We were in Lima, Peru Sunday & Monday, January 15 & 16, so this will be a two day posting. We actually docked in Callao (pronounced Kai-yow) which is the nearest port, about 25 miles from downtown Lima.
Lima is a huge city, 8 or 9 million people depending on who you ask. Much of it is very pretty, with beaches (pretty rocky ones, though), cliffs, parks and lots of beautiful flowers.
However, it is also a city with a lot of poverty (in fact, we have seen this throughout Peru). We were told that 11% of the population of Lima live without electricity or water service. You can see thousands of what are essentially huts (someone said they look like ship containers) on hillsides, occupied by squatters.
On our first day in Lima we were on a tour booked by one of the other passengers that was supposed to take us to the 2 best archeological sites in Lima. However, when our van pulled up to Pachacamac we learned that because there was a major car rally finishing in Lima that day they had decided at the last minute to close Pachacamac at noon. So we did not get to see the site that was the main reason we booked this tour. The rally was a big deal, with cars from all over the world competing, & lots of folks came out to see it, but that was a disappointment.
So, having seen nothing up to then, they took us to lunch. We ate at a nice Peruvian buffet place where we could sample a large variety of Peruvian food, including the largest corn kernels I have ever seen. I also tried a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru & Chile (and thus a dispute about who originated it). And on our table was a small pot of hot sauce that tasted very much like what you can get at local Peruvian chicken places in Arlington such as Crisp & Juicy, which is our favorite. The comparable restaurants here are called “Pollo de Brasas.”
After lunch we visited several parks. The first one, on the edge of a cliff in the Miraflores district (a wealthy suburb), contained a sculpture the Peruvians are very proud of picturing two indians kissing. It also has a wall that was inspired by Antonio Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona.
The second park was all olive trees that were planted by the Spaniards more than 300 years ago. They are set out in neat rows.
Finally, we visited an important archeological site, right in the city, called Huaca Pucllana. It is a large pyramid that is in the process of excavation. The most interesting thing about it (for a visitor, not an archeologist) is the “book style” technique of laying the adobe bricks, which we hadn’t seen before. We were told that the entire thing is made of bricks; there is no space inside. Apparently, each generation would build a new layer on top of the old one. According to our guide, the last picture in the group is the remains of some human sacrifices uncovered here.
And here is the skyline of Miraflores from the top of the pyramid.
Also at the Huaca Pucllana site we saw our first llamas, some guinea pigs (which Peruvians eat), and some Peruvian Hairless dogs (which are exceedingly ugly).
The last thing on our tour was a park with a variety of creative fountains, called the Magical Circuit Of The Waters. This park was very popular; lots of local people there on a Sunday evening (even though it cost to enter), with everyone taking their pictures in front of the fountains.
That night on the ship a local folk dancing group put on a really terrific show (which included an old Peruvian folksong written by Paul Simon). The last dance, of which I did not get pictures, had two young fellows doing some impressive gymnastic dancing (back flips, etc.) while holding a long scissors in their right hands with which they kept the beat of the song. I wonder how much blood was on the floor while they were learning to do that!
On our second day in Lima we visited two archeological museums. The Larco Museum allowed photos but the Gold Museum did not. Larco was an archeologist/collector who collected a huge amount of pottery & sculpture, mostly in northern Peru, early in the 20th century when it was still legal to do so. He established a museum in what used to be his hacienda, a beautiful building with fabulous gardens. We had an excellent guide & learned a lot at this museum.
Most of this collection is pre-Inca. The Inca conquered much of Peru in the 12th & 13th centuries, so their empire was only a few hundred years old when Pizarro came and conquered them (that’s an interesting story in itself, since he did this with a total of 168 men). Other civilizations in this area, such as the Moche & Chimu, lasted for 6 or 7 hundred years before declining. Many of these pots, which are in astonishingly good shape, are actually water vessels (you can see the long spouts on the top), but probably were never used for that since they were made to put in the tombs of noblemen. In these tombs they have also found the skeletons of dozens of other people who apparently were the nobleman’s retainers, buried alive to serve him in the next world.
There is also a room containing ancient textiles that were in the tombs.
In a separate wing of the Larco museum is a collection of extremely explicit pottery, demonstrating that these Indians knew how to have a good time, & expected to continue doing so in the next life. I was going to post some pictures of these but Mary prevailed upon me not to include pornography in the general blog posting. If anyone really wants to see these, email me & I will try to email you copies of some of the pictures (not sure it will work on this spotty internet connection). You can specify the type of sexual depiction you are interested in, if you like, since these Indians pretty much covered the field!
The Lorco museum also has gardens with beautiful flowers hanging over walls & giant cactuses, so I will share a few here.
Here is a “Chifa” restaurant, which is a Peruvian version of Chinese food (we didn’t get to try any), and the national library of Peru, for the librarians in the audience. Also, we have here laundry drying on the roof of a house, which we have seen quite a bit of here in Peru. Note that there are steel construction rods sticking out of the roof on the building nearer the front. You see this all over Peru; we are told this is because property taxes are lower for unfinished buildings so people keep their houses permanently “unfinished.”
