Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jenny and Michelle take Lima

Jenny and her cousin Michele Leahy enjoyed a week together in Lima. In the three days we had together in the city, we tried to experience most of what Lima is known for: historic sites, good food, and colorful buildings. Our friend and driver, Graciela, made it possible for the girls to see most of Lima from the car and on foot. They also spent four days in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.

The Dominican cathedral, Santo Domingo, is the site of the first university in the Americas, established in the late 1500s.

We walked the city streets and shopped the artesania markets. The papal balconies, dating to the late 1500s, were called "aerial streets" because they decorated the length and width of otherwise plain adobe buildings, and were open for walking the length and breadth.

This picture is a bit out of place. The cloistered garden at Santo Dominico Cathedral was beautiful and peaceful. The 16th Century French tiles decorate the cathedral walls and stone fences.

While Jenny and Michele were getting more soles from the ATM machine, they missed this courier of sorts. His load was so heavy, he bent nearly in half to pull it.

The pre-Colombian gold museum is located in an old bank building. We were fascinated by the turned wood spindles of the private rooms used to write checks or do whatever one had to do before approaching the tellers. Now each room displays old coins.

The ceiling is a study in architecture. The wood sections were pressed into place after they were carved.

Hand painted wood sculptures reflect the Nasca Lines and other Inca symbols. Somehow I deleted the picture of a gold sun sculpture. I will have to include that in another blog.

This collar was woven from the wool of the alpaca which was dyed with natural plant dyes. The date reads 1924 which is surprising since the museum is pre-Colombian.

Driving around this ovallo wasn't as easy as it looks. We broke free from the heavy traffic in time for me to get a picture of the French Square.

No picture can do justice to the all-white San Martin's Square. San Martin was a liberator who helped the Peruvians gain their independence from Spain. Unlike Chileans, the Peruvians do not celebrate their conquerers with streets, parks, or squares named in their honor.

No one could adequately describe the Lima traffic or the drivers. Where there are four marked lanes, there are usually five lanes of cars, buses, trucks, couriers, motorcyclists who weave their way through the labrynth of vehicles. I am sure Jenny and Michele can tell some "white knuckle" traffic stories.

The night Jenny and Michele returned from Cusco, we treated them to a dinner show in Mireflores. Dance traditions from all the major cities in Peru were represented. The food was an excellent sampling of Peruvian fare.

Pictures cannot adequately capture the high energy, color, and charm of the dancers. I hope we can buy a DVD of the dances. This particular dance was more like an elegant ballroom dance. One of our favorites is the dance where the men try to set fire to handkerchiefs hanging from the girls' short skirts. Their gyrations make it almost impossible. When the tables are turned and the men are wearing the handkerchiefs, the girls seem to fare better. What's even funnier is watching the audience members try to do it. The dance is similar to a Carribean salsa or African dance.

The girl in the short costume is one of the "fire" dancers. This dance was the curtain call. The camera just didn't pick up the high energy dances well.

Jenny went from the South of Peru (the Cusco area) to the the very northernmost point called La Punta, a seaside town connected to Callao, a city of its own. It is not a district of Lima. The airport is located in Callao.

These colorful, one-story homes are more typical of the Peruvian homes. These coastal homes seem to be well cared for. What isn't obvious is that these homes have natural light only from front windows. The light must still be inadequate because we have never seen uncovered windows. Most homeowners keep their blinds and curtains pulled.

Not far from those homes are homes like this one. Around the corner to the right, about a block, is the ocean. Although not as elegant as the streets in Barranco, this street boasts several mansions, beautifully maintained and painted vivid colors.

We were driving toward the very point (La Punta) of the peninsula. The beaches are rocky but Graciela told us the city is working on making the beaches more people friendly. Even still, we saw families picnicking on the rocks or just sitting watching the waves.

Dry docks are in the background. Fishing and pleasure boats dot the bay. La Punta is quite picturesque even though it is industrial.

This home was a block from where we ate lunch. I would have loved to tour this home. There must be a story.

I ordered a seafood tortilla. Graciela had forgotten that a tortilla in La Punta means omelet. So my seafood tortilla was an omelet filled with every manner of seafood and served over rice. It was tasty but heavy!

This is what I should have ordered--a seafood taco taco, a rice filled tamale like concoction. The sauce was flavorful and the seafood was tender and sweet.

Jenny's lunch had the same ingredients as Graciela's but but was prepared more like a casserole. This much rice would feed a family. Needless to say, we took half of our lunches home and ate them for dinner.

By the time we toured the La Punta and the Peru military post Real Felipe, Michele had returned to Connecticut. This picture of the parade ground and bay was taken from the fort.

The street just outside the gates of Real Felipe was too dangerous for us to walk, but its antiquity was picture worthy. The street dates to the Colonial period (late 1500s) when the fort was first built by the Spanish to protect themselves from maurading pirates and others bent on conquering Spanish holdings in Peru.

Dad and I visited Real Felipe in January with several other missionary couples. It was high summer and fairly hot. This day was cool, slightly overcast, a perfect day to tour the fort. While we were there, the sun broke through. We were met by uniformed boys, conscripted soldiers, whose job it is to guard the entrance to the fort. Our tour guide was a soldier, probably not yet 20 years old. Graciela translated for Jenny and me.

When the Peruvians won their independence from Spain in 1823, this Spanish fort because a Peruvian military post. While it is a museum, it is also a functioning military post. Security is tight. We could not wander any of the grounds without the guide.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Barranco Birthday

The "Heroic City" of Barranco, Lima, Peru--by crow 30 minutes from La Molina, was a perfectly romantic place to celebrate my birthday.

