A year in Peru!

Good morning Folks

A very Happy New Year to you!
I trust you’re having a superb festive season.

First & foremost, my thoughts are with friends & family in the flood ravaged northern counties; Yorkshire, Lancashire & Cumbria (plus Scotland). The images I’ve seen this week of Tadcaster being divided by the bridge collapse were heartbreaking. Thinking of you all. Stay safe!

Today is the anniversary of our departure from Blighty’s fair shores to the sunnier, sweatier (& at times greyer) climes of Lima, Peru.
An ambitious plan, moving across the World with a 9mth old baby, starting from scratch all over again. I am a perpetual daydreamer, which does sometimes get me into bother. It was pressure from me that made Lina agree to move back here, which makes me feel/sound like a bad husband!
Lima is a very different place to Leeds. As I’ve said before, not better nor worse, just different. It was a gamble, a big gamble…
valen2Heathrow Airport 02/01/15


One year on!

One year on, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the last 12 months. There have been some amazing times, some great times, some not-so-great times & some very, very dark times too.
There are some things that really do drive me nuts, (i.e. the incessant traffic) but like any Lima Taxista will tell you it’s too big-a-monster to fight, if you try you’ll go loco! I’d dearly love to change some things (& put my noisy neighbours on a different planet), but that’s life!
Nowhere is Paradise, it’s important to make the most of what you have, not wish for what you don’t have (in my case, size 13 shoes. More chance of me being made the next president than finding a pair of size 47s here!)
It’s been possibly one of the hardest years of my life so far, without sounding dramatic. A lot of soul-searching & for the first time in my life I’ve had a bit of a battle with the black dog, but I’ve also had an incredible amount of help & support from some amazing people.
I’ve clashed with a number of people, which I apologise for.
Frustration levels have at time been in orbit & my patience fuse/wick has been trimmed down dramatically.
On the other (much happier) hand, I have met some amazing people, who I wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t here.
Life is an adventure, if it was easy it’d be dull. Live it to the full! (Just made that up & it rhymes too!)
In 2016 I’m going to be a lot more positive. I’ve got plans & ideas which I’ll share with you as & when they happen!
A special thank you to my ever patient wife Lina, to James & Erika, to Matthew A, to Hyrum & all my awesome colleagues at Britanico & especially to my original partner-in-crime, Lloyd. It’s been quite a journey…
Is it a mistake to go back to a place? Places change & people change too.
One of the headiest, hedonistic & barmiest times of my life was my mid-20s. My mates & I used to be out every weekend without fail. Then as time went on, it became a once-a-month payday session, then birthdays, then milestone birthdays, then just weddings/Christmas…
At first I found it hard to understand, but times change, people change & circumstances change too. It’s a natural progression (& to be honest if I had carried on that lifestyle, at that rate, I’d be in a state now!)
valen504th June 2004, about to get my first & only upgrade. A one-off for a scruffy hobo like me!

valen51Valen56valen52Early days at the Orphanage.

Valen53A brief flit into the jungle…

valen59Don’t give this man any more beer!

I first came to Peru on the 4th of June 2004, as a 32 years old, single volunteer TEFL Teacher, with a bit of bra$$ burning a hole in my sky rocket (having sold pretty much everything I owned in Blighty). Wide-eyed & bushy tailed. I loved teaching & they were happy, happy times. I then went around the World, but Latin America had gotten under my skin, especially Peru, so rather than blowing my hard-earned in SE Asia & China, then arriving back to the UK penniless & potless, with no job/house/van, I pondered chancing my arm in Peru, so I cut short my trip & returned here in February 2005.
It was hard at first, really hard. I had no contacts & was a bit naïve about jobs. (The dreadlocks & piercings had to go!)
Valen57valen60valen61Haircut Sir!
I had to accept any jobs going & in my first position I was earning £1/hour, which is low. I had to survive on a £1-a-day food budget, but I was fit & keen (& very lean). I worked in the 4 corners of Lima & knew the place intimately. I then met Lina & the rest is history…
We moved back to sunny Yorkshire in 2006, but my itchy feet just got itchier & itchier. My Athlete’s Foot was chronic! After 7 years (on&off&on&off) of shifts at the Brewery, I’d had enough & Lina agreed to return to Peru.
January 2nd 2015 saw us cramming a hire car with as much luggage as we dared chance taking on a plane, so on a hot & sweaty Saturday morning we arrived at Jorge Chavez International Airport. Our taxi was an hour late picking us up & as we bounced down the rutted tarmac of Av. Elmer Faucett, I seriously considered turning around, had we made a terrible mistake???

One year on, we’re doing alrighty. We’ve both found jobs that we love, the Nipper is growing up fast, we’ve got our little flat & I’ve got my ailing Honda Clunk (for my sins). Financially we’re managing (teaching is a job that one does for love not money) & apart from my sporadic chest infections (the air quality isn’t great here), Lima is a mad city full of opportunity. It has changed dramatically in the space of a few years & is almost unrecognisable from 2004.
Buoyed by overseas investment (mainly in mining) Peru has a healthy economy, it’s been booming for the last 8 years & although it’s levelling off, generally folk have more money/opportunity/credit in their pockets than in the past.
Construction is an eye-opener, new flats & office blocks are growing everywhere.
Traffic is more horrendous than ever, as it is now easier to get credit (not at the best APRs) so more people have more cars = more traffic.
Material wealth is apparent too. 10 years ago punters would send a text from an old Nokia (like the one I have now) hiding it in their bags. Nowadays everybody (bar me) has a smartphone/tablet & flashes it around. People seem much more positive, which is a good thing. There is more crime, but there are more Police in Peru than any other Latin American country (who seem to spend a lot of time on their smartphones, perhaps they are using a top secret crime App!)
A picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than writing a 248 page blog, here is a quick photo round-up of the last year…
VALEN40Christmas 2015, Tadcaster.


The endless battle against red tape & bureaucracy finally paid off !

James & Erika, an awesome couple :-)

VALEN36Matthew, my Tea Saviour. Awesome bloke :-)

VALEN32My good mate & ever patient work colleague, Hyrum.

VALEN33VALEN31The best team in the World (no, not Leeds United), Britanico- Camacho.

Valen54Arequipa 2004. I will never, ever eat this ever again, I promise!

VALEN44Lloyd & myself, about to embark on an epic desert adventure. Ica 2004. It’s been an adventure ever since!

valen8valen6The poor Clunk! Maybe not my best investment, but it’s been a learning curve (steep-to-overhanging at times!)

valen27valen26valen20A lady with a lot of patience, my missus :-)

valen25valen23valen15valen12valen5valen4valen3The Nipper!

I started writing a weekly blog the first week I arrived here, with a special thank you to my ever-patient Web Genius/Magician, Roberto from Sad Robot Freelance Web Design
I figured that if the craziness of this mad city made me lose my mind, at least my thoughts & experiences would be captured somewhere. I love writing it & although it means burning a lot of midnight oil, I enjoy it. I’m not sure how many people actually read it, but if it makes just one person smile on a Monday morning, that’s good enough for me :-)
Maybe one day I’ll write a book of my ramblings…

Here’s wishing you & yours a fantastic 2016, full of everything you wish for & more.
Thanks for reading. Feliz Año Nuevo!!!

Un gran abrazo
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper x

p.s. The normal Monday morning Mongoliando.com blog will still be here on Monday morning!

4 thoughts on “A year in Peru!

  1. Jane Daniel

    Once again fab blog, I always read it without fail.
    Happy New Year Johnny, Lina & Valentina
    All the best for 2016


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