Flying to South America is very nice – no big jet lag to get over so we were raring and ready to go. We toured three places in Lima today The first was House of Aliaga (pictures 2 – 4) which was constructed in 1535 on a pre-Columbian sanctuary. It was constructed when the city was founded and it has been inhabited permanently by the descendants of the first proprietor, Jerónimo de Aliaga, standard-bearer and exchequer for Francisco Pizarro. Their halls and their inner patio have all the characteristics of the most important mansions of the historical center of Lima of the viceroyalty time.
Pictures 5, and 7 – 11 are from the Convent of Santo Domingo. Much of the courtyard is decorated in tile from Seville, Spain (dated 1604 and 1606). It is amazing that they could “order” the tile from the other side of the world and it made it all the way back. According to our guide, it took 20 years in some cases. The temple of Our Lady of the Rosary was elevated to the category of basilica in 1930 as it has relics from all 5 Peruvian saints, the most famous one being Saint Rose of Lima.
The 7th picture is of a mail slot on the post office. Leslie thought it was adorable. The mail system in Peru is dying because of the internet and DHL and UPS, so sadly the little lion’s mouth no longer gets fed.
Our first Peruvian lunch was very traditional. We were given the national drink, a pisco sour which is made of Peruvian pisco (as the base liquor), key lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It was delicious. The appetizer in the picture with the drink is causa. Fun fact – potatoes are originally from Peru (it produces more than three thousand varieties.) Causa is a layered dish with vegetables, a chicken or tuna salad with potatoes as the top and bottom layers. Very good. We also learned that the Chinese have had an affect on Peruvian food. We had a traditional Peruvian beef dish which definitely had an Asian flair.
The Larco Museum is a privately owned museum of pre-Columbian art. It showcases chronological galleries that provide a thorough overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It is well known for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery which was actually our first stop. Our guide informed us that it really should be labeled “Fertility Pottery” because that was really what it was all about. Maybe at a high level, but let’s just say there is a reason there are no pictures in the blog.
We moved on to the rest of the museum and got an excellent, detailed explanation of ancient Peruvian history. Peru is one of the original 7 ancient civilizations (Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, China, Mexico (Mayan) and Rome are the other ones). Everyone talks about the Incas, but they were really a very small part of the pre-Colombian history (before the Spanish conquered Peru). We also learned a lot about human sacrifice. The ancient Peruvians believed that in order to have crops, Mother Earth had to be fertilized, so a young male (of noble birth) was sacrificed each year before planting crops. The belief was that the male would die, go through the earth and fertilize the seeds, and then go on to their version of heaven. The last picture shows a statue from a tomb that shows that the person in the tomb was sacrificed to fertilize the earth. The statue has a crown (representing nobility), a necklace of faces (representing the people, a bowl (for seed) and is anatomically correct to reflect fertility. This was an amazing museum and very educational.