We arrived in Lima 2 weeks ago on a hour long flight from Cuzco. As we stepped off the plane the heat hit us - it was baking hot and such a change from the high altitudes we had been at in the previous weeks. We checked into the Loki Lima hostel - right in the beating heart of the upmarket Miraflores district. You only had to look out of the window to see McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts (yuck yuck yuck) in the immediate vicinity of the hostel- Rae spent many nights enjoying a Oreo McFlurry as her after dinner treat. Rae began her archaeology placement at Huaca Pucllana 6 days a week from 8 till 1 so I was left to entertain myself, this usually consisted of watching DVDs, (which i bought from the cheap market called Polvos Azules, the place was full of fake clothing, electronics, pirate dvds all at dirt cheap prices.) going for walks through Miraflores and down to the seaside, and shopping at the supermarket for dinner that day. When Rae returned from work most days we went out for lunch at a cheap and cheerful cafe for a set menu meal (a backpackers best friend) usually we drank 'chica morada' a drink that is similar to blackcurrant and made from purple coloured corn. One afternoon we spent with denis (a local girl we had met in cusco) and her mum, we ate ceviche and walked through the lovers park and along the seafront lined with skateboarders. To be honest we did a fair bit of shopping in Lima, but it was so cheap we grabbed some real bargains, and plus we needed some more clothes. Seriously! The roof terrace of the hostel was the perfect place to sunbathe, play ping pong and chat with friends, and combined with the attached bar we had some good evenings there.
Rae: The placement I did was at an amazing pre-inca site of a people simply called the 'lima culture'. It was a huge funerary monument that was also later used by the incas to bury their dead. The director of the project is a woman who found it in the late 70s as a big recreational area mainly where drug addicts used to hang out. It has a bizarre setting for an archaeological site, it is slap bang in the middle of Miraflores - one of the wealthiest and nicest areas of Lima so is surrounded by residential areas and high rise buildings, the locals use the site as a venue for all sorts, as it has a trendy bar and expensive restaurant on site etc so it doesn't feel like its completely lost in time. The archaeologists' cabins are full of amazing well-preserved artefacts due to the heat and dry atmosphere, including clumps of 1000 year old hair that looks just like yours or mine! That sort of thing would never survive in the UK as the soil conditions are too acidic and moist. (so you should be excited by that). I spent most of the time separating a 'ritual rubbish layer' (where the people of the lima culture had had a booze up and party and not cleared up after themselves basically) so for me it meant separating tiny fish vertebrae and pepper seeds from soil with some tweezers. This got very tedious so I asked if I could help make some bud bricks which was a lot more messy and lots of fun. It's a shame the permission never came from the council to start the excavation but I'm still glad I did it and have made a friend, a Peruvian archaeology student, and she is travelling to the UK next year so maybe i can show her stonehenge or something?
We are now in Panama city, back on the dreaded malaria tablets and will write soon!
Mark and Rae x