February 21st, 2008 – by: Belluomo
La Recoleta - First Courtyard with cacti
Ouch, and ouch again. I was paying for something I was sure, gauging from the virulence of the stomach bug that bit me. I awoke the morning after the pub night to a quesy stomach that continued to get worse until I finally walked around the corner to explain my situation to the pharmacist. She kindly supplied me with some antibiotics (Oh how great foreign countries are for this...no doctor prescription needed!) and something to help restore healthy intestinal flora. I'll spare you the details of my symptoms. Earlier I went to the museum across the street and suffered through an hour long video and tour of a museum featuring a twelve year old Incan princess found frozen on a nearby mountain in 1997. I remember reading something about it in the news and this was a major discovery.
She was taken up to almost 18,000 feet and sacrificed to invoke the blessings of the Inca god of water. It was most probably in response to a volcanic eruption, based on carbon dating of the mummies and their sacrifice and burial at the rim of the crater. There was an eruption right around that time. There were other child sacrifices found nearby and they've discovered a handful stretching from Chile to northern Peru. "Juanita" as she is known, is the best preserved because she is not mummified but was frozen, so she is remarkably life-like. My overall impression, and it's something I've felt while touring so many of the museums and archeological sites of pre-Columbian Peru, is that these civilizations worshiped satanic gods.
Library...books dating back to the 1500s
Permit this digression, but I get so sick of hearing how Columbus and the Europeans destroyed "noble" peoples and how they "inflicted" their foreign beliefs on the natives. How can anyone see these sacrifices to these blood-thirsty gods as something good? How can any god that demands the sacrifice of an innocent to appease its wrath or grant favors and mercy be anything but demonic? I invite discussion. My feelings were muted by something more urgent and I went back to the hostel to lay low for a few days. I passed a very rough night and miserable following day but by Thursday I was feeling well enough to head just outside the center to see the Franciscan complex known as the Recoleta. This convent is famous for its library with books dating back to the 1500s.
Many, if not most, are very rare. Even in the misty cold rain, the place was very pretty. Each of the four courtyards was distinctive and there was also a small pinacoteca (painting gallery), a museum of Amazonian objects collected by the missionaries over three centuries, and a religious objects collection. I found it interesting and edifying that in the course of about 250 years, close to 80 Franciscan missionaries were martyred in the jungles of central and northern Peru, in the course of trying to bring Christ to the native peoples. They also made roads, explored, drew maps, brought medicine and better methods of farming, and improved the natives' lives in many other ways. After the visit, I returned to the hostel for some hot soup and a light sandwich. It's good to be able to eat again!