I figured I should wrap up trip-related posts before I completely got absorbed back into “real life”, and lost all sense of what the trip was like.
On our second last day, a Saturday, for the evening’s entertainment we headed to Parque Reserva, which houses a very nice set of fountains. At night, these are all lit up, and the performance of a few is even choreographed to music. It was spectacular! – I really wish we had something like this in Ottawa. More than a dozen fountains, all quite large (some spectacularly so), all lit up in various colours. A few were even of the type that you could walk through- the large circular one, with concentric circles of fountains which kept turning on and off so you could walk through, and surprise jumping jets, was particularly popular with the teenagers. If you didn’t make it while the fountains were off, you got a little bit wet – but there were also some kids who were running through them the whole time with complete abandon, fully soaked. I did a round of running through to the middle, but Dan was too chicken and stayed outside.
Earlier in the day, we had visited the St. Franciscan Monastery in downtown Lima. What a treat! We got to visit the ground as well as the catacombs – and this is on Halloween day, no less! The catacombs had been used as a cemetery from the time the monastery was built in the 16th century until 1880, with some 25,000 bodies buried. Later, it was reopened, all the bodies exhumed, the bones sorted by type, and displayed in geometric arrangements in the former graves (up to 4 m deep, where coffins had been stacked one on top of the other). Now THAT would have been a gruesome job.
The ceilings in the monastery were made of exquisitely carved wooden tile, and there were many wood carvings present on the chairs, benches, and other various furniture. The library was packed with tens of thousands of volumes, mostly from the 16-18th century. The library room itself was quite stereotypical – long and narrow, with the gallery of the second floor running around the outside of the room, and little spiral staircases leading up to it. The books just looked so old! On display they also had a few very large Gregorian chant books – text and a few simple note sequences. These were placed on a sort of lazy-Suzan holder in the choir room, and rotated slowly so all could see. Genius!
Our last day was Sunday, and what we didn’t realize is that in the evening, most places (including restaurants) are closed even in Lima. However, the rest of the day more than made up for this. In the morning, we headed down to the beach near Miraflores, where we were among the first sun-worshippers and surfers. We walked down to the end of a rock quay, and sat in silence for a while, staring out at the swells, trying to spot the crabs among the rocks and seaweed below, and admiring the paragliders soaring above. Very peaceful (but windy) – why can’t we have an ocean in Ottawa??
The ice cream snack wasn’t enough to sustain us for very long, so we soon left to find lunch. We headed to Barranco, another upscale neighbourhood bordering the beach. We found the mall we were told about, and it was spectacular – set into the top of the cliff, with all the restaurants facing the ocean, spread across 4 or more terraced levels. And all outdoors. Fantastic! We picked a restaurant at random, and while it was windy on the patio, we sat out – when again would we have a chance to sit on a patio, either outside or facing the ocean? The setting was spectacular. The food also held its own – my 3-soup sampler plate was delicious, with a ton of seafood, and the soups were more like stews. Dan’s stuffed sea bass was nothing short of incredible – I was truly jealous of his meal. Shared over a couple of Cristal, this was a memorable lunch, and a great way to wrap up this trip.
Dan is very happy to be home. I’m glad to be home, but do wish we could have travelled for longer. I guess maybe it’s unusual that if I know it’s not forever, I’m just as comfortable hauling a backpack through a crowd of pushy peddlers as I am getting dressed to the nines at home and going to the opera. I enjoy the hot showers and clean toilet at home, but I don’t crave it as badly as one would think when I’m on the road. It’s ok to let go of these comforts for a while. They’ll still be there when I come back.
Overall, I’m happy with this trip. There are things I would do differently, and there are things we didn’t see/do that I wish we had, but as a whole, it was a fantastic and awing trip. I discovered that Spanish is within reach. [Aside: how many countries does THAT open up?!] We reached some great heights (quite literally) and learned to work with each other’s travelling styles. I declare this a successful honeymoon.