I don’t know why I chose Peru. Maybe it was because I was coming down from the high of completing my first book. Perhaps it was because I needed to get away from the stress of worrying about my mother in Jamaica, getting frailer, while I was all the way in New York. What I know is that the suggestion came to climb Machu Picchu and I did not hesitate. It was an exciting challenge and I love a good challenge.
I arrived in Lima, Peru, two days before the planned hike. I wanted to experience some of the city before beginning the journey to Cusco and meeting the small group of people I was going to do the climb with. Although it was the middle of July, Lima was cool, cloudy, and overcast. The weather was good for walking and I managed to take in some sights.
I found the Parque del Amor on one of my walks around Miraflores, Lima. The park was opened in 1993 on Valentines Day. It is surrounded by walls of colorful mosaic tiles with flowers and romantic quotes scripted in them.
In the center of the park is an impressive statue of two lovers in a passionate embrace called El Beso (the Kiss). The statue sits prominently on top of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Kiss was sculpted by Peruvian, Victor Delfin.
I decided to catch a pose in front of a piece of romantic wall, maybe hoping some of that love would rub off on me.
You Don't Have to Go to Egypt to See a Pyramid
Another site that I passed, but could not get the full impact due to my limited time, was the Huaca Huallamarca step pyramid in the district of San Isidro. Located at the corner of Av. Nicolás de Rivera and Av. El Rosario, this restored pyramid of clay is a archaeological site which gives us a look back in time at the different Lima cultures that pre-date the Hispanic culture.
Said to have been built over 10,000 years ago, Huaca Pucllana was used as an administrative and ceremonial center for nomadic fishermen and farmers. Nomads from the ancient Lima culture built their camps in the area now known as Miraflores. Huaca Pucllana was used to perform ceremonies and hold banquets.
Wari nomads ventured down to Lima and lived side-by-side with the Lima nomads for some time. However, around 700 AD the Wari took control and transformed the site into a cemetery for their elite.
The name of Huallamarca refers to the tribe of the Huallas, who lived before the arrival of the Incas in the fertile valley of the Rímac River, which later became the capital of Peru.
My photographs are a limited viewpoint. There is a museum on the site, which I hope to one day visit.
The pyramid steps were not always exposed. They are said to have been covered with clay and painted yellow.
So Much to See, So Little Time
In downtown Lima is the Plaza Mayor. Standing large and serene is the Basilica Cathedral of Lima, or Lima Cathedral. A Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to St John, Apostle and Evangelist. The construction began in 1535 and finally completed in 1649.
The Church of Miraflores, built in 1939, is another beautiful structure located within the Central Parque Kennedy.
There are lots of small parks in the downtown area and I spent a short time enjoying the artifacts and serene gardens.
Two days is not really much time to see the depth of what the city of Lima has to offer its visitors. It is a city filled with history and culture and my next visit will definitely involve spending more than two days in Lima.
Lima is heralded as the "Gastronomical Capital of Latin America." I visited a small café in Miraflores and enjoyed my favorite dish, ceviche. But, when it came to partaking in Cuy, (Peruvian Guinea Pig), I was not up for the challenge.
Cuy is a traditional food that has been served whole on special occasions since Inca times.
This was a special occasion for the group as we were to depart for Cuzco in the morning for our arduous climb up Machu Picchu. I declined to try, but I was more than happy to play the part of server for the occasion.
There was much preparation to be done with the group. We were going to hike as a team. Each person was responsible for their own safety, but also be alert of their team members.
Our Chief Expedition Officer, Fernando, introduced us and asked us to share why we were on the trip. We talked about what would take place on the trip and how to make our climb exhilarating and fun. He gave us advice on how to pace ourselves and make the climb comfortable by staying hydrated, dry, and nourished.
We were admonished to have a good night’s rest as our journey to Cusco would begin early in the morning.
Next stop, Cuzco.