Landing in Lima and getting through security was a bit crazy, especially when you don’t speak Spanish. After getting my bag and heading out of the airport there were hundreds of taxi driver and finding the one with my name was interesting but eventually it happened by some miracle. (Thanks mom!) My driver spoke little English but after showing him the address to my hotel in Miraflores he thankfully knew were I was going because I didn’t.
Let me tell, I have never in my life experienced anything like traffic and driving in Lima, Peru. It is literally constant horns, speed bumps, fender benders, people cutting each other off, but to them its normal and they all seem to drive standards which makes it even more interesting. Got to my hotel unpacked some gear, thanked god, and headed out for a bit.
Lima is an amazing city so much energy and activity. The population of Lima is around 10 million people. The weather averaged around 62 during the day and 45 at night. It was noticeable there that is cold because they all were wearing jackets and i was comfortable in a t-shirt. I went out to dinner the first night, had my first pisqo sour, explored Kennedy square, had few more Pisqo Sours and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.
The next day I got up had breakfast at the hotel Casad Andins Select and headed back out to Kennedy square were Paroquia Virgen Milagrosa church was having mass. I was drawn into the church were mass had just started. It was emotional because catholic mass always reminds me of mom, grandma, and pap. Considering the death of my mom and granma recently I was understandably emotional. Even though mass was in Spanish I felt the spirit of the sermon and was thankful for the opportunity. I lit a candle for mom swallowed my tears and headed back out to Kennedy square. As I walked around and I saw many beautiful pieces of art work, the smells of local Peruvian food, the music of a band playing in the distance, and a lot of Ferrel cats which I guess is a problem. I went out for dinner and met some locals who offered to take me to clubs dancing and why not. I had alot of fun that night dancing at the clubs in Locamar and soaking in the nightlife in Lima. They played a mix of modern Peruvian dance music, other Latin music, American hip hop, and electronica.
The next day I went further into Lima and visited some beautiful churches, various vendors, government building, changing of the guard in Plaza De Arms and went through the catacomb at the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco (sorry no pictures allowed) but 25,000 bodies were laid to rest in the catacombs; the crypts, built of bricks and mortar, are very solid and have stood up well to earthquakes. The catacombs served as a burial-place until 1808, when the city cemetery was opened outside Lima and contain thousands of skulls and bones. The catacombs were rediscovered in 1943. It is also believed there existed secret passageways that connected to the Cathedral and the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition.
Funny Story: A kid sitting outside the catacombs was selling artwork so he saw me looking and approached me (see picture). Nice enough kid but I could tell the artwork were prints except for a few I could not tell for sure. He said it was his artwork I admired it and asked how much, he said 60 soles and your hat. I was wearing an Under Armour hat I had just bought for the trip and said I’ll give you 60 sole but your not getting my hat. I bought the painting and he said I would look into my heart and change my mind and he would wait for me to leave the catacombs. So after over 2 hours in the church and Catacombs as I came back outside there he was. He came up and said I have a gift for you my friend and handed me a red hat that said Peru. Of course I took my hat of and gave it to him.
Later when I went to Cusco I would learn it was not his artwork and was also a print. The lesson I learned about the willingness to give up material possessions for an experience with another human being that has developed his craft out of necessity was more valuable than my hat or 60 soles.