Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
45Trip End Jan 20, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The journey was not pleasant. Nothing physical. But from Nasca to Lima was the earthquake zone. Ica and Pisco still looked terrible. Rubble where there used to be buildings. Fields full of small blue tents - about two metres high, and possibly two metres along the sides. Maybe not that. What was also disturbing was the people photographing them. How much souvenir evidence do you want of human misery? I thought of this in Lima, when I saw an advert for a shanty town tour. Well, that'll be grand. Visit some of the poorest areas of a third world country, with your camera. Do you get to burn dollar bills in front of the inhabitants, too? Maybe, for a bit more money, you get to kick the slum-dwellers. That'll teach you, for being poor. Thatcher tourism. She probably devised the idea, herself, whilst torturing a kitten. The writer Iain Sinclair has claimed that Margaret Thatcher was a witch, who used dark magics to destroy the country. This is of course silly, and one of the reasons why, despite being arguably the finest prose stylist writing in English today, he should not be taken too seriously on many issues. But, taken metaphorically, he has a point, and one worth bearing in mind when considering Thatcher and her ideological heirs. The main difference between Thatcher and, for instance, Mr Tony Blair, is that Thatcher was genuinely misanthropic, and hated life, truth and beauty, whereas Blair was just a greedy, grasping public-school boy with limited intellect, who did what the money-men told him to do. Enough with the modern history. What is Lima like?
Well, I like it. Staying in the upmarket, tourist friendly suburb of Miraflores. Look at the flowers. There are public gardens. The Pacific Ocean is a kilometre or two from my hostel. And then, just to the north, is central Lima. Tall buildings. North American Junk Food Outlets - KFC, McD, BK. It's here. But more. Pre-Inca ruins. Bald dogs. They have ginger hair on their heads and tails, but nowhere else. An endangered species, apparently. Peruvian originals, they now keep one or two in each pre-Inca monument. By government edict.
Plaza De Armas is, as usual, impressive. A cathedral on one side. Attached to the bishop's palace. Colonial wooden balcony. The balconies form an important part of Lima architecture. There was, apparently, an "adopt a balcony" scheme, shortly after the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have no idea why, but it sounds good. Most other buildings around the plaza have republican era balconies. More glass. More sophistication. Then, of course, there is the Presidential Palace. Very different from a royal palace. He's elected, after all. As an aside, I was arguing with someone in Quito as to why anyone needs a head of state at all. His only argument seemed to be "but we do, because who would you send to a heads of state meeting?". I don't know. Maybe draw lots? I digress. There is a Changing Of The Guards at the palace of democracy. Every day. At noon. In homage to A.A.Milne and his non-Peruvian bear, I composed the following:
Estan cambiando los guardas a Plaza De Armas,
Cristobel Robin fue alla, con los llamas.
I'm quite proud of it.
A couple of blocks away is the church and monastary of St Francis Of Assisi. The Franciscan and Dominican orders were, apparently, the first to reach South America. The Jesuits came last. Because instead of getting on a boat they were indulging in some masturbatory hair splitting and pedantry, whilst missing the main point. Probably. The Jesuits and Dominicans have a dispute in the relationship between Grace and Salvation, by the way. If you don't know what that means, don't worry - it doesn't mean anything. Empircally empty. Vacuous. I only know because it was a note in Dubliners. The latest book I read. A choice between that or Victor Hugo's "Hunchback Of Notre Dame". I went for Joyce, since I once read Hugo's French Revolution epic Les Miserables - it was alright, but I wouldn't make a song and dance about it. An impressive monastary, nonetheless. An old library, with enormous, leather-bound books. Plenty of religious artwork. And impressive catacombs. Bodies in lime. Dissolving, so only the hardiest bones are left. Which were then neatly laid out for tourists. The well was best. Circular. Bones displayed radially. Marvellous. A very neat presentation of death.
There are some photos of Lima. Pre-Inca ruins. Plaza De Armas. Pacific Ocean. A pier, somewhat like Blackpool. OK, nothing like Blackpool, other than it being a pier. I will put them up when I go to an internet cafe which lets me download from my camera. As usual.