Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Lima, Peru: Day 1- Political Unrest

My day didn't start so well. I woke with a congested chest. I figured a hot shower might help but I couldn't get any hot water. How could an Airbnb superhost not have hot water? I shivered through my cleansing and jumped into warm clothes. John got up a half hour later and gleefully informed me that his shower was very hot...I had been turning the tap in the wrong direction. Arghhhhhh!

I am currently working on my Spanish. Being a true Canadian, today's word is "disculpe" which means sorry or excuse me.

We went to Manolo, a churreria/restaurant  for breakfast. We had omelettes and of course churros. Yum. Eighties music played in the background. I hear a lot of eighties music in Lima.

I am findingnding prices in Lima similar to prices in canada.

Today was cloudy and overcast and the temperature was 18 degrees Celsius. This is typical weather for Lima. It almost never rains but the winds from the ocean create almost constant clouds. 

We met up with a group for a pay what you want  walking tour of the historical centre. The company we used was Inkan Milky Way. Our guide had excellent English and was knowledgeable and interesting.

The tour met up in the Miraflores area where we are staying and took a public bus to the heart of the historic city. Bus fare is $2.50 Peruvian soles or $1.00 CAD.

Normally John and I would stay where most of the attractions are, but our research told us that although safe in the daytime, the historic centre was a bit sketchier at night.

The bus was interesting. I was very impressed by the locals in that they made a point to get up and give the elderly, infirmed, pregnant or parents with young kids their seat. Some people on our tour were not so considerate.

A lady waiting on the bus platform which is situated in the middle of the road, dropped a coin out of her purse which fell onto the road. A guy in his mid-twenties was walking down the street when he saw the coin drop. He went onto the road, picked it up and tossed it back to her.

When our group got off the bus in the historic centre, the road to the main plaza, Plaza Mayor was blocked by many police in riot gear with large shields.

I don't know if you heard yet, but Peru is in some political turmoil. The President was unhappy that his anti-corruption program was not being given priority and suspended the Congress until January when new elections will occur. The Congress felt that democracy was under attack and voted to suspend the President from any powers for a year and declared the Vice-President to be the new President. The old President says Congress cant do that because he already suspended them. So much disagreement all around with the result that Peru now has two Presidents. However the old President has the support of the police and army which explained why they were all out in force to quell any plans to demonstrate. 

As a result our guide spent much time trying to find streets around the police blockades so that we could still see the main sites even though we found we could not enter many of them.

I guess that means a visit to the presidential plaza is out. However we were still able to watch the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace from behind the barricades.

We did get to enter the Santo Domingo Church which had the skulls of two saints in their altar.

Eventually the tour had to end early due to the blockades. John and I then went into the
Convent of San Fransisco Church. The courtyard in front was filled with a massive number if cooing pigeons and vultures were sitting on the roof.

We took a tour of the still working Convent which currently has over 40 Franciscan monks. Photos are not permitted inside but it had a gorgeous two story library filled with 20,000 dusty books and a beautiful cloisters surrounded by collanades walled in Spanish tiles dating to the 1600s. 

The tour also took us into the largely unexplored catacombs under the church. A few excavations opened up some of the crypts and put the bones on display but most of the burial chambers containing centuries worth of remains are sealed.

There were many beautiful and ancient paintings including a large version of the last supper that had roasted Guinea pig on the menu.

We then headed to Plaza San Martin taking streets to avoid the police barricades. Many streets including major avenues were devoid of vehicles due to the barricades. Plaza San Martin is surrounded by many old and beautiful buildings.

I was really exhausted and feeling ill from my chest cold so we decided to rest up and have a late lunch/early supper at a Chifa restaurant. Chifa is a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian foods. I would have thought it was just Chinese food because I couldnt taste any Peruvian influence.

We caught the bus back to Miraflores where we picked up some herbal tea and food items on our way to our Airbnb.

Our host Victor lives on the premises which is an Art Deco building off Calle Tarata near  Kennedy Park. He is meeting with National Geographic tomorrow because his one of a kind jewellery pieces made from recycled glass and gold or silver may be chosen to represent Peru. The pieces he showed us were stunning. Victor has sold pieces to many famous people including Christina Applegate and Chris North (Big on Sex in the City and the husband on The Good Wife).

After we rested we walked around Miraflores area a bit more, walking through Kennedy Park which had an arts and crafts market. We admired some arches made from dried flowers and finally went into a beautiful church and sat in on a service, but had to leave because of my hacking cough. 

I hope a good night's sleep improves matters because there is so much more to see.

Walking tour: www.inkanmilkyway.com

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