Miraflores, Caral and the Mummy!

Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel San Augustin Exclusive Miraflores

Flag of Peru  , Washington,
Friday, July 4, 2008

Dear friends and family,
After many days with not much time to create an entry I am finally faithful to the cause.  This trip has been so completely amazing I don't even know where to start.  The first day two other professors and I arrived from the Seattle area at around 11 oclock at night.  I really didn't know what to expect when I woke up on Sunday morning from Lima (a city of 8 million people).  After some poking around for the first couple of days I actually feel comfortable with the pace of life here as I could very well be in Spain if I didn't know that that couldn't be true. 

In contrast to my past experience in Spain, the food is a bit different.  It is all very fresh and plentiful but the vegetables and sauces are different.  Also, they eat four courses just as in Spain at lunch and very little to no dinner.  Some of the things that I have eaten so far include anticucho (beef hearts on a stick that I can't really get into yet) and aji peppers that are absolutely delicious!! If you really know me well then you will have to know that I absolutely LOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEEE potatoes.  It is an understatement to say that I am in the right place for that since there are possibly over 4,000 varieties of potatoes in Peru. The typical drink of Peru that is very plentiful in Lima is called Chicha Morada or purple corn beer.  I really enjoy the Chicha and I hear that it is supposed to be very beneficial to your health.  In the highlands the people make an alcoholic version by spitting the corn and the saliva ferments it.  The Lonely Planet guide says that one should bring the Pepto Bismal if one is brave enough to try it. 

We ate lunch today at a wonderful restaurant that is in Miraflores in a commercial complex housed within the top of a 100 meter cliff overlooking the beautiful ocean.  Although it is the winter season for Peru the weather is still about 70 degrees with a very high humidity.  Paragliders pepper the sky directly in front of the balcony of this particular restaurant that we have gone to now two times.  They take tourists up with them and then wave at when they swoop by the glass of the restaurant balcony.  We are working so much here that I hardly have time to go out and scope things out.  This week on Monday we had a seminar by Richard Burger (one of the leading anthropologists on Peru) from Yale University for three hours.  The following day another then we met and went off to the Larco Museum of Anthropology in Lima.  I was completely blown away by the sheer quantity and quality of art, pottery, gold, silver and stone sculptures, icons and other artifacts that are housed there.  There were so many pots that I had to practically run through to get the pictures that I wanted.  In conclusion, there was definitely an amazing and very elaborate civilization here before the Spaniards arrived (Francisco Pizarro) in 1531. 

Yesterday we took a six hour bus ride to a site named Caral after the town that it is near.  The site included possibly the first evidence of city in the americas.  We witnessed antropoligists dig into dirt and rock mounds (it is t6he driest place that I have ever been) to uncover enormous pyramids and round structures that were almost exactly the same to me as the Kiva that I saw at Mesa Verde in the southwest of the United States.  I was very impressed that the pyramids were created between 3,000 and 2,500 b.c. 

Today we had a morning lecture with Jeffrey Quiltar (the peabody museum curator) from Harvard University.  I attest that he is one of the most hillarious professors that I have ever had the good fortune of meeting.  He is an expert on the very first burials 8,000 b.c. in Peru at a place called Paraiso.  I was completely exhausted yesterday night arriving home at about 10:30 from the bus ride that began at 6 a.m.  I feel like when I was in the military with so much structure and I am glad that I have the experience that has made me able to cope well with this one.  I have a limited amount of clothing that is not getting any cleaner by the day.  Luckily, we are in a hotel and I can take a shower everyday and they treat us to breakfast in the mornings.  Everyone is worried about drinking the water and juices that they provide for breakfast and I am especially after the experience that I had when I came back from Puerto Vallarta last summer that lasted 12 DAYS!!!!

Today was probably one of the most eye opening days that I have had thus far in my entire life.  In the morning, we had another seminar by the amazing and hilarious Jeffrey Quiltar and in the afternoon we met to go to a private museum collection in Lima.  It was unbelievable!! The main reason that it was so incredible is that we saw textiles that had come from 1000 to 500 years ago that were woven with amazingly symmetrical designs and colors.  Actually, at the time Europe only had access to 5 colors while Peru had access to 9 (that is what the guide told me).  Anyway, the most important section of the tour (because I was sooooooooo flippppedd out seeing it) was the mummy that I saw.  I have been mentally preparing myself for the few months before I left for the institute but NOTHING could have prepared me for that.  It had skin on its face with wrinkles, hair and teeth.  There was also another and another and another and then a severed foot that was flexed with foot pads and hands and I definitely had to high tail it out of that room and I did. 

I am going to attempt to attach a picture that I took from the museum (not today's because we were not allowed to take pictures). 

Highdy Ho for now,

p.s. tomorrow we are leaving for the north coast and the much smaller city of Chinclayo to see some Moche artifacts. 

The next day we had a seminar by
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