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Journal of No. 118


July 9th, 2011

Peru V and last @ 09:59 am

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Day 8

We took a taxi out to the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology & History. Many nice displays cataloging the artefacts of the many cultures that have lived in Peru from the BCE up to the Conquest, giving you a good idea of both the differences and the continuity among them in terms of pottery styles and so on. We are both much taken with the products of the Moche culture, who elevated portraiture in pottery to a high art. You'd recognize that guy on the street if you saw him. They also produced many humorous designs as well. The Moche is also the culture of the Lord of Sipán, whose gold and other artefacts are now housed in a museum far in the north of Peru (Sipán, natch) but we were lucky enough to see them years ago when they were at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

The museum also has a larger section devoted to the colonial and modern history of Peru. Not as inherently interesting to me, but still enjoyable, particularly the part of the museum that's part of a viceregal palace (I think) with period furniture. And the little room devoted to the doomed revolts of Túpac Amaru I (1572) and II (1780-1) against the Spanish. [No mention of Tupac Amaru III.]

Outside the museum is a helpful blue line painted on the sidewalk, which leads you to the Larco Museum. The line is somewhat worn and occasionally peters out, making it hard to see where to go next when you get to some intersections. But it succeeded in its job, or we succeeded in ours. The path goes through a moderately nice neighborhood, with some parks and gardens, though most buildings are well-protected by iron fences.

The Larco Museum may be the safest place in Lima. There were a dozen cops standing around outside, and even a 'SUAT' van parked outside. The building is quite a palace, with lots of bougainvillea and other flowers decorating the grounds. In the entranceway, the doorman had a Peruvian hairless dog, similar to but smaller than the Mexican hairless dog, the Xoloitzcuintli. The Peruvian hairless is an old breed, occasionally pictured in Precolumbian pottery.

The Museum's collection covers much of the same territory as the Archeology Museum, but with many more and many finer specimens. Particularly gold and silver, which fills room after room. One thing that more museums should emulate is that the storage areas of the museum were open to the public. Endless cases stuffed with pottery and other things. Really an unbelievable collection. Don Rafael was fortunate to be both wealthy and a pioneer of Peruvian archaeology, which allowed him to collect so much material.

Down on a lower level of the museum in a separate area, the keep the erotic collection, ranging from the curious to the downright creepy. Also nearby was the cafe, where I enjoyed a Criollo sandwich of strips of grilled beef tenderloin with onions, peppers & cheese, washed down with a chilcano, a pisco based drink with lemon and ginger ale. Caught a taxi back to the hotel, and we were surprised to find paragliders zooming back and forth along the seaside cliffs.

Later, we walked along the road at the top of the cliff. In many ways, it's reminiscent of Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica, with a PCH-like highway at the bottom of the cliff. And even surfers to the north in 'Malibu'. Turning inland, we made our way to Las Brujas de Cachiche, where I had a fine tamarind-y pisco sour and the lomo saltado, which spoiled all future lomo saltados for me forevermore. The 'unrevealed' magic sauce had a soy sauce base, but other than that it was a tasty mystery of spices. All done to perfection with plenty of sauce that helped to enliven the rice with tasty fat choclo corn kernels and the french fries that accompanied it. For afters, the host suggested a shot of Cuatro Gallos pisco - a jewel-like brandy-style pisco. For the meal, Dr. Pookie opted for El Gran Chamán: "Arequipa’s crawfish tails sautéed in a delicious secret crawfish coral sauce from Brujas de Cachiche, with chili peppers, garlic, Peruvian rocoto pepper, spices, juicy tomatoes and onions, accompanied with a smooth blend of fried rice and mushroom patty, golden pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil."

A wedding reception was setting up while we ate, and the first few guests started to arrive. As we walked back to the hotel, we passed the (or perhaps a) bride and groom walking along the shore road. Perhaps we caught them at the wrong moment, but they looked absolutely glum and miserable.


Day 9

Another enjoyably slow start to the day. Then a taxi down to the Plaza Major in the historic center of Lima. The Cathedral is there, of course, and there was a big shindig going on, with musicians and performers and dancers and bands. As we wandered about, a motorcade arrived with much cheering and fanfare. We still have no idea what was going on, but it was neat. There was also lots of security about -- police/soldiers with big guns, and armored riot trucks parked just a little off the main square. But fortunately, the general spirit seemed to be very friendly.

A back way brought us to the Museum of the Inquisition, housed in the old Senate Building, and on a site that dates back to the founding of the city, with some small excavations you can explore to see the cells of the inquisitorial jail. They also have some mannequins demonstrating the use of a few torture implements. Not a very big museum, but free! It detailed the larger Inquisition as well as the local relevance in Peru, where the Inquisition was used to suppress native religions and 'witches', though the biggest business they had was in going after 'converso' Jews and bigamists (men who had wives back in Spain in addition to their local Peruvian wives). The last Peruvian auto da fe was in the early 1800s.

A short walk away is the Monasterio de San Francisco, which honors both Francis of Assisi as well as the more local St. Francis Solanus. Built in 1774, the monastery has survived several major earthquakes. The guided tour covered the main sights. The choir was magnificent, with amazing carved wood and it was even better to be up there on a Sunday morning, with Mass being held down below in the us. The library was astonishing -- 25,000 early volumes in a long room with twin spiral staircases joining the floors. One domed ceiling was Moorish in style. Quite intricate and also impressive that the central portion had been restored following earthquake damage. An ivory crucifix elsewhere had been brought from the Phillipines -- Moors, Phillipines, Peru -- a reminder of the world-spanning power of the Spanish Empire. The tour finishes up with a walk through the catacombs, which hold the bones of some 25,000 Lima residents of years past.

Next, a cabride to Huaca Pucllana back in the Miraflores district. This is a ruin from the local Lima culture from long before the Inca. Everything here is composed of adobe bricks, and the main feature is a pretty impressive pyramid. The site was later used by the Wari culture for burials, and later abandoned and covered over -- unknown to the Inca or Spanish. Over and above the archeological interest, at that moment we were more interested in the fact that the site is overlooked by a wonderful restaurant. We had a nice table on the patio with a great view of the site.

I started off with El Capitán, which is pretty much a pisco Manhattan. Strong and good. To eat, we started with some fried yuca (not yucca) with a cheesy dip. Dr. Pookie had ceviche, while I opted for the ají de gallina, which was delicious. After taking our fill of the site (the last section of which was a sort of sad little zoo and garden) we strolled back to the shoreline near the hotel. At this point, my camera beeped its beep that I had filled its memory. With only a few hours left in the country, I figure it had served me faithfully enough.

Near the hotel is the Larcomar mall, an upscale spot for the locals, the local teens, and the foreigners. Shops and restaurants, an arcade and movie theater, all overlooking the ocean with paragliders floating back and forth, occasionally close enough to wave to. We didn't do any shopping, but stopped for a drink at a cafe. After killing some time there, we killed time elsewhere, and have a little more time to kill before our transfer to the hotel.

Day 10 was spent on planes. Nothing exciting to report other than the good luck of Infants And Toddlers On Planes Who Turned Out To Be Not As Bad As Feared.

Just one last memory. Inoffensive as the guinea pig ravioli were to the eye (compared to the usual presentation of cuy) Dr. Pookie refused to partake, because, "We don't eat our friends." I reminded her that, sometimes in the Andes, we do eat our friends. She was not convinced.
 
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Comments

 
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From:richardabecker
Date:July 16th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Man, I really envy this trip...
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:July 16th, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
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And thus I am both happy and sad.

Journal of No. 118