|"El Beso" ("The Kiss") by Victor Delfin dominates Lima's|
oceanfront Parque del Amor (Love Park).
"El Beso" is basically a copy of a sculpture at Delfin's home.
We were told by Delphin's daughter, Lilian Delphin, that the mayor of
Lima asked Delfin to make a larger version and to design a park around it.
Delfin modeled the small park on Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell in
Barcelona, complete with curving concrete walls decorated with mosaics.
We got to meet Delfin , still very active in his 80s, and to see his
studio when we stayed at his oceanfront Barranco home, part of which Lilian
has turned into an art-filled bed and breakfast called Second Home Peru.
Click HERE for its website.
|You may notice that the mayor gets more credit for|
the park than the artist who designed it.
Lima was not the point of our month-long fall 2014 trip to Peru, which began with curiosity about touring Peru's part of the Amazon aboard a riverboat. But you cannot go to Peru without passing through Lima, and a bit of research convinced us that it deserved at least a few days. As it turned out, we had four distinct stays in Lima, starting with three nights at the new Hilton Miraflores (click HERE for website) when we first arrived in the country. After 12 days in the Andes and elsewhere, we returned for one night at the Swissotel (click HERE for website) arranged by International Expeditions prior to our seven-night Amazon cruise. The Swissotel is in the San Isidro financial district in a gated compound that must date back to when Peru was dealing with the Shining Path terrorists. After the cruise, we were back in Lima for one night at Second Home Peru, in the somewhat bohemian Barranco district, before going to the beach town Paracas for three nights, after which we returned to Second Home Peru. This B and B is mentioned in a photo caption above as sharing the home of the artist Victor Delfin.
During our first stay we found our way to the Museo Larco, a museum devoted mainly to Pre-Columbia pottery (click HERE for earlier posting). This is the one must-see destination in Lima.
That evening, a Friday, we walked a few blocks from the Hilton to Jazz Zone, a second-floor music club (click HERE for website) where a ten-member band cranked out loud and lively salsa. It was amazing to see how dancers of all ages could practically twirl their rear ends.
Another highlight of our first stay in Lima was a visit to Huaca Pucllana, a huge adobe pyramid in Miraflores built by what is called the Lima culture between 200 and 700 A.D. You can tour the structure, which is in the process of being restored or at least preserved, only with a guide (included in the entrance fee; click HERE for website). There's a similar but smaller pyramid in the San Isidro district called Huaca Huallamarca. The guide explained that in the Lima culture, whenever a new ruler took over, the previous center of government would be covered with soil and a new citadel built atop it. Each ruler wanted to be closer to the heavens than the previous ruler, leaving today's archaeologists a layer cake that traces the history of the people there. The guide also explained that Lima's original residents didn't put roofs on their homes -- with less than an inch of rain a year, there was no need. Although Lima can experience humidity and even misty conditions, it's essentially a city without rain. Things can get kind of dusty, but ancient adobe structures are not likely to disappear due to erosion, either.
When we were next in Lima, almost two weeks later, International Expeditions took our riverboat group on a tour of Central Lima and its Plaza Major, home of the city's cathedral and the nation's presidential palace (not open to visitors), before we flew northeast to the Amazon. The cathedral is the burial place of Franciso Pizzaro, the Spaniard who made the Incas cough up a room full of gold to ransom their emperor and then killed him. (Pizzaro himself was eventually assassinated by one of his countrymen.) We also visited the 1500s convent San Franciso (no photography allowed) and its bone-filled catacombs, similar to but smaller than the catacombs in Paris.
|This is a detail of a very large work at MAC.|
It consisted entirely of white men in military
uniforms and other costumes that conveyed
authority throughout Peruvian history,
all saying "Tomorrow."
On the walk back, at the border between Miraflores and Barranco we visited the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, known as MAC (click HERE for website). There was more humor and joy de vivre in the works we saw there than we see in contemporary galleries in the U.S. The next day, back in Barranco, we visited a very small museum called MATE (click HERE for website), set up by the Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino and devoted entirely to his work, including photos he took of Princess Diana in what turned out to be her last photo shoot. One of the gowns she wore is also on display.
What else to say about Lima? There are a number of good handicraft shops in Barranco, higher-end shops are in Miraflores, taxis are cheap, you don't need Yelp to find a decent meal, and you're not likely to feel unsafe in the evening walking in Miraflores or Barranco. Even with a population of 10 million, Lima is not a "world city" like New York or Paris or Buenos Aires, but it is a vibrant, sophisticated urban center with a lot to offer visitors.