Barranco's location on the cliffs made it an ideal location for a bathing resort that drew Lima's citizens much like Salt Lake City's Saltair on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Several months ago Dad and I read about this seaside district of Barranco which is south of Mireflores, one of our favorite seaside haunts. Unlike Mireflores, the sea is not encumbered with high rise hotels and seaside restaurants. A little out of the way, it was and still is home to artists and poets, Lima's Bohemia, the guide book says. It has a pre-Hispanic history as well, but the district was officially incorporated 1874. Some of the older homes, mostly mansions and a couple of castles, date from the late 1700s, but the district is Colonial in feel, very Spanish and European. Those who lived in Barranco during the Colonial period were the conquistadores and the religious orders. The guidebook says Barranco was also a sizeable fishing village. Only last year was the modern marina completed. We saw some yachts among fishing and small pleasure boats.

Barranco also has distinguished military history having participated in the defense of Lima during the War of the Pacific--hence, it has the title of Heroic City.

The library dates to the late 1800s. In trying to capture the colorful building, I also caught a table of meats and cheeses lying uncovered under the mid-day sun.

One of the famous poets of Barranco wrote a poem about the Bridge of Sighs, a lover's bridge. Dad and I are standing on the bridge with the stairs to the upper city and an open market. The bridge was quite crowded but now we wish we had taken a picture of the whole bridge.

Two women from the highlands were getting ready to weave a belt when I took this picture. They made the bags, belts, small purses which they were selling.

This English Tudor mansion has a unique fence of chopped wood.

Every view was scenic--this restaurant is connected to an early cable car. In the background is the colorful cathedral tower.

Dad and I wondered if the bird on the far side of the brick sidewalk had an affair with a chicken.

This picture doesn't show the downward slope of the path from the higher city to the lower city where the baths were and where some of the older homes and restaurants are. Along the path are two backpackers' hostelries and a poet's home and museum.

Barranco has quite a history of earthquakes. Evidence of that is the cathedral in the background. Because it is an historic site, the destroyed cathedral still stands, but you can see the hole in the roof and the burned tower. Close up one can see the studs and bricks which once were covered with adobe. Only the facade remains, painted the popular lucuma color, and the plaza has a large feria or market. Also look at the wall which faces the street--the nearer stone wall is painted a warm blue green, but the back section is still the natural river rock.

We were told this is one of the castles. It looks like a private home.

This remodeled home is for sale. Not many could afford such a home. This is just one of many that line the main boulevard to the sea.

This cactus is really popular in Lima. We have seen it cut short and bordering flower gardens, decorating home entrances, and as house plants.

Alamedas or parks running the length and center of a main boulevard are common in Lima. This one is beautifully maintained and looks so European with gaslights and wrought iron benches.

The ocean is behind me. This picture shows a more full view of the beautiful boulevard with the center alameda and the mansions that line flank the boulevard.

Dad and Cesar, Graciela's husband, are standing under one of the arbors, a lovely spot for watching waves and surfers.

This is one of my favorite view points. You can see the cliffs of the coast line, an apartment building which is across the street, not on the cliff, and the wind blown trees. Colorful flowers are everywhere and, because of the humidity, the flowers survive the year round.

Dad and I are standing near a cement wall which runs the length of the sidewalk and offeres a great bench for just observing the ocean and the gardens.

Graciela and Cesar are standing in the spot from which Graciela took our foto so the view behind them is to the south. Graciela told Cesar Elder Slingerland was taking Hna. Slingerland on a date and she wanted to go on a date too. The plan was that the would just take us to Barranco but then we would go our separate ways, but we asked them if they would like to "double" date, a new term for them. We had a grand time together.

From the restaurant where I took this picture, we could look down into a once beautiful mansion which backed up against a hill. Graciela said there was a law that only these two colors could be used in homes. We are looking at the original paint of a home built sometime in the mid 1800s. What you cannot see is that the earthquake caused a landslide which slammed into the back of this home, completely filling this badroom and crushing the back walls of the house. Because it is historic, it cannot be torn down.

This picture was taken from a cliff which overlooks the restaurant where we ate lunch. We climbed steep stairs to the third floor and an outdoor patio of the restaurant which looks as if it was once a home. This picture also shows the vestiges of the pre-Hispanic culture--before the 1500s--with the terraced cliff and ruins of structures on the edge of the cliff near the ocean.

This picture gives better view of the seascape, the Inca ruins, and the scenic viewpoint. This day at the coast was a perfect day. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday-- a day with Dad, beautiful scenery, and good friends to share the day with. We were grateful Graciela and Cesar stayed with us because they also were our very knowledgeble tour guides. They have a fun tradition by the way. They regularly bundle their three children up and take them to the coast for night games and a dinner picnic. They know the seaside well!

Celebrating my Birthday, Peru style

The office secretaries, Juana and Liliana, bought a beautiful triple chocolate cake from Don Mamani's, one of our favorite restaurants, to celebrate my birthday. I had told Kay Beals I wanted to pick up a chocolate cake to share with everyone, so she had to tell me the girls were getting the cake.

This is a great picture of all office staff we work with every day. Kay and Jack Beals, Area secretary and executive secretary, are on the right. They were in our BYU student branch and Jack was Dad's 1st counselor. Dalene Seegmiller is a PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) missionary. Her husband is not in the picture. Their office is on the main floor. Liliana is to her right and Elder Pino, 1st counselor to Elder Nash, is next to her. The secretaries celebrated his birthday two days before. Dad is in the center and Bruce and Kathryn Ghent are to his right. They are the assistant Area secretaries who will become the Area secretaries when the Beals return to Atlanta in April. Juana, Elder Nash's secretary, is on my right. We shared the cake with all who walked into the office kitchen. It was a fun day!

My task was to blow out the candles in one breath. Alas! A sign of age is lack of breath. It took three blows!