We could have stayed in Cusco a few more days. In fact, I think Deborah is ready to buy property there. Nevertheless, Sunday we headed back to Lima bright and early. Okay, perhaps not so bright and not that early. Fog was hanging low over Cusco, and our flight was delayed about 45 minutes. In the meantime, we were trapped at the gate without any stores to buy snacks or water. They were not permitting anyone to go back through security.
The flight was pleasant enough, but we stood at the baggage carousel until all the bags had gone, and didn’t see ours. We were a bit panicked, because we had souvenirs and gifts in those bags (who cares about our clothes? What about the books! The tapestries! The pottery!) Deborah talked to the airport employees, and they headed back into the luggage drop-off and finally retrieved our bags.
The tour company driver we’d met before was there to pick us up on the other side. He was under the impression that we had no hotel in Lima, which wasn’t the case. We had a voucher for a room at the Melia, even though our flight to Mexico City left at 12:20 am the following morning. So he drove us to the hotel, where we discovered yet another mix-up (our firsts with this Peru tour company, who up until now had been beyond organized and helpful). Our itinerary stated we were slated to visit two Lima museums that day, the Larco Herrera and the National Archeology Museum. The tour company only seemed to know about the Larco. As a result, we had to fish out $20.00 in untorn US bills each to go to the Archeology Museum. They told us we would have to arrange a refund through our travel agencies.
Despite that, the museums were amazing, especially the Larco. The Larco starts out much as any museum, with pristine exhibits behind glass accompanied by lengthy explanations on the walls. Most of what they had were pre-Spanish ceramic and metal artifacts–pottery, jewelry, and work implements. Then they take you to the other wing of the ground floor building, where you die and go to ceramic pottery heaven. That wing is wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor glass display cases crammed with ceramic pottery, categorized by subject matter and tribal affiliation. All the pots of the peoples of this region are created in the shape of something else, usually an animal of some sort, sometimes people or mythical beings as well.
Downstairs, you find the collection of “erotic pottery” that mostly shows couples engaged in various sexual acts. It is graphic, but not tasteless. A few of the items there are women delivering or suckling children, or lone men with unnaturally-sized potency. I didn’t spend much time down there, as our tour guide was a rather dignified older man and it embarrassed me to be looking at this stuff with him lingering there. But I did note that, compared to the replicas of these artifacts you can buy in the gift shops in the Cusco area, there were proportionally less of the oversized-male appendage art pieces than you’d expect. Just sayin’.
The archeological museum wasn’t quite the artifact-overload of the Larco, but it was organized chronologically, and always placed the different artifacts in context of time, region, and tribe very neatly. We exited that museum an hour or so later to find that our driver had left with our purchases from the Larco and what was left of our sandwich lunch in his van. Another van came long quickly to take us back to the hotel, but we didn’t get our stuff back for a few more hours.
We had about six hours to kill until the van returned to take us to the airport, so I used the computers in the hotel, took a bath, and we scarfed down what was left of lunch and crashed.
The flight to Mexico City left shortly after midnight and took about six hours. They fed us, showed us a movie we didn’t watch, then dimmed the lights. In Mexico City, it took forever for us to retrieve our bags since they sent them out in small shifts. You could see shadows of security officers and their dogs on the wall behind the baggage claim carousel, slowly going over all the bags. Finally we retrieved them, and promptly put them back through security again for our next leg.
That killed about an hour and a half of our four-hour layover. We had some Mexican change left over that we spent on coffee and crescents and lunches for later. And chocolate! After three or four times hanging out in the Mexico City airport, we had a favorite little chocolate place where we bought a few samples of different flavors. I also had some chocolate liqueurs from the Cusco airport. Suppose we will have to finish those up before the post-vacation diet begins.
In the Hermosillo airport, a security officer actually opened our carry-ons and poked through them quite thoroughly. I am assuming this is a U.S. requirement more than it is a Mexican one. The flight to Hermosillo was pretty uneventful, as was the flight to Phoenix. At this point, you are pretty much in zombie-ville, reading or sleeping and pushing on. Security on the Phoenix side went smoothly, and we cashed in our Peruvian and Mexican bills before catching a shuttle home.
Zombie-ville continues today, and then, at least for me, it’s back to work tomorrow.