Huacla Pucclana is a huge adobe and clay pyramid in the Miraflores district. It was created by the people who ran this area before the Incas took control. It was also the first stop on our Lima tour today.
The interesting thing about Huacla Pucclana is that it is made entirely of mud bricks which rather than being laid flat are stood on their end as a means of providing stability in case of earthquake. I’m not quite clear to me how that works, but it makes for an interesting look.
Clever approaches to earthquakes were also in evidence in the main Lima Cathedral which we visited later in our tour. The enormous, solid-seeming pillars turn out to be hollow constructions of bamboo with a plaster facing. As they have withstood several earthquakes the design must work well.
The Cathedral also contains the remains of Francisco Pizarro who conquered the Incan empire and founded the city of Lima. It is probably fitting that Pizarro’s remains are in a huge chapel in the Cathedral as he, in effect, brought much of South America into the Catholic Church. It seems the modern Peruvian view of Pizarro is somewhat ambivalent. There was a movement to have his statue removed from the main square and many Peruvians regard him as a criminal. However, when I asked our guide what Peruvians thought of Pizarro he said “He was OK. Clearly he wanted gold and silver, but he started life as a poor man so that is understandable.”
Pizarro saw Lima which he founded in 1535 as his greatest work. The city today is rather unlovely: It’s neither poor enough to be quaint nor rich enough to be beautiful. There are some great buildings – which led to a World Heritage listing – but they are surrounded by many ugly ones. The buildings seem to have been originally funded by rivers of Incan gold and silver and then, in a second wave in the late 1800s, by guano. In between earthquakes did a good job of destroying any potential for consistency.
Today Lima’s streets are crowded to choking point with cars and buses. Taxis are unregulated and are just everywhere. Horns honk constantly. It’s not peaceful, but there’s a nice feel to the centre of Lima. There are many, many parks in defiance of the fact that it never rains here. And although the pople dress sombrely they seem happy. That said, there are many parts of Lima that are simply not considered safe to venture into as a tourist and where there is serious poverty.
It was something of a relief to return to the seaside at Miraflores with its calmer parkland along the cliff-tops. It’s really a different world and kept that way by a veritable army of security guards and cleaners. We walked back home watching the paragliders take off, stopping in at a lovely playground and discussing invasions and the rights and wrongs of Pizarro.