12 years on!


Good morning Folks

I trust this finds you in awesome Monday morning form and that you had a spectacular weekend. A busy old week from the capital of Chaos. Election time being the main headline news, but a selection of other goings-on too, (including “Ley Seca”, an enforced 48hr period of prohibition, good job I’m off the sauce!)
A week in which a legend was lost, Mohammed Ali.  The World is brightened by characters such as him. RIP.

Here is the weekly Lima round-up…

12 years on!


The 4th of June is a memorable date for me. It is the day that I first arrived in Peru in 2004, the day I left Peru in 2006 and also my mate Pete’s birthday (every year)!


If I said I hadn’t really done my homework about Peru (especially Lima), it’d be the biggest understatement of my life! Up until 3 weeks before setting off, Lima was just to be a stepping stone,  as I was originally heading straight out to the Amazon on a volunteer teaching project.
(This fell to pieces and I had the option to teach at a Lima Orphanage, which I did and I loved).


I’d wrapped up my old job at the British Library, sold my old campervan, packed my bags and hotfooted it down to Heathrow in a hire car. The drop-off depot was miles away and I ended up walking with all my gear (overdressed on a balmy June morning), got to the “No Pedestrians” tunnels and eventually managed to flag down a cab which charged me £8 to go to the wrong terminal. I seriously thought I was going to miss my flight, but somehow made it.
I met my friend Lloyd and then at Madrid somehow got an upgrade (despite my scruffy appearance and general sweatiness), after too much wine, food and Baileys in First Class, I floated across the Amazon and Andes, until we dropped through the black cloud into Lima.
6:30pm and pitch black! Experiencing Av. Faucett for the first time was a real eye-opener.
I met up with my amazing home-stay family and settled into life in Lima. It was blissful confusion (my idea/hypothesis that I would pick up Spanish as everybody else surrounding me spoke it was a flawed plan and for a good 3 months I had little/no idea what was going on).


I was very fortunate to be working with a great bunch of volunteers and the social side of things was good, it would have made Tosh Lyons blush at times, happy days (& nights)!


None of the plans that I had made beforehand materialised, but many other things that I would never have dreamt of, happened. Lima was different back then and although at heart I am not really a city person, something about the place got under my skin. It was chaos, but I seemed to adapt quite well to it and after leaving Latin America in October (2004) I think a part of me already wanted to go back.


I was on a round-the-World ticket (£895, a steal!) Originally (Plan A) I was supposed to go from New Zealand to Australia to SE Asia and China, but whilst working (blagging it) as a Chef in Sydney, I decided to change plans and go back to Peru.


Plan A would have seen me back home in June 2005 with no job, no house and not a lot else. (I had flogged/fleabayed/carbooted most of my worldly junk beforehand), so I thought I’d try my hand back in Peru. Arriving back in February 2005 with a head full of dreams (and a scalp full of dreadlocks) I felt confident, but was clueless and without contacts (and only a few months teaching experience, which was basically playing games and singing songs with 5-year-olds) and an out-of-the-ordinary haircut, I figured my CV was going straight in the recycling bin!


I did eventually find a job (half a dozen jobs in fact, in the 6 corners of Lima), got a haircut and carved out a new life. It was hard, I had no bra$$ but it was an adventure, I lived on a diet budget of 5 Soles (£1) a day and ate bananas, bread and SuperNoodles. I ran in a morning, I was fit and had a lust for life. Then I met Lina and the rest is history!


We (I) decided to head back to Blighty in May 2006, but we had been fed a load of lies about the Visa process, so I ended up going back on my own, with Lina to follow in November. I had a leaving Do on the 3rd of June (the night before the Elections and breaking the law, as it is “Ley Seca”, booze is not allowed to be sold nor tippled, as it may “cloud” ones judgement).

Alan Garcia (somehow) won the Second Round of the elections and I returned to the UK, but never really settled. Itchy feet only get itchier and I ran up a succession of jobs; some good, some not so good and some seriously squandered opportunities on my part. Wanderlust hit me hard and after years of trying to persuade Lina to come back, she relented and we returned (with the Nipper) in January 2015.


It’s been a long journey, a long way round and Peru has given me some high highs (and some very low lows). I admit that I haven’t settled back into life here as well as I had hoped, but I’m getting there. I’ve found a job I love and the Wee One is doing really well (her Spanish is better than mine!)


