Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
28Trip End Mar 31, 2008
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The architecture was completely Arabic! When the Spanish chased the Moors from Spain in 1492 they must have gone to South America
Our guide told us that the unemployment rate was 40% and there was clearly severe underemployment with three or four people doing the job that one person in the US would do. The presence of jugglers, acrobats, water sellers, windscreen cleaners, and more at every traffic light was evidence of the desperation of many to make some money.
The central Plaza Mayor was very attractive with the Presidential Palace taking up one side. The presence of two armored personnel carriers at each side of the front was interesting.
The Spanish chose Lima as the site for their capital, although it was in a desert, because of the natural harbor, the pleasant climate, and the three rivers that flow down from the mountains. The total lack of rain however means that all the trees and vegetation have to be watered. And where there is no watering there are no plants. This makes many areas in Lima very ugly - also the dirt and dust from the desert sits on the buildings and is never washed off
We also went to the Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum, which is the largest private collection of Pre Columbian Art in the world. Unlike many museums, all of the collection is on view, in shelf after shelf of objects There are 45,000 pieces of, mostly Moche, fine textiles (over 300 threads per inch in some items), jewellery, and, most significantly, thousands of ceramic objects depicting the Moche in every aspect of their lives. The Moche (AD 200 - 700) lived along the northern coast of Peru. The pottery depicts diseases (including venereal, giving the lie to the story that the Spanish brought those diseases to America), surgery, architecture, transportation, music, religion, even explicit sexual practices. Intriguingly, some of the ceramics depict people with clearly negroid and asiatic features, some centuries before the Spanish came. The pottery and some of the textiles are almost completely intact having been buried several feet underground in graves in very dry conditions. Consequently they look almost new. The collection is housed in a beautiful modern building surrounded by a flower filled garden.