Diary/Photo Journal

Week of March 28, 2004

We'rrrrrre back!  Our time at home was just what we needed and we were very pleased to see everyone doing well.  We were especially happy to be more tanned than anyone - for me, that is a rarity!

Before I delve into our return to Lima (which was very easy), I would like to state that we really appreciate all that we have back home - family, friends and a happy life.  It is one thing to appreciate your family and friends, but do not stop there.  Be thankful for the experiences in your life that have brought those around you that you love and cherish, and then keep looking even further.  Be appreciative of where you live and the amenities that you have that afford you the time to enjoy your family and friends, and so on and so forth. 

One thing that I have learned from this journey is that the appreciation trail should be endless.  Each "appreciation" should extend into another and another.  Ok, I am off my soapbox (but isn't life good!).

Just a picture of what we left behind
Nathalie and Lori with the beautiful
Laguna Beach in the background.

Alright, back to Lima.  Other than our flight being a few hours late, we enjoyed our flight.  We got to watch "The Duplex" (cute) and "Runaway Jury" (I really liked it, very quick paced and troubling if it could really happen) and of course, sleep.  A quick taxi ride at 4:00 a.m. got us to our hotel and after ridding the world of a few cockroaches, the hot shower was welcome. 

One thing you learn about when traveling like this is not to sweat the small stuff.  Ants, cockroaches (in small numbers and size), spiders, etc. don't really bother us anymore.  If the local people live a little less "sanitized" than we are used to and they are healthy and happy, who are we to stress.  There is a certain freedom from "BP" (bacteria paranoia) in these southern countries.

After gaining our lost sleep, we tensely walked the 200 feet to where Cindy was tucked in for the past month.  As we were assured, Cindy was safe and sound and not a mirror out of place.  You can imagine our pent up relief of emotions after the shipping debacle.  Heck, we even hugged her (ok, Gerson didn't, but I sure did). 

While we were back home, we ordered and received a replacement window for Cindy and had no problem (other than a $20 custom's charge in Lima) carrying the 5' x 1' window as baggage (thank you Peninsula Glass for an excellent crate container!).  We installed Cindy's perfect window and removed an all too obvious remembrance of the transit damage.     

Cindy's new window - not a crack anywhere to be found - yipppeeee!
Gerson just loves it when I take these types of pictures

Our new friends, Carlos and Rosa, made sure we were well fed all week and between Carlos and his son, Andrei  we were "limoed" all over Lima and of course, to the local ruins.  The Plaza Mayor was beautiful as it was surrounded by the obligatory Cathedral, the Palacio de Gobierno and the Palacio Arzobispal.   Views from atop a hill where the cross of San Cristobal was displayed were spectacular, to say the least.

Palacio Arzobispal (state
government building)
Palacio de Gobierno (Peru Capital building) and Gerson telling me to
hurry up (mucho police
watching very intently)
Lima's Cathedral

Views from atop San
The ocean is off in the
distance in picture 3

Andy and Gerson

The first Cathedral was built in 1555; however, after several earthquakes, it was rebuilt in 1746.  A noteworthy mention is that Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador responsible for the "conquering" of the Incas, is entombed in the Cathedral.  Ironically, he was killed by the son of a man he had himself killed some years earlier.  I guess he reaped what he sowed.

We also got to witness the virtual stop of Lima civilization (10 million strong) as you would know it.  Why?  One word: FUTBOL!  Yes, Lima was awash in red and white (Peru's national colors) because of a very significant futbol game against Colombia.  Unfortunately, this World Cup 2006 qualification game was given to Colombia with a score of 2-0 and the huge city mourned for days.  To see a city that is as vibrant, loud, crazy, busy, etc. as Lima come to a standstill for their beloved sport was awe-inspiring.  So much so, that I proudly wore my new "Te Amo Peru" hat (I Love Peru). 

