Lima

So it’s Sunday afternoon. I didn’t get any sleep on the plane. I walked around Miraflores and Parque Kennedy until my hotel was ready. I finally got in my room but my bag was still MIA. The front desk staff had sent it to the wrong room. They assured me it would be found. I tried to relax a bit but decided that I didn’t want to waste the afternoon looking at the inside of a hotel room. I got up and went downstairs. The next on my list was the downtown area. The bellhops out front offered to put me in a car to get downtown. I asked how much it would cost and was quoted just $20. I demurred and called a car via Uber again. For $6 I was across town. I had the driver drop me off near Plaza Mayor. There was traffic so I could not get all the way there. The driver let me out and I walked up on an elaborate celebration that started in front of the Cathedral of Lima and circled around the plaza in front of the Government Palace and some stadium seating that had been set up for the event. The parade consisted of various religious floats like I had seen for Holy Week in Spain. Some other parade entrants we groups from various parts of Perú in traditional costumes. The celebration seemed to coincide with the winter solstice that was coming up the following week. The costumes were very colorful and featured whips, lucha libre masks, and dead alpacas. There was a casual police presence armed with body armor and riot shields relaxing off in a corner. They seemed mainly there to keep people away from the government palace. The parade was being enjoyed by local families many with kids also dressed in what looked like traditional clothing. There were a few foreign tourists like me that stood out in the crowd but most appeared to be locals. As the final float passed by workers had already begun disassembling the viewing stands. Working the crowd were vendors selling churros and all manner of sweets.

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Once the parade was finished the plaza quickly emptied. I wandered around the square and into the Cathedral of Lima from 1535. It was now open after the parade. It’s hard to compare one cathedral with another. They are all so beautiful. This one has been here for close to 500 years. Around the corner was a newer construction from 1673, the Monastery of San Francisco. What made this stop so interesting was the open tombs and catacombs. They had excavated under the monastery so you could go down and see the different levels. Below the church were the honored tombs. As you descended to the lowest level you saw more and more nameless bones. There was also a vault of small child size caskets. It was unlike any other cathedral experience.

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I visited a Minerals Museum and a couple other churches. The buildings had different styles of architecture although my classical education is nearly non-existent. I can identify baroque but I don’t know what that actually means. Lima’s nuance on architecture comes in the form of closed balconies on the second floor overlooking the street. I’m unsure of the practical function of such balconies. Since Lima is so close to the equator the seasonal temperature changes are minimal. Some were functional and others were extremely ornate.

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I wandered further east in the general direction of my hotel, taking pictures as I walked. I was looking for scenes that captured the essence of Lima. Now that I have visited several Latin American cities I look for scenes that I have not seen before. There are some recurring themes such as the use of motorcycle based delivery vehicles. I also found it interesting to look at the way the locals dressed. It’s the last week of fall but I’m north of the Tropic of Capricorn and near the coast. I’m wearing shorts and a light shirt trying not to sweat too much. The locals are wearing sweaters, ponchos, jackets and knit caps. The weather was very similar to northern California where in the early morning and late evening a jacket would be a good idea.

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Even though it was late on a Sunday afternoon the streets were alive with activity. The street vendors had anything you could imagine to eat, drink, wear, or listen to. As I walked away from the plaza I passed through a shopping district to the Parque de la Exposición that was set up like a carnival. Beyond there was the Estadio Nacional (football stadium).  My phone says I walked 13  miles.

By this time the sun was about to set, I called my Uber driver to take me back to my hotel. I got some takeout food from a place that had tradition Peruvian food. The local favorite is ceviche. The also included a sweet grape juice like drink. This completed my first day in Perú. My tourist wanderings would have to wait for a few days, interrupted by my conference. Work.

 

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