Lima, Peru – Huaca Pucllana and Miraflores

Gallery

Before getting started on Lima, Miraflores and my visit to Huaca Pucllana I need to jump back a little.  Peru and Bolivia were without doubt the highlight of this part of my trip, a whole 2 months! For the purpose of being as succinct as possible (not my strong point), I’ll summaries my journey to Lima.  I ended my last post (Sydney, Manly and surroundings) explaining why I’d write about New Zealand further down the line.  This was made possible by changing my round the world ticket.  Had I known it was so easy to do so I would have many times before.  How good would it have been to stay longer in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand?  I could have included Laos and Cambodia…no use crying over spilt milk or what could have been.  With three simple emails Star Alliance change 4 of my flights with no charge.  Later, on two separate occasions I’d change two more flights, again easy peasy – no charge again!

Getting to Lima

Back to my journey.  From Auckland I flew to Houston, from there I flew to Lima, Peru.  I had to stay in Houston for one night because I changed my flights, that wasn’t in the original booking.  Being in Houston for 24 hours didn’t give me any time to site-see.  My body-clock was in disarray because of the flight and time differences.  It’s a 13h45m flight; I left Auckland at 19:30, arriving in Houston on the same day at 16:10 – that’s a sure way to confuse the body and mind!  All this is my way of saying I wasn’t in the mood for walking about Houston.  I slept, ate, slept, had breakfast then headed back to the airport for the 6,5 hour flight to Lima.

Instead of my usual planning I arrived in Lima at 23:00.  I say that because I prefer to arrive at a new location/country during the day.  That way you get more bang for your buck and it’s safer.  This all came about as a result of me changing my flights.  Whereas I would normally use public transport to get to my accommodation, on this occasion I made arrangements with my hotel for a taxi.  It was cheap and worth taking the effort way when half asleep and late at night. Before I left New Zealand I did my research on locations in Lima; Miraflores seemed perfect so I book three nights at Miraflores Suites Centro.  You would think the name of the hotel would mean it’s in Miraflores, no!?  Well, it is but just, on the very edge of Miraflores away from everything!

Frankly my location put a dampener on my arrival in Peru, leaving me in a regretful state.  The hotel (I use that word very loosely) were nice and friendly, but the location was nowhere, the room was dreary at best.  Honestly the location sucked.  If you don’t like something, change it, and that’s exactly what I did. Thankfully I need to catch up on writing, and spent the next day looking to move. I had booked for three nights…I left after two.  They say a change is like a holiday.  In my case a change kick-started Peru and brought back the excitement to my travels.  I was now in Miraflores, central…the real Miraflores! 😊

Lima

How’s this for a colourful wall! A pub/bar over the road from my hotel in Miraflores – Lima

Miraflores

Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Arriving at my new hotel Hotel Las Palmas immediately put all my concerns to rest.  Woohoo I was now in the Miraflores, the real Miraflores!  My “new” Miraflores was vibrant, shops and restaurants around every corner with a real buzz of activity everywhere.  Whereas the only restaurant at my other accommodation was a takeaway pizza restaurant, with nothing else to see except a busy main road.  Enough moaning.  It goes without saying I was super happy with the new location!

Miraflores is the cool part of Lima, about 10km from the historical centre of the city.  Less than 100m from my hotel was John F. Kennedy Park (sometime referred to as just Kennedy Park), the epicentre of Miraflores.  I’m only going to touch on the bits and bobs of the area for now, adding more in another post.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention, Lima will be a three-part blog.  Previously I’ve mentioned (only once or a dozen times 😊) that I like street art/graffiti, here in Miraflores there was plenty of it, good quality too.  What the laws are regarding graffiti I have no idea; by that I mean I saw three people working on murals out in the open in broad daylight!  Eventually I approached on of them, André; a graffiti artist from Germany who goes by the name of Boogie.  Didn’t chat long, just complimented him on his work and the usual quick chit chat.

