Yes, that’s correct. Most people wouldn’t link them together, but those were the two main themes that emerged from our glorious day in Lima.
We started our city tour at the Plaza de Armas, the site of the presidential place and the Cathedral of Lima. Certain areas of the city adopted many architectural features of European countries, particularly Spain (thanks to Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador, who laid waste to the Incan empire and brought the Inquisition in the 16th century), and the buildings surrounding the plaza boast beautiful balconies in the Moorish style reminiscent of Sevilla.
We ambled along to the monastery of Santo Domingo where we became acquainted with three of Peru’s saints, all of which have strange relics displayed on site. But they weren’t of much interest to me – as a heathen I have no use for such stories of miracles. What was of interest, however, were the lovely cloisters, which like the buildings on the nearly Plaza de Armas, reminded me of the sites I had visited in Sevilla a few years ago. Indeed, we learned that the tiles adorning the exterior walls of the cloisters were imported from that Spanish city in the early 17th century.
Having had my fill of traditional religion for the day, I was happy to arrive at the Museo Larco, which for me is easily one of the most unique museums I’ve visited anywhere. Why, you ask? It is the home of one of the largest collections of pre-Columbian art and artifacts in the world. It also serves as a potent reminder that there were civilizations in Peru that predated the Incas by thousands of years (hello Wari, Moche and Nazca cultures, among others) and helped pave the way for the Incas to accomplish as much as they did in the short time (90 years) they ruled the land.
But most notable, however, is that a sizable portion of the collection is devoted to erotic sculptures. That’s right. Who needs the Incas when you have a civilization 5,000 years old that venerated sex as a means to both encourage the propagation of the human species and convey the importance of fertilizing Mother Earth in the afterlife by the release of sperm through masturbation? Sounds like these Peruvian ancestors venerated sex as a form of religion. Equally fascinating – the artists realized, even then, that women were great at multitasking. Several of the pieces on display depicted a woman having sex with a man while breastfeeding a baby. Awesome.
We get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to fly to Cusco, the heart of the Incan civilization, and the Sacred Valley. I don’t anticipate seeing many more naked sculptures, but I do anticipate being blown away by the beauty of the surroundings, if I don’t succumb to altitude sickness first.