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Lima Peru, April 20-25, 2017

by Jenny and Charlie Plesums

In May 2013 Jenny and Charlie visited Cusco and Machu Picchu Peru (Charlie had a similar visit in 1969, in the era before Jenny). When we got home Jenny said "but we didn't visit Lima (other than to change planes in the airport)." Lima is supposed to be nice.

April 20-25 Jenny and Charlie found a bargain ticket ($450 round trip) and we returned to Lima "for a long weekend." We cheated on the bargain part - for $150 each plus some miles we upgraded from coach to Business/First class.

Flight Details

Thursday evening fly Austin to Dallas, then non-stop to Lima on American Airlines. We arrived at 5:30 in the morning, and tried to take Uber to town. Congestion outside the airport is overwhelming, so we never connected with our Uber driver, but found another ride for a similar price (50 PEN, about $17).

The Miraflores area of Lima is wonderful and safe, but it was too early to check into our hotel, the Casa Andina Classic Miraflores Centro, ($321.56 for 4 days, large room, breakfast).

Return flight on Tuesday April 25 left Lima at 6:40 am through Miami, with a long layover before our flight direct to Austin. Uber worked very well getting us to the airport (as well as local transportation during our visit)

Waiting for our room - Friday April 21

A couple blocks from our hotel in Lima is JFK park (as in US President). Near the start of the park is this church

Yes, they make some large pottery in Peru - this piece in the JFK Park in Lima

We continued walking through JFK park until we reached the beach - well below us. Miraflores is 259 feet above sea level. We were told that we would find many people parasailing off the cliff, but saw none. There were stairs to the beach, but we didn't feel the need for the exercise. We did see a few surfers.

In the other direction you can see the cliff, with lighthouse, and the highway below along the coast

There are several parks at the top of the bluff. The love park features this huge statue of a couple kissing. The colored mosaic walls have many names of people who were apparently in love, at least at the time the walls were built. Another park had sophisticated but weather resistant exercise machines.

In the opposite direction - away from the coast - is the Lima Pyramid, properly called Huaca Pucllana. It was a religious and government site from about 200 to 700 AD, with the very sophisticated Lima culture that predated the Incas and Spaniards. The site is currently over 12 acres, but that is only about 1/3 of it's original size - the rest was overrun by the roads and modern city.

Most of the site was made with mud bricks, stacked like books, with spaces between them that enabled the walls to survive earthquakes (but not rain). Lima's rainfall averages 0.3 inches PER YEAR which is why this ancient mud structure has survived.

The lower levels were for dormitories and commoners, while the elite had space higher up. Every 50 years or so they would destroy all their pottery and build a new layer on top of the old. Wouldn't you hate to be around when the boss decided it was time to start over again?

Near the top was where royalty was buried. They were put in fetal position to be mummified, wrapped in many layers of cloth, sometimes with a symbolic head on the top, surrounded by supplies for the after life. This tomb had two adults and two babies, in small "packages" that I saw in real life, but cannot find in this picture.

Saturday April 22 - downtown Lima

The central square was quite pretty. Note the characteristic brown balconies on the front of many buildings.

Rotate slightly left from the picture above to the cathedral on the square.

The traditional altar is in front of the very dramatic high altar. But there seem to be scaffolding behind the altar.

Now look at the high altar from the side. It is just a picture of the real high altar, which is being renovated (the scaffolding in the previous picture). This is one of the most clever tricks I have seen, anywhere.

Some of the original carving could still be seen (very impressive work)

In another area where they had removed the carvings because of the construction, they replaced them with very realistic life size pictures.

Governor Francisco Pizzaro who conquered Peru, wiped out most of the native cultures, and founded the capital City of Lima. He was reburied (with the correct head) in the Cathedral in 1985, as part of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the city.

To the left of the cathedral is the Archbishop's Residence, now a museum. I hope he has a better facility someplace, because the antique typewriters and office equipment would be tough in these days.

The archbishop's chapel had an interesting altar. Notice that with robe, Mary has a triangular shape, as "Mother Earth" is represented in the Inca religion.

