An armed camp. Everything is surrounded by razor wire.

We docked at the Calloa seaport and had to be driven off the container terminal in buses. Or should I say bus, singular? It turned out that the good folks in Lima had prepared only one solitary coach for the occasion. It carried, each trip, perhaps eighty passengers from the several thousand who had booked city excursions that day. We were in line for more than two hours. Worse, someone from the port authority walked our (increasingly grumbly) queue with his video camera, recording each one of us for who-knows-what-reason. And then we had to pass through an extremely gruff customs gauntlet before we were allowed into the roiling city, where I was immediately set upon by a prostitute.

Regardless, I was entranced by Lima. Chantal was not.

We both enjoyed our excursion to the recently excavated Pachacamac, a 1300-year-old Incan city about 40 kilometres southeast of Lima. They were still unwrapping information kiosks while we clambered over the temple-pyramids. Our guide would periodically stop, poke around in the dirt with an index finger, and then hand us what he called “sand treasure,” bits of unearthed ancient pottery or pieces of (Human? Animal?) bone, which he said we could keep.

Lunch was excellent, if you like potatoes and corn. I like potatoes and corn, very much.

And that was all the time we were given. It took so long out of the container terminal, and Lima traffic was so impossibly congested, that our guide canceled the remainder of our outing for fear we wouldn’t be back before sail-away. We saw the colonial city from a bus window. The rest is a haze of roadside trash, black belches of diesel exhaust, and dour-looking barrios.

Not a serious retirement contender.

Next: Chile