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Adios Peru

July 29, 2013

Our last day together as a group. We woke early and met in the lobby for a morning tour of Lima. Our guide for the day was a woman – the first one on this trip (or the last for that matter). I hadn’t noticed until she was standing there and then I was so pleased to see her.

Paula was from Araquipa, in southern Peru, a town that we did not see, but everyone we met who had been there insisted that we should go (next visit). She had come to Lima for the same reason everyone does, she told us, for a better life.

Lima has nearly the population of New York and has a bustling urban heartbeat. It was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who’s head was later  displayed in the main square. Our final day there was the 27th. On the 28th, Peru would celebrate its Independence Day, the day it was liberated from Spanish rule. In Peru it is a law that every house and building display the Peruvian flag on Independence day, so the city was awash in red and white fabric.

We drove along the coast for a while on a new highway that had been created by blasting out what was just recently cliffs down to the water.  Along the way we passed a park dubbed Love park, which was inaugurated with a kissing contest and and featured a giant statue of couple mid-embrace. A pretty hot embrace at that.

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Since many streets were closed in preparation of the next day’s festivities, we got as close as we could to the Monastery of San Francisco, before having to park the van and walk the rest of the way. The monastery was beautiful in that old catholic church way, cloisters and mosaics and old paintings of saints. There was a large rendition of The Last Supper in what would have been the nuns dining room. There are a lot of Last Supper variations in Peru and this was typical of them. There was Jesus and the disciples, but there were lots of visitors and depictions of the the friends of the artist or patron. Also, the meal was depicted as a Peruvian celebration, highlighted but the main course, guinea pig. Seriously. They’ve all got Jesus eating a guinea pig.

THe main attraction at the monastery is the catacomb. Down beneath the building there are the remains of thousands of people, all nicely displayed by body part – femurs here, skulls there. While we were down there, Paula talked to us about the seismic activity in Lima. Um, could we not talk about earthquakes while we’re underground?

We walked to the main square where preparations were underway for the celebration. News crews were practicing camera angles, gardeners were hard at work, and police in riot gear were every where.  Its a lovely main square, but the whole thing felt like a scene from a movie about a South American dictatorship. I was happy to move on.

We left Paula at a shopping center along the shore and headed to yet another fabulous Juan suggested restaurant where we gorged on ceviche and dulce de leche and pisco sours until it was time to go to the airport.

Hugs all around, emails exchanged, an promises to keep in touch vowed, we went to our gates. Adios Peru. I loved you!

 

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