It must be the closet anthropologist in me, but I always relish in learning more about the culture of a new country/culture. I guess all those museum excursions which I partook when I was a child has finally become habitual. I woke up to (yet another) warm but cloudy day in Lima with plentiful birds cawing (or singing?). One thing I grew to learn about Lima is that it’s never quiet – if not for the birds communicating, there’s always Spanish being spoken either at home or in the streets, cars and buses with their horns blaring, or school children singing in a nearby school.
I greatly anticipated visiting Museo Larco as I had heard much of it and all the artifacts it housed. It is a private museum featuring pre-Columbian artwork; I was especially impressed at the plethora of vividly colorful flowers growing wildly across the walls of the museum. It made for some beautiful photos indeed.
The museum gave me valuable insight into Peru’s cultural history, namely the ethnic groups that lived in the country’s arid lands prior to Incan invasion, after which Spanish invasion led to a cultural melting pot whereby natives attempted to infuse their own religious beliefs with the Catholicism that was forced upon them post-Spanish invasion. The importance of ritual sacrifices for rain/bountiful harvest, the significance of gold and silver and the cultural developments that followed political upheavals and power struggles gave me better insight into the history of Peru. Learning all this with historic visuals at a museum was by far much more scintillating than anything I could have gotten from reading a book.
Of course I could not leave this museum without visiting one of the most notable aspects of Museo Larco – its dedicated area on erotic pottery. It’s quizzical as to how such pottery used to be displayed (prominently on a dining room table? In the bedroom?) or for whom, but I thoroughly enjoyed this particular area. You don’t often come across such a thing too frequently in museums!
After we explored Museo Larco to its fullest, it was time to take a drive and explore the Historic Center of Lima. We arrived at Plaza Mayor which is a large plaza surrounded by three very important buildings: the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima and the Municipal Palace.
I was also told that this region of the Center of Lima was once quite a prominent neighborhood though it has since passed its hey day as the other buildings and establishments that were several streets away from Plaza Mayor looked to be in need of repairs and recovery.
At this point we found Casa de Aliaga, another place I highly anticipated visiting but I was so famished and tired that I decided to pass up what would inevitably another hour-long tour. This home is famed for belonging to Captain Aliaga back in the 16th century and is still the family home of the Aliagas. I will definitely have to return here some day as the pictures I’ve seen of it look opulent and elegant even by 21st century standards. Imagine how it must’ve been to live there back in the 16th century!
Alas, since we passed up touring Casa de Aliaga, we took a walk to Plaza San Martin. I can’t recall what historic important this plaza has aside from the fact that it is now used as a meeting spot for the citizens of Lima. Oh, and that it has a cafe nearby that serves a very traditional snack, the turron.
If you’re a sweet-lover, I came across this recipe which actually makes the turron look quite feasible. I only indulged in a few bites of crumbly, sticky anise-flavored turron as we headed over several more blocks to Lima’s Chinatown.
We headed to my fiancé’s favorite restaurant in Chinatown, Salon Capon to recuperate from a long day of sightseeing and walking.
There were only subtle differences in the flavor of the food here compared to the Chinese food I’ve had in Chinatowns in the US. I loved the beef & vegetable dish as well as the stir-fried rice dish, perhaps because it was surprisingly not that heavy and the flavors still incorporate Asian sauces to which I’m so accustomed to and on which I grew up eating. Fried rice is my vice.. all Asian eateries make it so that it’s just buttery-enough with rice that is perfectly dry so that finishing an entire dish is no hassle for one adult alone!
It was a thorough day of touring Lima – I was pooped by the time I returned home and assisted the fiancé with making Vietnamese spring rolls (which I believe was the first time my future in-laws’ family ever tasted these). The ribs, which had been slow-cooking all day in a Korean BBQ marinade we brought back from the US, were also ready to be devoured by dinner. All in all a successful day for the senses 🙂