23 December 2008
Today was a wonderful and exciting day. Javier and I went sightseeing around Lima and were able to see a lot of really amazing things. First we went to El Olivar or olive tree park, which is a pretty little park near his house with olive trees. Afterwards, we stopped at his aunt’s, who has a gorgeous colonial home. Next we went to downtown Lima and saw the Plaza de San Martín, which is a pretty square with an enormous statue of San Martín, the liberator of Perú. In the plaza was Bar Estadio, which wasn’t open, but they let us walk around inside anyways. It’s a bar with lots of soccer stuff, like replicas of soccer players (I got my picture taken with David Beckham and Diego Maradona!), team pictures, Jersey’s, etc.
Afterwards we walked on Jiron de la Unión Street, which is a little street with beautiful buildings of 16th and 17th century architecture. Along the way we stopped in the Iglesia de la Merced, which is one of the most elaborate churches I’ve ever seen. Churches are wonderful because they are often times so well preserved they are a really interesting place
to get a piece of history. I couldn’t help but be astonished by how very elaborate the displays and woodwork are though. To me it is offensive to have something that elaborate and beautiful built in the name “god” while at the same time people are suffering. To me, the money should go towards positive projects for the people, God has the world, he doesn’t need elaborate woodwork. Nonetheless, it was absolutely gorgeous and I really enjoyed seeing it.
Next up, Plaza Mayor! Here we saw the Palacio de Gobierno, the Peruvian equivalent of the White House, Municipalidad de Lima, and the Catedral. After this we stopped and ate. I got a cheeseburger, called peruanito (little Peruvian), which means it came loaded with little french fries, egg, lettuce and cheese. Next we had to see Chinatown, and then were on to the Museo de la Inquisición, which is a museum about the Catholic church’s inquisition in Peru. The museum was build over the actual place where they held prisoners and tortured people, and we were able to walk through the actual places where this happened; it was a very eerie feeling.
My favorite part of the day, however,
was the Iglesia/Convento de San Francisco y las Catacumbas. This church/convent, was even more enormous and elaborate than the last, absolutely stunning. This church was very important from the 16th to the 19th centuries. For a long time, that was the main church of the Franciscans for South America, and it was from there that the Franciscans sent missionaries to all over South America. Up until the 1800’s that was the location of the cemetery of Lima, and there are 75,000 bodies buried in the catacombs. Never before have I seen so many (or any for that matter) human bones. The Franciscans would put up to four bodies in Limestone because it kept in the smell and would decompose the bodies in just a few years, afterwards they would take the bodies out and load it with new ones. We walked through tombs filled meters tall with bones, organized by which part of the body the bones were from. There was a room with femurs, another full of skulls, etc. One place, about 4 meters deep I believe, was once a well, but is now what I would call “bone art,” and is a circular pattern of skulls and femurs.
Traditional Peruvian Dog
Only grows hair in the form of a mowhawk on the top of its head, the rest of it is naked, I love this dog! Super sweet
They wouldn’t let me take any pictures, but it was one of the most intense things I’ve ever witnessed.
After the depressing catacombs, we naturally closed our day of tourism with a beer and headed back to the house! The tour guide at the convent recommended to us a cruise down the Amazon river in the jungle, which we were previously not planning on visiting, but I think sounds like a really neat idea, so I’m considering not going to Bolivia and instead checking out the Amazon (water sampling from the Amazon sounds interesting!).
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