Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Santiago and Lima - Arriving in South America

After a 12 hour flight from Sydney to the other side of the Pacific Ocean, we land in Santiago, Chile. As we need to wait 5 hours at the airport for a connection to Lima in Peru, it is a good excuse to get the sketchbook out and test the small watercolour kit that I will be using for this trip. I have shrunk my usual kit down to basic essentials,which fits in a pencil case.(but a largish one)
It comprises of :-
  • A Winsor and Newtown watercolour field box, but I replace the standard pans with tube colours of my choice. I also leave dried colours on the palette as it gives me nice greys. The top of this box acts as a water reservoir. I bought this box online from the UK at 40% of what they sell for in Australia.
  • Two soft brushes for washes, which I wrap in the bamboo mat you see underneath. I have tried all sorts of expensive brush containers whilst travelling but they all end up bending the brush tips. Wrapping the brushes in the bamboo and securing with an elastic band is the best way I have found to safely carry soft brushes, and it cost all of $1.
  • A soft pencil 4b and a mechanical pencil with a putty rubber.
  • White gouache occasionally used for highlights and error fixing. Need to watch you don't use much as it can kill the freshness of a sketch.
  • A grey pen, waterbrush and a few water soluble colour pencils round the kit out.

Sketching enhances my observation skills and gives me a vivid and a detailed image in my mind of the places that I have been to. I don't get this quality of observation when using a camera and at times need to resist seeing a trip through a camera lens which provides a very constrained view. Another advantage to sketching is that it is an "icebreaker" and you meet many people who come up and talk to you.
 Santiago airport 
8 x 5.5 inches (20 x 14 cms)
Watercolour and pencil on Stillman and Birn beta Paper
Due to a temperature inversion layer, Santiago is usually very misty and at times the hills at the airport just vanished. We flew on to Lima, the capital of Peru which lies about 12 degrees south of the equator. Like Santiago we unexpectedly arrived in a mist. Lima is surrounded by desert and it hardly rains during the year. In fact it is one of the driest capital cities in the world. Water is diverted down from the Andes and public parks are watered by trucks. Hydro is used for power.

The mist was quite unexpected considering the location of both cities. It is quite humid and the unusual weather is due to the locations on the Pacific Ocean near the foothills of the Andes. The cool Humboldt current runs along the coast and reduces the effect of the tropical sun and producing the high humidity causing the clouds and mist. The Andes Mountains prevents the west coast of Peru from receiving tropical storms and rains from the Amazon basin .

We flew onto Lima and spent a couple of days there. Landing right in peak hour and the traffic was bedlam, it took over an hour to get to our hotel in Miraflores which was much quieter and had a lovely park named after J.F. Kennedy. The church below was beside the park with a square of restaurants adjoining. The park was full of dumped cats with signs asking people to adopt them. Lima is very clean with lots of street sweepers endlessly cleaning. Police were very visible which initially made me a little concerned, but they include "tourist police" who are there to help and watch over visitors. In fact we felt very safe where we were and the people very friendly, although tourists do get constantly approached to buy all sorts of things. I developed the impression that Peru is really trying to build its tourist business and is employing lots of people to make it a safe and clean destination.

Church of Virgin Milagrosa, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
8 x 5.5 inches (20 x 14 cms)
Watercolour, pen and pencil on Stillman and Birn beta paper
The "old" centre of Lima with its yellow buildings and ornate balconies

El Beso, The Love Park, Miraflores, Lima
The Love Park is located on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The walls are clad with mosaic tiles embedded with romantic quotes and this monumental statue of two lovers engaged in a passionate kiss. The sculpture celebrates the lovers who gather to watch the sunset, and evidently compete for the longest kiss under the statue.
Next it is off to the highlands of Peru and the discovery of pisco sours.
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