CELTA-one year on, Junior Steptoe, Charly Cow, Victor Meldrew says, invigilating again, James Bond, no sense-no feeling,, colourblindness, GIANT speakers and website/video of the week…

Good morning folks


I trust this finds you all in tiptop Monday form & that you had a superb weekend.
A quick round-up of this weeks happenings from the city of oversized speakers…

CELTA – One year on…

On one hand it’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I finished my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Training to Adults). It was a very intense 4 weeks, but I miraculously passed.
(Previous blog here: http://www.mongoliando.com/4-weeks-without-sleep-or-how-i-survived-the-celta-course/ )
On the other hand, it does feel like a year, as soooo much has happened…

I did the CELTA to give my CV a bit more clout. There is much more demand for English Teachers here in Lima, than there was back in 2005, but this means there is much more competition (& there are still plenty of dodgy units out there, offering hollow promises to would-be-teachers & students).It stood me in good stead, I’ve got a job I love doing & they look after me.
Some of my CELTA colleagues are doing nicely, teaching in other corners of the World; China, Japan & S.Korea.
celta 2

In the moments when this mad old city drives me bonkers (most days, several times a day), my mind does sometimes drift off to other places. I’m a daydreamer. Was Lima the right choice? Good question. I’m keeping all my options open…


Junior Steptoe!


The Nipper has started copying/imitating anything & everything that anybody says. It is quite amusing!

I don’t usually take the little one on the Combis, but sometimes there are no taxis &/or a taxi decides that they either don’t want to take you, or don’t want to go to where you want to go to. (Which always strikes me as a bit odd. It would be like me saying “No, I’m not going to teach you grammar, nor vocabulary”. “Why not? Because I don’t want to!”)

So, Tuesday found us both on a combi & the little one starts copying the Cobrador, who was giving it the usual “Todo Canada, Arequipa, Canevaro, Parque…”

I hear a little voice “Agapita, Agapita, Agapita” which got louder & louder & louder, until her volume was above the Cobrador (she can shout, that’s for sure!) Luckily, we got off soon after.

Then, whilst walking to the Supermarket (daily outing), the Rag & Bone man, on his home-made trike, hollering “Zapatos, papel, botellas…” (“Shoes, paper, bottles…”) & the Nipper starts shouting “Botellas, botellas, botellas…” really, really loud! (Not sure if the Rag & Bone man was over-impressed).

We are having to be very careful what we say around the house…


Charly Cow


I was on the other side of town midweek, trying to tempt the Clunk to start, (it’s been having its moments of late), when a Taxi pulled up alongside & starts chatting. In fact at first I thought he was trying to chat me up!

“Hey, nice bike!”
(A grunt from me as response, I was on my guard instantly).
“You should keep it covered up”

(It was looking like it needed a good wash, I don’t treat it to such treatment very often).
Then he opens his boot & opens a box, full of custom made, handmade bike covers!

Now I’ve been looking for a bike cover for yonks, to keep the bike from drowning in dust(it’s a dusty old hole is Lima) & also to to hide it away from curious & prying (stealing/robbing) eyes. He had a rainbow of colours & sizes, so I went for a camouflage model.
He popped it on & it fits a treat. “Just 90 soles” (around 17 quid, not cheap, but they were top notch quality). I only had 20 soles, but he told me to pay him next week (& gave me the cover to take away. The first time I’ve ever had credit in this city).
“Why Charly Cow?” I asked.
“My name is Carlos Baca” he told me with a big grin.
(B & V are interchangeable here, they sound identical & most folk don’t know which letter commences many-a-word. Vaca is Spanish for cow!) So if you need a bike cover, Charly Vaca, the travelling Taxista bike cover salesperson is your man…


Victor Meldrew says…



Plastic bags, why oh why! The enemy of the environment.

I hear on the grapevine that supermarkets on Blighty are now charging for carrier bags.
It would work a treat out here. There is still a bit of a market mentality here, in that people just buy food for that day/meal. No planning ahead, nor buying for the week. It does drive me nuts, but one needs to go with the flow. In addition to this, the queues in the Supermercados are always huge. One reason is that punters refuse to pack their own bags. So the poor cashier has to scan the goods & then pack them. I always take my own bags or (if I guiltily forget) ask for one big one.
This is normally met with a glare of distrust (from the cashier) & of bemusement (from other punters. “Look at this joker, packing his own bags!”)

If not, you’ll end up with your shopping in a dozen different (sized) bags, for a dozen different items. It’s completely unnecessary. In addition, all newspapers are sold in a plastic bag & everything is packaged in plastic. A minor groan this week, but a serious one.
carrierVictor Meldrew says “Piense Varon. Do you really need to use all those carriers?”


Invigilating again!


I have a terrible memory, it gets me in bother. A few months back I did some invigilating for international Cambridge exams. Whilst trying to get as many brownie points as possible at work, I just volunteered for everything!
“Easy money” I was told…

For an organised person, it would be a steady day. Follow the rules to the l-e-t-t-er & you’ll be fine.
For a buffoon like me, the potential for chaos/disaster is immense & it almost was (chaotic disaster).
Never again, I swore to myself.

