Day 11 :: La Ciudad de los Reyes

The coastal city, a post-modern nightmare, its contemporary face, its ruins and my sketches.

I had a wonderful dream – I was with friends and was somewhere familiar. Sadly, I woke up at a quarter before five in a hurry to catch my flight to Lima. Several hours later I was in the back of a cab meandering through the Andean immigrant neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. The low lying contemporary houses filled the foreground like tetris pieces, only unified by the faint horizon of the Pacific Ocean. I didn’t feel well.

‘Buenas, buenas, okay, gracias, donde est….oh okay gracias,’ I mumbled again and settled into my room. ‘Here we go again,’ I said to myself. I quickly scribbled key streets and icons into my sketchbook from a map that hung on the wall of the entry way and went out into the blistering sun. Although it’s only been 11 days now, the mental exercise of attempting to understand a new city every three days has caught up to me. My preliminary research for Lima offered me a list of buildings (without addresses – only names of neighborhoods) and with no other recourse, I walked up and down the loosely defined grids of the Miraflores and San Isidro districts, zigzagging the urban fabric eagerly looking in every direction. I found little. This added to the general anxiety and despair I was feeling back in Quito. I walked along the coast and the view was incredible, but I kept walking (The only picture I took, above). Now, friends that know me all too well will claim that I am just being dramatic, but how long can someone gaze into the sublime? My married (and practically married) friends have each other to share these experiences with; but for someone alone, on some sort of conquest for architecture, the concrete jungle is my focus.

Hours later I sat down at a cafe. Feeling defeated, I took solace in drawing. Using the edge of a coaster I tried hard lining the senseless forms I cant stop myself from drawing. Lima is an incredibly resolute city; there is construction everywhere, contemporary condos reveal the population’s acceptance of a more “modern” way of living, and the infrastructure of the city was clean and organized. I tried to draw the city from the vantage point of my cafe table, but simply couldn’t do it. I’m not sure if there is anything more boring than drawing urban banality!

I had heard of this ruin that sat in the middle of the city and went off looking for it. About half and hour later I realized I was lost and asked people on the street for guidance; coincidentally the first woman I found happened to be the very same woman that sat next to me on my flight earlier. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I saw her, for which she reciprocated with equal bewilderment. With her help I made it to Huaca Pucllana, the remnants of a Pre-Colombian pyramid and temple in the heart of the city. The raw formal chaos of what was left was the most interesting thing I had seen all day.

Heading home early to get some much needed rest I stopped and indulged at a KFC for dinner. God bless globalization in all of its capitalistic glory. I have a few more meetings this week before heading to Machu Pichu…


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