Lima is only a part of Peru, it is obviously the capital, but Peru has MUCH more to offer.
Lima is the traffic chaos, smog and bedlam that tourists briefly pass through when transiting on to Machu Picchu and beyond, but there is also more to Lima than that and once you get your bearings and work things out, it makes a bit more sense. In the last12 years it has advanced a lot, it has changed a lot and the people here seem a lot more positive and outgoing than they used to be. Economically it is doing well due to overseas investment in the mines and shopping centres are full of punters eager to empty their sky rockets of their hard-earned or flex their plastic. Flats are being built everywhere and there are now more flashy 4x4s than Ticos in the bustling streets. (I won’t dwell too much on the topic of traffic!) It really is a place of huge opportunities and although I do whinge on here sometimes, it is a top spot (barring the traffic, but nowhere is Paradise!)

elecciones-2016It’s gonna be very close… (Pic courtesy of Peru.com)


I don’t feel comfortable talking about politics on here, but I only hope that the best person wins the elections. A good president could really make a big difference, whereas a crap president could set the country back years. All will be revealed, soon…

Faith in Human Nature restored!

Something happened on Tuesday that made me feel very, very grateful!
The Clunk had been a bit poorly after our wee-clip-with-a-truck last month.
Nothing major, just two little things that I couldn’t puzzle out/do myself.
As the clutch cable was already way overstretched and the kind-but-blind truck driver had stretched it even more (he caught my clutch lever and span it round 180 degrees), I couldn’t change gear any more.

When moving I could give it a boot, but at slower speeds it just wouldn’t change.
So, as the bike ticks over v-e-r-y slowly and I have to rev it like a two-stoke at the lights, coupled with not revving it too much (as it was still in gear in effect, difficult to describe accurately and I’m failing here), it was a painful and frustrating ride!

The electrics had also gone a bit haywire too. I couldn’t stop the right-hand rear indicator from flashing and although nobody uses, nor takes any  notice of indicators here, for me they do make me feel psychologically better!

Now I had had my pantalones pulled down twice here by unscrupulous mechanics.
The Yamaha boys in San Luis charged me for parts that were never actually replaced (when I called their bluff and asked for the old bits they were a bit dumbstruck).
So when I found Jimmy the spanner-spinner, I thought I’d struck gold. So did he I guess, as when he asked for a cash advance for parts and I foolishly obliged, he suddenly became elusive and eventually fed me a story that his flatmate had stolen all the parts. I had trusted him, but I had been wrong. (Although to be fair he did a good job of rebuilding my engine, despite it taking about 4mths from start to finish!)


Anyway, by chance I stumbled upon a busy little workshop called “Lima Honda Parts” run by Leonardo and his merry men. They did a great bit of work on the Clunk a few months back and when I rang up he quoted me just 4 soles (80p) for the clutch cable, being very apologetic about the fact that it wasn’t actually an original part. I rocked up on the Clunk and one of his workers dropped everything to do my job. He also spotted the cause of the electrics problem and fettled a hand-made part to rectify it (which works a treat). When I came to pay, Leonardo told me it was just 4 soles (80p), I gave him 5 (soles, a quid. I wasn’t too flush) and thanked him a lot. It’s good to have a bike that actually changes gear again!

So, if you’re ever passing through Lima and need any Clunk work doing, get yourself to LIMA HONDA PARTS, they rock:-)

My round!

I’m really getting back into my running of late. Enjoying it much more than I have for years and when the alarm clock goes off at 6am, I bounce (very slowly) out of bed to train (also very slowly). I did the marathon, but that was just a stepping stone. Racing isn’t my main running buzz nowadays, I used to love it, but prefer other challenges, especially longer stuff and if possible in the mountains…

I entered the “Desafio Huarochiri” series which has suddenly crept up on me and is next Sunday!  I’m lumbering into the unknown with the altitude, BIG climbs and weather (feeling hot, hot, hot), but I am giddy. Apprehensive, but giddy. We’ll see. But like I said, it isn’t just racing that makes me tick nowadays. (You get slower when you get older and have to train harder just to keep the same level of slowness. Law of diminishing returns and all that, BUT your stamina does get better, which is a plus!)


About 6 weeks ago I made a life (in Lima) changing discovery in that I finally found a way up into the mountains that surround this dusty old town. I’d previously encountered razor wire, big (electrocuted) fences, guards, walls and all manner of barriers. Most of the barren space is guarded to stop people staking their territory there and building houses/shacks and creating “Pueblos Jovenes” (shanty towns). These big rocky lumps lack any kind of natural beauty or life of any kind, but they are good training and keep me off the rutted tarmac streets, (which are probably more dangerous than being in the hills).


