Lima: Sunday night June 29th We were worried we would never get here. Our flight had been over-booked and, as a result, there was quite a scene in the departure lounge. Various members of TACA staff were trying to influence travelers to give up their seat whilst also trying to calm those passengers who turned up to find they did not have one. We had been advised to arrive at the airport 3hrs before check in. Initially, we thought this absurd but now, I would strongly recommend anyone who is departing Quito to do the same! We arrived into Lima at about 8.30pm and were pleasantly surprised by the large, clean and modern airport. Inwardly I was hoping that this might mean that Lima might have taken a little more care of itself. 5 minutes out of the airport though and we were back to the ‘besser brick’ theme. That business idea is looking more profitable. Our hotel is located in the more modern, seaside area of Miraflores. The ‘Monte Real’ is supposedly a fairly new hotel but our room was rather disappointing. We went on down though to have our ‘Welcome’ drink at the bar before heading to bed. We sat in the quirky bar, listening to ABBAs 1970s ‘Arrival’ album and observed that the main clock that was stuck on 9. That sort of summed up Lat Am so far…always just that little bit behind. Miguel, our waiter was again, muy sympatico. He practiced his English on me and I, my Spanish on him. we parted friends as we headed off to our room so I clearly did not make any serious errors with my hablar Espanol Lima: Monday June 30th We met our tour guide, Paola, this morning. She helped us to obtain a better room within our hotel, one where we could actually fit our cases in as well as ourselves! Paola took us on a walk along the main road through Miraflores and gave us a lot of background information on Peru and the Peruvian people. BTW: we now know why many of the buildings are not finished in Lat Am. Property owners have to pay more tax on completed dwellings hence, they are left unfinished! She explained that the heavy air pollution is usual and does not lift, if at all, until the afternoon. Although Lima is situated on the coast, indeed our hotel is only a few blocks from the Pacific, the mountains must prevent the air from circulating thoroughly. Consequently, it is rare to see blue sky at this time of year and their days are usually grey and smoggy. The water too is heavily polluted and locals will not swim there. Rather, they pay a fee to swim at a more secluded private beach located further from the city centre. Paola also commented on the ‘manana’ attitude of Peruvians. She said that they were a casual, no- worries kind of people who were never on time. Paola highlighted the problems this faced for them as they tried to capitalize on the tourist dollar. I would like to mention at this point that this seems to be a general Lat Am issue, not just Peruvian. She then pointed us in the right direction as we went on our eternal search for a Nintendo DS re-charger where, we again failed. Our afternoon was spent on a tour roughly 30km south of Lima at the ancient site of Pachacamac. This area is of archeological significance for it houses the remnants of four ancient civilizations dating back as far as the Limas of 200BC up to the Incas of AD1440. Of much greater impact though were the shantytowns surrounding this area. Squatters from surrounding areas or the highlands come and set up crude camps on private land without electricity, water or sewage. Soon, more follow and you have yourself a shantytown. Some eventually obtain services but many still exist with only electricity. The people who inhabit these dwellings travel to the city and are generally employed in service positions, for example as waiters or street vendors. The sight of these extensive towns sprawled across the barren landscape was truly depressing and disturbing. We stopped off at the bohemian area of Barranco on our way back to Miraflores. This area is popular with young people, musicians and artists and has many good bars and restaurants. Dinner tonight though was at a Peruvian seafood restaurant, El Senorio de Sulco, walking distance from our hotel. We had a quick drink at the bar before heading off there where we were treated to more ABBA, but this time in Spanish. Their music budget was obviously quite limited! Tuesday 1st July Short blog today as very tired! AM: City tour with Paola to the Old Town area, Plaza Mayor, Iglesia de San Francisco (seem to have one of these in every city!) and the Nacional Arqeologia Museo. Lunch: Mangos at Larcomar. This is an interesting, albeit touristy, complex of shops and restaurants set into the cliff face and overlooking the ocean in the Miraflores district. PM: Walk along the paved foreshore walk on edge of cliff that runs along the coastline. Dinner: Barranco district. PS: Lat Am drivers are the worst and most aggressive I have ever seen. You take your life in your hand ever time you cross a road or hop in a car/taxi!!!! We leave on an early flight tomorrow for Cusco, situated high up in the Andes at 3250m.