LIMA, A VIBRATING CAPITAL
While strolling in Lima, the capital, they discover a dynamic city with certain charm. Constantly evolving, Lima is torn between modernity and tradition with, on the one hand, ultra contemporary architecture and on the other, colonial architecture or even pre-Columbian sites nearby.
In the evening, they go to the historic center of Lima, for a water and light show, the Circuito Magico del Agua, in the Parque de la Reserva. Superb!
The next day, they set off to explore the city’s monuments and museums accompanied by Cécilia, their French-speaking guide.
All the architectural styles are intertwined, without apparent logic, testifying to the multiple influences that have made Lima what it is today. The result is astonishing. The parks are numerous and the large central square, the Plaza de Armas (or Plaza Mayor), is magnificent with its palaces and its cathedral. In Lima, besides the pigeons, we see vultures flying, so señor!
Their visit ends with the Santo Domingo Convent and the National Museum of Anthropology, Archeology and History of Peru.
THE MYSTERY OF NAZCA
Wake up and early departure for our family who must go to Nazca. It’s off for an 8-hour coach ride on the Pan-American, which runs alongside the Pacific and ends at the end of Chile. The road is long. Fortunately, they are in a comfortable vehicle and the scenery is stunning.
Arrived in Nazca, they leave for the Maria Reiche Museum, a German archaeologist who has studied the Nazca lines all his life. It was Paul Kosok, an American scientist who discovered the lines in 1939, during a flight over the area. He then believes that these broad lines and figures drawn on the ground constitute an elaborate irrigation system.
In 1994, Unesco declared this impressive and mysterious site a World Heritage Site. Even today, the mystery surrounds the place and gives birth to many theories, some of which, far-fetched, suggest a landing strip for aliens! On the site, there are also “Ojos de Agua”, wells built by the Nazcas, a pre-Incaic civilization. Today, these wells are still used by the population.
The flight over the lines was scheduled for the next day, unfortunately, an unfavorable wind got the better of their program. Never mind. They visit the cemetery of Chauchilla whose mummies are very well preserved. Around the mummies, there are pottery filled with corn, shells and hallucinogenic substances for the long journey.
On the road, they see cactus plantations in which the cochineal, a small insect used by the pharmaceutical or cosmetic industry, is “raised”. This is the “red gold” of Nazca.
WE GET HEIGHT AT AREQUIPA
After 9 hours of driving and still stunning landscapes. Denis and his family arrive at night in Arequipa, the white city located at an altitude of 2,300 meters. In fact, the next day, the altitude teases our travelers who are not feeling very well, so that there are only two of them to visit Arequipa. For the others, rest is compulsory because, soon, they will be perched at 3800 meters!
Located in the heart of one of Peru’s wildest regions, Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city founded by the Spaniards. It is called “the white” because of the clear volcanic stone (the sillar) that makes up buildings and makes them shine in the sun. The impressive Plaza de Armas, the superb churches and colonial houses that can be found throughout the city reflect this unique architecture.
At the central market they discover exotic fruits, different vegetables and a wide variety of potatoes. But even more unusual: frog juice! According to Peruvians, this juice is excellent for health and would boost physical and mental capacities. Hmmmm! Buen provecho! A little further, towards the stalls specializing in plants, herbs and other natural products, they see Lama fetuses that people buy to make an offering to their gods or saints. Something unusual again!
After the market, they go to the Sainte Catherine Convent, a magnificent religious building. Today around thirty nuns who have taken a vow of silence live there. In the past, the convent has welcomed up to 500 nuns! For some of them, it was a refuge that protected them from a harder life. This is still somewhat the case today …
HIKING ON THE ALTIPLANO
The next morning, the whole family wakes up with difficulty: headaches, nausea, vomiting, they still did not get used to the altitude. And to think that they are leaving Arequipa for a long and high hike over 4000 meters in the Altiplano. But the landscapes are worth it! Snow-capped peaks all around, herds of llamas, vicuñas and alpacas running through the steppe, ponds, women in colorful traditional clothes … But at the start of the afternoon, vomiting and dizziness forced them to return to the hotel.
The manager of the hotel advises them a doctor. To get them back on their feet, he gives them shock treatment: respiratory assistance for half an hour, anti-vomiting, anti-nausea … Something to feel better.