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Cunard Queen Victoria's Exotic Voyage 2018
Discovering South America Part 10
Map Introduction to the Cruise and The Azores Port Canaveral, USA Grand Turk Martinique Bridgetown, Barbados Fortaleza, Brazil Salvador, Brazil Buzios, Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Montevideo, Ureguay Buenos Aires, Argentina Puerto Madryn, Argentina Ushuaia, Argentina Cape Horn Beagle Channel Punta Arenas, Chile Amalia Glacier, Chile Pio XI Glacier and Fiords, Chile Puerto Montt, Chile Valparaiso for Santiago, Chile Conquimbo, Chile Arica, Chile Lima, Peru Manta, Ecuador Panama Canal Jamaica Belize Costa Maya,Mexico Charleson, USA The Azores

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Lima, Peru - Monday 26 February (Maiden)

Callao is the port for the capital city of Peru, Lima and is also the location of the airport. Callao's port owes much of its success to the protection given to it by the large offshore island of San Lorenzo (a submarine base and naval station) and by a long promontory. It is 15km (9.3mi) from the historic centre of Lima and the two cities are merged. Our guide book quoted almost 10 million inhabitants. Travel is difficult because there is no train or underground system and everyone travels by car, taxi or one of the various buses. There are also tuktuks. The roads are very congested and the journey to the historic centre was over 50 minutes. There are parts of the outskirts of Lima which are very poor with most buildings and decent houses having metal shutters, high metal fences and private security guards. These security measures were said to date from the violent problems with the Shining Path rebel group in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Cunard tour went directly to Lima historic centre which was founded by the Spanish in 1535 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are baroque churches and narrow streets with once-beautiful historic houses of which some have been painted and restored. There are also broad avenues, large squares and splendid original and replica buildings. The first hint of the historic centre was the circular Plaza Dos de Mayo which was commissioned by the Peruvian government in the 1870s to commemorate the Battle of Callao, which had taken place on May 2, 1866. The Plaza was inaugurated in July 1874. The restored bright blue buildings on each side face a central monument which was built in France and reassembled in Peru between 1873 and 1874. The architect was Edmond Guillaume and the sculptor of the bronze figure of Nike was Louis-Léon Cugnot.

The Plaza de Armas is the highlight of the historic centre with a bronze fountain that was erected in 1651. Francisco Pizarro founded Lima on this spot in January 1535 and was then assassinated in 1541. Surrounding buildings are a mixture of ages but the modern buildings have been made to harmonise with the original ones. The Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace dominate the west side of the Plaza. Construction of the first church on the site began in 1535 and a subsequent project began in 1564 but was not finally completed until 1758. There was another earthquake in 1940 which led to more rebuilding. There are 10 different and impressive side chapels. Of particular importance is the ornate decorated side chapel to the right of the entrance which contains the remains of Francisco Pizarro. The ornate 17th century choir stalls were carved by spanish sculpture Pedro Noguera.

Next to the Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace has an ornate gilded facade, including a pair of carved wooden balconies. The building was reconstructed in 1924. On the north side of the plaza is the Government Palace, built on the site of Pizarro's town house. The building was remodelled and inaugurated in 1938. At midday there is a colourful ceremonial changing of the guard in the courtyard in front of the Palace. Opposite the Cathedral is the Municipal Palace, the town hall, which was built in 1945. The Union Club, another building after the 1940 earthquake, is next door.

The oldest building in Lima, the Casa de Aliaga, was built in 1535 by one of Pizarro's lieutenants. It faces the side of the Government Palace and is just beyond the small park and next to the entry to the arcade containing the old Post Office. Exiting the arcade the was facing. The church of Santo Domingo and its adjoining convent are one of Lima's historic sites. Completed in the 16th century the building has been through many restorations and contains relics of three important Peruvian saints: San Juan Macias, Santa Rosa de Lima (the first saint from the New World) and San Martin de Porres (the first saint of African descent in the Americas) . The tour did not visit the church (on the left) but visited the chapel, the cloisters, the Chapel of Santa Rosa in the crypt and the old library. The walls of the cloisters are adorned with tiles.

The drive from the historic centre to the residential area of Miraflores shows the area on the opposite side of Lima to Callao. Passing quickly through San Isidro there was a glimpse of an unusual barrel-shaped church, then a slower pass by the Huaca Pucllana, a pyramid which has been excavated since 1981. It is made of small handmade adobe bricks which were arranged like books in shelves. The main plaza is at the top of the pyramid which can be accessed by a side ramp. Checking the map showed another Huaca, the Huaca Huallamarca in San Isidro, which is a fully restored ancient adobe pyramid.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Lima's upper class began to move their homes away from downtown Lima to Miraflores which was one of the first residential districts to be established. The architecture of these homes was typical of resort homes of that period. They were made of “quincha” (adobe), decorated with wood on the façade, and contained large courtyards inside. Miraflores has two adjacent parks, the Kennedy Park and the 7 June or Central Park. The church of the Virgin Milagrosa and the Municipal Palace face the parks. Our refreshment stop was organised nearby, at the house of the Castro Iglesias-Thorndike family which was constructed in 1912 by the Architect Rozzaga. The house was remodelled in 1932 by Luis Santisteban Benavides. The house has a large inside garden surrounded by a Spanish-style corridor and is decorated with tiles brought from Seville. It is very well positioned and looks directly across to the entrance into the Central Park. We enjoyed the glasses of local pisco sour and canapes in the garden.

