Growing up in California, I had no real first-hand experience of things that were OLD. The thought that people had been going to Disneyland since 1955 blew my mind, and there was a neighborhood in the next town that was built in the 1920s that seemed simply ancient, because by California standards, it was.
When I traveled to Europe for the first time and saw REAL history, it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that people built what I was seeing hundreds and in some cases thousands of years ago. I suspect that if you have been exposed to this type of history your whole life, you may take it for granted, but this California girl sure doesn’t. I wonder about the people and their lives and their personalities. Who did they love? What was their favorite food? Were they kind?
On one of our first trips together, we were standing on the bulwark of the Fort San Cristóbal in San Juan and I said to Brett, “Don’t you just want to know everything about the people who built this fort?” “Nope”, was his succinct reply, “but I’d like to shoot one of those canons.”
In the heart of the Miraflores district in Lima, Peru, there is the strangest juxtaposition I’ve ever seen. Sixteen hundred year old Huaca Pucllana is surrounded by the modern city. It is a clay and adobe brick pyramid built by the pre-Inca Lima Culture, who lived between 200-700 AD. It was an important ceremonial site where human sacrifices were made and ritual banquets were held. After the Lima Culture died out, the Wari Culture converted the pyramid into a tomb for its elites. Following the Wari Culture’s disintegration, the Ichma Culture took over until they were conquered by the Incas in 1470, who were then conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors. It’s a miracle this pyramid has survived.
We took a guided tour and learned details about their lives. Shark and other sea-food was the staple of the Lima Culture’s diet, although they did have gardens, and developed irrigation systems. They also raised llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs for meat. Textiles were an important status symbol and were made of cotton and animal fur, which were very colorful and sophisticated. They also made beautiful ceramics. It all seemed very “modern day” until we got to the human sacrifices. They were all young women, and we were told it was a great honor and they went willingly. Rather than being distraught, their families would have been very proud.
Delving into the fascinating history of this culture was right up my alley. Brett had enjoyed it too, but after the tour was over, I felt like I wasn’t done talking about the people who had lived here so long ago. As our guide and I continued discussing the people of the Lima Culture, Brett was looking around for a canon.