Final weekend excursion: Pachacamac, El Carmen, and las Islas Ballestas!

So first off to begin this post (it’s going to be a longer one this time, sorry for those of you who get bored reading), I just want to say I can’t believe that another week has gone by and in just about three weeks from now I’m heading home! Everything is really starting to wind down and come to an end… Yesterday was actually my last day volunteering at the Hospital de niños in San Borja and Thanksgiving is already behind us. I won’t be doing a whole post about how we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Perú; however, I will say that we did have a little dinner with my study abroad program and our host families were invited to attend as well. Although it was definitely different being so far away from my home this year for Thanksgiving, it was really nice that my study abroad program made sure to put something together for all of us who are so used to spending this holiday at home with our families and loved ones.

Anyways, as this semester is coming to an end and in just about a week I’ll be starting to study for my final exams I realize how important it is for me to catch up on my blog posts now while the most recent experiences are fresh in my mind. I probably will be absent from the blog for a while starting this coming week as it’s going to be an extremely busy time for me with my finals and everything. In good old Bryn Mawr College fashion, I’m for sure going to be making myself a “Done-Is Good” list so that I can be motivated to finish my semester here strong.

Now about the topic for this post: Pachacamac, El Carmen, and las Islas Ballestas! Last weekend was my final weekend excursion with my study abroad program and as a way to close our time here together we had a pretty relaxing trip to El Carmen in the Chincha province of Ica (the same Ica that I went to for a different weekend excursion back in October; however, Chincha is in a different part of Ica than Huacachina). Chincha and more specifically the district of El Carmen is known for it’s Afro-Peruvian residents and culture. The main reason we went to El Carmen was to learn about this Afro-Peruvian population and it’s traditions. During the weekend, we had the opportunity to learn a few traditional Afro-Peruvian dances (including one called zapateo). We also discussed other elements of Afro-Peruvian culture such as the music and instruments that are utilized. One of these instruments is a drum that is shaped like a box called a cajón and on Saturday we were given lessons on how to play the cajón (see photo below playing the cajón). 

I almost forgot to mention that on our way south towards El Carmen we made a stop at the archaeological site of Pachacamac located here in the southeast part of Lima. Pachacamac (in Quechua: Pachakamaq – “Earth Maker”) was the name given to the creator god who was said to have lived in this part of Perú before the Inca conquest. There are many myths regarding Pacha Kamaq. Of the many pyramids that can be found at the archaeological site, the one that was most impressive to me was the Temple of the Sun which you can see in my photos below. This temple is 30,000m squared and we were actually able to walk to the Southern side of it during our guided tour.

Finally, on Sunday morning several of the students from my program had fallen ill (we still don’t know the exact cause or reason why many people got stomach bugs; however, it was most likely food poisoning from dinner the previous night). The planned trip was to go to the Islas Ballestas in Paracas. Luckily, I wasn’t one of the students who got sick so I was able to go to see the Islas Ballestas. The Islas Ballestas are a group of small islands located near the town of Paracas (in Ica). Paracas is a district within’ the Pisco Province of Ica on the Peruvian coast. The islands are inhabited by many animals such as penguins, seals, and sea lions (all of which I got to see during my tour of the islands). The islands are also known as an important area for the accumulation of guano. Guano is the excrement from many seabirds and bats which is used as a fertilizer (it smells HORRIBLE and I blame the smell of it for making me feel nauseous and miserable during my tour of the islands). The tour we were given was by boat so while the boat was stopped at the islands I became a bit sea sick and nauseous, not only from the smell of the guano but also from the rocking of the boat. Despite my sea sicknesses (and I know you are probably wondering if I vomitted but I DID NOT), I don’t regret my decision to go on the boat tour of the Islas Ballestas. It was really another wonderful experience and is one of the top visits that ecotourists take during their time in Perú.

Now I’ll stop talking and leave you with some pictures from my journey.


