San Francisco Monastery (The Bone Church): The guide said "No photos", I just smiled innocently.

Lima Travel Blog

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Kristi and I caught our early morning shuttle to the airport.  When we hopped on that plane out water bottles went "Oh no, the air pressure has changed from 12,600 feet to 6,000 feet.  Collapse!"  Which they promptly did.  The flight time from Puno to Lima was an hour and 15 minutes.  We flew on LAN Air and the airplane was really nice - it looked brand new!

When we landed in Lima Airport we had 12 hours to chill until our flight left for Houston.  So, we did what any good traveler does - checked our luggage into a luggage locker, bargained for a taxi ride into downtown Lima, and visited a monastery filled with bones!  The Monastery of San Francisco, a canary colored church (yes, that's right, it's canary colored, not yellow), dates to the 17th century.
  The interior of the church is made completely out of white tiles lined with red pigment.  Lining both the right and left wall are giant gold shrines to what appear to be different saints.  They are so gaudy and ostentatious that they would even give a good old gold filled Roman Catholic church a run for it's money. 

Then it's down into the catacombs to check out some bones.  Kristi and I joined an English speaking tour.  Off the bat our guide told the group not to take photos.  Kristi I'm sure gave me a knowing look while I innocently admired the ceiling as I carefully adjusted my camera in my purse so it was in sneaky photo mode and position.  It was going to be a tag team effort.  She distracted them while I snapped away.


Louis Castille and his family are buried in the catacombs of the San Francisco Monastery.  For whatever reason it was deemed a good idea, his mummy (o'natural) was removed from its coffin and dumbed next to the box so gawkers could stare at him (apparently it didn't make sense just to OPEN the coffin for people to look at him) and then his wife's skull was placed on top of his coffin.  Castille was the churches greatest benefactor.  Before one enters the catacombs there is an unusual painting of the last supper that you walk past.  It was painted with some Peruvian themes - they are eating guinea pig which somehow I don't think Jesus, living in the part of the world that he did, ever ate.  There are common Peruvian spices on the table and in case the audience is a little dense Judas is pointing to himself and there is a little devil to behind, just so you know that's he's the bad guy in the story.


Between 1672 and 1821 (when Lima was just a little town trying to transition from being an Incan pagan hub to strictly Catholic filled with Spanish on their little gold quest), everyone in the town was buried in the catacombs.  Then in 1847, the powers that be decided to do a little spring cleaning and threw everone into a common grave - completely destroying any hope for archaeologists learning anything about the individuals since all association between the bones and context was obliterated.  As is turns out, these oh-so-wise city or church leaders had an artistic streak.  They took the long bones and skulls and made pretty designs out of them, which of course I took illegal pictures (with Kristi's help). 

After my bone lust had been sated, we headed back to the airport for a meal and some Peruvian beer.
  Then hunkered down for a good number of hours in Lima Airport, before flying to Houston where we went crazy over milkshakes and tap water.  Finally, we took our last flight for the trip and arrived back in Seattle - a little more worldly, a little wiser, with new found friends we made in Peru, and a ton of exciting stories to tell.




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photo by: rsvpme