Peru: Day 2–Lima, Museo y Catacumbas de Lima

You know the episode of Friends where they all go to the Caribbean and Monica’s hair gets
huge from the humidity?

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That’s my hair in Lima.

Today we took a taxi into central Lima. The taxi experience was one I’d been dreading because they’re completely unregulated here. You’re supposed to negotiate the price in advance to avoid misunderstandings, but the driver is free to charge whatever he wants.

I hate taxis under the best of circumstances and this didn’t sit well with me. So when the hotel bell man asked us if we wanted a taxi then led us to a shiny new Mercedes Benz, I was happy to take it, without knowing the price in advance. It was no hassle and felt safer.

He took us to our destination, which was the Museo y Catacumbas de Lima at the Catedral San Francisco. He told us the price was 33, which in Peruvian soles is about $10 USD. Not bad at all! Unfortunately, the price was $33 USD–which still isn’t that expensive by Los Angeles standards. But more on that later.

The Museo y Catacumbas de Lima is something I’d categorize as “must-see” if you’re ever in Lima. I don’t know–there’s something about seeing 400 year-old bones (mostly femurs since they’re one of the biggest bones in the body and thus more likely to survive until excavation) that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but in addition to the catacombs, the catedral had the most charming library I’ve ever seen in person. But thanks to the magic of the Internet, here it is:

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I had my first run-in with a Peruvian public toilet at the museo and I must say, it left something to be desired. Most notably, a toilet seat. And the ability to flush toilet paper.

After that we ate lunch:

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What you see here is a plate of fried langostinos (shrimp) and crocettas and something called a causa relleno which was kind of like shrimp salad layered with avocado and a sort of potato purée. It was good but a bit stodgy. I probably won’t go out of my way to eat it again.

Among today’s other adventures was a visit to the Museo de Gastronomia (not planned, it just happened to be in the area), a speech by what might’ve been the President of Peru at the Presidential Palace followed by a parade featuring various dancers and what we later learned were congressmen (also not planned), and a shopping excursion for shorts (planned, because Mick forgot to pack a pair of shorts) at a department store called Saga Fallabella. Department stores and the like are places where you really feel like you’re experiencing a bit of a country’s everyday culture–though not something I’d particularly recommend, even if you like shopping.

When it was time to go back to Miraflores, we hailed a cab and did as we’d been advised and negotiated the price beforehand. The price he quoted? 20 soles, which is about $7 USD. Sure it wasn’t a Mercedes, but for a savings of $27 for a twenty minute cab ride, I’ll take a Kia.

The day was finished with a lovely dinner with my mother-in-law, the other lay volunteer with the Passionistas International Volunteer Project and the two nuns who represent the order at Villa El Salvador. I had my first pollo a la brasa in Peru, which was delicious. It included a skewer of barbecued beef hearts, however, which was not so delicious. I’ll pass on those next time.

I also tried a glass of Pisco, neat. It definitely burns going down, as spirits do, but the flavor is smooth and inoffensive. I’d drink it again.

Here’s your final image of the day:

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Holly West

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