Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in tiptop form & that you had a mighty fine weekend.
A busy old week in the land of chaos.
After a whole load of billboard posters, scandal, lies, propaganda & more lies, it is finally Election Day (as I type).
Lets’s just say it’s a slightly different system here…
Every 5 years (on a Sunday), elections are held here in Peru.
The real winners are the cosmetic dentists (with my wonky, coffee-stained tombstones, I am in a minority of one here. Straight white teeth are what you’d call de rigeur) & also the companies who have put up signs (crookedly) in every inch of space on the mean streets of the city.
It is compulsory to vote here, if you don’t you get a fine (& a whole heap of trouble on top of that, as your ID card doesn’t have a magic “I’ve voted” sticker on the back, so a number of other things are difficult/impossible to do until you’ve coughed up for your non-voting misdemeanour. Peruvians outside the UK also have to vote. Lina had to travel from Leeds to the Old Smoke to tick the box).
I’m not sure what is worse. Voting apathy in Blighty from people who don’t bother to vote, or, punters being forced to vote in a second round, for one of two candidates, who they maybe didn’t choose in the first round?
22 million people have to make a choice (& they all refer to the candidates by their first name!)
(Not everyone made the Start Line!)
First round? Second round? What on earth am I waffling about now? Is it a boxing match?
If the winner on Sunday doesn’t have a clear 50% (+ 1 vote), they aren’t actually the winner, as they go into a second round (5th June) with the ruuner-up. Now it’s not quite as simple here with choices either & voters aren’t always specifically loyal to a particular party. There are many parties to choose from/against. On top of this there are 130 Congresistas to be voted in too.
Congresistas may have a political background, but this year there are also football players, volleyball players & also a singer. Now, Congresistas are on a seriously good wage (for doing very little) & also the wage they receive is for life (apparently). I do wonder how much use a football player would be in a political role, but some people who like football will vote for them, so there is every chance that they’ll get in!
Every single one of the past 5 Presidents has had a “monetary discrepancy” (that is being very polite) & 2 from of those 5 are running for office again. One of the leading runners is the daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori (two-times President. He changed the laws so that he could get in a second time. He is currently in the Clink, doing 25 years for Human Rights abuse!)
On Saturday I spoke to people & they still didn’t know who they were voting for. It becomes tactical as punters vote against certain parties/candidates, to prevent them getting through to a second round. This can backfire though, as it can mean that one candidate will get in first time! There are many, many people in Peru who have very little interest in politics (& to be honest as the country is so centralised in Lima, a countryside campesino in the sticks may not even care, nor be massively effected. So if he is given a t-shirt & told to vote for party X, he will do).
“Ley Seca” means that it is illegal to sell booze the day before (so that you’ll have a clear head & won’t be swayed), but on Saturday night I could hear 3 big parties going off (& people were a long way off sober). There is nothing to stop you getting stocked up on Friday! At the Supermercado all tipple is covered up, just to stop you being tempted!
I don’t actually have the right to vote (nor buy booze, it’s like mini-prohibition), but I wouldn’t trust any of the politicians as far as I could chuck ‘em. Politicians are not really respected here, at all.
I didn’t see the riders for the Grand National on Saturday, but I think it would be easier to pick a winner at Aintree than guess who’d win here on Sunday.
(STOP PRESS: It’s going to a Second Round. Keiko got almost 40% and she’ll spar with either PPK or Frente Amplio. My money is on Fujimori Jr to be in el Palacio Gobernal on July 29th!
STOP STOP PRESS: Keiko Vs. PPK in the second round!)
A&E(She’s ok now, but she gave us a shock on Tuesday).
Having a bairn changes your life completely. Everything changes, everything. Above all, your priorities.
I’ve always been a very independent chap, all my life & can look after myself/spend time with myself & not get bored.
Having somebody who totally depends on you is a massive change, but a good change.
Having a bairn makes you reflect a lot inwardly too, it’s made me realise that I was (am) a bit selfish, not in a eat-a-whole-cake-to-myself way, but in a focussed, get-something-done way. Maybe not selfish, probably more stubborn. I’m not all bad, but I’m not all good!
The last 2 years have been both the hardest & the most rewarding 2 years of my life. The Nipper is an absolute star & she is my world.
Nothing is more scary than when your little one has an accident/illness. Valentina ended up in Hospital when she was just 5mths old, it was a scary time. On Tuesday I came back from a bonkers day at work to chaos at home. Valentina has banged her head & was vomiting & wouldn’t stop vomiting. She was also hysterical. Scary, I wanted to get her to hospital asap, but other people had other ideas.Superstition is common here, but not like my old OCD/superstitions (crossing on the stairs, saluting magpies, not putting new shoes on a table. Stuff I stopped doing), but ingrained customs & beliefs. People said that we needed to “pasar el huevo
” (pass an egg over the Wee One to absorb “bad energy” & to remove the shock). I was outnumbered, so I got her bag ready to go to Casualty. ”Pasando el huevo” did little & time was ticking.By the time we got her to hospital (after we found a hospital, no NHS here) she had calmed down & after having her checked out, we left the hospital sometime ~2am.
