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.