Passing by the beautiful parks of Miraflores, the century old olive trees, and the Pacific Ocean’s waves crashing down below a steep embankment just off the highway, we turn a corner and in the distance see the 120 foot tall statue of Jesus, the “Christ of the Pacific”. After a day of travel, we have arrived in Lima, the capital and largest city in Peru.
We spend the next morning being driven through the many districts, learning the history of the Amerindians, the beautiful houses that hold the embassies from Canada, Algeria, Austria, and seeing the pre-Incan pyramids. Our first official stop is the Church and Monastery of St. Francis, built it 1673. It had all the spectacular paintings and statues as an old church does, but below was far more interesting. Before the modern-day cemetery was formed, the two levels underneath the church’s floor held the bodies of nearly 70,000 people. Only discovered in 1943, a small section of the catacombs has been unearthed, organized by bone type and put on display for visitors.
Our next stop was the Basilica Cathedral of Lima, the burial place of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Inca Empire. There was also a statue of Saint Anthony, Patron of Lost Things. You can come hear to pray or leave a note about a specific lost item, but many local women use it to pray for the soulmate they have yet to find. They leave lengthy notes with intimate details of their life, school and address – and then the men come along, snatch the notes up and give them a call. “My amigo Anthony gave me your number, chica.”
After a quick break to rest of minds, we headed to the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History and the Larco Museum. While the archaeology museum holds a good amount of pre-Incan artifacts, the Larco Museum held my attention much longer. It showcases Peruvian pre-Columbian artifacts including ceramic burial pieces and a huge gold and silver collection.
Gold and silver had no monetary value to the people, it was only symbolical of their status. So when a ruler died, they buried his/her crowns, necklaces and other ornaments with them, believing that they would need them in their afterlife.
With barely enough time to settle into out hotel and unpack, we left early the next morning on a flight to Cusco. But I’ll leave that for another day.