Paragliders, fountains and, err, erottery

Just like Brighton…

I can’t exactly say I loved Lima the last time I was here; I remember a city in perpetual drizzle and polluted smog that smelled of chicken feed. I’m pleased to say we had an altogether different experience this time round!

Miraflores is an upscale middle class district of town perched on cliffs looking down on the sea. Although polluted and not looking all that inviting, the water plays host to hundreds of surfers riding the waves in, and an antique pier slicing through the middle. It’s a bit reminiscent of Brighton – only here there is actually lots of sand!

The most visible sport is however paragliding – colourful sails leaping off the cliffs, gaining height and then disconcerting everybody by soaring along above the clifftop road just high enough not to get hit by the traffic. It’s a little alarming when you first look up at what’s blotted out the sun and see a human suspended from silk!

For the afternoon, we thought we’d try something cultural and entirely different. A pre-Colombian union that probably won’t make our set of gifts to bring home for a family mantelpiece, the Larco museum has among its many ceramic treasures a collection of erotic pottery – or as we came to call it, erottery. A core belief of the time was that sex was necessary for the fertility of the soil and good crops the next season – and hence it should be practised not just for procreation. Quite a difference from some religions doctrine today! The pots are hence religious symbols of fertility, and were used in holy festivals. It does make for a strange juxtaposition -graphic depictions of sex on water jugs and the like; I can’t quite imagine sitting round the dinner table for Sunday Lunch and someone pouring wine from the, ahem, spout, on some of these! It gets weirder still though, the three worlds of the pre-Colombians were inhabited respectively by animals, humans, and dead humans – and all were expected to have sex, sometimes with each other, in order to fertilise the soil. Needless to say this makes for some even less dining-table-friendly imagery, which I’m not going to publish below! For the inquisitive, I’m sure Google will assist!

This is all you’re gonna get!

To cleanse our souls, we visited Lima’s park of fountains. It is impossible to overstate this – it was utterly brilliant. Almost everywhere we have been in the world, the water has disappointed. At the Taj Mahal, all fountains were turned off. The same in Delhi, Luang Prabang, Rio, Buenos Aires, La Paz and Sucre. Yes, in a few places there was a bit of water spouting around, and at Iguacu it was genuinely impressive – but still, we’d simply hoped for more. Until now! We present, in pictures below, the world’s largest collection of fountains (with lights). Yes, we got stuck in the middle of the water maze and got wet. Yes, that jet is higher than a tree. And yes, those are lasers! Fantastico!

Light and laser show onto fountains

For our final night in Peru, we met up with my old friend Ronald Salas, who lives in Lima and helped organise – and attended Global Village, the big Woodcraft Folk youth festival I was involved with in 2006. Over a coffee and Lima-style sandwich we caught up – he’s now involved with starting a new IFM organisation here, Mundo Nuevo – and he introduced us to a fellow Woodcrafter who’s out here, Ruth Holtom. Hi guys!

After a final meal of cerviche (Laura is positively addicted), we’re off to the warmer and less spicy climbs of Colombia. Tune in next week for a touch of life on the Caribbean…