Once you actually get up in the mountains you can physically work out other ways off/on to the tops. There are no maps (OS/otherwise) and I’m going off luck and memorised Google maps. I have kind of dreamt up a circuit that I have named “Doubtful Round” (in honour of Captain Cook), because I’m really not sure if I can:
a) Link up all the sections.
b) Physically get round, it looks a l-o-n-g day out and I have no idea how far it is.
c) Navigate the technical bits. (I did a recce midweek, but went astray in the fog)
d) Finally and most importantly,  actually get off at the far end of the horseshoe, (and it is too far to run back in reverse!)

It is now winter here in Lima. A grey cloak of cloud covers the city. Summer did stubbornly hang on well past its bedtime here, but now it is decidedly cooler and in a morning it is perfect for running. I must look a bit conspicuous crossing over the busy motorway bridge in shorts and vest, when most punters are in hat, scarf and gloves (it’s not that cold!) There is a glimmer of sunshine around midday until 4pm, but I work from 2pm during the week and 8am-4pm Saturday, so Sunday is my only green light possibility.


I had a good look at it today, it is very, very steep in places, possibly the steepest ground I’ve run on, but generally good going and a joy to be out on. Managed about half of I in 3 hours, then I was goosed, completely! This VIDEO shows that fact nicely.

Will it go?

Watch this space.

One of my big long-term ambitions/dreams is to do a Winter “Bob Graham Round”. A 66 mile jaunt around 42 Lakeland summits with a total ascent of 29000ft. I did a summer round with my mate Glen in 2009 and (like most things) it became a complete obsession. It was hard, but I did it. A winter round will be a whole new ballgame though…


I suffer with really, really crap circulation in my hands/feet (self-diagnosed Raynaud’s Phenomenon), I am not very good at running at night and the weather is unlikely to be favourable in mid-winter in the Lakes. Navigation is often tricky in the daytime, but at night, in winter…

It would combine my 2 loves of running and mountaineering and although it will involve a LOT of work (physically and logistically), it is a daydream that I dream a lot, but it won’t happen for a few years yet.


In the meantime, I’ve got sunstroke to worry about next Sunday ;-)

Top books!

In the limited free time that I have I love to get into a book (not literally, it would have to be a big book!) My staple reading material is motorbikes-adventure-RTW stuff and I’ve just finished a brilliant pair of books by Nathan Millward, an incredible lad from Malton who rode a Honda CT110 (Aussie Postie Bike) from Sydney to the UK and then rode it across the US, proving that you don’t need a huge bike, nor a massive wad of cash or even years of planning.
Great reading and a bit different to anyone else who I’ve read, very honest, refreshing and inspiring.


(Photo courtesy of Nathanmillward.com)

Check out the epic duo of “The Long Ride Home” and “Running towards the Light”.
Check out his WEBSITE too :-)

queens aletic club

(Photo courtesy of Queen’s Athletic Club)

I’ve just started reading a book about one of my absolute heroes and you may have never even heard of him. As a lad I read about the great Emil Zátopek, who was a bit like an athletics version of Robert Paulson or Keyser Söze. He used to wear a gas mask to train in, he used to hold his breath when running until he passed out, he used to run on the spot for hours.
Nobody seemed to know what was true and best of all Zátopek used to make the stories even more unbelievable! The truth is that he was a man and an athlete without equal.
The only man to ever win Olympic gold in the 5000m, 10000m and Marathon (all at the same Olympics and his first crack at the Marathon too!) from 1948 until 1954 when he won a remarkable 38 consecutive 10,000 meter races, including 11 in 1949 alone. He set 18 world records over various distances including every record from 5K to 30K, and won four Olympic gold medals and one silver. He was the first to run a 10K under 29 minutes and the first to run 20K in one hour.
He revolutionised training methods by simply beasting himself constantly. Hard training made this hard man even harder, although stylewise he was criticised constantly. People used to say that he looked like he was wrestling with an octopus on a conveyor belt, to which he replied “It is not gymnastics or ice skating you know!” But running was only a part of his story.
Even if you’re not into running, he was an incredible person (with an amazing story).

(Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)


And finally…

I like this video, I hope you do too :-)


Have an incredibly awesome week.

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

p.s. Even though the tucker is mighty fine here, I really, really miss a good pie!



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