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south of Lima, back in time: Pachacámac
The hills and coast around Lima can seem almost lunar--the climate is arid, despite the 'garúa,' the low-lying but rain-less clouds that hang around this part of Perú for about half the year. But the desert is archaeologically rich. Lima itself is dotted with excavations of pre-columbian cultures, but in Pachacámac, about 18 miles/30 km SE of the capital, the ruins literally spill out of the sandy hills above the ocean. I visited mid-week--there seemed to be more archaeologists than tourists. Temples and tombs cause archaeologists to continually push back the date for the origins of civilization in this part of South America. (Well before the Inca, many cultures built cities and irrigation canals--some may be contemporary with the ancient societies of Mesopotamia!) Pachacámac is one of the easiest-to-get-to locations to visit and learn more about these pre-Inca societies. On a quiet mid-week visit, it's sobering to wander the ruins of was once a vibrant complex...
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