El Carmen, Chincha, Ica: 

Learning to play the cajón in El Carmen: 

Boat tour at las Islas Ballestas, Paracas: 

There are sea lions in this picture (although maybe hard to see): 

Visit to Museo Larco

Hi everyone! I know I’m a little bit behind on blog posts but you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been so busy between my excursion last weekend to El Carmen (an Afro-Peruvian village, which I’ll be posting about as soon as this post is complete) as well as finishing up the semester here! There’s been a lot happening but so little time to actually sit down and blog about it. I’m going to keep this post short so that I can devote more time to a longer post following this one to talk about my weekend excursion to El Carmen in the Chincha province of Perú.

As you may remember from a previous post of mine about my visit to MALI (Museo de Arte de Lima), I mentioned the Museo Larco as another site I was hoping to visit before leaving Perú this semester. I was lucky enough to be able to go and visit this museum last Thursday along with my IFSA-Butler Advanced Writing and Peruvian Culture class.

To give a brief explanation and some background (before I post up some pictures below), the Museo Larco (Larco Museum) is a beautiful privately owned museum full of pre-Columbian art. It is located in the Pueblo Libre district of Lima and is about a 5-minute walk from the university that I’m attending this semester. This made it a very easy and convenient trip to do during the school day with our entire class. The museum contains a variety of galleries that display Peruvian pre-Columbian history and one section of the museum that caught everyone’s eye was the pre-Columbian erotic pottery gallery. The pre-Columbian erotic pottery gallery is really quite fascinating in that it showcases the many objects that Rafael Larco found while he was doing research on sexual representations in Peruvian art.

The museum also has many permanent exhibitions. One of these permanent collections has ancient Peruvian textiles while another contains the jewelry that was used by rulers in pre-Columbian Perú. The ceramics on display show how the Peruvian cultures used certain archaeological objects to represent their own daily lives. It’s pretty amazing how all of the objects that have been preserved at the museum contain so much history!

Overall, this museum visit was totally worth it and I would give it a 10/10 (definitely recommend).

Here are some photos from the different galleries in the museum:

Museo Larco from outside 

Inside the permanent collections gallery

pre-Columbian erotic art gallery (sexual representations in Peruvian art) 

Día de todos los santos: Visit to cementerio Nueva Esperanza

Hey there everyone! I’m back again with another blog post. I know I don’t post super frequently on here anymore and most of my blog posts have been recaps of visits from a prior week than when I am actually writing them but I hope that regardless of this you continue to stay tuned!

The days are winding down and believe it or not, there’s only about 5 weeks left until I begin my journey back to the states. I’ve been starting to reflect on this more lately and it seems incredible to me how quickly this experience has been going by. I am savoring every single day as it all begins to come to an end.

With this being said, as it gets closer to December it continues to get increasingly warmer each day and usually by about midday the sun is shining bright in the beautiful blue sky (finally, a blue sky in Lima, I thought the day would never come). Yes, that’s right: Spring is here in Lima! By the time I leave this place in mid December it will be full on summer and I’ll be going back home to frigid Philadelphia for the beginning of the winter season.

But instead of thinking about going home right now, I’m going to focus this post on describing a really unique and special opportunity that I had last Thursday right here in Lima.  Thursday, November 1st, was another “Feriado Nacional”(national holiday) here for Día de todos los santos (“All Saints’ Day”). “All Saints’ Day” (also known as: “All Hallows’ Day” or “The Feast of All Saints”) is a Christian festival that takes place on November 1st in order to honor all of the saints. One of the common traditions on “All Saints’ Day” is that families will often visit cemeteries where their loved ones are buried in order to put flowers and candles on the gravestones.  With my Peruvian Social Reality course this semester, I had the unique opportunity to visit one of Lima’s cemeteries (The Nueva Esperanza cemetery) and commemorate the dead on Día de todos los santos along with other limeños.