This is not exactly the kind of statue I expected to find in the Archbishop's residence. In fact, it is similar to Manneken-pis in Brussels.

Facing the Archbishop's residence (museum) go one more building left for the home and office of the President of Peru. Daily changing of the guard was mostly a military band concert, not worth the sunburn.

Saturday Afternoon - Museo del Convento de San Francisco de Asis de Lima

A couple blocks from the main square is the San Francisco Museum and Monastery. Some interesting art (including a last supper painting with a guinea pig (cuy) rather than a bare plate), and a fabulous library.

This library has about 25,000 volumes, most from the 15th to 18th Century, written in many languages. Only scholars get to touch, plus a major preservation effort. No Photos (why?) so I took this picture from their web site.

In addition to the art and library, this was the entrance to the Lima catacombs. In many (most?) cultures, a few years after a body is buried in a coffin, the remaining skeleton is moved to a smaller container or resting place, called an ossuary. In some cultures the family disinters the body from the first burial, cleans and arranges the bones in the second much smaller ossuary. Sometimes in catacombs the bones are arranged by type - skulls in one area, long bones in another, remaining small bones in a "well" like pit (10 meters deep, over 30 feet), - to make more room in the catacombs.

People or families were buried and covered with lime (to speed decomposition, kill bacteria, and reduce odor) and dirt, and to allow another layer of bodies. The next few pictures show this, so jump ahead if you are queasy. Some areas I had to enter on my hands and knees (remember how tall I am).

This is either a real or a very real reproduction of a family in their grave

and the explanation of what was in the previous picture. Note husband and wife AND a baby.

Another burial. It may be real, since the archeologists have put depth measuring sticks that you can barely see on the left and right of the picture.

The sign describes this form of interment from the 17th to the 19th century. Note also on the right side of the sign, how the layers occur, where the two layers shown are 1.5 meters high, or just over four feet deep, 1.9 meters long, and 0.3 meters apart. The width of the family grave is 0.9 meters, less than 3 feet.

I forgot to take pictures of the rooms full of skulls, long bones, or wells full of small bones. I will try to remember the next time I visit a catacomb.

Sunday April 23

Our first visit was to the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History, run by the government. No photos allowed (ugh), but they have the largest collection in Peru. This was a nice museum to visit, but if you only have time for one, go to the Larco museum below.

Do people go to both museums? Well, from the entrance to the National museum there is a blue line painted on the sidewalk all the way to the Larco Museum. A pleasant 15 minute stroll through the local neighborhoods. The only point of concern was where a construction fence hid the line for a block, but it resumed exactly where expected past the construction.

The Larco museum is in an absolutely beautiful setting, in an 18th century building atop a 7th century pre-columbian pyramid. Look back to the Lima Piramid (above). This is a privately owned and run museum, and pictures were allowed.

Their display of ancient clothing was impressive

The collection of personal jewelry, mostly gold, was immense

Can you imagine wearing this much heavy jewelry (gold is heavier than lead)

Or jewelry like this?

They have the required Peruvian mummy, embalmed in fetal position, with supplies for the after-life

Their storage areas were open to visitors

Endless aisles of storage

Room after room - enough to fill many museums around the world

Their restrooms had unusual signs - men to the left, women to the right, if you hadn't figured it out. Jenny bought miniatures of these statues that we have in our office.

The Larco museum also has a well known gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery, in a separate building, so fragile visitors can avoid it. A sample of those on display in the separate gallery is on Wikipedia

Monday April 24

We took a bus tour around town... you have seem Parc Amour from another angle

A different view of the beach

There is a multi-story shopping mall, Larcomar, built into the side of the cliff. We walked but didn't buy

From the mall you can see steps down to the beach level. We were not tempted!

Something unusual

In the four days we were in Lima, walking among the people, I only saw three people smoking and one man "vaping" an electronic cigarette (and those four could have been tourists). Fewer than any other place I have visited in the world. Could this be what makes them such pleasant, kind people?

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