Saturday, July 31, 2010

44 years and counting...

This past week Dad and I celebrated our 44th anniversary by "running away" for three days to the Mireflores Marriott on the coast only 30 minutes from our apartment and the Area offices. The Mission Presidents' Seminar was held at the Marriott last October. Since we were "locals," we were not invited to stay at the hotel, but we decided then we wanted to return someday for a change of scene. Our 29th of July anniversary marked exactly eleven months in the mission field.

We had a great anniversary dinner in the Marriott Hotel dining room. My poached-in-olive-oil salmon on cheesy risoto was just delicious and, according to the menu, very high in nutritious value--all the meals had the nutritional values listed on the menu. Dad had his favorite shrimp cocktail and a Ceasar salad. In Peru the large shrimp is called langostini. In the USA langostini is slipper lobster.

Our favorite drinks here are "frozen" fruit drinks like frozen limonada which is pucker sour but delicious and cincha morada, a purple corn drink. We drink a lot of agua con gas because the tap water isn't safe to drink even in the best restaurants.

After a late, leisurely breakfast buffet, we walked around Mireflores which is a beautiful, wealthy district in Lima. We are fascinated by the ornate doors, gates, and garage doors.

Mireflores is built over one of the largest Inca sites in Peru. Only one hauca or sacred site--the size of our ward area-- was preserved. Most of the sites have been plundered. The one in Mireflores dates to 400AD. Because it doesn't rain, the existing haucas and other Inca sites are well preserved. The hauca we drove around was much too large to capture on the camera.

Mireflores is a district of contrasts--Colonial Spanish haciendas, English Tudor mansions, elegant iron and wood work, and one story, dark dwellings which often have only one window in the front.

This home reminded us of something from the time of Shakespeare--turrets, Tudor half timbered balconies and bay windows, and heavy English doors. Many homes like this one have a small back courtyard.

Only a block from that home is the typical square on square Peruvian home of decorative stone or adobe, a "garage space" store run by the home owners. We quite liked this home.

I couldn't resist taking this picture of Dad on the phone, a common sight, no matter where we are. At least he could receive and make calls at the hotel. We have been in buildings where his phone wouldn't get reception.

While he was talking on the phone, I noticed this first-floor iron door just off a small tiled patio. It looked as if it had a story. I wondered how old it was. I was taking a picture when a 40-ish woman stuck her head out the upper story window, smiled at me, and waved. I asked her how old the home was. She didn't know but she yelled for her husband who was in the pastry shop next door. He told us it was about 100 years old and asked if we would like to see the house. Of course! He unlocked the iron gate and heavy wood door and led us into a dark hallway. The floors were old stone and the walls were blue French style decorative tiles. The windowless main room was filled with baroque style furniture--carved, high back chairs, old dusty but fine furniture, colorful but worn hand loomed rugs, and the walls were absolutely covered--overstuffed--with religious paintings like the ones in the cathedrals in Old Lima. We were in a private museum. The man said his father had died at 97 and, for the last two years of his life, he just sat in the high backed (papal style) chair, day after day, studying his art pieces. It was for him like reading the New Testament. He told us his father had left behind jewelry worth several thousand dollars, and he was expecting a buyer, a friend of his brother in the USA, from New Yersey (the Spanish cannot pronounce the J) to buy the collection of art, furniture and jewelry.

This mansion overlooking the ocean, once a private home, belongs to the Medical Society of Lima. It's their private club house, so to speak. The color is typically Peruvian--lucuma--for a local favorite fruit. Like so many of the beautiful homes in Mireflores, it is surrounded by highrise apartment buildings.

This picture is an example of square living spaces, one on top of another. The family-run store is smaller than a single car garage. The second story was added and closed in with windows. The third brick story is for storage and hanging clothes. Most Peruvians, we have learned, do not have clothes dryers because they draw too much electricity.
Even on the plainest of buildings there is decorative ironwork.

For 10 soles or the equivalent of $3.25 we could get at ten-minute massage at Larco Mar, the mall built into the stone cliff across from the Marriott Hotel. Believe me it was worth it! While I was waiting for my turn, I took this picture of a family getting massages. The little girl had just climbed on to the massage chair behind her mother. The grandmother, a smartly dressed woman, paid for her grandchildren and daughter to have massages.

On Wednesday night we attended a dinner show at Dama Juana, a fine restaurant in the mall at Larco Mar. Our driver Graciela recommended it. Notice the struts on the "guitar."

This marquee doesn't do justice to the colorful costumes. Every major city in Peru was represented with music and dance. It was interesting to us to learn that each city has its own Spanish or indigenous culture--arts, music, dance, etc.

The stage is center in the restaurant. Off to the left is the serving area. I forgot my camera the night of our dinner so I returned the next day to take the pictures. I wish I could have captured the big clay pots filled with the different Peruvian foods. Peru prides itself on its tasty dishes. There is even a Cordon Bleu in Lima.

This is a view of Larco Mar from our 11th floor window. You can see the sea below. To reach the mall we walked down a flight of stairs and then took the escalator to the main plaza of the mall.

The Mariott Hotel towers over the mall. There are three levels of restaurants, stores, beauty salons, a bowling alley and movie theatres--all carved into the cliff.

Talk about a window on the world. Dad and I enjoyed watching the air show. Actually, I would love to do that. It's a tandem experience with the pilot sitting behind the novice.

You can see three kites in this picture. I missed getting the 4th flyer by seconds. He is off to the left somewhere.
We are standing across the street from the medical society mansion. The camera didn't pick up the ocean behind us. We enjoyed our scenic morning walk. We met dog walkers and dogs--a Yorkie with attitude and a fancy outfit to show off, two Schnauzers also dressed to the nines, and a hound, not dressed well, but a handsome dog, nevertheless.

This scenic view shows the mall to the right of a scenic water feature. There is a park for children to the right of the water feature. The coast highway wraps around and along the the cliffs. Farther to the south, the highway runs along the shore. The beach is rocky but the (year round) surfers and summer sunbathers don't seem to mind it.

The mall is just about center. You can see the tall vents of the park about center right. It was interesting to note that the mall creates a bay where the waves are calm. Farther up the shore the waves are perfect for serious surfers. We enjoyed watching the surfers from the mall.

Another view of the coast shows how steep the cliff is. There are stairs to the beach but they are precarious at best. The hotel provides rides to the ocean. One staircase was destroyed in an earthquake a couple of years ago. The coast is called Costa Verde for the green but, for quite a distance, the cliff is brown rock because the earthquake also disturbed the springs that fed the greenery.

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