AROUND THE WORLD.ORG

travelling the seven parts of the world

Lima

 
Apr 3rd, 2008
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We arrived in Lima late in the night, and I have to tell you, walking out of the "safe zone" zone in Lima airport is a bit of a shock. There are so many people promoting their services there it is no even funny. You could hear the noise before exiting, and as you exit, everyone's right over you. There is a metal railing that prevents people from literally eating you in the first few seconds, but after that you are on your own.

We had booked a tour for our time in Peru. This was partially due to lack of time, so I couldn't plan it out myself and had to leave it to other people, and partially because I just don't have the know-how as far as traveling in South America goes. And know-how is something you definitely need here, or you're gonna get ripped off, or walk into the wrong neighborhood and not come out alive.



The tour was definitely more expensive than anything we would have paid for when going ourselves, but at the same time we also saw far more things than we would have when going by ourselves. The good thing about these tours is that they force you to do things even when you can't be bothered, sort of pushing you. Like we would have never taken city tours with local guides that could give insider info on everything that was priceless, because I have a feeling that otherwise we would have spent an awful lot of time inside our hotels.

The second good thing about taking tours is that in most places you really have no choice but to take a tour. Getting around some of the off-the-main-bus-line locations in Peru can only be done on tours, so for most part, you have to go on a tour no matter what, the difference is that you have it either booked before or you book it in the place you arrive. And yes, that includes mountain climbing, as you need a guide to climb the high mountains, who (as well as equipment, if you need it) is provided by tour companies.

This is also NOT a park yourself in a bus for 20 days and be driven around tour. No, you have to travel by yourself. Its just that in every city you arrive, there is someone to meet you and take you to your hotel. And then, in each city you have pre-booked tours of your liking with local tour operators, so every day both your tour group and your guide is different.

If you are traveling to South America for the first time, I seriously suggest booking a tour ahead.

As I was standing there in Lima Airport, with about 300 people selling their rip-offs in front of me, my wallet and their hands separated by a mere metal railing, I was sure glad I had booked a tour, as it wasn't long until I spotted a guy holding a sign with my name, ready to take us to our hotel. As we left the building, dozens of people encircled us, shouting and screaming their offers, holding leaflets right in our faces, and not even our guide could help us get rid of them until we had crossed over to the parking lot, where cars still stopped by us asking if we needed a taxi.

This is the case for most of the places we arrived - upon getting out of the bus, or walking out of the no access zone in airports, dozens of people would approach you, trying to sell you stuff. Worst cities - Lima, Nazca, Cuzco. When walking on the street, people approach you, trying to sell their services. Most are trying to get a commission for bringing in a client, others are trying to get you to part with your money on the street so they can disappear never to be seen again. Vendors are worse than the guys who tout their stuff, because they are ready to get right in your way, so you have to either stop or make a deliberate effort to walk around - though that is not always effective, as some vendors are ready to run after you as you are walking, even after being told several times that you don't want their stuff. One taxi driver offered to drive me to my hotel a total of six times in a time span of 10 minutes while I was waiting for the tour bus to arrive - the only word I ever told him was "No", but they just don't get it.



We had only 1 day in Lima, when we had our city tour. First we went to the Larco Museum, where there were some thousand year old pottery exhibits. The whole museum is a one big warehouse, so you can see all 40,000 exhibits, unlike in normal museums.



One of the most curious things about this pottery, which dated to before 1000 AD, was the different shapes of people. Here are some regular Moche people and their pottery:



Now look at these people:



Looks awfully Polynesian... and the woman has a tattoo on her cheek, something practiced only by Polynesians. Could it be that the old Moche civilization had contact with Polynesians, who lived across the Pacific ocean?

And what about this piece?



Reminds me of the stuff you usually get to see from Egypt.

Still not convinced? Look at this guy:



Compare the people in the first picture, and this one. There is NO similarity. The first people look like Moche Indians, and the last guy looks like he's from Nigeria or something. Both pieces are dated before AD 800.

Anyway, nothing has ever been proven as far as what sort of contact Moche people had with others in the world, and since the Moche civilization expressed themselves in pottery rather than writing, and the later civilizations, like Incas, used to write using knots (a writing language never deciphered), chances are we'll never. But you're just left wondering of the possibilities.

There were also some "naughtier" pieces in this collection -





After that, we went to Plaza de Armas, which is the name for the main square in every town around here. One curious thing - check out this tank next to the presidential palace:



Makes you feel real safe, doesn't it?



After that we visited one of the cathedrals, and the catacombs (or burial grounds) under them. Thousands of people are apparently buried here.



We ended the day with a walk around the cathedral park.



That's about it for Lima. To be honest, there isn't much to it, and what is there is dwarfed by the looks of cities or Arequipa or Cuzco, which we'll see in the future.

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