Day 10 |
Oct 22, 2010

Callao, Peru

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 12º03’02”S, 077º08’41”W
Weather: Partly sunny with little wind
Air Temperature: 20ºC

I was looking forward to our tour today in Lima, since I have never actually gone on tour here before. The weather was beautiful for our trip – not too cold and not too hot. We left the ship in nice comfortable coaches at 08:15 and headed out. Our tour was going to include the highlights of Lima, including some places that are actually included on UNESCO's "World Heritage" list.

Our first stop was at the Convento de los Descalzos – a large pink building built in 1592. Our guides took us into the church, which was amazing and very ornate. Next, we continued on to the San Francisco Monastery, which also had a very ornate church with lots of gold! The whole complex was an architectural masterpiece, including the beautiful quiet gardens. We ventured beneath the church to visit the catacombs with thousands and thousands of bones buried there by the monks over many years.

As we drove to our next destination we passed through the historical district of Rimac where the streets are lined by many well-maintained colonial buildings. I wish I could remember all the information that the guides shared with us, so that I could share it with you, but I just can’t - Sorry!

Our last stop before heading to lunch was at the Jesuit convent of San Pedro. This building is an amazing example of Peruvian baroque style, with its ornate gold decor.

Lunch was located at the mansion of Diez-Canseco – an ex Peruvian congressman and descendant of a very old Peruvian family whose first member arrived in Peru at the end of the 17th century. The mansion is located in a very quiet part of Surco (a residential district) and dates back to the mid-1700s. In fact it used to be the old Monterrico Chico Hacienda. Francisco and Josilu Diez-Canseco restored the mansion and in the process preserved many of the traditional Peruvian country house characteristics. The mansion houses a large collection of paintings, sculptures and other works of art that have been collected over the years by their family.

One of the guides took me aside and pointed out a few objects that were of particular historical value because they once belonged to Francisca Diez-Canseco Corbacho – the great great grandmother of the wife of Ramon Castilla, President of Peru from 1845 to 1851.

It was a beautiful mansion (and I DO mean mansion) maintained in the traditional style of the Peruvian country house of the Republic period. Although there is a strong Spanish influence, local Peruvian art and architecture remains dominant. The lunch, which was served outside around the pool, was delicious, and included plenty of Pisco Sours to make everyone happy!

The highlight of the tour, however, was the next stop – at the home of Enrico Poli. Mr Poli himself met us as we arrived and took us on a tour of his world-famous private collection of Peruvian artefacts, dating back to Pre-Colombian times. The collection was amazing!! And far better than many museum collections.

We walked through several living rooms full of spectacular paintings, pottery, carvings and tapestries before crossing a courtyard to another building that housed an important part of his collection. The pieces were wonderfully displayed.

There was so much to see – it was truly overwhelming. Claire Allum, our archaeologist, was almost speechless at the beauty and completeness of his collection. The most special pieces of his collection are from the Lord of Sipan site. These include pottery pieces, masks, jewellery and ornaments, figurines and much, much more.

I could easily stayed here for hours wandering around this very special collection! But we had to get back to the ship in time for the Captain to set sail for our next destination – Paracas. On the way back we made a brief shopping stop at Larcomar shopping centre and many of us picked up a few more souvenirs and gifts for our families.

The finale of the day was Lu Davidson’s (our photographer) sneak preview of the DVD film she is making of the voyage. This video was a wonderful way to refresh our memories of the things we did over the past 10 days!