First off, Rachel loves alpacas. Everyone wave to Rachel and her furry friend!
Now that we're done with that, let's talk about Lima some more. The city is divided up into a series of vastly different neighborhoods. The edges aren't always clearly marked, but when you move from one to the other it certainly stands out.
This is Plaza del Armas, the main square. It's surrounded by a Cathedral
(that just so happens to have a cool crypt and the lead box that they buried Pizarro's head in), a palace or two and a handful of government buildings. It's relatively new as Lima has a nasty tendency to get leveled by earthquakes.
Ringing the city, up the hillsides are these vibrantly colored little matchbook houses. On the outskirts of Lima, everything is mostly dirt with very little vegetation. Not in an ugly way, the place is a desert after all.
In neighborhoods like Miraflores, things get pretty fancy. For example, they have a sparkly new mall called LarcoMar, built entirely into the cliff side so from street level you can barely see a thing.
Once you find it though, it comes with quite a few nice views.
Closer to the Centro, older buildings are still the norm. They often sport impressive, enclosed balconies that overhang from the second floor. Perfect for tossing stuff out on the plebes below.
Speaking of older, Lima still has some seriously dated neighborhoods. Specifially, Huanca Pucllana. Up until about 1980 or so, it was a trash heap with a motocross track running through it. It managed to draw the eye of an archeologist or two and with a little dusting and shovel work, presto- 1500 year old ruins of the Lima people. (The city was named after them, not vice versa.)
It has all sorts of fun stuff, like super old footprints preserved from some ancient brick makers and lots of interesting walls with the adobe spaced just right to absorb all that seismic activity. Some of the areas have been restored, but the majority are original and stand as a testament to very clever engineering.
I swear. They'll let anyone in these days.
They're actually still excavating the place and expect it to take another 30 years or so.
Inspired by our brush with history, we headed out to the Museo Larco. It houses an absolutely insane amount of wonderful pre-Columbian art and artifacts. Not to mention the beautiful grounds with their impressive bounty of flowers.
We started with some fabulous metal work like these full headdresses, nose rings, ear plugs, and breast plates. I'd never seen the whole ensemble displayed on a mannequin and the effect was quite impressive. I might have to pick me up a set.
Things got a little darker with the sacrificial knives and cups that they collected the blood in.
As well this impressive basket mummy, were they wrap the body up a fetal position and then dress the outside to like a person again, complete with human hair.
They also have a collection of very thought provoking quipu. These are various series of knotted strings that were used to track all kinds of trade and census information. You could tell what was what by the length, color, numbers of knots and their placement in the arrangement. Quite a clever feat for overcoming a lack of written language.
The museum really shines though, in the pottery department. It houses flawless examples from all of the major Peruvian civilizations discovered to date.
Some are funny,
and some just downright amazing like this Mochica face that's at least 1500 years old. I mean look at the realism and proportions on this thing.
The Larco also has a large holding of erotic pottery. It covers everything from man on llama love, to STD outbreaks, to how to maintain that special spark even with lots of kids in the bed.
Some are instructional like this childbirth scene
and some are just, well, um, whatever this is.
Next up, some beautiful market time and heap of traditional food.