Synesthetic Travel Experiences of an Itinerant Printmaker
Friday, May 27
An hour after midnight, below the plane, the black pacific came into view, decorated with the amber lights of freighting ships, their reflections smeared on the dark water. We passed Peru’s ports and descended at Lima International airport. As the doors opened, the sent of the sea entered the plane on balmy, humid air.
We waited at baggage claim, watching luggage move at a snail pace, to find that we arrived before our belongings and that the bags would not meet us until 4 am the following day. The group of VCU students and instructors stepped out of the airport at 2:30 am to find our driver waiting to take us in a large tour bus to Hotel Colonial in the Miraflores district.
After getting our keys we went our separate ways to sleep for a few hour in dirty clothes. In the morning we found a buffet of scrambled eggs, fresh cheese and peeled tropical fruit. After eating we walked to the bank to exchange dollars to soles, then went to the grocery store to get water and basic hygienic supplies to replace what was delayed inside our baggage.
Our first destination in Lima was the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia, Archelogia e Historia where our guide showed us replicas of artifacts and dioramas of ancient civilizations. After our tour we walked as a group to El Bolivarino http://www.elbolivariano.com/ for a traditional Peruvian lunch, which included grilled beef heart, chicken in a thick, yellow pecan sauce along with other aromatic meat dishes and rice. The vegetarians were served cooked vegetables rolled in a bright yellow potato mash, potato salad and rice. We also tasted our first pisco sours (a tart drink made by blending Peruvian brandy with lime, bitters, sugar and egg white) and chicha morada (a sweet, syrupy drink made from blue corn).
From the restaurant the bus took us to Museo Larco http://www.museolarco.org/ an estate built on top of a 7th century pyramid, which houses an enormous collection of pre-Columbian ceramic vessels and other artifacts. The director of the museum, grandson of the founder and a childhood friend of our program director, has recently transformed the grounds of the museum into an elegant sanctuary with a café and boutiques, all of which is draped with brilliant bougainvillea of different colors.
We were given a tour of the small museum and shown fiber works: an abacus-like ancient counting devices made from knotted yard, elegant feathered costume pieces with minimal, geometric designs as well as ceramic vessels with graphic glazings and golden ceremonial costume pieces. Erotic pottery depicting copulating people and animals were arranged in an adjacent building.
In the evening we went to Haiti Restaurant for dinner. I enjoyed shrimp soup with huge chunks of potato and corn and shared a half bottle of Peruvian Intipalka Malbec with Yu Mi, the art history instructor.