Francisco Pizarro founded Lima on Jan. 18, 1535. In the winter the climate is almost permanently cloudy/foggy weather with very light drizzle. Lima has had several earthquakes that have leveled sections of the city over the years as well as lots of trouble with the shining path guerrillas back in the 80. It has done a lot to turn itself around in the last 10 years, but there are areas that really drive home the poverty of the region, like the shanty town & squatter areas along the outskirts of the city. Along the Lima coast there is a lot of activity and construction at the beaches to make it a tourist destination. It has great surfing waves and we were told the water temperature is very pleasant. We found the city clean and vibrant although we were told which neighborhoods were safe. The places we toured were around Plaza Mayor which is the main hub of the government. The Cathedral, Government Palace, Aliaga House, Monastery of St Frances are all on or within walking distance of the square.
As we drove from Lima to Paracas we passed a lot of shanty towns and squatter settlements. We also noticed a lot of piles of rubble, mound after mound along the road in the desert. Our guide said that the rubble was from the 2006 earthquake that leveled many towns. Some folks have been able to rebuild, others only have palm mat walls for their homes. This is in contrast to the condos we saw along the coast in gated communities where the wealthy summer away from the bustle of Lima.
We also saw rolling sand dunes, which were a stark contrast to the green of the vegetable fields where they grow artichokes, asparagus, cotton, avocado, tomatoes, corn, and table grapes. Many of the factories along our route (which was the pan American highway) still had watchtowers from the 1980’s when the Shining Path terrorists were bombing and killing people in the name of a Mao style revolution.