So, this week, I’m doing two exams. Let’s see if I can get it right this time…


James Bond

I am massive James Bond fan. I was brought up on Bank Holiday screenings & I remember going to see my first Bond film; A view to a Kill (Duran Duran soundtrack too, bonus) at the cinema in 1985. It was a “15”, I was 12, I got in.

Moving on to 2015, Bond is a very different thing altogether. The World has changed & James Bond had to change. Obviously Connery was one of the best, james_bond_by_ali_radicali-d49mntebut I rated Pierce Brosnan (until I had the misfortune to watch Mama Mia, I was forced. Seeing one of my once-heroes start crooning “SOS” was hard to accept).pierce_brosnan_as_james_bond_007_by_mcmarrow-d65gv3m

Daniel Craig is an awesome bond. (Apart from other top films like Layer Cake & The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), I think he’s getting better & better. If you hadn’t seen previous films, it’d be an average action movie, but “Spectre” for me was one of the best. (That’s only my own humble & very amateur opinion!)

Daniel Craig

Every time I see a Bond film, I always feel like I should smarten myself up & not look like the scruffy hobo that I am. I even thought about buying a new suit. For my wedding, I had one made here in Lima, by a tiny old man, in a tiny old house in the old centre of town. Every time I went for a measuring, I was too tall to stand up straight in his house & I was worried that it wouldn’t fit! It fitted a treat & apart from my wedding, it was the suit that took me to Mongolia too.

The old lad was at least 100 back in 2004, so I’m not sure he’d be around now.
I didn’t get a suit, but I was prompted to have a drastic haircut & shave.
I look nothing like James Bond, nor Daniel Craig…


No sense, no feeling…


I would entitle this “No fear” but that wouldn’t be 100% true!

I wrote a previous blog about riding the Clunk in the lurching, drunken meat grinder that is Lima traffic, entitled “Fear-Fury-Follow the free-for-all” all about the 3 phases of riding a bike here.

The Panamericana is probably the scariest road I’ve been on. It’s a circus/loony bin/racetrack on 2/3/4 wheels. Normally I cannot wait to get off it. It’s designed in a very illogical way & any kind of lane system was given up long ago. It’s a case of too many vehicles going at different speeds. You get boy racers Vs. banana salesmen on their trikes Vs. Combis Vs. ancient trucks Vs. the rest of the World. I had a near miss months ago when a stack of 4 plastic chairs had fallen off a truck & I stubbed my toe (at about 50mph), there was just nowhere else to go & it was very lucky it didn’t hit my wheel. It doesn’t bare thinking about (& my foot still hurts)…


However, a bit like the time when I suddenly realised that I understood Spanish*, in a meeting with my old Columbian gaffer, a light bulb moment, I ran into the tail end of a huge snarl-up midweek, with a big bus biting by backside, squeezed in by 2 taxis & a truck suddenly blocking my route ahead (with no warning. Indicators are a sign of weakness here!)
When I realised that it didn’t bother me, I’ve seemingly become accustomed to the chaos & I calmly weaved my way through & did my best to stay alive. I’ve not become complacent, that would be suicide, but I do fear that I will need to be completely retrained when I return to Blighty.
(*I understand Spanish, but my Spanish is a l-o-n-g way off being understood!)

The joys of colourblindness…

On my mission to make a table (a rough, shoddy one at that), which has so far taken me about 8hrs & I’m nowhere nearer, I bought some brackets this weekend. Lina asked if I had intentionally bought different colours?


Giant speakers!

My word!
I am a bit of a Victor Meldrew these days, but Saturday night was something else.
I got in from work around 9pm (on a Saturday, yes!)
As I rounded the corner from the snicket/ginnel (I’ll let you choose), I suddenly heard a wall of noise, above the sound of my personal stereo too, which was high enough.
We live in a block of flats & it sounded like it was coming from our flat! Were Lina & the Nipper having a sneaky party? As I got in, it was impossible to speak without shouting., nor hear “Peppa Pig” on the telly.
I’ve never, ever heard such volume (& I’ve stayed in some dosshouses above pubs/clubs in my time). Where was it coming from?
A party next door, outside, until very, very late. The speakers on offer here are HUGE!
I’ve nothing against folk having a party, but this was too much.
“Look after Numero uno & sod the rest” seems to be the motto here…

Website & video of the week!


This week I stumbled across a video shared by a number of friends on facebook.

Now this is a bit special!
It’s 15 minutes long, but if you can find 15 minutes procrastination time (before you start work properly. Monday mornings are meant to be eased into gently!)
“Sydney to London, on a wing & a prayer – Searching for the end of the road”

The gentleman is called Nathan Millward & he rode a 105cc Australian Postie bike  (Aussie C90 Cousin) from Australia back to Blighty. An epic journey & an incredible adventure.
But this video is a bit more than just this. It is very enlightening & thought provoking too.
(It rang a few bells for me. Mr. Move-house-35-times-itchy-feet-next-adventure?)
He has wrote a few books too (which I will buy, if I can work out a way to get them here to Lima!)
His website is awesome & worth checking out too…

And finally…


To finish on a positive note, I leave you with this short wee video.
It’s a big step-up from a baby cup, to a grown-up cup!

That’s all for now folks.
Hasta la proxima. Next Monday…
Have an awesome week.

Johnny, Lina & the (shouting) Nipper


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