Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here we are at sea again, on our way to Costa Rica. Having spent Sunday in port near Lima, Peru, we are skipping Ecuador and Columbia, so I guess we will just have to return by land sometime to see them. We also won’t stop in Panama either, but we explored there quite a bit in 2004 when we drove down there in our RV, along with other RV friends.
Having heard quite a few negative things about Lima, we were very pleasantly surprised when we visited there. It is a very large city, with about 7 million people if you count the suburb communities. We docked in a place called Callao. The guidebooks we consulted all warned of high crime rates and suggested taking only radio taxis, not wearing any jewelry or carrying any valuables, etc. But we found these warnings to be unnecessary and Lima is an interesting city with many beautiful Colonial buildings. As with many of these places, there is quite a mix of building styles because of the many earthquakes. We used taxis to get from place to place and they were inexpensive and the rides were quite thrilling due to the way they drive!
This time there were 10 of us, so we used 3 taxis and started out by going to the Larco Herrera Museum. This was an incredible collection of pottery, gold and silver pieces, and other artifacts from the various indigenous tribes of Peru which was started by Larco Herrera when he was only 25, in 1926. There was also a salon of erotic pottery pieces from early cultures which were amazingly graphic. Kind of like a porno magazine only in pottery! It was in a beautiful old estate house with wonderfully landscaped grounds.
Next we taxied to the Plaza Mayor, which is the historic center of the colonial “Old City”. Besides the beautiful fountain in the center of the plaza, the surrounding buildings include the cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace, Government Palace, and City Hall – all are architecturally different and awesome. A short distance away was the San Francisco Monastery, from 1673, which is still functioning as a church and mass was being held while we were there. The church was Lima’s first public cemetery, and the catacombs underneath are still filled with pits of thousands of stacked bones. There were other large salons with huge paintings and carved furniture, especially choir stalls. Unfortunately, because the tour was so long, we missed the changing of the guard in the Plaza Mayor at noon.
After wandering around the center to see more historical buildings, many of which have intricate carved wood balconies such as is often seen in Moorish areas, such as Morocco, we took time out for a local beer in a small restaurant. Then George and Madelyn took a taxi back to the ship while the rest of us went to one of the upscale parts of town called Miraflores. We wanted to go there because that is where most of the artisans markets are and everyone wanted to buy some more Peruvian handicrafts. Unfortunately, we discovered that the best prices of these were in Arica! Oh well, a few more items were purchased by the others and then we returned to the ship. Elaine and I haven’t been buying many things because we have been here before and we don’t want to lug a bunch of stuff home.
Yesterday we crossed the Equator again, so we are now back in the northern hemisphere. These sea days have been flying by since we have been working out in the gym and also attending the film festival in the afternoons. Yesterday they had “Young Frankenstein” and afterwards there was a surprise appearance by Cloris Leachman, who had a role in the film. Unfortunately, it seems like she is losing it mentally, and the interview with her afterwards was somewhat pathetic. Today there is supposed to be a one woman show by her, so hopefully that will go better. Prior to going to that, we are meeting the Park Sierra gang at Johnny Rocket’s for a hamburger, so I will close and hope to post this later today. Tomorrow we dock at Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Elaine and I have been there 3 times and for long time periods, so we probably won’t do extensive shore excursions with the others.

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