Callao & Lima, Peru Day 1

                                                      Plaza Mayor, Lima, Peru

January 16, 2010

Lima, Peru unexpectedly swept us off our feet, figuratively speaking.  We were not sure what to expect, but both of our excursions and the folkloric show were a marvelous introduction to Peru.  One of our major impressions was that Lima is a city of walls and iron bars.  We saw a lot of commercial areas, and many buildings with earthquake damage.  We also saw neighborhoods for every economic class.  Many of the larger buildings are of French design, and quite ornate.  Lima is in a very seismic area.  It’s climate is seemingly oxymoronic: a very humid desert.   

Today we had an excursion with our American Express group.  Our first stop was Plaza Mayor, where there were many painted cows which reminded us of the wolves in Abingdon, VA and the horses in Kittyhawk, NC which were painted by artists.  There is a contest to determine the best of the cows;  that one will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.  The ones that don’t win will be washed off and sent to another town, where the same process will happen anew.  The designs ranged from one that looked like an erect Miss Piggy, to one that looked like Inca pottery.  After this we went to the San Francisco monastery, where we saw their library, much beautiful tile work, paintings depicting the life of St. Francis, and frescoes which were discovered after an earthquake cracked the plaster surface of the building.  Especially after what just happened in Haiti, it is nice to know that some good can come from an earthquake.

Next we drove to Casa Luna, a beautiful home where the Luna family has an amazing collection of nativity scenes.  There are 1500 of them in the collection, mostly gifts to the family.  They are made of every imaginable material, including silver, abalone, straw, gourds, and porcelain, and they come from all over the world.  As with every other home in Lima, this property was enclosed with walls and wrought iron fencing.  As the last person was boarding the bus, we watched the gate close.

Our last stop of the day was at Casa Diez Canseco, where we were greeted by the owner, Dr. Francisco Diez-Canseco Tavara, who introduced to the Pisco Sour, a drink we were told is native to Peru, no matter what the Chileans say.  Pisco is a kind of grape brandy, 30% alcohol, made from the grapes the Spaniards introduced to Peru.  These grapes are of a quality that would not make good wine, and apparently the choice was deliberate, as the Spaniards did not want any competition.

Our host showed us around his home, which was once a farm house, but is now located in the middle of the city.  He introduced us to some of his wonderful family history, and some of the objects that were special to him.   We then were served a delicious lunch of Peruvian food on the patio, which was a beautiful setting.  Our tables were placed under some Acacia trees with dense foliage that provided good shade.  

One of our host’s ancestors orchestrated a revolution in Peru to get rid of bad government, and once he got the new government going - without standing for election - he returned to his farm.  We were told that he was judged to be not ambitious, but we wish our politicians would take lessons from a man who was truly interested in the good of his country rather than having personal ambition.

This was a delightful day, which gave us some insight into the culture of Peru.  In the evening we had a Peruvian Folkloric show, called The Magic of Peru, which was both beautiful and very entertaining (see photo below and here and here).  The show participants quite obviously were enjoying what they were doing.  It was probably the most interesting and well done folkloric show we’ve seen.

© Susan L. Stone 2015