Slave tunnels in Chincha, Peru

By Erin Hancock

So after spending a month in Lima studying Spanish, finding our local hangouts, making some new friends and making the most of our membership at Gold´s gym it was time to see more of the country.

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Gold´s Gym, Miraflores, Lima

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Peruwayna Language School, Miraflores, Lima (Gracias Melisa! Tu eres una buena profesora!)

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So Erin and Julia bid farewell to Jackson (who landed a chiropractic gig in Huancayo, northeast of Lima!) and the girls headed south.

 

Chincha Slave Tunnels

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Heading 200 kms south of Lima, you arrive in Chincha. The town is most known for a gorgeous property named Hacienda San Jose with an important history (in fact just on the outskirts of Chincha). Underground, beneath Hacienda San Jose is home to what tourists call the ‘Chincha Slave Tunnels’ — a series of nearly 20kms of tunnels accessible from the property. By this name one would hope that some amazing history exists – perhaps of slaves digging a tunnel to escape their slave masters and making a new, free life. That was what we hoped to learn when visiting the plantation (now an upscale hotel hosting some of Peru’s fanciest weddings). However, the story is a much sadder one.

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Starting on a tour through the home and adjoining church, one sees the opulent life of the plantation owners (cotton and sugar were the main crops). The hacienda has been set up to showcase how the property looked in the 18th century, at the time when the property hosted a huge cohort of African slaves.

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After heading to an entrance to the underground tunnels, you can explore a portion of the tunnels….enough to lose your tour group! The reason why they are so long – mainly to bring slaves from the shore at night (who arrived by boat) to the hacienda 17 kms from shore, thus avoiding the port authorities charging a tax on the slaves. The other reasons include providing a safe haven for the slave owners if they needed to escape danger, a safe place to store riches if needed as well as catacombs to bury the bodies of slaves (again, thus under-reporting how many slaves were actually on the property). One gets a chill when entering the dusty, dark tunnels so it’s imperative to have a reliable light. Your mind can run wild with you as you think about the history, while listening to the echoes of others in the tunnels and finding shadows at every turn.

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Knowing this history, you might think it would be hard for someone to want to vacation on the property or give their wedding vows, but the vacancy rate is very low. The beauty of the property wins people over. At times you might even think you´re on a plantation in Georgia. Today the town/region remains a hub of Afro-Peruvian culture and history.

 

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Chasing the dragon

By Jackson

Sometimes in the early mornings I feel an intense sadness. I kick around on Facebook for a bit seeing if anyone noticed my carefully crafted posts. I crawl to the gym, sadness in tow. I reluctantly grip the 10 pounders. Half heartily warming up. Again I press. Warmth creeps in. I can feel the sadness shrink as my chest swells with blood and life. Again I press, harder heaves and AGAIN. I WAIT … stacking the 60s. Something wimpers “wait jackson, 10 more seconds”. The urge overwhelms me. I grip the weights firmly. Press, presss, PRESSSSSS.

All at once SNAP. The pain hits as hard as a horse. DAMN. I pushed too hard. Chasing that fucking dragon. It will be a week of ice and chiropractic appointments, before I’m reunited with my second love…. you are my drug, my addiction, my medicine.

So the next time you see a buff guy doin’ his thing, remember this post.
 
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Photo by Erin Hancock.

Fresh salt air in Lima

November 2015

After more than 3 weeks in Lima, 10 language classes, 19 trips to the gym, probably 40 meals out and lots of miles on our feet, we can confidently report we’re enjoying our experience here. And…we finally made it out of our neighborhood and over to both Barranco (a more artsy district) and Chorrillos (a very mixed neighborhood with some awesome mountains as well as coastal views).

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That’s right, although Rio de Janeiro is known for its Christ the Redeemer statue finished in 1931, Lima wanted to do something equally as cool. So…they did the exact same thing. It is a 37m high statue built in 2011 and named Cristo del Pacífico. Quite similar to 38m statue of very similar detail in Brazil methinks.

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Our new friend Rodrigo, whom we met at Mundolingo (a weekly international social in Miraflores), took his time to show Julia and Erin around the city. Gracias Rodrigo! He spoke English and the gringos spoke Spanish. It was messy, but great practice for all.

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Jackson had a couple of interviews this week for chiropractic gigs so we wanted to celebrate the new developments. We went to one of Lima’s coolest restaurants due to its location. And heck, the food was wonderful too.

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If you think the below pics are the same, look closely. On the left you’ll see a man in a white cape standing dangerously close to the edge. In the right photo you’ll see him in the water just right of the cliffs. The name of the restaurant, Restaurante el salto del fraile, is named “friar jump” so this is a little schtick of the restaurant to entertain the guests (oh, and the gentleman tours the crowd for tips after his jump). The tradition is quite neat – read more about the story here.

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It’s nose to the books for another week and then the girls are off to Huacachina, Arequipa, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Bolivia. For Jackson…only time will tell.

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Hello South America: Lima

By Erin and Jackson

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After a number of months bouncing around Eastern Canada, we were ready to head out on another adventure. This time we chose Peru, the beautiful nation of great food and kind people, not to mention world treasures like Machu Picchu. We’ve been kicking around Lima (a city of 8.5 million) for nearly two weeks with our friend Julia, getting to know our neighborhood of Miraflores, studying Spanish, hitting the gym, socializing, eating great food (es muy rico) and doing lots of walking.

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What we love about Lima so far:

  1. People have been so friendly
  2. There is so much opportunity to speak practice Spanish even in the tourist districts
  3. Lunch including appetizer, main with a drink is $4 Canadian at many of the local restaurants
  4. We are taking advantage of the siesta tradition
  5. The weather is way better than in Canada right now! (although relatively mild compared to how people think about South America at 17°)

Highlights:

Parque de la Reserva (Magic Water Circuit)

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This is a stunning park full of fountains, some set to music with lights and colour to bring out the child in everyone.

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And you can play in the water too!

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Going out in Lima

Pisco sours – who wouldn’t like a drink topped with frothed egg whites? Seems healthy right.

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Yes, we found karaoke in Lima. As you can see, Julia was muy enthusiastic.

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Ceviche, ceviche, ceviche. Peru is known to have some of the best in the world. Sometimes it’s even just the starter for a $4 CAD lunch here.

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An international meetup with Mundolingo, a group that brings the world together for drinks in many languages. In fact, throughout the night, at some point we all spoke 3 languages in the same sentence. (Photo credit to Mundolingo Lima)

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Halloween celebrations

First we went out with Ode (a Canadian connection) and her friends to a Halloween party at the embassy. I was really hoping Trudeau would hear we would be there…and then hop a plane to meet us for the party. If you’re wondering, Julia went as a bulletin board and Erin went as life giving out lemons (and asking “What are you going to do with that?…to which many people still looked very confused).

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Another fiesta at the Peruwayna language school with our teacher Melisa and other students. This time can you guess what Julia and Erin went as? (hint: it’s a group costume)

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More adventures coming soon!

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Kisses to all