Today we had a trip outside of Lima itself. Our guide Javier took us to two very interesting places which were about an hour or so out of the city.
The first stop was Pachacamac ruins outside of the city in the desert which is throughout this area, including in Lima itself. This was a remarkable stop as it was in a dry and dusty landscape with huge dunes, arid hills and virtually no vegetation. The ruins include many pyramids which are covered in sand and that have not yet been uncovered. These date back as far as 800 AD. The best preserved/reconstructed temple stands on the top of the highest hill and is an Incan temple, the Temple Del Sol. From its highest point one could see the Pacific to the west and the foothills of the Andes to the East. It was lovely indeed.
After our tour of these ruins, we took a quick break at a local "fast food" area where olive producers bake bread stuffed with fresh olives. These are baked in clay ovens that are heated by wood fires. The breads were delicious and the break a welcome one as it was hot although not sunny (thank goodness).
Then we went to a beach named Santa Maria. This was a wonderful diversion and allowed Paul to complete one of his goals...to swim in (or at least dip a toe in) the Pacific Ocean in each country we visit that touches it. I also went in for a dip, but the water was very cold...even for a Canuck so my experience was short...Paul though revelled in the waves and enjoyed the coldness and the rolling waves.
On our trip we were accompanied by two other expat travellers, Colleen and Jeanie both of whom had more experience in this area than we, so they offered great advice about the next leg of our trip to the sacred valley. Also, they and Javier were able to guide us through the menu at the beach-side restaurant where we had the opportunity to taste some authentic Peruvian food.
The day ended with a drive back to Lima where to our dismay the highway was completely closed in one direction and traffic was being rerouted. We had an opportunity to see Lima drivers trying to negotiate through this unexpected turn of events, and fortunately for us, our guide Javier has nerves of steel and we made it through unscathed.
The unexpected thing today was the aridness of the desert. Lima experiences virtually no rain and so the surrounding area, where there is very little irrigation is covered with fine sand giving the landscape colours in shades of brown. It was very beautiful despite the lack of greens. We were impressed by the difficulty of trying to live in such an area and remarked on the fact that humans have been there coping with the lack of rain and water for literally centuries.
Now we are preparing for our departure to Cusco and the sacred valley culminating in a visit to Machu Picchu.