Finally, here is the monkey towel animal we received at the end of the day and a bread sculpture of a barrel with a bunch of grapes at the lower left made out of 2 different colors of bread.
Hi again. Its been a while since we have posted to the blog. This is because we had 4 consecutive port days with land tours that didn’t leave any time for blogging, then 2 days of me (Rick) being sick (which isn’t really over yet). So, there is a lot to catch up on, & I think it will take several postings.
On Saturday, January 14, we were in Trujillo, Peru. This is a city of between 800,000 and 900,000, depending on who you ask. It seems to be a very poor city, with most people living in what amounts to brick or adobe shacks. We saw lots of small fields of sugar cane, chili peppers & other vegetables, as well as cows & a lot of dogs. We were on a bus tour to three fascinating archeological sites in this area, so we did quite a lot of driving around the area, much of it on bumpy roads that, as Mary said (quoting Big Bird) “really shook up my giblets.”
Anyway, here are some pictures of adobe brick walls at residences outside Trujillo, & the local church in this village.
Here is a field of sugarcane (with the foothills of the Andes in the background). They tell us that they harvest the sugarcane by setting fire to the field. Only the leaves burn, & then they come along & slice off the remaining with machetes. The second picture is of sugarcane harvesters carrying the cane from a burned field. They are trying to convert the industry to mechanical harvesting to avoid releasing so much carbon dioxide into the air but that is still in an early stage of acceptance. The third picture is a street vendor with a bunch of sugarcane stalks on the right side of his cart for sale. And then a store selling Inca Kola, which is ubiquitous around here and can be purchased in Arlington Va as well (although Carrie tells us its pretty vile).
The first archeological site we visited was called El Brujo, and was a good ways north of the city. This was a temple/pyramid built by the Moche people, who lived in the area about 1500 years ago. long before the Aztecs. The pictures below really don’t do justice to it; the figures on the walls are a deep & vivid red. In the large picture, the figures have a rope around their neck, which indicates that they are captives who will be used for human sacrifice. That does not mean they were captured in war necessarily; these people engaged in a sort of ritual combat within the community and the loser would be sacrificed. It appears that they did this most often by drugging the victims with some sort of potion they drank, then they would be taken up to the sacrificial alter & the priest would cut the artery in their necks & they would bleed to death (although sometimes they were just thrown onto rocks below).
At the El Brujo museum (where photography was forbidden) there was a mummified body of a woman who was apparently some kind of shaman & a noble person. Her body and face are covered in tattoos. There are a lot of mummies that have been found in this area; they have survived in very good form because of the dryness of the weather & can be seen in quite a few museums, we are told.
The second site we visited is called Chan Chan. It was a city built by the Chimu people, who lived about 800 years ago & were conquered by the Incas. The frustrating thing about this site is that apparently much of this stuff is “reconstructed” to look like they think it did originally, and its very difficult to tell what is original & what has been enhanced or reconstructed. So with that caveat here are some pictures. This was a large palace, with many decorations carved in the adobe walls. You can see what are thought by some to be squirrels, then fish & then birds. The even horizontal likes are thought to represent the water in the sea nearby. The cross-hatch design in the large picture below are thought to represent fishing nets, and these people are thought to have subsisted largely on seafood.
Below left is an interesting looking duck that was in a pool inside Chan Chan, and below right is one of several hokey folks who help give the place a Disneyworld tinge (consistent with the “reconstruction”), that seems a bit out of synch with an important archeological site.
Our third archeological site was Hauca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), another temple built by the Moche. Of course, that is a name given by modern archeologists and there is no evidence that the Moche called it that. Anyway, it was the most spectacular of all in terms of preserved artwork uncovered on its walls. I think the god in the picture in the top right below looks a little like Homer Simpson (if you disregard the hair & the fangs).
Those pictures were all on the inside of the temple, but there is an even more spectacular display on one of the outside walls.
The bottom row above shows captives to be sacrificed, the second row shows a line of Indians holding hands, the third row is spiders, the fourth row shows warriors carrying clubs & the top row is snakes. The big hole at the top was made by the Spaniards, who were a lot like the Taliban (who destroyed the ancient giant Buddhas) in their efforts to destroy everything that wasn’t Christian oriented. Below are some closer pictures of some of these images.
Then there was this particularly intricate wall at the Temple of the Moon, with a close-up of some if its busy decorations.
And finally, lest we forget what this was really all about, here is a picture of the spot where they conducted human sacrifices (many skeletons were found in this area), and also a picture of the nearby Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), which is bigger than the Temple of the Moon but has not yet been excavated.
Back on the Prinsendam that night we discovered that there is a talented bread artist (of all things) on board. Here are a couple of his or her sculptures, baked entirely of bread. There will be more of these in upcoming days.