Happy Father’s Day from Peru

Father’s Day might not be until tomorrow, but as the vast majority of our readers will be receiving the blog post tomorrow, we figured it would make sense to make today’s post a tribute to our dads.  How?  By highlighting the the parts of our day that our dads would most enjoy if they were here!

We spent our Saturday exploring Lima Central, the historical heart of the city.  We began by taking a taxi from Miraflores to the northernmost part of L.C., with the intent of walking back down to the southernmost tip.  From start to finish, here are our stopping points:


The Plaza de Armas is the birthplace of modern Lima.  It was established by Francisco Pizarro in the sixteenth century, and was the capital of the Spanish Empire in Peru for centuries.  Unfortunately, none of the original colonial buildings are left (most likely due to earthquakes in the intervening four hundred years), but the plaza itself is still a beautiful place, surrounding by palatial structures: El Palacio Arzobispal (the Archbishop’s Palace), the Catedral de Lima, and the Palacio de Gobierno (Peru’s White House equivalent).  None of these buildings are open to the general public, obviously, but they are great examples of faux-colonial architecture, and all three lent an air of majesty to the plaza.


In the middle of the plaza was a grand fountain. It added to the air of majesty around its vicinity until we realized that the gargoyles were humping.


We wandered through the various alleys surrounding the square and emerged to a strange view: colorful houses crowded together on the distant mountain. We wondered how the people managed to come down the mountain for food or medicine, or if they ever did.

After some more wandering, we came upon a local taster’s market, where we naturally stopped to get some food.  Each of us decided to sample traditional Peruvian delicacies, but Cindy was easily the most daring.  She helped herself to some Picante de cuy, otherwise known as guinea pig.  I sampled some myself, and came to the same conclusion as Cindy: guinea pig really isn’t all that different from chicken (with a stronger aftertaste).  Initial reactions were very positive.




Now fully fed, we decided to resume wandering, and hit our next big stop.


When Pizarro arrived in Peru in the 1530s intent on conquest, he knew that the quickest and easiest path to victory relied on the prompt capture of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa, who was revered by his people as a virtual god (the son of the sun).  To achieve this end, Pizarro arranged a meeting with Atahualpa.  It is probably true that both men intended to double-cross the other.  Atahualpa arrived with thousands more men than Pizarro could ever hope to muster.  Pizarro arrived with superior weaponry, and we all know how that particular story ends.  The captured Atahualpa offered Pizarro an unimaginable ransom: he promised to fill a 22 by 17 foot room with treasure three times to a height of more than eight feet (once with gold and twice with silver).  Pizarro accepted the terms, and executed Atahualpa after receiving the treasure.  Instrumental in the decision to betray Atahualpa was the Dominican friar Vicente de Valverde, who received the land to build the Iglesia San Domingo as a reward.  The church is now most famous for being the resting place of three Peruvian saints: San Juan Macias (who counseled the needy), Santa Rosa de Lima (a total fanatic renowned for her visions), and San Martin de Porres (South America’s first black saint).  The skulls of Santa Rosa and San Martin are still enshrined at the Iglesia San Domingo, at a shrine just to the right of the main altar.


(Insert from Cindy: Yay skulls! …But frankly, they give me the creeps)

After leaving the Iglesia, we headed down Lima Centro to Plaza San Martin, stopping at various museums along the way.  First, we headed to a culinary museum, founded by the same cooking school that we had eaten the guinea pig with earlier in the day.  Guinea pigs continued to be a theme in this museum, complete with a picture of Jesus and the  Apostles at the Peruvian version of the Last Supper, happily feasting on guinea pig!  In quick succession, we hit up museums featuring the life story of Peruvian hero Bernarndo O’Higgins (whose multicultural name gave us all a laugh), a key figure in the Peruvian independence movement, and a museum documenting the history of photography in Peru.  Finally, we reached the Plaza San Martin.


I wonder if the culinary school is committing blasphemy…



The museum showcased slice-of-life photos from the streets of Peru in decades past, so Cindy decided to take a slice-of-life photo with Briana!


Plaza San Martin is named for the liberator of Peru, Jose San Martin, who is featured in the center of the plaza astride an enormous horse.  This statue is particularly charming because of its addition of the Madre Patria at the base (the Madre Patria is the symbolic mother of Peru).  The statue was commissioned in Spain, where the sculptor was instructed to give her a crown of flames.  Unfortunately, the word for flame in Spain is llama, and the confused sculptor ended up crowning the poor Madre with a miniature llama rather than a crown of flames!

