As a researcher doing fieldwork in a foreign country, I normally stop in cities for the essentials: meet collaborators and process paperwork for research permits. Little time is made for savoring the city or indulging in its daily life. Early in the planning of this field course, we decided to dedicate 2-3 days to an orientation to Peru, through an academic tour of it museums and cultural life. This is my 4th visit to Peru, so it is time that I also steep myself in this side of Peru; I am as much a student as the other participants accompanying me.
Our tour of the archeological site, Huaca Huallamarca, was cool – an adobe pyramid dating from ~200 AD and an exquisitely-preserved seated female mummy with a spectacular head of very long black hair coiled around her tiny frame (an 1800 year old Rapunzel!) – surrounded by high-rise buildings. The next stops were to the National Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (a distilled walk through the human history of Peru) and to the privately-run Larco Museum. The latter is simply breathtaking for outstanding museum design and display and for extensive collections of ceramics, weavings, and gold and silver.
The drive “home” took us through many neighborhoods, but I must say that the Bosque el Olivar stood apart. The ancient twisted olive trees were planted in the 17th century and today give a distinct character to this elegant area. Who knew that Peru is a producer of olives and olive oil?