You can safely take for granted that opposites attract and they do attract for a reason. Ever imagined why there must be so much to discover and so much to unearth in the completely opposite geographic location where you were born in? Dreams come true as long as you dream with your eyes open and that is exactly what happened to me when I finally realised that I am in Peru.
I must admit that the arrival in Peru took me back to the feeling as if I was in the kitchen markets of a third world country where it heavily stunk of poultry to be bought. However being born and raised in a third world country in any case, I am immune to any situation anywhere in the world. Ignoring the stink, I arrived in the mystic land of the Incas and as soon as I stepped out of the airport my subconscious prepared me as per the air on ground. I was welcome in the land of the Incas by one of many taxi drivers Azmat who spoke a surprisingly good English with an even more surprising American accent to make sure we get into his cab. While making our way to the hotel the sights of Lima revived the memories of growing up in a country where things were still shaping up, where the land has lots of potential just that the people were taking their time to get their act together. Lima was gloomy, polluted with an obscure sky but as I said, the sun hid behind the man made dust and it was the case with Lima.
We spent the first evening at the Larcomar which was literally just a stone’s throw away from our hotel called the Bayview Hotel in Lima. The waves of the mighty Pacific were splashing in such a way kissing the shores of Lima as if the ocean existed only to kiss Peru good night and no other place in the world. This Larcomar is truly remarkable with lines of quality restaurants serving authentic Peruvian dishes. We took a stroll and settled ourselves in a chic restaurant Vivaldino with sea-facing views to try out the authentic Peruvian Ceviche along with some Pisco sour. It is given that once you are in Peru you have to try out these, perhaps in every other meal you will have in this country. I could never believe that I could ever eat raw fish marinated in nothing else but lemon. And that is it, the beauty of Ceviche, once you have it, you will love it.
The following day, Azmat, our chauffeur appeared on time very early in the morning and kept dozing off while we were finishing off our breakfast. We headed straight to Pachacamac, the archaeological site some 40km drive away from Lima in the valley of the Lurin river. This religious compound is made entirely out of clay and houses the giant pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Most of the common buildings and temples were built c. 800-1450 CE, shortly before the arrival and conquest by the Inca Empire. To our surprise we found the site not crowded, only occasionally visited by tourists buses and a few enthusiasts like you and me. Pacha Kamaq was considered the creator god by the people who lived in this part of Peru before the Inca conquest. The Inca took him into their pantheon, but considered him a lesser rival of Viracocha, their creator god. Pacha means “Earth” and Camac means “creator”. Pachacamac was an ancient creator deity. The Incas adopted his cult and his name appears in the title of several rulers. Pachacamac, the fish god had his temple here, surrounded by the Lurin Valley on one side, the desert on the other, and mountains on the third side. The view from this temple was on the Pacific Ocean. After the Incas’ conquest, fish god, Pachacamac’s the temple was destroyed and a sun temple was built on the site. When in Peru expect to come across ruins which existed either before the Incas arrived or which were made by the Incas themselves before the Spanish took over. The beauty of Pachacamac when we arrived was the fact that it was nearly void, no one around. So you could immerse yourself in the ruins of history and the vibe of what had taken place centuries ago. The Peruvian government is doing their best to make sure that people like me don’t cross the rope marking the heritage site taking photos and that is pretty much it. You wish if this site were somewhere elsewhere you would see the branding and publicity it would have carried along. Feel for Peru, it’s a gem. Its just that its not in Europe but it doesn’t matter. The way the habitation was seen growing around the site was reminiscent of the way this country was growing. Ancestors can stay where they were, but the new century requires new forms, mostly in the form of unplanned slums around historic sites. These pictures of our comprehensive sightseeing tour will give you an insight on the culture, history and architecture of both the Inca and pre-Inca people.
Having spent some quality time in Pachacamac we made our way to Callao, the famous Peruvian port city to have fresh catch of the day fish as lunch. Our chauffeur Azmat knew exactly where to lead us to and he did so. The lunch was too good, you could as if feel the Pacific freshness in the fish you would eat at Callao.
After the sumptuous lunch we headed to the famous Larco museum, supposedly the largest collection of pre-Columbian erotic pottery in the world. A personal collection owned by Larco Herrera housing the overview of 4000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It is worth the visit as this is one of those very few museums in the world where you are allowed to visit even the stock of the museum and not only the artefacts in display. As the name suggests, you can see in this museum some mindblowing pieces of artefacts naturally highlighting the eroticism depicted through art. No wonder you need to reproduce to expand any civilisation and what better way to engrave the fact of nature but through art.
We then headed to the San Francisco church of Lima. If you are travelling from Europe to Peru you will be surprised to see the difference in Christian architecture in South America and this church is one of the prime examples of this difference. Especially the mass burial of various saints and the ordinary citizens of the then Lima deep down in the basement catacomb of the church is sure to give you goosebumps. Lines of human skulls and bones kept in order was a sight to remember or forget, you choose. The in-house tour guide said, an estimated 75,000 bodies are buried under San Francisco church alone, and many of the remains are exposed, stacked in strange patterns in circular stone pits. A catacomb tour is not for the squeamish or the claustrophobic. In any case you are sure to have an action packed first day in Peru starting with the capital Lima.
San Francisco Church, Lima