We're staying at the Buena Vista hostel for two nights. We lucked out: the owner of this hostel has often stayed for free at Apu Lodge, and vice versa, so we explained that we'd been volunteering there for six weeks, asked him for a discount for our stay, and he let us stay for free! It's a lovely hostel with a pet parrot named Lorenzo who is quite a character. A parrot is called a loro in Spanish. There are lots of wild birds in the city. We can hear flocks of parrots, morning doves, and "zap-zap" birds.
We went out to see the Catacombs and the Archaeological Museum today, but both were closed because it is Good Friday. Instead, we saw crowds of people in the Plaza de Armas, a.k.a. Plaza Mayor, celebrating their religious festival and a long weekend off work. The San Francisco cathedral was open, however. The religious have to walk a long way today, visiting seven different churches to represent the seven words spoken by Christ on the cross; they buy a little decoration of creatively woven palm leaves, sometimes with flowers, crosses and miniature statues incorporated, and have them "blessed" in each church. Then they wander up the hill outside of town to watch the re-enactment of the crucifixion.
We found that the Museum of the Inquisition as it manifested in Peru was open, and free, so we wandered in and took some photos of that.
Some Tripadvisor comments say that the public transit in Lima is "broken"; however, we found a great bus line up the main thoroughfare, called the Metropolitano. It looks pretty new, clean and comfortable, and there's a central hub underground which suggests that it will soon branch out from the main line. We paid 18 soles to take a cab to the square (cab drivers jack up the prices during "Holy Week", and on Good Friday), but only 4 soles to come back on the bus. We stood because the seats were filled, but it wasn't crowded or uncomfortable. We'd got on ahead of the crowd going home from the Plaza Mayor, and the passengers were friendly and helpful. They have a very confusing system of buying a "tarjeta" which then has to be recharged for each ride, but any number of people can ride on the same tarjeta, so other riders are quick to step forward and let visitors ride along on their tarjeta as long as they cover their own fare. This way the visitors don't have to purchase a tarjeta themselves. I hope that when the system matures the administration will consider ways to accommodate short stay tourist visitors as well. They could provide daily, week and monthly passes like Toronto's system does for visitors.
The only downside to the Buena Vista happened Saturday morning, when an small army of loud, inconsiderate young Frenchmen woke each other up at 6 a.m. by banging on doors and clomping up and down the stairs. They talked excitedly over each other all at once at the top of their inconsiderate voices in the courtyard at breakfast just below our window. They were so boorish I thought they might be Germans or Americans at first. I'd forgotten that these days it seems that Germans and Americans who actually travel are more aware of their earlier reputation. They are now more sensitive to foreigners and fellow travelers than the French, who rival the young Israelis in obnoxiousness when the Israelis take their free year of travel after their three years of compulsory military service. There's a great stereotyping synopsis - not nice of me, but I couldn't help reflecting that Peruvians would be like whispering monks at that hour of the morning, and the gentle Quechua people would never be that rude.
We weren't allowed to take photos inside the Franciscan monastery during our tour of the building and the catacombs below it. I'm not really sure why - there are tons of photos of it online already anyway, so here's a link to some of those images. They've estimated that 25,000 people were buried there.
The really horrifying thing about the Franciscan monastery wasn't the bones, however. It was the library, which looked like something out of Hogwarts, with dust everywhere and spiral iron staircases to the upper levels. There are 20,000 books on the shelves, some up to 500 years old, all rotting in the open air, with bookworm holes visible in the spines. There's been no attempt to protect them or share them with the rest of the world. Unbelievable.
I built a photo album of the pre-Colombian ceramics we saw in the national museum of archaeology, mostly for Laurence Wright who directed us there. Many other people will be amazed at their quality. Deborah was, having been a potter herself. For erotic Moche pottery, you'll have to view Google images, because we chose the national museum over the Larco museum where they are housed. Warning: this is a PG, X-rated link to how people had fun 2000 years ago, which, as it turns out, is not much different than today.
The red eye home to Toronto through New York was comfortable. Once again, LAN came out ahead in spades over American Airlines, in terms of food, service and comfort. I'd never hesitate to fly that airline.
Here in Toronto, it is snowing lightly, but forecast to warm up again in a couple of days with warmer weather blowing in from Edmonton. The internet was back on by the time we got home, but we're renegotiating our contract, and getting the phone service turned on. We had to call Bell on Skype, which felt strange. We dealt with four months of mail, got the vehicle insurance coverage restored, and took care of all our first-week-back details and chores.
And that's was it. We've "done Peru".