Sunday, February 7, 2010

Once a 1771 Spanish Fort now a Peruvian Military Post

Dad climbed the narrow, winding stone steps to the top of the tower. I chose wisely to stay below and take his picture.

This warrior is an ancient one, predating the Inca. Notice the rocks--one of his weapons of war.
This round building called the Queen's House is the building with the musty, dark passages. We entered from a drawbridge over what looked like the remnant of a moat. During the final war for independence from Spain in 1887, the Peruvian army imprisoned the Spanish army here and starved them to death. We were told they resorted to cannibalism.

This is only one of many great and small cannons on the grounds. Two rooms off this corridor displayed three centuries of artillery from the Americas and Europe.

These buildings are two of the original Colonial style haciendas near the fort. Unfortunately, Callao is not a safe district to wander about, but it is quite picturesque.

The pirate was quite fascinated by us Norte Americanos. He made Steve Cordon an "ultimate pirate," eye patch and all. The pirate's bombastic and surprising entrance in the otherwise quiet room depicting centuries of warriors, their weapons and uniforms, drew screams. Notice Dad is missing. He purposely stayed in the shadows except when the pirate made us "walk the plank" or line up and report where we came from, "De donde son, ustedes?"

This picture gives a good idea of the size, the spaciousness, and the construction of the fort.
This is only one side, one small part of the fort. We walked the equivalent of a city block to the ocean side.

Do the guards at the front gate remind you of little tin soldiers? These guards were very young. The Cordons on the left were our next-door neighbors until late January. Dad and Elder Cordon served in Uruguay at the same time. The Strattons were called to serve in the Lima Temple presidency. We're on the right.

When we learned that the Chile Area psychologist and his wife had planned a trip to Cuzco before they were released, we asked them to buy an electric mattress cover for the cold, damp winter nights yet to come. They dropped it off the only airport hotel, Costa del Sol. That gave us an excuse to hire a Marquez tour guide to take us to the airport more than an hour away and to tour the quaint, Colonial Period district of Callao and the 1771 Spanish Fort which is the grandest old fort we have seen. As we were leaving the apartment, the temple missionary couple living right below us, met us on the landing and asked us if we would like to go with them and another couple to the very same place. It is so much more fun to go with a group. We dismissed the car, and went with the two couples who had hired a van and driver, a man whom one couple had known for many years.

After retrieving the mattress cover, we drove to the coast through Callao to the fort, now a tightly guarded military post. We could not wander on our own. The walls are made of blocks of stone and mortar. The cannons face the port. We were surprised to see so much activity in port: an American submarine #43, a great cargo ship leaving port, a large fishing fleet, and some pleasure boats. The two-hour guided tour took us several museum-quality rooms and through through maze-like passages with little light. One could imagine hooded monks carrying torches to find their way. One building had three floors the Spanish had fashioned so one could not be accessed from another floor, a kind of labrynth, steep, dark, and musty.

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