Lima, city of traffic and fog

In the past two weeks I have flown over the desert in a light plane doing steep banks and turns, taken long distance buses on routes prone to plunging mountain cliffs and occassional robbery, and gone hiking through jungles known to house giant spiders and poisionous snakes. At no point was I as concerned for my safety as I was in taxis navigating the traffic of Lima today. Its really wild- it reminds me of visiting Shanghai when I was working in Hong Kong in 98/99, when it was all out of control boom and vehicles seemed to echolocate by constant honking.

That being said, and despite the fact that it was foggy and overcast for the entire day, I had a lovely time today. I started off at the Museo Larco Herrera, which has an outstanding collection of pre-Colombian artifacts. While the whole collection is impressive, the most popular part of the museum is the erotic art gallery that features pottery and sculpture capturing various and sundry sexual scenes. I learned that in ancient times men and women in Peru had sex. Who knew? Gods also apparently had sex with women, people had sex with skeletons and skeletons masturbated. Turns out skeletons are surprisingly well-endowed.

After that I went to the Monasterio de San Francisco, a Franciscan church with extensive catcombs beneath it. Something like 25,000 to 75,000 people are believed to be interred there. And then to Huaca Pucllana, an adobe pyramid smack-dab in the middel of the city that was expanded by successive cultures starting in 200 AD. That was my favorite activity for the day, among other things just for the sheer incongruity of being in an archealogical site and then looking up and seeing city all around.

Huaca Pucllana was on the edge of Miraflores, a well-off coastal neighborhood of Lima, so I took the opportunity to walk through there, ending up at the ocean. Lima, in its urban snarl, is not at all typical of the rest of Peru. Miraflores, in its comfortable affluence, is not at all representative of Lima. Im glad I apporached both at the end of my trip, it would have been very misleading and disorienting to see them at the beginning.

I finished with a very nice dinner on a cliff-side restaraunt in which I finally had the defintive Peruvian specialty dish, ceviche, seafood that is marinated and de facto cooked in lemon juice.

Sitting there looking out over a foogy ocean certainly got me nostalgic for home. Tomorrow morning Im going to the central cathedral, where Pizzaro is buried, and then have an afternoon flight home arriving in San Francisco around midnight. I look forward to returning to you all!

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