A trip to Callao

Whilst I was downstairs this morning, having breakfast and using the wifi, Carlos appeared, having just arrived back on an 8 hour overnight bus from Nazca, where he had been for the day. After chatting for a while, he suggested visiting the fort at Callao. It was not somewhere I would have gone on my own, as it is quite a distance, and also not very safe beyond the castle area, so I agreed to go.

Queens tower at Callao
Queen’s Tower, St Laurenco Island and the port at Callao[

The trip involved a taxi ride, the price of which I left him to negotiate. Apparently, not all taxis are allowed to go to Callao, as it is another city, but it was difficult to ascertain, what licences the individual taxis had. The driver that Carlos selected (mainly on price) did not appear to be registered as there were no numbers marked on the vehicle. However, the driver heard my comment on this and brandished a piece of paper, which could have meant anything. Casting safety aside, we got in. I stopped worrying as, being accompanied by a 6′ younger male bodyguard, I deemed it unnecessary! Luckily, I didn’t know until afterwards that he himself wasn’t very reassured by the driver. Surprisingly, we did arrive safely.

Cannon at Callao
The King’s Tower in the background at the King Philip fort in Callao

The Fort of King Philip, which is still used by the military, was used to store the treasures stolen from the Incas before they were shipped to Spain. I was the only non Spanish speaker but the guide translated the information for me, personally. Thus, I was given the Peruvian version and then the Spanish version, by Carlos. (Sadly, due to my elderly brain, little has been retained of either.) The walls around the castle are vast and housed 250 cannons on the circumference. The two towers, aptly named the King’s and the Queen’s, are a maze of 60cm wide tunnels where prisoners, who had opposed the Spanish, were housed prior to being killed. They were forced to stand upright, fed rats (the guide didn’t understand when I asked him the vital point about whether the rats were alive or dead!) and had boiling water poured over them. It took them about 7 days to die. Nice!

View of Callao from the King's Tower at the fort
View of Callao from the King’s Tower at the fort

Once the tour had finished, we decided to return to Miraflores for lunch. This was an even more interesting than the trip to Callao. The vehicle, like most, had definitely seen better days but the price was right. We ended up on the 8 lane highway that runs along the seafront and, at the point where Miraflores was above us, there was no obvious road up the cliff. There were also a lot of roadworks, which was making it trickier. Having asked for directions, the driver stopped on the outside lane, so that traffic had to go around us, whilst waiting for a break in the flow so he could do a U turn across 4 lanes. At the chosen moment, I closed my eyes as the impact would have been on my side of the car. With a minimum tooting of horns, we made it across successfully. Luckily, Peruvian drivers are so appalling that they are used to taking evasive action. After this incident, I retrieved my phone from my bag and started tracking the route using the GPS and Google so we could tell the driver where to go. I think all 3 of us were quite relieved to arrive in Miraflores!

A beer (for me) and ceviche were required after this little expedition. We then walked down to Larcomar, a very upmarket shopping mall on the cliff top, where there is a good coffee shop (they are few and far between) and had coffee and cake but managed to miss the sunset. Afterwards, we sat on a park bench for quite some while, chatting, until I got cold and we returned to the apartment.

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