More importantly my new accommodation was very close to two historical sites, both primarily pre-Inca Empire.  I was in Peru to see Inca ruins so being close to them made me excited.  Without beating around the bush, my only regret in Lima was I didn’t get to see the ruins of Pachacamac; wasted time in my first accommodation.  Even so, I saw so much in Peru I have absolutely no regrets.  Resuming what I was getting to, I’ll add more about Miraflores in Lima Part 3.

Miraflores

Cool cafe around the corner from my hotel, even more cool wall mural – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

A graffiti artist at work. I’ll include the finished work Lima Part 3 – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

This is at the North end of Miraflores Central Park which is over the road from John F. Kennedy Park. The former marks the start of activity in Miraflores – Lima

Huaca Pucllana / Huaca Juliana

Getting there was easy, a nice 1.5km walk giving me time to see the local neighbourhood away from the tourist hotspot of Miraflores.  Before the Incas became the largest pre-Hispanic Empire in South America, the area was populated by many already established cultures.  One of these was the Lima Culture, which can be described as Quechuan.  Quechua or Runasimi (which means “people’s language”) is a rather broad terms used for indigenous languages in the Peruvian Andes region.  It’s part of the family of indigenous South American languages, spoken by the most people; between 8-10 million people speak a Quechuan language – about 25% of Peru.  Luckily the languages survived and still used in South America today (especially Peru), disputed the Spanish Conquistadors best efforts to banish it.

Back to the Lima Culture and Huaca Pucllana.  To understand the lack of information about the Lima culture you need to look at remnants of the archaeological sites…lack of.  Of those that can be seen today, they are nestled into the city at random between residential areas and the city at large.  For a culture that thrived for circa. 600 years (100 to 700 AD) there is little left to see and therefore learn about.  Most of the Lima culture has been build over by the present sprawling “new” city of Lima.  That which does remain shows tantalising similarities to later Mayan and Aztec cultures ranging for religious to architectural.

Huaca Pucllana

Some large plazas one in which large offering vessels were found. Good view of the layers of adobes – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Reenactment of a ritual involving a large vessel. Clothing, material and colours of the mannequins reflect what has been found from archaeological works – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Locals call the temple Wak’a Pucllana; in Quechaun “wak’a means temple.  I’ll cover more about the Lima Culture in following post, particularly about my visit to Huaca Huallamarca; another pyramidal temple.  Returning to Huaca Pucllana, it’s a complicated archaeological site reminiscent to a game of jenga. What compounds to the state of the site, is its varied use/purpose by different cultures and particularly neglect in more recent years.  Into the 1980’s, the site was used as a rubbish dump, parts had been destroyed to build houses and the local kids used it as a BMX track.

The group (mandatory) tour I took seriously aided my understanding of the site; if it weren’t for that I would be lost!  The site is built of adobes; sun-baked bricks made of clay, straw and small gritty stones/pebbles.  Laid like a bookshelf; vertically with gaps between each adobe.  These spaces are not for aesthetics, they help the structure be seismic resilient (ingenious!).  Between each layer of bricks is a layer of clay to make the surface flat for the next row of adobes and glues the layers together.  In short, it looks like a massive bookshelf of light-brown books and wood.

Huaca Pucllana

Part of Huaca Pucllana administrative section, those post are original (would have held up the roof) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Main pyramidal platform at the back, a range of smaller plazas in front – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Timeline, layout and uses of Huaca Pucllana 

To understand why Huaca Pucllana was built and its uses over hundreds of years I’ll try put a timeline together.  How accurate this is up for questioning considering the limited information.  If anyone does read this and disagrees please feel free to let me know.

