So, my journey begins…
Lima is made welcome by Julio and the Karikuy crew. Arrived with a little overwhelm, sensations of excited nerves, the unknown, of what will come. A sprawling city of 8 million, I am feeling the need for human connection and glad that I found it today. Traveling alone, this journey of mine is all about trust and finding a good direction, and glad to say so far, so good – I hope you´ll share some of it with me here, I´ll try to keep it interesting with a mix of descriptive details, travel stuff, personal highlights and impressions, all that I can squeeze in, while jumping on and off-line.
New to the country, I am full of niggling questions. I want to fill up on history, to get as much information as I can. Realising my own ignorance is frustrating and exciting; knowing how much there is to explore in being here. I may have driven my companions crazy with questions today, all the what´s where´s how´s why´s. As I suspected, my questions turn in on myself, on what it means to be another gringo on the SA trail, and no doubt some of that will surface as I make my way.
We began the day taking in the Baroque Cathedral of San Francisco, a monastery finished in 1674 replete with ancient catacombs, the resting place of thousands of ´brothers´. A strong Colonial Catholic weight to the place, an eerie quality to walk amongst the dead, subterranean skulls and bones, and stiffling air – tourists sneeking pictures like naughty children.
The conventions of Christianity travel and take on essentially the same face across continents. The suffering Christ, the pious gestures, the gravity of these religious spaces where voices lower and eyes turn upward. Fine detailed craftwork – tiling, carving, painting, carpentry slowly decaying in this place. Impossible not to feel a little transported back in time, and reflect on the transplanting of culture upon culture and all that has come with it. Can´t help feel a little confusion, are we admiring the architecture, questioning history, contextualising the past to present? What does this place represent, if anything? Don´t find many of my questions adressed on our brief and happy-facts tour, but the guide is sweet and we are probably one of 25 she´ll do today.
Lunch by the sea in the samba district of Callao, cerviche por cinco personas, con cerveza = muy bueno. Afternoon at the Museo de la Nacion, a huge concrete structure with artefacts from Pre-Columbian, Incan, Contemporary Peruvian history. The ceramics are rich and varied in form, decoration, humour, along with many other artefacts like the Quipu, an elaborate system of knotted ropes used as a communication tool by the Incas, pre-written language.
The most compelling of all was an exhibition of photojournalism documenting the recent political upheavel in Peru. The violent unrest between 1980 -2000, when the country suffered huge loss of life in brutal conflict. The imagery, the stories, the very real and current hardship of so many has landed me here now, and I feel like I am carrying a more well-rounded perspective of Peru. Beyond the ancient wonders and natural beauty – which I look forward to experiencing, I am awake to the shadow of the recent past. It was intense today to be hit with this; as Julio said, most Peruvians choose not to dwell on it – let the past rest, and for now, so will I.
Sleep is calling. Second night on Peruvian soil, may dreams be unburdened and tomorrow open up new possibility.