We were invited to share in the small celebration of a cousin's 21st birthday (legal drinking age is 18 so not quite the imbibing occasion as in the US).  Jackie came by Carlos and Rosa's banquet salon (the family-owned party hall that Rosa manages) to share in well-wishes, a little dancing and a lot of cake.  We really enjoyed stepping into the tradition and tossing our well-wishes in with the family.  And, the cake wasn't too bad either!

Birthday girl,
Jackie and her

Uncle Carlos
is light on his

Jackie, her mom and her grandparents (Rosa's parents) - I don't
think the smile ever leaves his 80-something face.

The party participants - (in front, grandma, Rosa, Jackie, her mom, a relative, Jessica and Andy (Carlos and Rosa's children), Jessica (Andy's girlfriend), and in the middle to back is grandpa and Gerson and I with lots of relatives.  But then, Rosa has seven siblings and her parents have 40 grandchildren - this is but a small familia sample.

Peru is a ruin lover's paradise.  After just this short time here, I can imagine that there are layers of history underneath just about everything.  It is almost as though you can see the cities' footprints as you look across the desert landscape.

Carlos escorted us to the immense remains of Pachacamac (pa-cha-ca-mac).  Pachacamac was built around 1500 years ago and even though the ruins have not been well restored, the dry desert climate has preserved much of the extensive layout of the city.  Like Tulum in Mexico, this sprawling center was perched on cliffs at the ocean's edge and the inhabitants thrived on the sea and a nearby river for sustenance. 

Pachamac layout
Gerson and Carlos
Templo del Sol
(notice the ramp
that was a common
construction practice)

Ruins peaking through
Remnant of the red frescos
Mamacuna - House of the Chosen Women (restored)
View from the Templo del

We also stopped in the museum and viewed pictures of the ruins taken over 120 years ago.  Remarkably, the ruins look very much the same, thanks to the arid preservation conditions.  We also looked upon a (totem-like) pole that was found buried within the ruins and that depicts their god.  An interesting story accompanies the totem-pole.  The god was so feared that none would look upon the face at the top of the pole.  Only the priests could approach the pole with offerings and only then, could they approach backwards, for fear of being struck down by the eyes of their god.  I actually found it difficult to look upon the top face for very long for it seemed to stare back - kind of like the Mona Lisa effect.  Eerie but cool!

Vast city ruins
The old and the new
Just imagine what is lying beneath all
that sand - can you see the imprints?
So much to discover yet.
The homely hairless Peruvian dog is
worth another look.  Love the mohawk!
The fearful pole
depicting their god.

From here, we had a whirlwind tour of the Museo de Oro del Peru which also encompasses the Museo de Armas (rightfully recognized as one of the largest armory museums in the world).  The extensive collection of pre-Colombian, Inca and Colonial gold artifacts was dizzying enough and combine that with an arms collection of over a million pieces, we were rather overwhelmed.  If you are interested in arms collections, bring your lunch to this museum because a few hours would not be enough.

Just a few of the well-
preserved residents - some
very young indeed!

(OK Nathaniel, these are
your mummy pictures !)

Just some of the typical
hillside homes - some
attractive and some, well
rather heart wrenchingly

Now, if all these ruins and museums on the same day were not enough, Gerson found out that the local Hippodrome (horse racing stadium for those of you that are equine-challenged) was open and we could just make it in time for a few races.  After the first race, Gerson had reason to be confident seeing as he hit the winning horse for 46 soles (about $10).  So, after a few races, we ended up losing a whopping $3 US.  Carlos had more fun watching us act like kids.

On the way home, we drove by a place where a famous water well exists and Carlos told us the history of this special body of water.

Once upon a time, a Peruvian king fell in love with a peasant girl that had no status in the society.  She
  repeatedly ignored his attentions and even after numerous proposals, she would not marry him.  After the King's
  persistent pursuit, the peasant girl told the King that she would consent to marry him if he could place the
  moon under her feet, and only when she could walk upon the moon, would he receive her hand.

