Monday, May 14, 2001. Cloudy 65°
Unfortunately, it's not easy getting from Cusco to the Galapagos Island. First, you have to fly back to Lima and stay overnight. Then, it's onto Quito for another overnight stay. And, finally, on to the Islands. Although we only had to get to Lima today, we had another early 6:30 AM pick up to make the 8:00 flight. Once again there was construction in the little road in front of hotel and only cars could pass. So, the bus had to back down a steep incline to pickup our bags. To stop the car traffic, the driver merely piled a few stones in the roadway and the car drivers took a detour. By now we had the airport routine down pat. Our collection of bags had grown from 11 to 18. Wonder why? Unfortunately, it was very cloudy and we didn't see much of the Andes on our flight. Obviously, FAA ceiling limits don't apply.
Lima, PeruOnce in Lima, we were again met by representatives of Adventure Life. This time we got to see more of Lima and were very impressed. We all got a great laugh out of the condom billboard announcing “extreme protection,” and picturing a whole bunch of little sperm swimming upstream. We even spotted a Schneider truck. No mistake about it - Schneider orange and short wheelbase. Even the hotel looked better. The patio was beautiful with bougainvillea growing everywhere. The hotel recommended a great, but expensive but slow seafood restaurant called El Senior del Sulco in Miraflores, perched on the edge of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Pan American Highway. It had a wonderful collection of masks, gourds, urns, and plates. We couldn't see much of the ocean because it was shrouded in fog.
That afternoon we visited the famous Museo del Oro, the Museum of Gold. It houses a private collect of guns and had an absolutely stunning collection of Mochica Empire (100 AD to 800 AD) gold, silver, bronze ceramics, weavings, and mummies that predate the Inca Empire. In some ways we wish we could have seen it before visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu. It would have put things into a better perspective.
Ancient mask from PeruThe collection was gathered by a very wealthy Peruvian who bought from people who brought him “pretty things”. In other words, he bought from grave, tomb, and pyramid robbers. Further, if the owner collected one of something, he had twenty of it. Recently Peru changed the law to discourage grave robbers, but time will tell. On the good news side, the collection is in Peru and open to the public. On the bad news side, it has very little archeological value because the archeologists don't know where it came from and can't put the objects in context with other objects. The owner doesn't even have an archeologist on staff.
Because none of the artifacts in the museum had labels (which would have been in Spanish anyway), we hired a guide by the name of Ivan, a Peruvian of Japanese ancestry. He was very knowledgeable about the collection and fascinated by the hetero and homosexual erotic art of the Mochica. While pointing out the various erotic positions in the pottery, he kept grabbing his crotch.
Mochicha ArtifactUnlike other museums, Ivan was allowed to touch the artifacts. He even let us hold a 1,000-year-old vase that gives new meaning to the phrase, "If you break it, you bought it." He also subscribed to the version that some of the art was inspired by alien life forms. He pointed out all the images that looked like they were out of a Steven Spielberg movie - UFOs and four finger hands. He also liked to show that there must have been early contact between the Chinese and Mochica because some of the faces and mummies looked oriental, had facial hair and Fu Manchu mustaches, and ships that looked like Chinese junks. A recent discovery of a pyramid adds to the theory of early contact with Egyptians.
In addition to buying more souvenirs and jewelry, we bought a CD of Machu Picchu by a young woman of Japanese descent with blue eyes. Her eyes were so light, all you could see were the pupils. Eerie.
That night we met our Peruvian coordinator, Milagros Polo who took us to seaside restaurant. The advertising in the lobby said it had the largest buffet in the world. Seemed pretty puny and unimaginative to us. On the way back we stuffed ourselves into one small mini-van that gave rise to lots of jokes about how many Norte Americanos you can stuff into a bus. We were sure that the Peruvians were laughing at us.