I just returned from travels in Peru, which took me from Lima to Cusco, to the Sacred Valley, and eventually to Machu Picchu. It was a spectacular trip! Adventure Life, a company from Missoula, Montana, did the trip travel logistics for our group of University of Montana Alumni. They did an amazing job, starting with providing two incredible local guides, Ayul and Teddy. And the Peruvian food that I ate during the trip – it was delicious! Our group size was small with 19 people in total, which for me was a plus, rather than traveling with a huge bus-load of people. We covered a lot of ground during our Peruvian travels and this is the first of several blogs on the trip, starting with Miraflores, a truly captivating part of Lima.
Miraflores is well known for its green spaces. We stayed in the heart of Miraflores near Parque Kennedy, which is named after John F. Kennedy because of the aid he gave to Peru during his presidency. Although artisans, food vendors, and a free wifi hotspot are draws to the parque, probably its best known aspect is that it is home to many stray cats. No one apparently knows for sure where the cats came from. Some say that a pregnant cat was abandoned in the park about 25 years ago and that event started the parque’s cat population. In any event, today there are by best estimates, probably somewhere around 80-100 cats living in the parque that are cared for by its visitors.
The Miraflores Malecón is a six-mile expanse of parks atop the cliffs that fringe
the Pacific Ocean. The Malecón is a great place for walking, bike riding, and sea-scape viewing. We spent time walking through a part of the Malecón known as Parque del Amor (Love Park) where Víctor Delfín’s large carving of a couple in a deep embrace is its centerpiece.
The cliffs that abut the Pacific Ocean in the Miraflores area are made up of alluvial fan sediments that comprise the Plio-Pleistocene Lima Conglomerate. This geologic unit contains sediments ranging in size from cobbles to clay that were sourced in the Cordillera east of Lima and eventually deposited by the shifting Rimac and Chillon rivers in the greater Lima area. As noted by Roux, J.P. and others (2000: Sedimentology of the Rimac-Chillon alluvial fan at Lima, Peru, as related to Plio-Pleistocene sea-level changes, glacial cycles and tectonics, Journal of South American Earth Sciences 13, 499 – 510), and summarized by Koster (2008), the
“clasts are mostly granites, diorites, gabbros and Mesozoic to Cenozoic volcanic rocks. The Lima Conglomerate has a thickness of up to 86 m. It is interrupted in parts by lenticular sand and siltstone lenses that likely represent estuarine incursions caused by sea-level variations”.
The larger clasts from the Lima Conglomerate form the beach pavement, making for a very rubbly beach surface.
Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Inca ruins dating from about 400-700 CE, lies in the midst of a Miraflores residential neighborhood. The ruins encompass about 5 hectares and most prominently consist of a 22-meter high pyramid with 7 levels presently identified that was built by the Lima culture.
The pyramid is made of adobe bricks stacked like books on shelves; fill for the structure mainly consists of sand and gravel from the surrounding area. This building technique is thought to minimize damage caused by earthquakes, perhaps lending to the complex’s remarkable preservation.
The pyramid part of the complex was most likely used as a ceremonial sector. Clay huts and structures that probably functioned as administrative buildings surround the pyramid.
The Lima culture abandoned Huaca Pucllana about 700 CE. From about 800 CE until 1000 CE, the Wari culture occupied Huaca Pucllana, using it mainly as a burial site for the nobility. In 2008, archaeologists uncovered the intact remains of three people from the Wari culture– two adults that were wearing masks and a child that appears to have been sacrificed.
A later social group, the Ychsma (inhabiting the site from about 1000-1450 CE), appear to have reused some of the adobe bricks from the ruins to build what look like temporary shelters on-site and to use the site for offerings and as a cemetery. In 2015, archaeologists found four Ychsma culture mummies (three women and one man) at the complex.
To add to the mystique of Huaca Pucllana, is the presence of a very fine restaurant where we dined during our evening in Miraflores. The food is wonderful and it was equally fun to see Huaca Pucllana in lights as we ate.