Underneath the equator

Lima Travel Blog

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welcome to Peru

Air France's plane landed at Lima airport at 4 p.m. local time. So, after a 12-hour flight from Paris, and a 21-hour-journey I was done. What contributed to my bad mood was a cold, that made the landing an earful of pain, and the Air France's staff strike, that made a cold lunch and dinner. Add the chilly AC in the plane, when we all had to tuck into jackets and blankets, and those who sat underneath the blowing AC put on their caps and scarfs, a review of Air France by us passengers that day would have turned out quite negative. 

The bus took us to our hotel, making it a little sightseeing tour - my first glimpse on south America. The high sandy cliffs of Lima city, the sandy beach and the wide pacific ocean.

Lima traffic
The heavy traffic in the city, the colourful people. We settled in our hotel, had dinner and called it an early night.

Early in the morning the bus took us to the city center, the main square Plaza de Armas with the cathedral. It was a warm sunny day, and in the city a feast was going on. Some holiday about St. Mary, her statue was carried through the streets with hundreds of people in a procession following, wearing colourful traditionl dresses and playing music and singing. It was awesome! We spent a while there observing the feast, and then continued to the Franciscan monastery. It's really beautiful, and I was especially impressed by the library. It houses centuries-old books and manuscripts. A chat with one of the monks revealed that they are facing financial problems in maintaining it - and I knew exactly what he was talking about, since Zadar's franciscan library has the same problems, relying mostly on us volunteers to catalogue the works and take care of them.

feast in Lima
In this monastery tours are only allowed in groups, when I seperated from the group I was immediately urged to leave or find my group. We also went to visit the ossuary, actually the tombs below the church. The amount of human bones down there is astonishing! And they are mostly arranged neatly inside their comparments, at some places forming artistic shapes. Bizarre, but fascinating! We went back to the main square and went to see the cathedral, that also houses Francisco Pizzaro's grave. As our guide explained, today discussions are going on whether to kick him out of there, since, thruth be spoken, he WAS a conquerer who killed a lot of domestic people and occupied the land. My cousin and her friends were mostly fascinated by the sign language translator who translated the ongoing mass to deaf parishioners, for they are deaf, too.
sign language translator

Peru's history was an interesting subject our Peruvian guide told us about. He insisted, that Peru wasn't colonized, but conquered. Pizzaro's troups and later the Spanish army never brought their families to settle here, their only aim was to exploit the land's treasures. Therefore, most of the Peruvian people are Mestizos, that is of mixed European and Native heritage. Few, or rather non, native indigenous people are left. It was also interesting to learn, that the famous Inka people the Spanish conquerors encountered, are not Inka but Quechua - Inka is the Quechua-word for King, and the Spanish misused it naming the whole people Inka. Today their descendants are one of the major people in Peru, together with people from Spain and Italy, and many other European countries.

the Andes mountain looking down on Lima
The official languages are Spanish and Quechua, but there are many more other native languages the people speak, Spanish being the major one for every Peruvian to be able to comunicate with each other. 

Another thing catched my eye: the houses are all fenced in by high fences ending in sharp ends. The rich people's houses also have an electric wire surrounding their property. Windows on the ground and first floors have bars. Our guide explained that, like in every metropolis (Lima has 8 mil. inhabitants which makes it 1/4 of all the Peruvian people), there are good and bad neighborhoods, and that crime is high. We were advised not to go to certain parts of town on our own, and to keep our valuables close at all times for pickpockets are common. For me, it's something I have a really bad time getting used to.

living in Lima
In Croatia there's not such a thing as good and bad neighborhood, and, although crimes do happen, it's not that omnipresent and we don't really think about whether to walk a certain street in the middle of the night or not. The real heavy crimes happen amongst the political elite anyway ;)

We go visit the museum Larco with exhibits from Peru's rich history (where I missed the erotic department, what a shame! This is what happens when you're tied to a group that likes to visit museums fast.), and the Gold museum. Both museums are private, the exhibits have been collected over the years by rich families. On our question what these familie's business' are, the guide answers None. They are just rich.

The Gold museum is located at the outskirts of Lima, right at the foot of the Ande mountain.

main square in Lima, Plaza de Armas
The Ande's hillside is Lima's Beverly Hills, so to speak, rich families have built their mansions there. I can't find it very attractive, for the mountain is bare. Not a tree grows there, just sand, earth and grass. Not even rocks. This mountain doesn't justify its looks with its geographical appearance - such a mighty, huge mountain and there's nothing but sand and grass. Another surprise is to learn that, although geographically Lima lies in the tropics, the climate is not such. This is due to a cool current coming from the Pacific ocean, that provides Lima with an average yearly temperature of 20 C, and a fresh breeze coming from the ocean. Lima has wide sandy beaches, but barely anyone goes swimming in the ocean. The guide says, if there is someone to go swimming in the ocean, it makes headline news.
Lima's location is also a desert, which means there's practically no rain. Lima gets its water from the Andes and the morning mist that leaves dew on the land. There is no original vegetation in Lima, all trees and other plants have been brought there and planted.

In the afternoon we were dropped off at a mall by the seaside, much to my discomfort. I hate malls. But this had to do with the earlier mentioned bad neighboorhoods. Too bad! Because, I learned to like the Peruvian people, they are very kind and friendly, and all encounters have been very pleasant, and I would have loved to dive into the Peruvian traditional lifestyle more. Unfortunatelly, when you're tied to a group with a tight itinerary this is almost impossible. I hope to return to Peru one day on my own.

 

We ended the day with a dinner and folklore dancing show in a restaurant at the mall. I tried Pisco and Chicha, Tamales and some other unidentified food and it was all yummy!

 

vila says:
Thank you, guys, for the congrats!! What a nice surprise when I opened my computer today :)
Posted on: Jan 08, 2012
Africancrab says:
Congratulations on the feature. I have enjoyed your blog and many photos.
Posted on: Jan 08, 2012
mountaingirl says:
Lovely blog and congrats on the feature. The festival looks really interesting and it must have been a great experience! :-)
Posted on: Jan 08, 2012
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welcome to Peru
welcome to Peru
Lima traffic
Lima traffic
feast in Lima
feast in Lima
sign language translator
sign language translator
the Andes mountain looking down on…
the Andes mountain looking down o…
living in Lima
living in Lima
main square in Lima, Plaza de Armas
main square in Lima, Plaza de Armas
above the Amazon river
above the Amazon river
sandy cliffs in Lima
sandy cliffs in Lima
presidential palace
presidential palace
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
view from Plaza de Armas on the An…
view from Plaza de Armas on the A…
the Franciscan monastery
the Franciscan monastery
the Franciscan monastery
the Franciscan monastery
Limas cathedral
Lima's cathedral
Francisco Pizzaros grave
Francisco Pizzaro's grave
outside the cathedral many would l…
outside the cathedral many would …
police officers watching that no o…
police officers watching that no …
a Peruvian Hairless dog
a Peruvian Hairless dog
Museo Larca
Museo Larca
the Gold museum
the Gold museum
Limas Beverly Hills
Lima's "Beverly Hills"
the mall
the mall
Limas beaches
Lima's beaches
good food and folklore show
good food and folklore show
Pisco
Pisco
Chicha
Chicha
Tamales and some other stuff
Tamales and some other stuff
Peruvian folklore show
Peruvian folklore show
Lima
photo by: rsvpme