Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peru Trip Day 1 + 2

Odysseys "Treasures of Peru"

Day 1: Monday October 24, 2011

Alarmclock went off at 6 am. Helen was at the townhouse in good time before 7 am to bring us to the airport. All went well and the flight was on time.

Bye, bye, Nashville !

James had done a lot of research on Peru and what we are going to see. We talked a lot about it before we ever left and are so looking forward. I am reading in our Peru book on the flight and can't put it down. But the part about the Spaniards arriving and the history since then is so brutal that the pages seem to drip with blood.

A long lay-over in Houston, TX. But finally we are about to board our flight to Lima where we arrived as scheduled. We see an Odysseys person and wait for other travelers from our group to arrive shortly to hitch a ride to the hotel (since we booked the flights ourselves this would normally not have been included). We are finally in the hotel after midnight and in bed shortly after. A good day.

The hotel room is really just like any other in the world. Ours on the 8th floor.

Day 2: Tuesday October 25, 2011

After breakfast (buffet of course, sigh) James and I walk just a little around the corner to buy some postcards and stamps to fill the time until we are supposed to meet our Peru guide at 11 am for an orientation meeting. Right after that we set off in a bus for our first sightseeing.

We drive clear across the town and even see the sea. But today it is overcast, even though it never rains and the air temperature is very comfortable.

Pictures out of the moving bus. Not so easy.

We reached our first destination: The Rafael Larco Museum, a private collection of pre-Columbian artifacts.  Hardly anything from the Inca because all those amazing things were destroyed by the Spanish. There are some accounts about it from some of the uneducated soldiers which were sent to loot.

We are greeted by the resident dog, a totally hairless creature. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a breed of dog with its origins in Peruvian pre-Inca cultures.
He seems to shiver. Can't anybody knit him an alpaca sweater?

The house (actually an estate with several buildings) is about 300 years old. Instead of long steps it has a ramp. And an ocean of flowers.

A glimpse over the wall to the grounds in front of the house.

A resting place in a court yard.

Our tour guide Sheila points out this plant/fruit called  "lucuma". More about it later.

Rafael Larco Hoyle's father started the collection. If you want to know more about him, click here.

We had no idea what we were about to see. This alone was worth coming to Lima for. We saw so much and learned so much and I could have taken many more pictures, I can not describe it all here ... I whittled the number of pictures down very much anyway.
In a nut shell: Not much is left from things from the Inca time because the Spanish invaders brutally robbed and destroyed almost everything. Most of these (45,000) artifacts are from the time before.  Most were found in graves. Bodies were mummified and buried with lots of things.

Moche ceramics 1 AD – 800 AD
containers to hold liquid
found in burial places

Portrait Vessels 1 AD – 800 AD
Moche was one of the few ancient civilizations which produced true portraits. These works accurately represent anatomical features in great detail.
The individuals portrayed were members of the ruling elite, priests, warriors and even distinguished artisans. The faces of gods were also depicted. To date, no portraits of women have been found.

Textiles, my favorite.

Wrapping for a mummy. 

Paracas Formative Epoch (1250 BC – 1 AD)
Embroidery on fine plain weave. Camelid fiber thread

 James had to be in the picture so you see the size of this piece.

This was incredible !
Fragment 800 AD – 1300 AD
Technique: lacework tapestry weave
Material: Cotton fiber was used for the warp while the weft was camelid wool
The sign said that this is a second world record in terms of the fineness of the thread (400 threads per  inch) !!!

This is an Inca piece and very impressive!

Quipus were the main system employed by the Incas to record information. The knotted cords were used to record countable information. The colors, knots and the distances between the knots enabled those who used the quipus to identify the type of object or the characteristics of the population being recorded.

Sacrificial cup and Knife 1 AD – 800 AD
A kind of tournament was held. The warrior who lost knew he would be killed. He considered it an honor to be sacrificed. His throat was cut and blood collected in ceremonial cups to be offered to the priests, the representatives of the gods. In the tombs of individuals who in life must have taken part in this ceremony, similar knives and cups have been found.
There was a picture on the wall which was taken from one of the vessels. The scene described a sacrificial event. In times of events like earthquakes, extraordinary weather like el nino etc it was decided that a sacrifice was necessary and the one chosen considered it an honor to die.

Huari Mummy 800 AD – 1300 AD
In ancient Peru, in common with other societies such as that of ancient Egypt, the preparation of the body was an important stage in the process leading to the deceased's journey into the afterlife and their transformation into an ancestor or supernatural being.
Funerary bundle

The braids which hang from the headdress are made from plaited human hair.

Gold Nose Ornaments (1250 BD – 1 AD)
Vicus nose ornaments made from gold and gold/copper-alloys were hung from the cartilage between the nostrils.

Gold Ear Ornaments (1 AD – 800 AD)
Ear ornaments were one of the most significant adornments used to distinguish those individuals in power in Andean societies. Some of these ear ornaments were so heavy and large that they were held in place by bands wrapped around the wearer's head.
In ancient times, the religious and political leaders of pre-Columbian societies began to decorate their bodies, particularly the head and neck, with a number of adornments, such as nose ornaments, crowns and ear ornaments. In this way they displayed their status, their privileged position and their sacred origin.

Gold was not seen as wealth but as a sign of power. Worn at festivals especially gleaming in the sun, it signified that the wearer was a descendent from the Sun God.

The Chimu were the greatest metalworkers of ancient Peru. This is the only known complete set of gold Chimu clothing in the museums and private collections of the world.
1300 AD – 1532 AD)

Then Sheila took us to the museum store room. Unbelievable. Here things were sorted by theme. There was vessels molded in vegetable form, birds, faces, animals ..... We were told that some bodies were buried with 40 or 50 of these vessels.

A picture of the duck vessels for my sister-in-law.

The grounds were so peaceful. A view towards the restaurant were we have lunch a little later.

The main museum building.

Then Sheila took us to another separate exhibition.  The sign in the entrance said:

Sexual representations in the art of ancient Peru. 
From our modern and westernized perspective we tend to classify all representations of nudity, the genital organs or sexual acts as erotic images. However, we are required to attempt a different approach to sexuality in order to appreciate such representations in the cultures of ancient Peru. ...

The rest of the sign was strangely written. But I think the customs and values of these people were different.  

I only took one picture because I was somehow touched. This shows a birth. A natural thing in life.

I am sure these are not ancient statues, haha. Banos!

The appetizer: Causa

Ours was filled with chicken but click here for a recipe with a tuna filling.

The national pre-dinner drink: Pisco Sour

For a recipe click here.

Main course: Lomo Saltado

Dessert: Lucuma Mousse
(lucuma is the fruit we had seen earlier)

For a recipe click here.

After lunch the bus brought us to Lima city center. We passsed several squares.

This is were we stopped and left the bus.

This is the main square, bustling Plaza de Armas with the Government Palace, occupying the site of the palace built by Lima's founder Pizarro.

The Cathedral, rebuilt in 1758 after an earthquake destroyed the original building. We are told that earthquakes are expected and buildings are built with that in mind.

Built with wood and plaster, not stone, to withstand swaying and shaking.

Lace, pretty but machine made.

Mixed feelings in the chapel dedicated to the Spanish ... Pizarro.

City life. A pedestrian street.

The Kennedy Park.

In the evening dinner was on our own. We were not really hungry but wanted to venture out a little from the hotel.

Local beer of course.


  1. Travel narrative is one of my favorite reading genres - I'm loving yours so much!