Thursday, 9 July 2009


is where I am now, having taken an overnight bus on Tuesday evening. On Monday in Lima I went to the monastery of San Francisco, which had some impressive catacombs and a library with books dating back to the arrival of the Spanish - a real sense of (dusty) history there.

On Tuesday I visited the Museo de la Nación, which had exhibits on all of the different pre-Columbian cultures in Peru. However, the best bit was an exhibition on the 20 years of terrible violence between 1980-2000, as the government essentially waged a war against groups like the communist Shining Path. Funded by the EU and Peru´s Truth and Reconciliation commission, it was a powerful exhibit of photographs and testimonies. I hadn't realised that over 69,000 people were killed during that time. The bleakness of the subject matter blended well with the museum's stark concrete architecture, and while it did not shy away from the brutality, everything was sensitively handled. The big problem is that atrocities were committed by both sides (though there is no question that the Shining Path was the root of the problem, and more destructive than the government).

I feel like I could write a lot about Lima - it lacks the overwhelming European feel of Buenos Aires (from what I have heard), but is a fascinating mix of Spanish and indigenous cultures, of global brands and distinctly Peruvian street food. You probably need a long time to get to know it properly. As a final note, I didn't feel threatened once, despite all the bad stories you hear.

I managed to sleep the whole way to Trujillo - a first!

The city feels very colonial, with plenty of old mansions painted in blocks of primary colours. Around it, in the desert, there are stacks of ancient ruins. I by chance ended up spending yesterday with a friendly Austrian guy called Marcus, and with him went to the ruins at Chan Chan, a huge adobe city from about 1400 AD. More impressive, however, was the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) of the Moche civilisation that I saw this morning. It dates from between 100 and 800 AD and still has the most amazing painted friezes and sculptures. It made me realise that the rest of the world is unaware that Peru's history is about a whole lot more than the Incas.

This afternoon, I'm being less cultural and going to the beach, before getting a bus north to Chiclayo.

No comments:

Post a Comment