May 18, 2015 Evening
Chorillos, near Lima – Today was a day to recover from travel. WE made a stab at sleeping in, but by 8:30 we were already making plans to explore the historic downtown center of Lima. A major bus station is a short walk from our apartment. There are the usual intriguing ironies to be found:
|McDonald's is ubiquitous|
|Manikins find multiple uses|
Every country has its own unique forms of transportation. Peru is no exception. Taxi motos are fairly common. I’m not sure I’ll have the cojones to actually take one, but they’re fun to see.
The bus ride to downtown is long. We’re lodged in a suburb well to the south of Lima proper so it’s a trek to get to the city. Still the buses can use lanes of traffic reserved exclusively for them, so we sail right by the traffic snarls which, while considerable, are still much less snarly that the ones I’ve seen in other metropolitan areas, Particularly Mexico City and Tai Pei. I’m struck also by how clean Lima seems to be, with none of the garbage that I’ve seen in the streets of some other Latin American urban centers.
Street artists and vendors seem to be ubiquitous in every cityscape, but I must admit the guy with the bathroom scale had an angle I’d not seen before. For only a few soles (Peru’s currency) you could weigh yourself on his scale and be reminded (in front of God and everyone) just how far off the fitness wagon you’ve fallen. There didn’t seem to be a line.
In Lima we found a spiffy little café with terrific juevos and café Americano that was just right. Then we set off to find a hostel for Scott, who wants to hang in Lima proper for maybe one more day, visiting museums (all closed on Mondays) while I’m working tomorrow, and then take off on his own to explore some of the rest of the country.
On the way we pass plenty of likely looking museums and some really great architecture,
We also see quite a few signs indicating maximum people capacity like this:
And, intriguingly, this:
Aforo was a new word for me and even for Pablo. One wonders who is going to do the counting.
We figure that’s Einstein playing the violin, Steve Jobs on guitar, Lady Di twinkling her toes, and Pope Francis thespianizing. But we couldn’t place the painter. Ideas anyone? And while I’m thinking about it, did everyone see the face in the revolved Machu Picchu image? It’s facing to the left. Go on, scroll back and look. I’ll wait.
Then it was time to visit the museum and catacombs at the Monastery of San Francisco. The one place which was not closed. Photos and videos were not allowed inside, which is a pity because it is an amazing place. For one thing, it’s huge. They kept taking us from one room to another, each one filled with amazing religious art – carvings, paintings, frescoes, fiber art – and much of it quite dark. Martyrs that had been decapitated, Saints with missing hands and, of course, many depictions of the death of Jesus. Given the treatment that Native Americans were meted out during the holy inquisition, those early American Christians might have benefited from spending more time exploring the way Jesus lived his life and less dwelling on Jesus’ gruesome torture and death.
But enough, it was time to visit the catacombs, one of the most weirdly notable legacies of San Francisco’s time at this monastery. Before and during his tenure plenty of people had died and been laid to rest in the catacombs underneath the monastery. At some point this began to produce a less than pleasant redolence which was distracting to spiritual inquiry. Plus they began to run out of room. So the resourceful monks, under the direction of the aforementioned San Francisco, took it upon themselves to clean and condense the corpses. The organizational styles range from the practical: one pit for the femurs, one for the ulnas, one for the skulls… you get the idea; to the decorative: craniums in the middle, radiating tibias circling them, more skulls, radiating ulnas, etc.
There are many, many pits, each of them many meters deep, all filled with bones. Amongst some of the bones visitors have tossed coins hoping the dead will feel inclined to reward their largesse by granting a wish. Combined with the morbid religious art it was a sobering couple of hours.
Outside the pigeons (a bird my dear departed mother loathed)
Pablo and I spent some time settling some of Pablo’s phone issues, got some groceries for home meals and called it a full and fun dia.