse – came after a delicious Peruvian lunch, when we were given the opportunity to ride a Peruvian Paso.  I totally understand that they would not allow novices to ride these valuable animals unassisted but it was a bit of a let-down to be led around the field on a lead.  Still how ofen do you get the chance to ride a Paso?  That will probably be my only one so I am very, very glad we could do it.  Especially in their native country and such lovely surroundings.  Many of the people on the tour had never been near a horse let alone ridden one so there were lots of big smiles on faces.

After that it was back on the bus for the drive back to Callao in time for dinner. Shanties are built everywhere and often, eventually, the government provides power and water since the people are not going anywhere and the neighbourhood is established. These guys were almost run over by the van behind them. Traffic was nuts. It was a great day!  The ship set sail at 10:45 pm, a little later than scheduled but we had four days at sea before we reached Easter Island so there was no big panic if we were a bit late for sail-away.


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