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Sunday, June 23, 2013

A blister in the sun...

 
The tuk-tuks in Barranco made me happy. Here we're supposed to call them "mototaxis" but whatever. They're made in Thailand. A tuk-tuk is a tuk-tuk.
 
I wandered south some more and came to huge, elegant gates with the sign Museo Pedro de Osma. Behind these gates was a stunningly white colonial mansion flanked by lion statues and green lawn. This looked enticingly good. I went up to the little stand where a security guard leaned and within an attractive girl sat patiently. There was a sign beneath her window but no indication as to the cost, or even if there was one. Cuanto questa? I asked, tentatively. She said it several times until I understood she was saying viente. Twenty. I took out a 20 centimos piece. They both looked pained. No. 20 soles.
 
Me muy stupio Americano.
 
And while fumbling in my purse for the correct amount I managed to knock the metal sign that didn't say how much it sot to the ground with a tooth-parring clang.
 
Me muy, muy stupido Americano.
 
I fled into the sanctuary of the house, and was immediately overwhelmed by an enormous collection of paintings, most over sized, most of religious scenes and icons, saints and martyrs, all in gilt frames, and you knew that gold leaf was real.
 
Exquisite furniture and carvings, and paintings after paintings. St. Michael the archangel and the beautiful Saint Rose of Lima and Virgin Mary were especially well represented.
 
 
Saint Rose is the patron saint of Latin America and the Philippines. She came from a nice family but apparently did not appreciate her beauty and reportedly cut off her hair and smeared pepper on her face when suitors began to take notice of her. This did not do flattering things for her complexion, making her skin red and blistered. Apparently the suitors went elsewhere. She spent all her time doing good works for the poor and also did holy and penitent acts as burning her hands, fasting, and vowing eternal virginity, becoming a recluse except for when she left the house to go to church and vegetarianism. This drew the attention of the church.
 
 
Her parents found her a trial -not eating meat?! A girl making herself ugly? resisting marriage?!- and probably should have been canonized as a reward for putting up with their frustrating, daughter, so different from girls of the time.

Perspective, though, says that she probably couldn't even get her own reality TV show these days. Except maybe for the hand burning thing.
 
I had the museum almost entirely to myself and admired the artwork, then wandered over to the silver display in an adjoining building, which was stunning. Exquisite works that ranged from silver shoes to serving dishes of all sorts in the forms of animals to entire saddles of silver (that poor horse).
 
The pelican, I read, symbolizes Christ, who sacrificed himself for mankind; the pelican is often shown plucking at it's own heart to feed its children on its own blood.
 
 
 
Eeyagh.
 
What really happens is that blood from fish that pelicans eat and feed to their young gets on their chest feathers, that's all.  But never mind that.
 
I went back outside into the glorious courtyard and watched the sign I'd knocked down being carried back to the front from a workplace apparently hidden in the back. Oh dear. But then I saw something that lightened my heart considerably; a few outdoor tables and chairs arranged behind curtains and a sign for the museum cafe.
 
I may have incredibly lousy Spanish but mama, I can order a coffee.
 
 
 
 
 
and sipped it while gazing over the beautiful scene before me
 
 
 
A girl could get used to such things; she really could.
 
 
I was nearing the bottom of the cup when I noticed my hands were itching.  What on earth...?
 
They were bubbling with tiny blisters. I racked my brains. What could I possibly have gotten into? I had a mango for breakfast and coffee just now, those were nothing new. I'd gone to the bathroom in an unattractive port-a-potty but hadn't really touched anything.
 
I needed Dr Google. Stat.
 
So I headed north, first through Barranco, following the clifftops back to Miraflores.

 
older woman strutting elegantly with serious flair
 
 
I was four miles from my laptop, and by the time I had gone three-and-a-half of those I was hungry and tired, despite the beautiful vistas. I had intended to have a real lunch in Barranco rather than to flee home.
 

 

My unlikely savior appeared; neither a knight nor a pelican.

The ice cream guy, all in yellow. With a big yellow hat. Me and Curious George.

Passionfruit-vanilla ice cream (Helado de Crema sabor Vainlla cubierto de Helado de agua con Jugo de Maracuya) on a stick tasted better than anything I could possibly have imagined at that moment.

I got to the apartment and called Mike. "Um, do you know where the nearest pharmacy is, I might need one."

There are things that when said in South America you should probably be prefaced with "I'm pretty sure nothing is wrong, but..."

As it turned out, those little blisters are a common condition called polymorphic light eruption. The sun did it, of all things.

Kind of an allergic reaction to too much sunlight. Who knew?

Dr Google suggested topically applying a weak acidic solution. Hmm.

Limes! It's by national mandate that all must have limes in their home at all times or risk deportation.

OK, I just made that up, but here's what I did: smeared my hands with a lime juice-water mixture.

Plus an antihistamínico that I picked up that evening, just in case.

After the treatment my hands were still blistered and vaguely pickled. On the other hand, the itching was relieved and I now wafted a sort of lime margarita scent. Not all bad.


Which didn't make me less attractive to suitors, either.


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