Underneath the equator
Lima Travel Blog› entry 1 of 9 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!