  • Ceremonial and Administrative center for the Lima culture between 200 – 700AD
  • Huaca Pucllanaas seen today has three main parts:
    • Temple / wak’a; the biggest part of the site and a huge rectangular flat top pyramid
    • Plaza; a large flat rectangular section at the front base of the wak’a
    • Adjoined structures; thought likely to the administrative buildings for the temple and community
  • Huaca Pucllanawas enlarged over the years.  There are seven distinct layers/platforms, getting smaller as you go higher.  It seems at their respective times the top layer was always rather flat.  The first (bottom) layer has just about vanished (destructed) for the reasons I mentioned previously).  It reminded me somewhat of the mastabas in Saqqara and Dahshur
  • Included in the second layer is the large plaza, a few porches/patios with roofs, post holes, altars and hundreds of little holes; used as repositories for offerings (probably)
  • For the third, fourth, fifth and sixth level it repeats much of the second.
  • The sixth level is currently under excavation.  It has extensive damage caused by the Wari tombs
  • Around 700 AD the Huaca Pucllanalost its purpose/use
  • Sometime between 500-700AD the Wari Culture became prominent in the region.
  • By 800 AD, the Wari social elite were using Huaca Pucllana as a cemetery
  • After the decline of the Wari people, many of the local groups united.  Collectively referred to as the Ychsma; their capital was Pachacamac. This left Huaca Pucllana quite deserted, except for a few local people who tentatively kept up some of its traditions
Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Hatun Plaza (the largest) in front with the main pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Taken from the second platform (I think), large plaza to the left, administrative section straight ahead – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Human sacrifices

Huaca Pucllana may look like a dusty old heap now, yet behind (beneath to be precise) its façade lies a gruesome and bloody past.  Both the Lima Culture and Wari Culture used human sacrifice to satiate their god’s needs.  During excavation relating to the Lima Culture, many human remains were found.  These form part of sacrificial ceremonies.  Of the skeletal remains found, most are of young women.  These sacrifices seemed to take place at the start, during and ending of a new temple platform.  Along with human sacrifices, large intricately decorated vessels were broken, likely during big ritual banquets.  At these banquets, seafood seems to be prominent, especially shark.

I’ve already mentioned the how the Wari people used Huaca Pucllana.  The deceased was wrapped in many layers of cloth, included within their burials was one or many infants to serve as companions in the afterlife.  The most elaborate burial found to date is that of a “Great Priest”.  His burial included six costumes decorated with reliefs referring to Pachacama, along with sacrificed children.  If that wasn’t macabre enough, he was buried without his head.  Probably to be used after his death in ceremonies to invoke his spirit, or something of that nature – no jokes!

Huaca Pucllana

Some of the smaller plazas and where some of the ritual vessels were found – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Making our way to the top of the pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Looking back at the pyramid from the third/fourth platform I think. The length of the pyramid goes maybe 200m beyond – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

My thoughts on Huaca Pucllana

It’s a huge site, the largest courtyard is 500m long – most of it was built over in the 20th century.  I’m glad to see the Peruvian Government has now put a lot of effort into excavating and protecting such a cultural and historically significant site.  Entrance to the site is by guided tour, something I took at first to be a bit irritating.  That being said, our guide was truly informative and humorous, without shying away from controversial topics like the human sacrifices.  He even went so far as to castigate his ancestors for predominantly sacrificing woman.  All in all, our tour guide was great; he made sense of the site adding to the experience of visiting Huaca Pucllana.

Ah yes, another reason they insist on guided group tours is to ensure conservation of the site.  This aids in preventing idiots damaging the site intentionally or unintentionally. Our guide knew his stuff, and his English was very good too, not to mention his pace of going through the site.  Huaca Pucllana was my first taste of ancient/historic South American culture and history.  From the dusty adobes a new world of intrigue and excitement ignited inside me for what lay ahead for me in Peru.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I love the fact that an old site like this can go through so much turmoil, especially neglect, and still have so much to tell.

What adds to Huaca Pucllana’s challenge to decipher is the myriad of intertwining passageways.  Obviously back in the day these would have made more sense.  They linked the administrative buildings to the temple.  Some would have been accessible to the general public, others restricted to officials.  Others would have been solely for people associated to the temple and maybe the highest of society elite.  Just like in many religious sites throughout world and time, there may have been places that only the so called “high priest” would have had access too.  One of the things I was most impressed with, other than the sheer size of the temple, is the remains of some of the original wood posts.  These would have held up the roofs of the buildings.  It’s astonishing they are in situ!  What we see today is as close to what the builders saw when they planted them.

Huaca Pucllana

Entrance to the Plaza of the Ancestors (third platform) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

A Wari burial on the top of the pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Western side of the main pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Another angle of the Western side of Huaca Pucllana pyramid – Lima

Other intrigues of Huaca Pucllana

Both the Lima and Wari cultures fully appreciated nature, especially the life source of water.  The area is close to the sea, a tortuous twist being so close to water that cannot be used – this is a dry and barren region.  Little remains of the complex water management system created to sustain the community.  In its peak, this region would have sustained a large community meaning agricultural cultivation on a massive scale.  Water was a central theme in their rituals and sacrifices; the vessels were painted with water scenes, the food eaten during these rituals was predominantly seafood too.  As with so many places throughout the world, they become deserted due to political changes or natural changes, it seems Huaca Pucllana falls into the latter.

To reinforce the diverse use of Huaca Pucllana over the year.  Excavations found four Chinese tombs on the side of the temple.  This is a reoccurring theme at many huacas/wak’as throughout Peru.  No bodies were found in these four tombs, leading archaeologist to believe they were never used.  There is no confirmed reason why the Chinese buried their dead in the tombs; the only theory is that their religion differed to the locals – by that time dominated by Catholicism.  Since many of the Chinese were agricultural workers, their proximity to the temples may have played a part.

Huaca Pucllana

Unused Chinese migrant tombs on the East side of the main pyramid (about half way up) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

What would have been clothing of a high social status individual found at Huaca Pucllana – Lima

On a downside, little is known about the Lima Culture and others pre their reign.  Most people are more interested in their famous neighbours, the Inca.  Though, you cannot mistake the similarities of the Lima Culture and that of the Inca, Aztec and Mayan’s.  These pre “famous” civilizations like the Lima are the foundations of which great nations were built…yet they don’t get the credit.

Day 2 in Lima I headed into the historic centre of the city – I hope to get that post out soon.  Peru started off a tad slow, but was already proving to be as interesting as I thought it would be.  If you like I’m always keen to get any feedback on my blog?  As always feel free to share the post or my Batnomad Facebook page or photos.

Lima

An actual Noddy delivery van I spotted in front of my hotel in Miraflores 🙂

Miraflores

Virgen Milagrosa Parish Church by John F. Kennedy Park (sometimes referred to as Kennedy Park) – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Some urban art work in progress – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

The German graffiti I met in Miraflores – Lima

Lima

I just liked this picture, took it coming back from Huaca Pucllana – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Another artist at work in Miraflores – Lima

Lima

My first meal in Miraflores. That is the oddest prawn I’ve ever seen let alone eaten! – Miraflores, Lima

Old Town Phuket – quaint, eclectic, very cool town

Gallery

Old Town Phuket was brief but interesting, I stayed at 99 Oldtown Boutique Guesthouse, a road lined with Sino-Portuguese terraced houses similar to Victorian style.  Their design and exterior décor reminded me a lot of Porto, just on a smaller scale in every respect, a quaint pretty road with pastel painted buildings.  It so different to the rest of what I’d seen in Thailand, mentally I was out of sync with such a drastic change; if you’d dropped me into the town without knowing I’d never have guessed I was in Thailand.

Phuket, the little of what I saw (I was only there for 1.5 days), well only Old Town and a few peripheral roads has a totally different feel and vibe to what I had seen of Thailand.  Difficult to explain the difference of Old Town Phuket, it’s no Bangkok, certainly different to the islands, it has the setting of what I would imagine a small New Orleans would have (though I’ve not been there), Old Town Phuket has a unique charm of its own.

Old Town

Old Town Phuket

Phuket

99 Oldtown Boutique Guesthouse – Old Town Phuket

Old Town

99 Oldtown Boutique Guesthouse – Inside my guest house, Old Town Phuket

I’ve jumped ahead without explaining how I got to Phuket.  A speedboat ferry leaves Koh Yao Noi once an hour taking maybe an hour at most to reach Phuket Island.  I ended up sharing a cab with two girls (one from Finland, the other India) both on extended travels.  The first taxi we tried was dodgy, quite frankly he was the rudest person I encountered in Thailand; he wanted all the money upfront, never pay upfront!  Other than that encounter the trip was quick, I was second to be dropped off arriving around lunch time; I left reasonably early that morning because I had a bit of admin to do like booking flights and accommodation to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Old Town Phuket

Old Town Phuket – road running perpendicular to main road

My Guesthouse was great, the breakfast wasn’t the best, the entrance interior what I imagined was original reminded me of Victorian era décor though the rooms were simplistic and modern, spotless too.  With stairs and upper flooring of deep solid mahogany (I think), the owner was very friendly and helpful, the place was a perfect location and setting to enjoy a fleeting visit to Old Town and finish my planning.

I hadn’t been there long before I needed to head out to get something to eat, a quick walk up and down the road I was perplexed that most of the shops were either closing or closed.  I went back to my guesthouse to enquire where I could get something to eat having not found anything.  The owner informed me that most places were closing early and would reopen later as later in the day and evening was market day; that meant the road would be closed off and filled with market stores and alike, the other stores would be open too.

Old Town Phuket

Old Town Phuket graffiti

Phuket

Old Town Phuket graffiti

Old Town

Old Town Phuket graffiti

It didn’t take long for me to realise the eclectic nature of Old Town Phuket, with some fascinating street art amongst these charmingly decorated and painted buildings, Old Town Phuket has its own distinctive mixture.  Phuket itself is big, so my one night there can hardly be called an exploration but I’m glad I went. It showed me that Thailand is bigger and differs considerably from one part to the next leaving a seed planted in my mind….so much more to see, explore and learn.

Phuket

The market was getting started, I have no idea what this gentleman was doing/selling – Old Town Phuket

Golden Dragon Monument

Hai Leng Ong Statue (Golden Dragon Monument) – a block away from Old Town Phuket

Old Town Phuket

Old Town Phuket graffiti

By dusk the street had filled up, I could vaguely hear noise coming from the street from my room whilst I was deciding to extend my stay in Old Town for one more day or fly out the next day to Hanoi, Vietnam.  What could I achieve with one more day here, very little to be honest so that was my deciding factor.  Flight booked, accommodation sorted, I could now enjoy the evening in Old Town.

Phuket

Old Town Phuket

Phuket

Old Town Phuket graffiti

After finishing up with my admin I headed outside into a packed street, a total transformation from earlier.  A quiet street morphed into a hustling and bustling hive of activity of street vendors, food stalls, busking, trinket store and everything else not to mention the hundreds of people!  For dinner I bought littles bits from a few places selling food along the road and ate as I walked.  It was a good way to finish off my time in Thailand.  Deep down I was a little sad to be leaving, not just because there was so much more I hadn’t seen of this diverse and beautiful country, but I really enjoyed my time with all the ups and downs thinking back it was all good.  I had learned a lot about people, myself and had a lot of time to do some self-reflection; I’d like to think that my time here was a starting point or foundation of more to come.  Self-reflection is a good thing if you are honest to yourself, there were lots of things that surfaced I need to deal with and stopped brushing under the carpet.  I sure would love to go back to Thailand.

Old Town Phuket

The market in full swing – Old Town Phuket

Old Town Phuket

The street market – Old Town Phuket

Old Town

The market has begun – Old Town Phuket

Next stop was Vietnam, I had done near no research and had no clue what I was heading too…maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Lisbon, some anecdotes about my time in the city

Gallery

Some supplementary experiences and thoughts about my time in Lisbon which I didn’t include in my last post, not all related, some made me laugh and others added to the experience of travelling!:

  • I was on the bus heading to the promenade and we went past the Lisbon Alfa Romeo Club, not a single Alfa Romeo in the parking lot and I could help but think that was because they were all at the mechanics shop with breakdowns? !!!
  • Looking down almost every road, especially the little quiet one’s, you would conclude that there is nothing there, but walk down and they are filled with little cafés, shops and restaurants which from the outside at a glance look very like the residential buildings/houses. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many restaurants and they appear to be long established too.  I ate at quite a few of them, looking inside to see if there were any tourists or locals, if the latter then going in.  The decor is similar in them all; like a house kitchen in the ‘60s or ‘70s with flower print plastic table cloths, chipped plates and none of them had matching knives and forks.  The food however is like eating a heartily home cook meal with a beer or glass of port and the locals make you feel like you are sitting around the dining room table with your extended family.
  • I read somewhere about the famous or was it infamous No.28 Tram in Lisbon. Lisbon I had seen it a few times and didn’t think much of it but eventually thought I should give it a try.  One of the reasons that made me give it a go was because of the steep inclines and declines of many of the roads not to mention how narrow many of them are too!  Well, I’ll start off by describing it; the coaches are old, exactly how old I have no idea but must be from the 1940s or 50s at least – maybe with a few updates through the years. Lisbon Think of a thin tin can cab shell around a wooden frame, the frame exposed inside as part of the design, an upgrade from an ox-wagon just with a tin outside.  It’s hot (end-June) so thank goodness the windows open fully which gives some respite when packed in like sardines.  The driver only seemed to know two speeds, fully steam ahead and slamming on the breaks which would give anyone with issues of “self-space” nightmares – if you aren’t holding on to something of what little there was to hold on to considering how many people were inside for most of the journey you are likely to end up sitting on a stranger’s lap.  Back to the trip……undulating steep inclines and declines means you are constantly trying to stay vertical, that all the while the rickety coach creaks and groans to the extend that you cannot help think and wonder how they hell this thing stays in one piece!  The suspension must be made out of the stones they use to pave the roads, added to that the rails on the grounds must have been installed by a blind drunk as it rocks from side to side and corners like jolts of electricity jerks it around.  The No.28 Tram is indeed a legend!  LisbonThe journey is an absolute joy to experience and it would be top on my list of first things to do if I go back to Lisbon.  What could be a better experience than going through a city on a stop start wooden roller-coaster!
  • Seems like throughout Portugal the architecture there are only three categories (slight exaggeration) Blood old, new and Art Deco. If you like Art Deco there are plenty of amazing examples in Lisbon, some are hidden behind garish bright pastel colours but the lines of design still visible.  There are others not tarnished with paint and they really do show the elegance of the 1920-30s Art Deco movement. Lisbon
  • If you even plan to go to Lisbon or Portugal it is worth deciding what you would definitely like to see by creating a list. The reason for this is because everywhere charges you, not a lot, the average is around €3 and the most I paid was €10 but that was an exception, even so it starts to add up so go see the things you would like to first and then the peripherals.
  • If you like desserts like pastries and ice creams then Portugal is the land of your dreams and are sold everywhere, like every second store!
  • I popped into a museum by chance as I had gotten a little lost and walked past it, they had a special exhibition of “The Madonna” with some exhibits being loaned from the Vatican. They had some lovely things on display but even for me it was mildly interesting except they did have a marble sculptor by Michelangelo, wow!  I’ve been amazed by his work since the first time I saw some in the UK.  The marble has a flow to it like curtains blowing in the wind, hair with volume and detail and skin like silk.  If you’ve never seen any of his work, any medium, and you get chance then do so
  • If you keep an eye out throughout Lisbon you will see loads of graffiti, it’s a pity I didn’t get more time to explore around and there really are some super bits of work on display throughout the city. As with graffiti the best pieces are not on the high street so some searching is required.

Lisbon Lisbon

 

  • Apart from the Metro, Trains Trams and busses there are plenty of alternative transport methods including but not only the Tuks which zoom around the city on guided tours; a nice private tour of the city in a three-wheeler convertible to the chugging of a two-stroke motor. Another alternative is to hire bicycles, mopeds and little electric three-wheeler sportster!

Lisbon LisbonIn case you missed the rest of my time in Lisbon, the first link is Part 1 the second Part 2