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Sarah and I spent Friday morning sightseeing in Lima. The Plaza de Armas is the masterpiece center of Lima, where The Cathedral of Lima and Presidential Palace are located.
We hit the cathedral first. Built in the 1500s, it's been through reconstruction, but retains its colonial grandeur as a showcase for historic, religious art. We declined the tour in favor of sitting, soaking in the sites and wandering at our own pace. I love the quiet and splendor of a cathedral. Give me some soaring arches and candlelight and I'm one happy girl. What I loved most was that in one of many alcoves (which housed the tomb of Francisco Pizarro), a nun was fighting dust bunnies like they were the devil and she was going to drive them out of hell with her broom. Dressed head-to-toe in sparkling white she dusted with such ferocity that the pictures I snuck of her are all a blur. Sarah and I got the giggles. Sacrilegious, yes, but all I could think of was Desperate Housewives.
We moved on to a room that housed ancient vestments and clerical garments. The giggles followed us. We couldn't help it. The fabric of one of the robes looked like Michelle Obama's yellow inauguration dress. From there, all we could do was assign the other sacred garments to other dignitaries. Red and grey embroidery for George Bush; silver and gold for Rahm Emanuel. Maybe we were getting out of hand because one of the security guards directed us to tour the crypt. Nothing like viewing an underground mausoleum to stifle the sillies. Of note, the crypt held the remains of clergy only; not a single woman rested here.
Outside in the Plaza, a folk dancing exhibition was happening in front of the Presidential Palace. As the dancers left, police in riot gear took their places. Soon the street was lined with soldiers, policemen, guard dogs and rifles. Behind the palace gates, a press corps buzzed around the steps. Sarah and I found a bench in front of the riot squad to watch. Within minutes, the President of Peru, the Prime Minister and many other "men in suits" descended the steps and were surrounded by photographers and journalists. The President said a few words and quickly ascended the steps again, leaving the prime minister to deal with the press.
I have no idea what that press conference was about but we felt lucky. It was comparable to being a tourist outside the White House gates and having our President appear. Right after the president disappeared, a young man with a professional camera sprinted across the Plaza and behind the gates. Sarah and I speculated he'd just blown the chance of a lifetime. She figured he'd lost track of time stalking the girl of his dreams on Facebook. I thought he'd gotten stuck dealing with a tantrum at his daughter's preschool or was stuck in traffic. Either way (or probably not even close on either of our accounts), he'd just missed his chance to snap a shot of the President. Dude, blew it.