What was once a month in Lima is now merely a couple days, and it’s been a great time. For me, traveling is not just about seeing places, but experiencing them, and the Perupedia volunteer opportunity is effectively geared toward this aim. I quickly adapted to life in the Planeta barrio of Cercado de Lima, with it’s corner markets, street vendors, friendly neighbors, vagabond animals, rushed combis…everything. However it’s been a week or so since last post, and I should be updating on what’s transpired, right?
The project continues to expand, new content uploaded daily. We have most of the quirks worked out on some formatting issues and picture file manipulation, so the pages are mostly ready for final tweaking. Some big triumphs for completely inexperienced computer coding hacks.
The past week wasn’t just in front of the computer though, in fact far from it. A new volunteer, Jenny Sherman, arrived last week. You can read all about her adventure in getting here over on her blog post. After her ordeal on the bus, and a quick couple of work days, we decided to trek up north to Caral and Casma where Julio has some family, and they were very gracious in hosting us. Caral (a 3hr bus ride from Lima) has been cited as the oldest civilization in the Americas. It’s a group of broken down pyramid shaped terraces, that were used mainly for administrative functions and worship. The road to the ruins from the town was under construction and the site had some very new looking structures built, with a lot of empty stalls presumably for vendors. It has been under archaeologist care since the mid 90s but I guess they figure tourism to really increase there now.
Afterward, we took another 3hr bus further north to Casma where Julio’s family greeted us and took us to dinner and a disco. Unfortunately I had been battling slight fever and headache for a few days, presumably side effects from my yellow fever vaccination, and wanted to rest up for the ruins on Sunday, so I had to take it a bit easy. I’m sure the little town was devastated not to be privy to the full spectacle of my dancing ability, but oh well.
The ruins near Casma were smaller than Caral, but the structure itself was more interesting I thought. The entire outer wall is adorned with etchings, depicting somewhat of a violent culture perhaps, with several decapitated heads and what looked like bleeding from the eyes. There is also a little museum there with some older artifacts and pottery. The pottery is more impressive when I think back and compare to what I was able to produce in high school art class with modern materials. One of the more memorable sights of the little town was all the moto-taxis; basically the front half of a motorcycle pulling a little cart for passengers. They must have comprised at least 90% of the transportation. I first found 3 passengers fit snugly, then 4 snuglier, and the last ride uncovered that 5 was snugliest. I don’t think you want to test the limits further than that.
Also this week, I realized I had not seen all the standard sites yet in Lima, so I made it a point to get around a bit more. We went to the water fountain park, which I believe holds the Guiness World Record as being the largest, and took a little tour of the city this past Wednesday. As Tanya mentions in her blog, we visited some church catacombs, Museum of the Nation, and a few other districts in Lima capped off with dinner in Chinatown. The museum is set up a bit oddly, the different floors used partially and somewhat randomly for exhibits, office space, and nothing. The top floor seemed to be nothing, so we decided to “explore” a little bit and found roof access which offered a nice view of the city. There aren’t many tall buildings here as earthquakes have been a problem, but I snagged one in the background.
Overall, Peru has been good to me. I’ve met a lot of great people along the way, very welcoming and encouraging of future visits. I’m not sure I’m ready to completely desert the desert of Lima though. Combined with the vast diversity of landscapes and adventures to be found throughout Peru, a return here may be more of a when than an if.