Cusco-Lima / Cerro Azul-Lima
We arrived in Cusco on Good Friday or Semana Santa as it is known here. From the moment we stepped off the combi, we knew something was different. It was so quiet! There were hardly any cars or people in the street and around the Plaza de Armas was very quiet too.
This was to be short lived as dusk arrived. Thousands of folks made their way into and around the plaza as a large procession marched through the streets. There was a band playing very somber musica followed by a group of older women dressed in maroon, followed by 10 men carrying a glass coffin with Jesus tucked neatly inside. But wait! Here comes yet another band, playing more somber musica & yet more folks carrying candles followed by 10 or so more men carrying a very large Virgin Maria complete with a red neon rosary dangling from her hands. We watched for a time but it was a very very slow procession, so decided to head out for dinner.
Later that night (and I mean later as Rod was asleep), I heard ethereal voices singing and a band go by our hostal. It was the same procession making its' way around all the barrios of Cusco! Up hills, down side streets and by small Iglesias we found evidence of the procession the next day in the form of flowers on the streets. Fantastic!
On our return to Cusco we stayed in a very cool hostal called the Ninos Hotel. The hostals (there are 2), support an amazing non profit org started by a Dutch woman that has grown over the past 17 years to now provide programming and meals for over 600 children identified in need of nutritional & emotional support. The majority of these children (ages 6-12), are living in Cusco, but they also support approximately 100 children in an outlying small mountain pueblo. Children come to the centre for the morning or afternoon, depending on when their school classes start. They are provided with dental care, regular medical checks, homework tutor, PE classes, access to twice weekly hot showers, and of course nutritious food and snacks. We had a tour of both sites and were blown away by the extensive program and commitment of the staff. There really are fantastic supportive programs and dedicated people in many many places in Peru (and the world) that support the "pebble in the pond" philosophy I so love.
We decided to fly back to Lima as the bus would take 22 hours! No thanks, we had more than enough overnite bus rides and wanted to enjoy our final week without ironing out body wrinkles.
In Lima, we were able to return to the first hostal we stayed in. Francesco and Carmen are a delightful couple and so welcoming. We were greeted like we were coming home-such a treat. We enjoyed 2 nites in their home hanging out in the kitchen chatting over coffee en la mañana and vino en la noche.
We decided to spend a couple of our remaining days at the beach, but not really knowing which beach. Carmen was so helpful providing info on places and offering to phone ahead for us if needed. We finally decided on Cerro Azul, a beach community about 2 hours south of Lima. We had no real info about the community or available accommodation, another adventure in the making for sure!
The bus dropped us at the highway and we walked toward what we hoped was the sea. Wow! What a sight awaited us; blue-green water, fine cream sand and craggy rocky outcrops with pounding surf. Spectacular. The town however was very quiet as it is now the beginning of autumn in Peru. What this meant for us was VERY limited restaurant choices. For breakfast, we stumbled on a sweet little cafe that served the most amazing "bowls" of fresh fruit juice and fried egg sandwiches- ah heaven. On the big screen TV in the corner we were witness to a classical orchestra conducted by a flamboyant Dutch violinist playing in various countries. Turns out it was the owners DVD and when we returned the following morning for breakfast guess what the waitress plugged in for our breakfast enjoyment?! Yup, all over again.
After 2 days of long beach walks, novel reading and a visit to the local municipal Museo, we headed back to the highway to pick up a bus back to Lima.
Which is where I now sit writing this final entry.
Yesterday we headed deep into Centro Lima to the Galleria de Arte and the San Francisco Iglesias and Catacombs. Both wonderful but the monastery and catacombs were definitely thought provoking. The colonial architecture in Lima Centro is worthy of more exploration but....another time.
Today we wandered around Miraflores enjoying a latte, doing some last minute shopping and transitioning.
I will miss the Peruano people, the Spanish language, the Andes, the sea and of course the culture. We have learned a lot about the history of this country, but still only scratched the surface. We have spent 3 months travelling around this large country, but still only scratched the surface.
Adios Peru, gracias por sus hospitalidad. Te queremos.
Living in Peru for 3 months would not have been so easy if it wasn't for the gracious and kind acts of many who helped maintain things in Nanaimo and else where. A huge thanks to: Amy, Lee and Brenda for taking care of our home and Per for looking after Luana. Also a huge thanks to Mary and Ger who were kind enough to house us in Vancouver and drive us about prior to and following our adventure. Thanks to all of you!