Lima Lima Lima

After a rather pathetic but refreshing couple of hours sleep in the Casa Bella, we emerged from our beds at around 10:30am and decided to take full advantage of our all-inclusive breakfast. We only really had time for an afternoon of sight-seeing and decided to book a tour around some of the most famous sites in Lima. The tour ended at the Lima Lorca museum, an enormous private collection of material culture of the ancient civilisations of Peru. The collection includes the infamous erotic pottery of the Moche (or Mochica), which made me especially excited as I recently did a presentation on Moche erotic pots for one of my modules at University (much to the amusement of my coursemates).

Having eaten a delicious meal of pain au chocolate and an orange, we boarded the tour bus and were informed by our tour guide, Elyana (apologies for the wrong spelling) that we were in a group of eight people. We arrived at a rather swanky hotel to collect a friendly Columbian couple, who thankfully spoke decent English (compared to my rather abysmal Spanish).

The other group to join us were a family of all-American Californians and I confess that their accents were enough to make me feel like less of a tourist. The wife was certainly the friendliest of the bunch, and asked us a lot of questions about the archaeological dig. However, the rest of the family were rather uninspiring, and the daughter did not speak a word to us until the journey back to their hotel when she started going on about how green the cars are in California compared to the rest of the world, and how she couldn´t stand the exhaust fumes in Lima (snore).

We donned our deliciously touristic headphones and made our way to Mira Flores, the sight of El Parque del Amor (Love Park). The park contains a huge statue of lovers embracing, and we were told that many married couples come to the park to copy the position of the statue, thereby cementing their love forever. Incidentally, there is also a bridge in sight of the park which is infamous as a popular suicide spot, possibly for jilted lovers. At its worst, the death toll was about 300 deaths a year, but fortunately this has now been reduced to no more than one death a year since the construction of huge barricades around the bridge.

After visiting the park we drove around some of the city, and had a glance at some of its archaeological sites such as the Huaca Pucllana, a rather large ceremonial construction dating back to the Lima culture. This structure is composed of literally millions of adobe bricks (a type of mud brick). We also drove into San Isidro, the wealthiest area of Lima, and admired the numerous (but dwindling) olive trees. All the people who live in San Isidro are given a kilo of olives every harvest for free!

Our next stop was the main Square in Lima, which contains a number of very grand and heavily guarded government buildings. There are five different types of police in this area as well as numerous gun-toting guards, who keep the crime level to a minimum. We walked out of the Square and into The Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of St Francis). It is legendary among the tourist populace for its enormous catacombs containing thousands of bones of Franciscan monks and wealthy citizens of Lima who had donated large amounts of money to the church. As a Catholic country, those buried under a church were especially blessed as they were considered closer to God. The catacombs themselves were a sight to behold. As we walked through the dust-ridden and eerie corridors under the church, there were human remains (mostly skulls and femurs) everywhere we looked. The remains had been counted and sorted by archaeologists some time ago, and had been arranged in a sort of categorised pattern in the tombs.

Our final destination was the Lima Lorca museum I had been looking forward to this all afternoon. We bid farewell to the rest of our tour group and entererd the museum. It is an absolutely incredible collection, and there seemed to be artefacts from each one of the civilisations of Peru, depicting every activity imaginable. This included one of the gargoyle-like stone heads from the complex of Chavin de Huantar as well as two examples of the Inca Quipu , a series of knots on strings which were used as administrative records.

We also had a look at the enormous collection of ceramic vessels, over 40,000 pieces in fact, which were stacked in cases  eight shelves high. There was far too much to take everything in, yet we did manage to spot a few vessels which were beyond the bizarre, including a man who was picking his nose.

We were finally led to the building which filled me with excitement: that of the Moche erotic pots, including the rather baffling masturbating skeletons. There were also some eye-catching phallic vessels, which all had a suitably placed spouts which forced the drinker to perform fellatio while trying to consume their beverage (often Chicha which is thick and whitish in colour…)

We hung around the phallic vessels until closing time and then made our way back to the Casa Bella, with just about enough energy to ask the manager to order us a pizza before we collapsed into bed. Our next destination was to be Nazca.



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