  The King spent long days in thought and long nights in torment, trying to conceive of a way to capture the
  elusive moon and therein, capture his elusive love.  One night, as the King walked his land, he came upon a
  shallow pool of water fed by an underground spring.  The well of water was undisturbed and it glowed in the
  bright starlight.  As the King looked upon the pool, he found that the moon was mirroring its celestial body into
  his eyes and it was then that he realized how he could capture the moon and to place it under his love's feet. 

  And they lived happily ever after...

Carlos and Rosa took us to a local club (Sachun) that is famous for its folklorica dance and all-around musical enjoyment.  What a night!  The festivities started at 10:00 p.m. and we crawled back to the hotel around 3:00 a.m.  Dancers representing many of the Peruvian cultures took the stage in between music sessions that blended jazz with that sensual, rhythmic latin sound.  We watched, listened, sambaed, drank, ate and laughed the entire night.  I cannot wait until we get to Brasil!

Carlos, Rosa and the flags
Sachun provides to guests
Incredible costumes
A little samba
A famous "Scissor dance" where
the dancer contorts while playing
the scissors to the music.  This one
liked to dance on his head!


Taking a day to recover, we invited the Alpaca family to a picnic/bar-b-que at a place of their choosing.  What started as a small gathering, quickly evolved into a group of 15 family (and almost family) members piling into Carlos' bus and traveling to a nearby "club".  This club is a little different from the "clubs" we see in the United States, and wonderfully so.  But first, take a look at this gringa-peruana.

The costume is the easy part, it's that dance thing... 

This dress is called a "Nusta" and it is for the dance from Cusco (Cuzco).

At the club, Gerson and I had no idea what to expect other than there would be the necessary bar-b-que and a pool.  When we pulled into the parking area, we had a difficult time seeing beyond the large pool and its rather fun-looking water slide.  Upon further observation and a long walk around the property, we found not only the sizable swimming pool and its screamingly fun waterslide, we also found a wading pool, several eateries, grassy expanses, countless large trees, bungalows, a miniature golf course, basketball courts, a trampoline, an entire playground (with all of the equipment that we used to play on as kids but do not exist now because some idiot in the United States feels the apparatuses are too dangerous), volleyball courts, pony rides, aviaries, and of course, lest I forget, the life-saving soccer (futbol) fields.

Half the fun of the day was coaxing some of the more reluctant swimming participants to go down the slide.  We succeeded in convincing all but one of the more timid, but even her standoff was a source of laughs.  Gerson, Carlos and Julio (a long-time friend of Carlos and the father to Jessica, Andrei's girlfriend - did you get that) manned the bar-b-que (gee, where do you think Gerson would be anyway) and the food disappeared within minutes.  Even the mid-80's grandparents were enjoying the festivities and indulged in a long walk around the park.

Needless to say, we had an awesome, wet-n-wild day at the Peruvian's version of a "club" and the experience was made all the more wonderful because of this incredibly close, loving and embracing family.

Gerson on his way to
one heck of a belly flop
Carlos and then Andrei
Louise being different
(what a rarity)
Jessica and the quiet
but brave, Isabel
Mayra almost did it

Andrei taking the
opportunity to throw
Jessica in the water

The Alpaca family

If you remember, we met Carlos when he was on an overnight tour in Casma.  Carlos owns his bus (quite a remarkable thing) and specializes in tours for retired people.  He really enjoys his job and he is one heck of a driver to be able get around the zipping blurs of metal that are called "cars" here in Peru.

Julio and Maribel poolside

The kids could not hang with
the adults after lunch

"Club" overview (only a
small part of the many acres)

I wonder where Gerson is?

One of my favorite pictures I have
taken on this journey.  I guess when I
look at Froy, (with Maria), I am
reminded of my own Grandfather. 
I just love this picture.  So much
kindness and life lived in these two


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