Home > Travel > Peru > Lima
Our Peru trip took place over 2 weeks in August and September 2004. The overall itinerary was Lima , Iquitos/Amazon, Cusco/Machu Picchu, Lima , Huaraz/Cordillera Blanca, Lima. This page describes all of our various bits of time in Lima , other destinations have their separate pages.
Our first day in Peru was gray but very nice. We spent it with Raul and Gladys who took us everywhere! We started in the historic center of the city with a tour of the Cathedral and a viewing of the change of guards in front of the president's house on the Plaza de Armas (every city has a main square by this name). A bunch of cute school kids pressed their faces against the fence to see the show. The city hall and other important buildings also surround the Plaza. From here we walked to the San Francisco church that first strikes with the numbers of pigeons perched on all window linings and stuccos. We took a tour here as well and saw some pretty ceramic-tile ceilings and a beautiful old library with dusty old volumes that are now being put on microfilm.
At lunch we tried a Peruvian desert tart and our first chicha morada (a sweet drink). We spent the afternoon driving around Lima, with Raul and Gladys', our friends and conveniently owners of Viaje De' Oro. This was actually the best thing we did as far as getting an idea of the size of the city goes. Lima has some 8 million inhabitants and is quite spread out, so we could not have seen all the different neighborhoods otherwise. The most surprising thing is that despite the great size of the city, each single neighborhood has almost a small-town feel. It's very nice. The only two times we stepped out of the car were along the ocean. The first stop was at a cliff-top park that features miniatures of the Nasca lines made out of flower beds. The second stop was at Larcomar, a mall that is built into the cliffs so as not to disturb the view of the ocean from inland. The two of us then went out to a restaurant that the hotel recommended and was accordingly very touristy. We enjoyed our pisco sours.
We used our Lima afternoon between Cusco and Cordillera Blanca to visit the National Museum of History and Archeology, which was really interesting. Besides telling the story of Peruvian pre-Inca cultures, it displays originals of mummies from the dry coastal region, ancient fabrics, and examples of the world's first brain surgeries. Yes, some pre-Inca cultures operated on the brains of drugged-up patients who actually survived the procedure, as evidenced by the skin or bone from other parts of the body covering the hole (non-surviving patients got a coin to cover the hole instead). This time we got dinner recommendations directly from Raul and Gladys and ended up the only non-Peruvians there. It was great.
Our third time in Lima was our last day in Peru . Raul and Gladys drove us to see some huacas, pre-Inca ruins from the Lima civilization. Pieces and larger areas of them survive right in the middle of the city, a wall here, a temple there. Amazingly enough, they were not robbed of building material or real estate throughout centuries of the city's expansion. We took a tour of the main huaca, which was also an opportunity to see the Peruvian hairless dogs, the chimus. I never thought I'd say this about an animal, but they are pretty ugly, with random tufts of hair sticking out, like hyenas. They are apparently really hot-blooded, so the ancients used them to warm up their beds at night. It is a law in Peru for every public museum to have some of these dogs.
After seeing the huacas, we headed over to a native crafts market to get a few small things. We had dinner at a very yummy Chinese restaurant where Raul and Gladys gave a very nice gift, a silver-framed mirror tray and a glass-and-silver miniature lama to stand up on it - to remind us of the lazy lamas that we shared so many laughs about. It is now decorating our dining table.
It was hard to leave Peru because there are so many other places we would have wanted to visit if there were more time. Maybe next time!