She was out of sorts for a few days, but is back to her usual mischievous self now. Your world does stop for a moment though.
I was a really clumsy child/teenager (& as an adult, I still am), I wasn’t especially sickly as a youngster, just quite good at breaking my bones & having accidents. (Broken collarbone, broken ankle, dislocated shoulder-twice & other scrapes).
I don’t know what I put my folks through, I must have been a nightmare :-/
Last week I had a rare Friday off work, so I decided to escape the city for a day. I had no clear plan, just a few ideas in my head.
Up at 5am & on the road by 6am. I headed inland & uphill on the “Careterra Central” the main route towards the interior.
In 2004 I saw a photo in a guidebook of a peak in a place called Ticlio. I said to myself “One day I will go there”, so 12 years on, I did!
Ticlio is the site of the highest railway level crossing in the world. At 4818m it is 24ft higher than Mont Blanc (highest point in W.Europe).
I had a head full of ideas, but my preparation was poor. I had no idea quite how far it was, no map & not a lot of gear/clothes.
6am in Lima it was hotting up into a sweaty old day. 4hrs up the road was a different matter!
On the Clunk I have always noticed a drop in power (it doesn’t have much at the best of times) after passing a place called Santa Eulalia.
The first & second times I went there, I was (unknowingly) running on a bike that was about to seize up. After an engine rebuild I thought it would be ok, but on Friday I got the same old chugging. The Careterra Central is the route taken by all the trucks heading to & from the jungle. It is a main trade route. It wasn’t visited by the Romans, so it is a twisty as a David Lynch plot. Rife with Traffic Bobbies parked on blind bends, out to make a few bob, it is not an easy route. On top of this the road runs almost parallel to the railway for the first half. Almost parallel, as the tracks cross the road frequently, and not at 90 degrees either. In a car/truck this is nay problem. On 2 wheels it is dicey!
The first time I went there I almost took a tarmac breakfast. My front wheel took a different route to my back tyre (& my choice of direction), a hairy moment. The way to cross is to hang far right & then swing far left, so you’re taking it at a less sharp angle. Sounds great in theory, but level crossings are where motorists behind try to overtake. With diminishing velocity, this got more & more difficult.
From being flanked by high mountains, you enter a steep gorge, dramatic territory. I knew the names of a few villages en-route, but not how far it was (& my speedo/odometer doesn’t work anyway). I suffer from poor circulation (Raynaud’s syndrome, especially in my hands) & my thin gardening gloves weren’t really up to the job. I didn’t have any spare kit either. I was thinking about turning round, but after other recent abandoments, I dug in & kept plugging away. Third to second to first gear (& doing some paddling with my feet in parts), it got harder & harder to make uphill progress. I was trying to work out how to make adjustments to my carb, but with no tools, no spare jets & getting hypothermic, I decided against it. The Clunk would cut out at low revs, so I had to bump start it (downhill) every time.
After 6hrs I came to the brow of the hill & saw a plateau & a sign for “Ticlio Lugar Turistico 4818msmn Cruce Ferroverario mas alto del Mundo” & then I was mobbed by a team of extremely pushy (& downright surly) peanut salesmen. I don’t really like peanuts anyway!
Altitude is a funny thing. I’ve never ever felt great above 4000m. Only after 2 weeks in Bolivia (World’s highest everything) did the headache, nausea & breathlessness start to fade. So in a day you’ve just got to suck it in.
A ramshackle, low-roofed café was selling food so I tucked into a bowl of kerosene flavoured soup & some spaghetti. Tastewise I’ve had better, but it was desperately parky (I was desperate & it was very parky).
After one final photo I tried to start the Clunk for the downhill bit.
I’d had this before at high altitudes & was mindful of the fact that if I flattened the battery trying, I was stuffed.
Try bumping off a bike at 15800ft & you know about it! At least it warmed me up a bit. Sensing my predicament, the Clunk somehow just took hold & spluttered back into life. Just at that moment I spotted a white Honda XR150 with Chilean plates, parked up. I stopped to chat & discovered that it was ridden by a French chap called Gerard. He’d bought the bike in Santiago & was doing a South American tour. Top bloke.
Downhill was easier, but whenever I laid off the revs, I heard a fierce backfiring noise. My eyes were stinging with concentration & I was shivering. Please. please don’t let me down here Clunk!
It didn’t & as we got lower, it got nippier & nippier & nippier, until we started to hit the traffic an hour out of Lima. At 6pm, after 11hrs riding, I pulled into my estate & was almost wiped out by a Taxi, going the wrong way down a one-way-street. Welcome back to Lima!
