Day 2 – Lima, Peru

Lima, for that matter all of Peru, is a city full of crazy taxi drivers. I don’t use the word crazy lightly. I’ve had to revise my opinion of NYC drivers. We’re relatively sane and law-abiding compared to Peru drivers.

There is no such thing as a pedestrian’s right of way. Automobiles rule the road. Traffic signals can be and are ignored time and time again, seemingly without any consequences to the drivers. I saw nary a car being pulled over for running a red light, cutting a car off, crossing the double yellow lines, tailgating, speeding, turning without signals, making illegal turns and basically driving recklessly.

The one and only time I saw a crossing guard!

Every time you step outside, you’re basically handing your life over to the traffic gods. Either you’re going to be in a horrific car wreck or not. Either you’re going to be run over or not. For the most part, the drivers will slam on the brakes just in the nick of time.

So, after the 5th time the taxi driver braked with an inch to spare, and the 3rd time we almost got run over, I just handed over my fate to God and relaxed. We had absolutely no control over it. Taxis were the local form of transportation. Or walking.

I did draw the line at at these. I mean what is this? Motor-tricycle?

How safe can these be?

These looked like a motorcycle cut in half and rigged to a rickshaw. Speedy enough to be dangerous and too flimsy to take much impact. But, it turned out that I would eat my words.

Anyway, we decided to head into Lima’s Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square. Every city, town, tiny village had a plaza de armas centrally located and flanked usually by a church and some important municipal buildings.

The Catedral de Lima.

The Government Palace.

Bright yellow seems to be a dominant color in Peru’s buildings. This is the other side of the plaza.

These indoor balcony over-hangs are a common feature of the Spanish colonial buildings. They are usually intricately carved and beautifully decorative.

Back at the plaza, we were taking some photos like typical tourists.

All of sudden we saw this demonstration.

We didn’t know what the protest was about, but the police were quick to move them away from the tourist crowd.  There were paddy wagons across the street, presumably waiting to take them.

I would have taken more pictures, but I didn’t know how Peruvian police felt about photos being taken.  It was a little shocking, but by no means violent.  It almost seemed coordinated.  One minute we’re taking pictures, the next there was a group of protesters in front of us and another minute the police are herding them off the main square.  Like it was all expected.

Anyway, we moved on to the Catedral de Lima. It began its life in 1535 as a small, humble adobe structure. Over the past 400 years, the cathedral went through several renovations and rebuilds due to severe earthquake damages. Clearly it is no longer a humble adobe structure.

Inside is reminiscent of other European cathedrals. High vaulted ceilings and intricate wood carvings.

This is the area for the choir.

One of many rooms devoted to a saint. I think this is Santa Rosa de Lima.

I know this is Mary. She is typically represented in Peru with a cone-shaped dress. She represents both Mary and the mother earth, the mountains, which was very important to the Incan converts.

Just another example of the intricate wooden carvings.

The tour guide kept emphasizing how most things in the church were made of wood. The frame. The pillars. Even the face of Santa Rosa and Mary are made of wood. I couldn’t help but think, one good fire and all of this would be lost!

Lastly, this cathedral is the finally resting place of the infamous Francisco Pizarro.

Here’s a depiction of the Conquistadors on the walls.

Pizarro’s coat of arms.

We saw some more burial vaults.

Nothing like seeing a bunch of skulls to make us realize that we were ready to move on.

Ah, how’s this for a change? Lima, is located on the desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I did not realize that Peru had desert, let alone that vast majority of the north-west coast is considered desert.  This is the Miraflores, Lima.  What a pretty name, right?  Flower’s view.

As you can see, the city of Lima is a few hundred feet above sea level. It allows for stunning view of the beach as well as perfect wind condition for paragliding.

We kept seeing gliders above us, but we didn’t know where they were launching from. I thought off one of the high-rise hotels, but nope.

Just right off the cliff!IMG_0420

Here they go.

Into the sunset.

*Sigh* So beautiful!

The light was changing rapidly with the sunset. One minutes it was sunny and beautiful.

And few moments later:

It was such a nice day.  Positively tranquile. I’ll leave you with the last images of the Miraflores.

So good have these beautiful images to counter the horror.

If you remember the itinerary, Day 2, unfortunately is not over. Stay tuned for mishap #2, scary moment #1 and my first fervent prayer in Peru.

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