The Peru Hop bus picked us up from our hostel door on schedule Monday morning. We were bound for the first "hop", Paracas, but had a few things to see along the way.
First was the Chorrillos Sign. This was an area of Lima that used to be considered a poor neighbourhood, but after it was done up a bit (and probably the poorer people were moved on elsewhere), it has become quite an elite Yacht Club suburb of Lima. The Chorrillos sign and the Peru tourism sign were both erected as a symbol of change for Peru.
Next, on a hilltop with a view over Lima, we visited a memorial of the Pacific War. The plaque underneath the statue listed the names of several officers who lost their lives. For the soldiers who lost their lives, it simply listed a number.
Next on our itinerary was a "FREE panoramic viewing tour of Pachacamac", a pre-Inca Temple. This was more drive by than panoramic tour. We literally drive alongside the fence for 2 minutes which we could peer over the top and see the site off in the distance. We were a bit annoyed at this as we probably would have gone to see it before hand if we had known that was all that was involved.
Lunch was at a small beach called El Silencio, completely covered end to end in restaurants, which all look exactly the same and serve pretty much the same things. Other than our group there was barely anyone on the entire beach. Perhaps they get some crowds from Lima on weekends or nicer days?
The next stop was the most interesting and worthwhile of the day. Hacienda San Jose is now a hotel, but used to be the homestead of a rich Spanish family. Underneath, 17km of tunnels were discovered that were used to smuggle African slaves from the nearby port to the homestead, all so the owners would avoid the taxes that had to be paid. There were several cells built into the tunnels which were used hide slaves or punish them.
When we first entered it was quite fascinating, but after a short amount of time it became horribly difficult to breathe and the dark started closing in more and more around us. We started to realise the absolute horror that would have taken place down there.
People would have been herded off a ship after barely surviving in horrendous conditions straight into a dark tunnel with little air to breathe, finding themselves eventually in a "sorting room" where their physical condition dictated the duties they were assigned to. In some of the cells archaeologists found the bones of slaves that most likely died from the conditions they were kept in, or perhaps asphyxiation given there was no ventilation.
After making our way out of the tunnels we then toured the homestead, and the opulence of the place was in such contrast to what lay below. Grand rooms, a lovely little courtyard in the centre, beautiful grounds, a nice bar area. If you weren't aware of the history it would be a lovely place to stay.
Before we left we were shown a room under the front of the house where slaves were punished. This room was right next to the private church, though it's doubtful anyone ducked in to ask for forgiveness for what they were doing only metres away. The hypocrisy was gobsmacking.
Shortly after we were back on the bus for the last short leg to Paracas.