(4) PLAZA 2 de MAYO

Our next stop, the Plaza 2 de Mayo, was built to commemorate a battle fought in Callao on the 2 of May, 1866, against the Spanish Armada.  It was designed to imitate the elegance of Parisian architecture.  All of the buildings in the plaza are the same shade of bright blue (which I found very pretty), for reasons unknown to Cindy’s guide book.


Like the Plaza 2 de Mayo, the Plaza Bolognesi is a monument to war, in this case, the soldier Francisco Bolognesi, hero of the Battle of Arica (a key battle in the War of the Pacific, in which Bolivia and Peru fought Chile for the control of several mineral rich parts of Bolivia and Peru that Chile desired).  The buildings in this plaza were all painted the same shade of orange (a lot less lovely than the blue from above), once again for reasons unknown.


At the Parque de la Cultura, we stumbled upon a Festival for Children’s Rights.  It was both really cute and really bizarre.  Several mascots wandered around in garish costumes, so over the top as to be slightly intimidating (for those of you who dislike clowns, I’m sure these mascots would have inspired similar feelings of revulsion).  We were pretty tired by this point, and we still wanted to get one last stop in, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time hanging around the festival.  Instead, we headed to the Parque de la Reserva, to see the Circuito Magico del Agua.



This was absolutely my favorite part of the day, and I think it would have been my dad’s favorite part as well.  According to Cindy’s guidebook, the Circuito is “so over-the-top it can’t help but induce stupefaction among even the most hardened traveling cynics.”

The Circuito is comprised of 12 enormous fountains: The Fuente Magico (Magic Fountain), Fuente de la Fantasia (Fantasy Fountain), Fuente de la Ilusion (Fountain of Illusions – as Briana would say, the only illusion is the idea that the fountain is too small to spray anyone, as we all found out the hard way), Fuente Tunel de la Sorpresas) (Tunnel of Surprises Fountain), Fuente Laberinto del Ensueno (Labyrinth of Dreams Fountain), Fuente de la Vida (Fountain of Life), Fuente de las Tradiciones (Fountain of Traditions), Fuente Rio de los Deseos (Fountain of the River of Desires), Fuente de los Ninos (Children’s Fountain), Fuente Arco Iris (Rainbow Fountain), Fuente de la Armonia (Fountain of Harmony), Fuente Tanguis (Tanguis’ Fountain), and Fuente Cupula Visitable (I don’t know how to translate this, but you basically can stand under the arc of the water without getting wet).  Anyway, there is no real way to describe these ridiculous fountains, so I’ll let pictures do my talking for me:

Cindy ran into the Fuente Laberinto del Ensueno and got happily soaked (to her parents: she went home and immediately took a hot shower, so she’s not ill from the water adventure).


Lauren and Briana went through the tunnel fountain! (not sure what that was called)

And…still more fountains.

And despite the large number of photos we’ve put into this blog post, there are many many more from today. Do check out all our Facebooks for more food, fountains and beauty. Lima is an amazing city.

Lauren: If my dad were here, I think he would have particularly loved the Fuente Laberinto del Ensueno, because you get to run into it.  Of course, he is too mature to run into fountains in his clothes, but I think he would have enjoyed pushing other people in.  He probably would have also enjoyed the Fuente de la Armonia, because it was shaped like a triangle, and you couldn’t even tell at first that the triangle was made out of water – it looked a lot more solid than that.  As someone who has traveled with him while he points out all the ‘cool’ architectural sights, I feel confident that he would have enjoyed this watery triangle!  Happy Father’s Day 🙂

Cindy: I think my dad would have most enjoyed the taster’s market early in the day. We both love food, and he’s very open to trying strange new cuisine. For example, he once ordered dog while we were in China and pushed me to try some because hey, it was already dead and my refusal to partake wasn’t going to bring it back to life. I don’t remember what it tasted like, but happy father’s day! Thanks for pushing me to explore – the guinea pig was chewy and delicious.

Briana‘s asleep right now, but we can ask her tomorrow what her dad would’ve liked most about today.

We have no idea what we’re going to be doing tomorrow, but it’ll probably be fabulous.  Look forward to another blog post on Sunday, and possibly a surprise post to make up for our delay yesterday!


Posted on June 17, 2012, in GROW Trip 2012 Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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