Hasta Luego, Peru!
For the first time in a long time, we didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn . Our flight from Arequipa to Lima wasn’t until 10:40 in the morning and we tried to sleep in, but we both woke up a good hour before the alarm went off. Still, it was nice to take our time and eat breakfast at a leisurely pace. The courtyard at our B&B was so inviting, we could have sipped our coffee there the entire morning. But alas, we had a plane to catch, and after saying good-bye to our innkeeper – who looked like the Spanish version of Jeff Goldblum – we were off.
Despite being the second largest city in Peru, Arequipa didn’t feel that way – traffic lights were few and far between, and the airport was very, very small. The TACA Airlines employee at our gate had to literally take out an amplifier and plug in a microphone to it in order to make the boarding announcements. We thought that we were going to take a little bus to our plane, but that wasn’t necessary – we walked to it.
Back in Lima, we checked in at the same B&B we stayed at earlier – Casa Bella – and decided to spend the afternoon at Museo Larco, which is famous for its collection of gold and silver from ancient Peru. We first stopped for lunch though at the museum restaurant, which came highly praised. I had a sampler of traditional Peruvian dishes such as causa (mashed potatoes layered with tuna), beef kabobs, Peruvian corn pie, yuca with cream sauce and a chile relleno stuffed with andean cheese. Nathalia had soup and her Nth empanada on this trip, and she was perfectly happy with it – apparently, good empanadas are impossible to find in LA.
After lunch, we checked out the museum itself, which was amazing. Most people tend to associate Peru with the Incas, simply because that’s the culture the Spanish encountered when they arrived in the early 16th century. However, Peru is considered to be one of the six cradles of civilization (a place where civilization developed independently), the other five being Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, the Indian subcontinent and Mesoamerica. As such, there were many different cultures present long before the Incas, and we learned lots and lots about them by walking through the exhibit at the Museo Larco. From the Nazca people who occupied the lower central coast to the peoples of North Peru and the Tiahuanaco tribe that occupied the high plains near Lake Titicaca, Peru had a rich history to chronicle even before the Incas. At the museum, we saw various ceramics from all these tribes going back as far as 1250 BC and up to the Incan Empire in the 16th century. The collection of silver and gold that this museum is known for was the most impressive, though. We saw everything from shirts to giant ear and nose pieces to necklaces and ceremonial bowls, all made out of either gold or sliver.
Of the Incan artifacts, I was fascinated by the qiupus – the Incan recording device. The incas used knots on strings from alpaca or llama hair to record numeric and other values.
Another thing I found fascinating here was the store room, which apparently is not a room that’s commonly open to the public. It is, however, open here, and we got to peer into a room with shelves upon shelves of additional artifacts.
Once we were done with the exhibit, we caught a cab back to Miraflores (the Museo Larco was in another district of Lima). If I’ve suggested in previous blog entries that Lima traffic is not too bad, I take it all back. Both the cab rides to and from the museum had us holding our breath and laughing hysterically at how ridiculous driving through Lima was. Most traffic lights, we noticed, lack a green arrow for left turns, so drivers are forced to wait for oncoming traffic to subside, which never happens – and so intersection after intersection, you have to navigate a massive cluster f*&%, which also backs up traffic behind you. Smaller intersections off the main roads lack stop signs entirely, and so every intersection becomes a game of chicken. The 2 or 3 stops signs we did see were largely ignored and if it weren’t for the speed bumps that were also present, we may not have slowed down at all. When I got out of the second cab ride, I felt like a feline who’d just used like 5 of its lives.
We went back to Park Kennedy, where exactly a week ago we were enjoying our first day in Lima. it’s hard to believe how much we’d done since. We sat down at a nearby cafe and talked about our favorite hotels and meals and modes of transportation before turning to other, more philosophical topics. This overall leisurely day was a great way to wind down our trip. We celebrated the end of it with our last pisco sours at Brujas de Cachiche.
After 9 days, 8 cities, 4 flights, 3 bus rides, 2 train rides, ~30 coca teas, ~7 pisco sours and 1 machu picchu (yes, it’s also a drink), 1349 pictures, too many souvenirs and an endless number of great memories, it’s time to bid Peru farewell. It’s been a blast!