The Nueva Esperanza cemetery is located in a poorer, outlying sector of southern Lima in the district of Villa María del Triunfo. It was created in 1961 and is the largest cemetery in Perú as well as the second largest in the entire world. On November 1st (Día de todos los santos) the cemetery has one of its largest crowds, as families come to celebrate their dead loved ones. I witnessed something like I had never seen before at any other cemetery I’ve been to in my life. I was overwhelmed by intense emotions during my time at the cemetery from what I was seeing, smelling, and hearing. It was not the typical cemetery experience where one feels sad; however, I cannot entirely put into words or describe what my feelings were while being there.

Both inside and outside of the cemetery was very crowded. There was traditional music playing at the grave sites and lots of food vendors as well as people selling all kinds of Peruvian dishes inside of the cemetery. The graves were literally on the hills of the cemetery and people were celebrating while eating and drinking at the site of their deceased loved ones.

The whole experience was just spectacular and I feel very fortunate to have been able to go to the cemetery on Día de todos los santos. To me the whole idea of celebrating the dead in a way to almost bring them back to life seems very paradoxical. Having seen something like this makes me think more deeply about death; it is almost as though those who are dead have never really died because we keep them alive and with us through our memories. This spiritual bond that exists between both the dead and the living is so powerfully apparent from what I saw last week during this grand festival that took place at the cemetery. This is definitely an experience that I will never forget.

Below are some photos that I took from inside of the cemetery.

Touristy fun in Lima: Visiting MALI and Circuito Mágico del Agua (Parque de las aguas)

¡Hola todos! In this blog post, I am going to be sharing about my experience at MALI (Museo de Arte de Lima) as well as my visit to the Circuito Mágico del Agua or Parque de las aguas here in Lima last weekend.

I was REALLY looking forward to this trip with my program because my host mother kept mentioning the Circuito Mágico del Agua as something that I must see before leaving Lima (it is one of the more touristy things to do here in Lima from what I understand) and it definitely fulfilled all of my expectations! However, before I get into all the details about the Parque de las aguas, let me first begin by talking about Lima’s wonderful art museum A.K.A. MALI!

Lima’s art museum, MALI, located in the Palacio de la Exposición in Lima’s historic center traces back from early history (the Andean civilization) until contemporary times. On the first floor of the museum the temporary art exhibits can be found while on the second floor the permanent collections are held. The current exhibition that was on the first floor when I went last weekend with my program was called Plata de los Andes (see pics. below from the exhibit). We also had a guided tour on the second floor of the museum in which we learned about the various portraits and images in Peruvian history. We were asked to do an activity at the end of our tour in pairs, in which one person in the pair was to draw while the other person had to give descriptive directions of what the other person should draw based on a large painting that was in front of us. Once we finished upstairs touring the permanent collection we went to the museum café on the first floor for a little coffee break before heading over to the Parque de las aguas. I am planning on going to another art museum here in Lima sometime within’ the next month called Museo Larco which I have heard really good things about so stayed tuned for a post on that before I leave Perú.

Now, about Circuito Mágico del Agua A.K.A. Parque de las aguas! Also located in downtown Lima, this park inaugurated in July of 2007 and consists of 13 different interactive fountains. You can even walk through some of these fountains without actually getting wet like the one I am pictured in below which I just found out is called the “Tunnel of Surprises”. Since it was evening time and pretty chilly out when we went last weekend, I decided not to get super wet and only walked through the fountains that seemed like would keep me dry. There were kids there though that were having the time of their lives walking through the fountains and getting wet. At night time the fountains are lighted with different colors and it is really a magical sight to see. With my program we stayed for the first show at 7pm and got to see the magic happening right before our eyes (see photos below!).

Inside of MALI: 

Plata de los Andes exhibit 

Touring the museum’s permanent collection  This is the image that we were asked to work with for the drawing activity at the end of our tour:

At the museum café for our much needed coffee break! 

Circuito Mágico del Agua – Parque de las aguas!  Walking through the “Tunnel of Surprises”: 

A truly magical show!