Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 1 in Peru - Part 2

…..After leaving the Cathedral went for a short, two block, walk to San Francisco church and Monestery. Merle kept herself busy as we walked by supporting the local informal economy – bought $4 of this and $5 of that from the urchins. The city is laid out in districts by function ie we walked past a long line of stores selling hand-made leather shoes and boots. Another road is just opticians.

San Francisco Church is run by Franciscan monks (No photos allowed) and the Monestery is beautifully decorated with tile on the walls from 17th century Spain – amazingly decorated and large canvasses from the same time period showing highlights of St Francis life. We then entered the underground catacombs – the burial ground for the order. They simply stacked the dead in piles and covered them with sand and lime for cosmetic purposes – the church is directly above. About 25-30,000 were buried this way. Today all that’s left are the bones. Big need of Swiffer. Thousands and thousands of Femurs, tibias, skulls pinkies etc etc. pretty weird. They stopped doing it a while back

By now, after all that bone, everyone needed a bit of food so we drove towards the sea and went through a much more affluent and modern part of Lima – San Isidro – boutiques, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, many flash Casinos; then to Miraflores.

My kind of town. Miraflores sits high above the ocean on bluffs (like LaJolla) which is great for the view and for parasailing – a popular local sport. The ocean-front drive looks like Sea Point (in Cape Town). High rise apartment buildings on one side of the road, lawns with people walking around on the other.

Fact: Peru is washed by the Humboldt current which brings cold water from the Antarctic towards the Equator. This cold water in such a subtropical location leads to a very misty grey sky, high humidity and no rain! They only get 3” of rain a year. It’s a subtropical desert. They irrigate from the Andean rivers – especially the Rio Rimac (which is pronounced rimacccccch – Spanish turned to Lima). Also imported trees – Eucalypts – from Australia which have taken over.

We went to a shopping mall built in levels down the bluff (like Bantry Bay or Clifton in Cape Town) to a restaurant for lunch. Andean cuisine – had lots of tastes and some local beer and soda (Coca Cola). As you can see Spiderman is as popular for Peruvian kids as for those in the US. We missed it but he did all the posturing and webshooting moves that Aiden is great at.

Refreshed we now went to the Mercado Artesenal ie tourist stuff to buy. As you can see they had lots of enticing things on sale. I sat outside and waited (its not even Wal Mart) listening to two guys playing the pan flute – made me think of New York!!!!! I was not however alone – they have seats in rows for people like me.

Final tour stop was the Museo Oro del Peru. This is a private museum of pre-Incan and Incan artifacts accumulated by a sugar baron said to be the richest man in Peru in his time. Remember all the gold stuff was buried with the owners so as amazing and beautiful as it all is; and as interesting the symbolism and what you learn about culture etc – this was grave robbery. A second part of the museum, not spelled out in the name, was the armory collection. He collected weapons of war, uniforms etc. we didn’t have enough time but this was also fascinating ( and a bit more honest about the dude) they had a Maxim Machine gun just like in Clint’s movies).

By now it was 5pm and we had to get into evening traffic and head back to Callao and the ship. Passed the outskirts of Lima and you can see the hillsides covered in “new towns” – pretty much shantytowns. Lima is a magnet for all the rest of Peru. 

The evening entertainment on board ship will follow with the rest of our time in Peru


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE The photos and the facts love the blog!

  2. I really dug the gold museum as well. Miraflores looks gorgeous. See any surfers?