Nowadays tourists in search of pre-Colombian sites head for Machu Picchu and Cusco. But when Harry was here in the 60’s that was not an option – too far from Lima and he was supposed to be working, after all. But he did get to Pachacamac about 20miles outside Lima. So this was on our must see list.
To get there by public transport looked messy but then we discovered a daily open top bus tour that went that way and signed up. The tour went along the coast giving us great views – including one of the military apparently doing their morning work out on the beach. We could also see how Lima has expanded into the shanty towns high on the hills, many of them reached by incredibly steep staircases. This is a result of people from rural areas moving to the city for better employment opportunities. Lima is now a city of more than 10million inhabitants.
Pachacamac was an important Inca site when the Spanish arrived but before then it had been a ceremonial centre for pre -inca civilisations for more than 1000 years. Originally the pyramids were dedicated to the creator of the world Pachamama who was both male and female. But the Incas changed the designation to temples of the sun and moon reflecting their world view. The red colour that remains gives some idea of the former grandeur.
Harry described how when he visited the ground was littered with remnants of previous civilisations – pieces of pottery, rope and brickwork. He brought home a small collection of pieces which remain a family treasure although we wouldn’t condone doing this these days!
Some of the temples have now been excavated and some restoration has taken place in keeping with the site’s World Monument status. Although earthquake damage and lack of funds mean that Pachamac is on an endangered list.
There’s a small museum on site but sadly the tour did not allow time to visit it. Never mind, we had kept our pledge to follow in Harry’s footsteps!