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.

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