Finally, the Parque de Amor (Love Park) is located on the Malecón Cisneros in Miraflores, looking down on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately the day was very misty. It was inaugurated on Valentine's Day 1993 and the central focus is a large sculpture dedicated to love, "The Kiss", by the Peruvian artist Víctor Delfín. The sculpture represents two young people reclining kissing, and is 12 meters long by 3 meters high. There is a line of colourful curved seating along the edge of the park, similar in style to the Park Guell in Barcelona. The return to Callao was quicker along the beach road, and then through San Miguel. We noticed that some of the housing was little more than corrugated iron shacks and some houses ven had paddling pools set up in the road. There was a little group of stalls set up by the ship offering some good value garments and hats and Pauline obtained a matching jumper to Pete's birthday present.

Manta, Ecuador - Wednesday 28 February 2018 (Maiden)

We had never before visited Ecuador and this was also a maiden call for the Queen Victoria. There is a large United States military base in Manta, from which AWACS surveillance planes fly over the cocaine producing areas of South America, especially those in nearby Colombia .The large and busy port city of Manta dominates Ecuador's central Pacific coast, just south of the Equator. Manta is the centre of the country's tuna fishing fleet. The Queen Victoria berthed next to large trawlers who were busily transferring their catch of tuna into large metal containers, it all seemed to have already been frozen. Some boats had helicopters on deck. Tuna wagons and tour buses had to cross a narrow temporary bridge to reach the ship; concrete was being delivered to reconstruct a proper bridge as we watched. The commercial port has no cruise terminal or facilities and a shuttle bus was provided from the port to the nearby Mall del Pacifico, from where it is only a short walk to a sandy beach and the Museo Centro Cultural Manta, both within sight of the ship. The Plaza Civica and the sea-front road with its traditional wooden boat repair yards are in the other direction from the port.

We choose to take a morning tour of Manta and Montecristi which first stopped at the Museo Centro Cultural Manta. The building is very modern but has few original artifacts. lt houses exhibits on the pre Inca Manta culture, which was renowned for its pottery and navigational skills. These peoples thrived in this coastal region from about AD 500 until the Spanish conquest. The walls have large paintings with modern interesting interpretations of how life in the past might have been. We enjoy seeing original (or perhaps replica) objects from the area but there were too few of those. The shipbuilding industry in the region was interesting but only a painting and a very small balsa model of a raft was on display. However the city is very proud of its fishing industry and there are large sculptures of tuna at road junctions.

18 miles southeast of Manta is the small town of Montecristi, founded by the Spaniards in 1628. A large colourful statue of a typical female maker of Panama hats marks the entrance to the town. For centuries. the very finest Panama hats, as worn by Sir Winston Churchill, film stars and royalty, have been woven in and around the town. The design of these hats has barely changed in the past 400 years and the finest examples can take months to complete and cost thousands of dollars. There are also cheap versions from 25 dollars upwards. Panama hats are not as durable as our Tilley hats and the visit to Montecristi gave the opportunity to replace our old Panama hat which had been purchased in New Zealand. The town had dozens of hat shops and a similar number of stalls selling brightly coloured hammocks, rugs, jumpers and small souvenirs to browse and the church is worth a visit. Note bargaining is expected when you buy anything in the town. Pete bought two of different qualities of Panama, a basic one to keep in NZ and a 'fine' one (18 weaves per inch) with leather lining made in Montecristi itself (as are all the best Panamas) from Modesto whose Internet Site we had used for background information before visiting Montecristi with the intention of purchasing a hat - we found they had a tempory stall in the centre of town as well as their shop and we had a chance to speak with the owner who was most helpful and spoke excellent English. Pete got a much better price than on the internet and we can recommend looking him up if you go to Montecristi intending to purchase. Pauline bought three lightweight evening stoles and a hanging garden chair which she did not have time to bargain for as the bus was leaving so it was only $25.

There are a number of fine colonial buildings and an impressive early 19th century church in the main plaza. The church has a staircase to enable closer viewing of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat. Montecristi was the birthplace of Eloy Alfaro, the notable liberal president of Ecuador from 1897 to 1901 and 1906 to 1911. He was murdered on 28 January 1912 in Quito. His statue is in front of the church in the main plaza.

The best view of Montecristi was from the Centro Civico Ciudad Alfaro on the hill where there was a small museum in memory of General Eloy Alfaro Delgado. His remains are now in a modern mausoleum there, alongside an original locomotive and carriage from the train line which he had built joining Guayaquil on the coast to the capital Quito in the Andes. The drive back to Manta allowed time to visit a Tagua factory where the tagua nut is processed into jewelry and small souvenirs.

The next part will continue at The Panama Canal Transit

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Content revised: 28th March, 2018