Aimee & Travis!
When you’re young you have loads & loads of friends & loads & loads of time.
When you get older, you have less time & less friends, but the friends you have are much closer. Quality mates.
(That’s my story anyway).
Sometimes you meet people in life & they have a huge impact/impression on you, in a good way.
For me, one of the most magical moments of my life was driving onto a rain-sodden, muddy campsite on Friday 13th July 2012 at Goodwood & finally meeting people who you have been chatting to on Facebook for the last 9 months, suddenly these virtual friends were real people & they were all awesomely brilliant people too
Two people who really made their mark on me from the rally were a lass called Aimee (from SA, living in NZ) & a fine chap called Travis (down under, up in Darwin). We had all chatted before the rally, getting giddier & giddier & we kept on chatting afterwards & all became really good mates.
We all love adventure, we all love Clunks & we all love life!
Travis & Aimee (& El) are all down/up in NT right now & I would give my right arm & the clutch lever of the Clunk to be there.
Have an awesome time amigos, have one for me
Victor Meldrew Says…
Victor has been away for a few weeks, but he has been bottling it up, which is never a good thing, so here it is!
“A man who is tired of London, is tired of life” said Samuel Johnson.
I’m getting tired of Lima & tired of everybody trying to kill me!
I moan about the traffic every single week on here, because it frustrates me beyond belief. I used to think that people here were amazing drivers, but they are really just really, really crap drivers (with quick reactions). Recklessly ignorant is probably the best description. Drivers (& pedestrians) do not look EVER. They just pull/step out without a glance. I have at least 2 near curtain-calls on every commute.
The strange thing is however that there is no road rage, no agression! (Apart from a scruffy, lanky bloke on a red Honda losing his head with bus drivers & swearing his head off in his helmet). People just accept it. “That’s the way it is” people say. It will never, ever change, which is sad, but what can I do, apart from try to stay alive.
Another regular moan is the noise. The flats behind had a party until gone 3am on Thursday, Friday & Saturday (supposedly “Ley Seca“, I was desperately hoping for some kip). Now I’ve nothing against a party, good on them, it’s just the noise levels. The speakers they sell here would be too loud for “Monsters of Rock” at Donnington. Pure, pure bass & normally the same old reggaeton dribble. Plus the fact that they go on until dawn. Lack of sleep is very wearing. The Nipper still isn’t the best sleeper & I’m up for work at 5:30am. I’ve not had a good nights kip since December 2014 & I am knackered. Like on the roads there is not an ounce of consideration for anybody else. Noise is a 24hr feature here: Horns, slamming doors & head-splitting volumes of music. I’ll put my violin away!
Healthwise, my racking “Silver Mine death cough” is back. I feel like I am about to cough up both my lungs. For a lad who has never smoked this is not good. If it’s not the death cough, or lung infections it’s bad guts. I’d just like to feel a bit healthier, just a bit.
The traffic I can cope with (it’s not going to change in a million years here), sickness is part of the package of life, but I would love just one night of decent kip, por favor…
Victor Meldrew says “It’s not the lack of dime, it’s the crime, grime, no time, having to mime, not being in my prime (for quite some time) & other things that don´t rhyme!”
I’ve been lucky for the last few months in that I’ve had the same students for the next cycle up, for a cycle I’ve done in the past.
Piece of cake!
Not this month. 5 new cycles & 5 new course & 91 new names/face to learn. 7am start, a gap, back at 2pm & home by 10pm.
I enjoy my job & I love my colleagues, but the lack of kip & routine is starting to wear me down. I feel like a pencil that has been broken & sharpened down to a stub. (What a Drama Queen).
Like Lili Von Shtupp “I’m tired” (but for different reasons, I must add!)
I ran the Lima Marathon last May & apart from 2 weeks half-hearted training in August (cut short by a lung infection), I have done zero exercise of any kind for the last 8 months. The first time in my life since I was a bairn that I’ve done nothing at all. I’ve always run or done something to keep my ticker ticking.
Work had killed it off, or the hours I work, a standard excuse, but true. I needed to do something, so I started jogging this week.
Partly inspired by an incredible book lent to me by my good mate James B (also my Bungee Strap saviour) entitled “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll (not related to Rob’s Rolls) & the fact that I have become a lazy layabout. Something had to change.
Painfully slow (painful & slow), it has been grim, not pretty & ultra sweaty. It can (surely) only get better.
We’ll see how long it lasts…Off the Ale & on the Maca!
Desperate to finish on a positive note (after what has been a far from upbeat read this week, apologies), I leave you with this video.
It’s a really well made short, very inspiring too
It is what I would love to make, but my limited video abilities are limited to the limits of TOP TIPS!
Expect to see some technical changes coming your way soon here too. Exciting times (I’m excited) ahead!
Have an awesome week.
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper