PASEO Program Adventure—Day 57: Lima, Peru

This morning (Saturday), I booked a tour through Viator called Lima Colors and Flavors. The tour guide picked me up from my hotel at 9:30am, and once we picked up the other tourists, we drove to the district of Chorrillos, which is a local town that prides themselves on fishing. Here, the fishermen can be found fishing at 4:00am, 11:00am, and between 2:00-3:00pm. Their wives can often be found tending their stands in the fish market. Based on the times that the fishermen are out fishing, it is recommended to eat ceviche in the early afternoon and not for dinner, since the fish is freshest earlier on in the daytime.

Once we finished walking around the fish market and the port, we continued our tour in the Chorrillos neighborhood, and walked around the local markets. We sampled a wide variety of fruits native to Peru including lucuma, granadilla, tuna, aguaymanto, chirimoya, pepino dulce, pitahaya, tumbó, and platano de isla. The colors of the fruits were vibrant, and the fresh taste of each one was absolutely delicious.

Following our walk around the local markets, we stopped for lunch in a cevichería, where we ordered chicha morada to drink (made from purple corn, cinnamon, cloves, a little sugar, and pineapple), and triples which included arroz chaufa, chicharron de pescado, y ceviche. The food was great, and it was just what we needed to continue our walking tour.

After lunch, we drove to the district of Barranco, and saw the Bajada de los Baños  (a pathway to the ocean), as well as the romantic Bridge of Sighs, which is known to be a romantic site. It is also said that if you walk across the bridge while holding your breath, you are entitled to a wish. As we walked around the district, we came across beautiful art painted by talented local painters. In 2015, Barranco organized a competition named “Las Paredes Hablan” (The Walls Speak). About one hundred people entered the competition, and the ten finalists were each given public wall space to paint their artwork. Some of the incredible art work can be seen pictured below.

As nighttime approached, I stopped by Larcomar, an impressive outdoor shopping center located by the ocean in The district of Miraflores. There is a free art museum that features paintings and photography from local Peruvian artists, so I made sure to check that out, before enjoying dinner (ají de gallina) and walking around the center.

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PASEO Program Adventure—Days 43 and 44: Huaraz, Peru

Since the altitude in Huaraz is more than 3,000 meters (over 9,800 feet) above sea level, Saturday was spent taking it easy and trying to acclimate to the change in altitude. 

On Sunday morning, we stopped by the Museo Arquelógico de Ancash- Huaraz, where we saw beautiful art from a famous Peruvian painter, in addition to artifacts that are centuries old. After walking through the museum, we stopped by the city’s Plaza de Armas and strolled through the city. We returned to our hostel shortly after to get a good night’s sleep, since we had plans to tour Laguna Llanganuco first thing in the morning (as in 5:00am). 

What I failed to mention in yesterday’s post is that after arriving to Huaraz, eating dinner, and watching the concert in the Plaza de Armas Friday night, I spent the entire night learning about the effects of altitude sickness. (Now that I’m a few days ahead writing about my experiences a few days ago, I don’t have to worry about my mother and grandmother sending over a team of doctors to check up on me.) While I can’t exactly say I was grateful for the opportunity to gain such firsthand knowledge, the effects of altitude sickness are much more inexpensive than a colonoscopy or endoscopy, but probably just as effective in cleaning out one’s system. So, at least there’s that. 

Tomorrow’s hike will entail more than four miles of trekking through both flat and mountainous terrain, with the highest peak (at least that we’ll reach) being 15,000 feet above sea level. Before I scare myself out of going on this trek by writing more about the terrifying details, I’ll leave it at that and say here’s hoping for the best. 

Barcelona, Spain: Castell de Montjuïc

To start off our second morning in Barcelona, we took a cab to Castell de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Castle.

During a revolt in 1640, a fortification was built atop the Montjuïc mountain. It was attacked the following year, and eventually became a castle in 1694. In 1751, after a back-and-forth struggle of who had possession of the castle, the old fort from 1640 which stood inside the walls of the castle had been demolished. A moat was placed around the castle, and from 1779 to 1799, construction to provide accommodations took place within the castle, since the population within the walls was growing.  120 cannons had also been placed within and around the castle.

In the mid 1900’s, the castle served as a military prison, but in 1960, the castle was given back to the city. The following three years were spent turning the site into a military museum, and it opened as such in 1963 (http://www.bcn.cat/castelldemontjuic/en/welcome.html).

We walked around the grounds of the castle, and each angle of the castle had a different view of the city—one side of the castle provided us with a view of La Sagrada Familia, whereas the other side provided us with a view of the Port of Barcelona (pictured below). After touring the castle, we headed towards Telefèric de Montjuïc, which is the Montjuïc Cable Car. As the cable car brought us down the hill, we saw the entire city from a 360 degree angle. It was absolutely breathtaking!

 

 

Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia

As we concluded our visit to Gaudí’s Casa Battló, we walked over to another one of his masterpiecesLa Sagrada Familia. In 1882, construction on La Sagrada Familia began with its first architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. However, due to various disagreements and conflicts, Antoni Gaudí was asked to take over the job in 1883.

To give some background information about Antoni Gaudí, he was born in 1852 and died in 1926 a few days after being hit by a tram. Nobody recognized him since he appeared to be a “beggar” due to his clothes, so he did not receive the immediate treatment. By the time somebody recognized who he was, his condition had deteriorated, and he unfortunately passed away within a few days at the age of seventy-four.

Alongside the church is a museum that showcases the numerous stages of La Sagrada Familia’s construction. One of the walls in the museum highlights a quote from Gaudí (pictured below), and it has since stuck with me. The quote states, “We must all contribute, as it has to be the church of a whole people.” Even after Gaudí’s passing, construction of La Sagrada Familia has continued, and his dream for the church is still, to this day, becoming a reality. Its expected completion date is set for 2026, so there is much to look forward to!

People from all over the world come to see La Sagrada Familia, and both the beauty and spiritual energy that fill the church are truly incredible. There are no words to describe how breathtaking the church is—inside and out—and the fine details in every nook and cranny are immaculate.

The structure of the church is quite interesting. Once completed, “The design will be completed with four domed structures, some 40 metres high, sited at each corner: two sacristies on the northern side; and on the southern side the baptistery and the chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence. These four constructions and the three facades will be linked by a wide, covered corridor, with a double wall, referred to as a cloister by Gaudí, which will insulate the central nave from noise from the street, and allow circulation from one building to another without the need to cross the main nave.

Gaudí’s plan was for a group of 18 towers: 12 shorter ones on the facades (bell towers which will be 100 metres high, representing the Apostles), and six taller ones in the centre in a pyramidal layout reflecting the hierarchy of their symbolism. Of these, the tallest will be the one above the central crossing, representing Jesus Christ, reaching 172.5 metres in height. It will be surrounded by four, slimmer, 135-metre-high towers representing the four Evangelists and their Gospels. A further tower will cover the apse and will represent the Virgin Mary.

Gaudí wanted to construct a building that would make an impact on the skyline, but also show his respect for the work of God, which in his opinion should never be superseded by man: at 172.5 metres tall, the Sagrada Familia is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world but remains a few metres below the height of Montjuïcthe highest point in the municipality of Barcelona”(http://www.sagradafamilia.org).

Barcelona, Spain: Park Güell

Upon waking up in the morning, my sister and I boarded a hop-on/hop-off bus, and set out for Park Güell. Park Güell, located in the northern part of the city is one of the many iconic sites designed by Antoni Gaudí—a significant name in Barcelona. Construction for the park began in 1900 and was completed by 1914. The original goal was to build a housing development on site, so one of the main features here is a beautifully designed house, which was intended to be the first of many.

Unfortunately, the plan did not work out, but Gaudí moved into the house with his family, and the building is currently home to the Casa Museo Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum). Besides the museum, there is a beautiful municipal garden, an exquisite terrace overlooking the city, and an overall sense of serenity throughout the park. It has been said that nature was Gaudí’s greatest source of inspiration, and this is evident since so much of his work revolves around or includes various aspects of nature.

Seeing Park Güell was a wonderful experience because for the remainder of our trip to Barcelona, we would soon come across plenty of Gaudí’s other notable buildings—each unique in its own way. After exploring the park, my sister found a great vegetarian restaurant called Teresa Carles on a side street close to Plaça de Catalunya (the city’s main plaza). The food was delicious, and it was just what we needed before continuing with our tour of the city.

Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia Continued: Museo del Oro

After passing through the Museo Botero, we walked through the city and came across an obleas cart. Obleas are thin wafers that can be filled with jam, fruits, cheese, condensed milk, dulce de leche, or arequipe. I remember buying packages of this years ago in Guatemala, so naturally I ordered one to try it out here in Colombia. I ordered this one with condensed milk and jam, and it was delicious to say the least.

After taking a quick snack break, our tour continued at the Museo del Oro, Bogotá’s Gold Museum. Upon entering the museum, we were told that it contains somewhere around 53,000-55,000 pieces including metals and artifacts, with 32,000 of the pieces being pre-historic gold artifacts. This museum is also said to be the largest in South America, or at least that’s what our tour guide told us. The way that some of the artifacts have been displayed on shadows represents the ways in which various tribes once wore the golden pieces. Additionally, pictured below, you can see large emeralds, which are known to be very valuable in Colombia. Something I found very interesting was that the room containing these emeralds was secured in a vault and guarded by security, whereas all of the other rooms in the museum did not have such strict security.

Also found below is the Muisca Raft, also called the El Dorado Raft. In a certain ritual, the Muisca chief jumped into the lake along with gold and emeralds as offerings. This golden raft with people on it is a replica of what is believed to have been the raft with the Muisca chief and others before the offering. Since the offering, countless people have tried to dive into Lake Guativita to find the golden pieces, but since the lake is so deep, no one has had such luck. The last exhibit we came across in the museum displayed 3,200 pieces that had been found upon digging up old tombs.

An interesting fact about the city of Bogotá is that the founder of Bogotá came searching for El Dorado, the city of gold, but he instead found the city of Bogotá. Ironically, the gold museum is located next to where his house originally was.

As we drove off to our next stop, we were told that Justin Bieber visited Colombia a few years ago, and decided to graffiti some of the walls here in Bogotá. Surprisingly, he had a police escort surrounding him, and was allowed to graffiti the walls. Local graffiti artists ended up complaining to the government in protest of not being allowed to graffiti the walls, and the government ended up changing the rules. Since then, local graffiti artists are now allowed to graffiti throughout the city only with permission of buildings if the graffiti consists of approved art.

Our next stop included a lesson in one of Bogotá’s local sports, Tejo, which I’ll be posting about a little later on.

Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia Continued: Museo Botero

Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists. Fortunately, we were able to take some time on our tour to explore his museum in Bogotá—Museo Botero.
Botero is known to paint individuals in a larger manner. He has explained that he paints voluminous people, not fat people. Specifically, he zooms in on their skin and not their facial features. He also doesn’t use models which is why so many of the people in his paintings look similar. One such painting that shows this is his version of the Mona Lisa, which is bigger in size and situated in front of the Andes.
One of the paintings pictured below shows a group of men, with only one of the men sleeping comfortably. This is because he is wearing a watch and to Botero, being in control of time represents power. If you notice, watches can be found in many of his paintings.
Fernando Botero donated much of his artwork to this museum, but had three conditions for doing so. The museum had to be free for everyone to enjoy, he wanted to display the artwork in the museum himself and place everything according to his personal preference, and the last condition was that the paintings could never leave this museum. With the conditions having been met, Botero donated 123 of his own paintings and other paintings that he possessed including many of Picasso’s pieces. In fact, Botero first started by painting artists whom he admired such as Picasso. Shortly thereafter, when Botero began painting other pieces, he painted a person with a guitar that had a smaller sized hole, but instead of calling this a mistake, he decided this would later become his style.
In the late 1970’s, Botero was driving with his son and second wife in Spain when they were involved in a terrible car accident. Botero’s son, Pedro, who was only a child, died in the accident. As a resulting injury of the accident, part of Botero’s finger was cut off. He later traveled to Italy and paid close attention to the sculptures throughout the country. Botero began sculpting because not only was it difficult to paint for some time after his accident, but because he was passionate about volume and knew that sculpting was a great way to give volume to his work. In addition to some of the various sculptures pictured below, you will notice a sculpture of a large hand, which is actually a sculpture of Botero’s hand.
Fernano Botero is the only living artist to sell a painting for over a million dollars, and his work is both enjoyed and celebrated throughout the world.