Lima (April 4, 2008)

Our last morning in Peru :-(. We went for breakfast and again spent an hour talking to Angelo and getting a virtual tour of downtown Lima and its history. He gave us all kind of interesting details about all the places we were going to go visit. We then took a cab to Plaza de Armas in downtown Lima. The Plaza is a beautiful square with the Government Palace, the Cathedral, and other great buildings. When we arrived, the changing of the guard at the Government Palace was going on so we watched it for a while. It was really hot that day. After the changing of the guard, we went for a walk around the square and the area. We made our way towards Santo Domingo church but could not see much because it was during mass. Santo Domingo is home to the remains of Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Martin de Porres, who was the first black saint in the Americas, and San Jaun Masias. Since we couldn’t really visit it, we decided to go for lunch. We had some chicken Peruvian style, it was really good. After that, we made our way to the San Francisco church where we had a guided tour.  The tour was very interesting and gave us a lot of great information.  Built in 1674, the yellow church is considered the best example of the “Lima Baroque” style of architecture. The carved portal would later influence those on other churches, including the Iglesia de la Merced.  The central nave is known for its beautiful ceilings painted in a style called mudejar (a blend of Moorish and Spanish designs).

The best part of the tour was the visit to the vast catacombs.  The city’s first cemetery, these underground tunnels contains the bones of some 75,000 people. In many places the bones have been stacked in eerie geometric patterns.

After visiting the church, we then went to the Museum of the Inquisition, the location of the Spanish Inquisition in Lima. It too was quite interesting. Our tour explained how people were tried by the Spaniards.  We also visited the jail cells and saw some of the torture techniques.  In one of the rooms, there is this amazing carved mahogany ceiling.

Afterwards, we waked to the Jiron de la Union, the main shopping street which brought us all the way to Plaza San Martin. At the plaza, there is a statue erected in the centre.  The reason we mention this statue as there is a funny story that goes with it.  The way the story goes is that the Peruvians commissioned the statue to be made in Spain. The Peruvian wanted the woman to have a crown of flames over her head. The Peruvian spanish word for flame actually means llama in Spain so the statue showed up with a llama on her head!

After visiting the plaza, we headed over to a restaurant to eat desert.  Hey, that’s what you do when you are on holidays – eat desert before supper!  We then took a cab back to Larcomar for some last minute shopping.  Roger saw a book on Peruvian cuisine the day before so we headed back to get it. Then we took a cab to the Plaza de la Republica to walked around.  We ended up eating at a little dinner near the plaza.  It wasn’t a fancy meal for our last night in Peru but as have been all our other meals, it was cheap and tasty.   We headed back to our hotel to catch a cab to the airport.  Now that was an interesting cab ride not so much for the way the lady drove but more so the route she took to get there. She kept going through residential areas with speed bumps.  Honestly, we think every single residential area in Lima! On the way there, we stopped at gas station and she asked us to get out of the car.  We found this odd but complied.  Once we were out, we realize that they were filling the car up with natural gas. It must be a law in Peru that you can’t stay in the car while filling up with natural gas.

Once we finally arrived at the airport, Roger figured he’d try his luck at getting upgraded to business class.  It was looking great as they gave us tickets to the Business Class lounge and tagged our bags priority.  They told us to check at the gate at 11:30 pm (for our 1:30 am flight).  Seeing it was 11:30 when she told us that, Roger assumed that she must have meant 12:30 so off we went to the lounge to enjoy a few last drinks in Peru.  As the way up to the lounge Marjorie suggested that we should still check our gate but Roger was convinced that she meant 12:30 so we didn’t check.  After enjoying a few drinks, off we went to the gate at 12:30.  When we arrived, the area was a zoo – there were tons of people around and no where near enough seats to sit everyone.  We made our way to the front and asked about our upgrade.  Out came the answer “I’m sorry, there in no more space in Business Class”.  Roger painfully asked the question of what time we should have been there and out came the answer “11:30”.  Ouch!  I guess the moral of the story is that he should always listen to his wife…

The flight home was good none the less.  When we arrived in Toronto for a 4 hour layover, Roger worked his magic and got us into the Business Class lounge in Toronto.  Not Business Class on the flight but still pretty good.  A short flight home from Toronto brought us into Montreal around 4:00 pm.

With that came the end of our wonder 2 1/2 weeks in Peru.  Some final thoughts on Peru.  It is a wonderful country with friendly people, cheap cost of living, and amazing and diverse scenery.  It would be hard to pick our favorite site but obviously Machu Picchu ranks at the top.  This was our first trip to South America but certainly won’t be our last.  Until next time, happy and safe travels to all.

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