Lima Peru

Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome to Peru!  The land of the Incas and home to 28 million Peruvians.  Peru has experienced violent turmoil as few as fourteen years ago, but the country continues to move forward and modernize.  

Our first stop is Lima, home to a third of the countryīs population.  We kept primarily to the historical center of the city and the coastal district of Mira Flores, which has modern developments that made us feel like we were back home. 

Our first day of tourism (we spent one day researching the next phase of the trip at South American Explorers), was spent making our way through the long alleys and colonial heart of the city to visit the catacombs, national museum and our favorite, the museum of the Spanish Inquisition.  

We arrived at the city center and spent a few minutes soaking in the center plaza with itīs giant cathedral.  Lima is not considered the safest city in South America, although our experience was quite different.  With special tourist police patrolling the area, we didnīt feel like there was too much victim potential.  I canīt comment about the hours after which they go off duty, but we felt pretty safe in Lima.

The cathedral is beautiful, but at this point, cathedrals no longer impress me (Ah!  The jaded traveler!).  So, on we went to visit the catacombs.  The catacombs are located directly below a monastery, which also has itīs own cathedral, but a more interesting cathedral because it has a series of Reuben's paintings depicting the Passion of the Christ.  Strangely, theyīre just nailed to the wall, barely protected from anything whether it be human, animal or weather.  Lima is possibly the most humid place weīve visited, so I donīt imagine these paintings will weather the years too well.  This is sort of a find if you like amazing, very large scale, Ruebens paintings.  The best painting though is not a Ruben, but a version of "The Last Supper" where the main entree is cuy!  Yes, the furry little guinea pig had his day at the last supper in addition to being a national favorite dish of Peru as well as Ecuador.  We passed through the rest of the church and headed into the basement.  The walls closed in and the ceiling dropped and we were officially in the catacombs.  Winding our way through the maze we came upon room after room with the bones of thousands of Lima residents stacked on the floor.  Since previous earthquakes had unsettled the bones, the care takers re-arranged them into strange geometrical patterns.   This would qualify for the "jobs we donīt want to do" category.  Now, one of the things you canīt help think about when youīre in the catacombs is the earthquake frequency in Peru.   Always aware of the nearest exit, we quickly made our way through the twists and turns and happily emerged back on the street.

Our final stop (Lauraīs favorite,) was The Museum of the Spanish Inquisition.  Located in the building where the inquisition trials and tribulations took place, the museum gives a nice literary history of the inquisition (in Spanish, so I can only assume itīs nice) but best of all are the life size reproductions of some of the "techniques" used by the Catholic church to impart faith in their congregation and "save" the unfaithful...just before inflicting upon them a horrible death!  And all the while hearing, "Confess your sins and receive godīs mercy."  Ah, the good old days... 

The following day, we decided to stop being tourists and headed to Mira Flores to catch up on movies and treat ourselves to some more refined cuisine.  Lima is definitely worth a visit should you find yourself in Peru.  We enjoyed great shopping, wonderful sushi (!), and managed to catch up on some flicks.
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