As we were still on UK time, we were awake long before the 6.30am wake-up call. We packed our cases again, left them outside our room, then made our way along to the dining room where we were soon joined by Stephen and Alison. Breakfast consisted of cereals, toast, cold meats, cheeses and eggs as well as fruit juice and strong, hot coffee. We had already noticed that the Peruvians like their coffee very strong, and it is difficult to get fresh milk; the milk we had seen so far was evaporated milk or long-life milk out of cartons.
The bus left the hotel at 8.00am and slowly made its way along the coastal road, which was already busy with the start of the Lima rush-hour. The sky was cloudy once again, and we saw several early-morning surfers making the most of the rolling waves of the Pacific.
We drove along the coastline for some time, before going further inland, where the landscape dramatically changed. From the tropical yucca plants, palms and sandy beaches the land now became more barren and arid. In the distance the majestic peaks of the Andes reared towards the heavens; one of them was snow-capped.
Our first stop today was to visit the interesting archaeological site in Pachacamac. The site is 40 kilometres southeast of Lima, in the Valley of the Lurín River. Most of the common buildings and temples were built c. 800-1450 AD, shortly before the arrival and conquest by the Inca Empire.
Looking around us, we saw that we were practically in the desert. There was only miles of sand and no plants or trees growing. Several of the ancient pyramids had been revealed in the archaeological dig; they were built of adobe bricks and were not true pyramids in the sense that they didn’t come to a point at the top, but were truncated. We also visited an ancient cemetery where several mummified remains had been uncovered; indeed we saw some remnants of ancient cloth and even some human bones.
We also saw a building (Recinto de Mamacones) that was believed to have once a been a school, which had been used later as an administrative building. Then we saw the impressive Temple of the Sun, including the faded remains of some frescoes of fish.
Although we were in the desert and in tropical latitudes, the weather was fairly pleasant, no doubt helped by the overcast sky.
Once we were back on the bus it was time to go to our next stop, this time to a restaurant for our lunch. The restaurant was very pleasant and I enjoyed a delicious lean steak with tomato and onion salad, washed down with a bottle of Cusqueña beer. Outside the restaurant local women were selling their hand-made wares; little hand knitted dollies and hats and stuffed toys; Alison bought some to take back home as gifts.
We continued our bus journey, marvelling at the contrasting scenery. Around tea-time we arrived at our hotel, the Casa Andina at Chincha. We had travelled 200 kilometres since leaving Lima.
The rooms were very nice; they were actually little separate haciendas with large bedrooms and little porches with a table and chairs outside. We found out we were next door but one to Stephen and Alison.
We got washed and changed and decided to have a look around. There was a swimming pool and a lady in our party was making the most of it already. But we hadn’t brought our cossies as we didn’t know whether we’d have time to swim or not – now we wished we had.
At 7.00pm we ate dinner in the lively restaurant and enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers over some cold beers. But soon afterwards, jet-lag was starting to catch up with us once again and we had to be up even earlier in the morning – 5.30am (gulp!). So we were in bed fairly early, around 8.30pm, looking forward to a good night’s sleep.