In May 2013 Jenny and Charlie visited Cusco and Machu Picchu Peru (Charlie had a similar visit in 1969, in the era before Jenny). When we got home Jenny said “but we didn’t visit Lima (other than to change planes in the airport).” Lima is supposed to be nice.
April 20-25 Jenny and Charlie found a bargain ticket ($450 round trip) and we returned to Lima “for a long weekend.”
Thursday evening fly Austin to Dallas, then non-stop to Lima on American Airlines. We cheated on the bargain part – for $150 each plus some miles we upgraded from coach to Business/First class.
We arrived at 5:30 in the morning, and tried to take Uber to town. Congestion outside the airport is overwhelming, so we never connected with our Uber driver, but found another ride for a similar price (50 PEN, about $17). The Miraflores area of Lima is wonderful and safe, but it was too early to check into our hotel, the Casa Andina Classic Miraflores Centro, ($321.56 for 4 days, large room, breakfast).
Return flight on Tuesday April 25 left Lima at 6:40 am through Miami, with a long layover before our flight direct to Austin. Uber worked very well getting us to the airport (as well as local transportation during our visit)
Waiting for our room – Friday April 21
We continued walking through JFK park until we reached the beach – well below us
In the opposite direction – away from the coast – is the Lima Pyramid, properly called Huaca Pucllana. It was a religious and government site from about 200 to 700 AD, with the very sophisticated Lima culture that predated the Incas and Spaniards. The site is currently over 12 acres, but that is only about 1/3 of it’s original size – the rest was overrun by the roads and modern city.
Saturday April 22 – downtown Lima
Governor Francisco Pizzaro who conquered Peru, wiped out most of the native cultures, and founded the capital City of Lima, was reburied (with the correct head) in the Cathedral in 1985, as part of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the city.
Saturday Afternoon – Museo del Convento de San Francisco de Asis de Lima
A couple blocks from the main square is the San Francisco Museum and Monastery. Some interesting art (including a last supper painting with a guinea pig (cuy) rather than a bare plate), and a fabulous library.
In addition to the art and library, this was the entrance to the Lima catacombs. In many (most?) cultures, a few years after a body is buried in a coffin, the remaining skeleton is moved to a smaller container or resting place, called an ossuary. In some cultures the family disinters the body from the first burial, cleans and arranges the bones in the second much smaller ossuary. Sometimes in catacombs the bones are arranged by type – skulls in one area, long bones in another, remaining small bones in a “well” like pit (10 meters deep, over 30 feet), – to make more room in the catacombs.
People or families were buried and covered with lime (to speed decomposition, kill bacteria, and reduce odor) and dirt, and to allow another layer of bodies. The next few pictures show this, so jump ahead if you are queasy. Some areas I had to enter on my hands and knees (remember how tall I am).
I forgot to take pictures of the rooms full of skulls, long bones, or wells full of small bones. I will try to remember the next time I visit a catacomb.
Sunday April 23
Our first visit was to the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History, run by the government. No photos allowed (ugh), but they have the largest collection in Peru. This was a nice museum to visit, but if you only have time for one, go to the Larco museum below.
Do people go to both museums? Well, from the entrance to this museum there is a blue line painted on the sidewalk all the way to the Larco museum. A pleasant 15 minute stroll through the local neighborhoods. The only point of concern was where a construction fence hid the line for a block, but it resumed exactly where expected past the construction.
The Larco museum also has a well known gallery of pre-columbian erotic pottery, in a separate building, so fragile visitors can avoid it. I won’t go farther than the example half way down the Wikipedia page for the museum.
Monday April 24
In the four days we were in Lima, walking among the people, I only saw three people smoking and one man “vaping” an electronic cigarette. Fewer than any other place I have visited in the world. Could this be what makes them such pleasant, kind people?