January 6th 2011
Well the aforementioned 7am wake up time for a full day of touring was rescheduled to 10am as neither of us were in any state to wake up before double digits graced the clock. Fernando had just spent a week up north with friends and I had, well, just flown across the world.
So finally rousing ourselves, we decided to grab some juice for breakfast and head to the historic district. The temperature was around a balmy 20C (68F) and beautifully sunny. I was given the option of taxi or local bus and voted for diving head first into local transport. It was insane and fantastic. As I mentioned before, drivers in Lima don’t exactly follow rules and a pedestrian definately does not have right of way. The hooter/horn is a drivers best friend and is used as a communication device pretty much. And yet even with the insanity and swerving and 5 cars wide on a 2 lane road there did not seem to be any collisions.
Surviving my first bus ride we got down near the entrance to the historic district and Fernando continued to give me tour guide like information on everything, it was fascinating. Remnants from the colonial era when Spain controlled Peru are everywhere. Beautiful window box balconies are everywhere, with intricate woodwork and stunning colors.
Tile work is found in every nook and cranny and just blow you away by the complexity of it all.
Today is known as “Three Kings Day”. Local Police, I believe, dress up as the Three Kings of the Orient and hand out gifts to the city’s children. Even their horses were dresses up with colorful ear covers. There was a general feel of festivity and there were art shows focusing on the birth of Christ and parades everywhere.
After buying a small bag we went in search of food. I was starting to feel really tired and realised that I had not been drinking water, but shrugged it off as I listened to more fascinating facts about the city. The river that runs through Lima is translated into “The Talking River”. Unfortunately with modernisation it doesn’t so much talk as it does groan.
Finally deciding on some lunch, I had fried chicken cutlet and chips and a glass of water. Fernando also ordered us a glass of Chicha, a drink made from a species of dark purple corn and is quite delicious and refreshing. I began to feel a little better, but still not so hot, or rather very hot.
Heading to the other side of the plaza we came across this amazing old guy painting on the side of the road, his work is amazing. He showed up to his gallery which is essentially a stair case. He had oils, watercolors, pencil drawings from all over Peru and he wanted to show me all and explaing everything (through Fernando). There was one was one painting of a moon over the ocean and I swear you could almost hear the ocean it looked so alive (note the bottom painting in the photo). But it would be near impossible to get home and I think above my budget. I settled for a small watercolor of a Peruvian child and said goodbye, my mind still lost in the ocean scene.
We stopped to get me some more water and Fernando had a beer and then headed over to Church of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. If only I felt better I could have enjoyed it more. But as it was I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. I am not a religious person, but there were areas that make you want to stop and take a moment and feel the power in the walls. Most of the church is made from natural plant materials and therefore are resistant to earthquakes. One of my favorite rooms was the library, with original books from the 1400’s. Moving onto the catacombs, not for the squeamish or claustrophobic, we discovered 1000’s of bones laid to rest here hundreds of years ago. The church and monastery was the first public cemetery at the time and around 25,000 people were buried here. The catacomb walls are made of bricks with a thick layer of pebbles mixed with the whites from sea bird eggs and soil. Another form of earthquake prevention.
Upon our exit I felt terrible and even a short sit in a lovely park did not make me feel better. So we grabbed a taxi and headed home. Enthusiastic as ever, Fernando continued to give me interesting details and facts. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of them as I was 100% focused on not throwing up in the cab. When we got home I ran upstairs and made it just in time. I am fairly certain I could have earned a role in the exorcist as I swear the last weeks worth of food managed to make its way back up again. Crawling into bed Fernando checked on me and brought me some water. He headed out to do some errands and let me recover. I passed out for about 2 hrs until round two hit me, this time from both ends! I was not a happy camper and crawled back into bed. After some more water I started feeling ok, I guess the old adage “Better out than in” is very true.
Around 8pm I surfaced again. I had a shower, a cold one. And drank some more water, still couldn’t eat anything. Around 10pm I was trying to remember if Fernando had said he was staying at his parents house that night due to an early meeting or if that was tomorrow night. Finally I decided to give my US cell phone a try as the house had no landline. Surprisingly it worked and he answered, and as is Murphy’s Law he was 2 blocks away with his parents.
Wait a minute! Did he say with his parents? Here I am in my pj’s, still white as a sheet, barely able to keep water down and this is going to be my initial meeting… Well his parents are amazing and his mom brought me an amazing plate of food. Peruvian chicken curry, rice and boiled potato. It was delicious but I could barely eat 3 or 4 bites, I felt bad for not being able to eat more. But there was no need to worry and his mom also peeled a prickly pear for me which was amazing, but again could only eat half.
After about an hour they headed home. Fernando insisted we sit and watch a movie and since I had already slept the last 5hrs I figured why not. We got to bed around 2am and I could see a new bedtime was developing. I guess I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, or rather Oregon where 9pm sounded perfectly fine.
Stay tuned for more adventures including meeting new friends, exploring new areas and tasting new food…