Escape!

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Good morning folks

I trust this finds you in tiptop form and that you had an awesome weekend.
Here is the weekly round-up from the capital of combis, ceviche and complete chaos.
Another cycle has flashed past in a blur of exams, tick/cross fever and marking blindness!

I try to keep my ramblings as politics-free as possible, but obviously major things happened at the back end of last week, which left me (and many other people) in a state of shock.}
Thursday night I was up ’til the wee hours watching the result and up early on Friday in a state of disbelief. Who knows what happens next? Politicians and the press have a lot to answer to.

I get one Saturday off every 2mths, so I had already planned a weekend escape, it was good to disconnect from everything…

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Weekend away!

Seven Saturdays of eight I am trying my best to control/teach English to two classes of 25 teenagers. 7hrs of hard graft (for me, not them!) This year we get every eighth Saturday off, so a weekend escape had been on my mind for some time. I’d booked some digs, just before
a) A dinner at the British Ambassador’s gaff was announced.
and
b) The Work’s Teacher’s Do was also announced.
Double bugger!

However, I’d probably have just gone and drunk too much and after the Christmas Do, I thought I’d best keep a low profile, so it was a night away with the wee ladies.

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I work 6 days and Sunday is normally a long run or morning Clunk ride and I frequently feel guilty about going off to the incredible spots out of Lima, so I wanted to share it with Lina and the Nipper for a change. I’d heard of a place in Huarochiri (where I raced two weeks back) called “El Champal” a digs run by a friendly French chap called Yves. Two hours out of Lima, but still in Lima, up the Carretera Central. Leaving Salamanca in it’s damp, grey winter coat and bursting into sunshine, bright blue skies and a monster truckfest queue of ancient HGVs.

peppaThe Nipper has joined the Typo Police…

typoI shall be writing a very strongly worded letter to the careless Kite Salesman on the Carretera Central!

typo2But despite lack of spellchecking, miraculously we did get airborne eventually!

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“El Champal” is not a luxury hotel, it is basic and what you would call rustic, but the welcome and surroundings make it better than a 7-star hotel for me (not that I’ll ever stay in the Burj Al Arab!)

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Check out EL CHAMPAL if you’re ever in that neck of the woods!

fishGiddy as a kipper with the “trucha”

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There was Wi-Fi, but nobody used it, people sat around talking, food was served altogether, everybody ate the same and (without sounding like a tree-hugging-hippy) it was ace!

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Hemmed in both sides by huge montañas, with loads of animals, birds and plants, it was like a nature outing for the Wee One, a far cry from where we live.

Fresh air was a bonus too :-)

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An early morning stroll…

Naturally I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity of a dawn raid on the fells!
Up in the murky half-light, trying to get dressed and out as quietly as possible. Filled my waterbottle and stashed it in my bumbag only to see a litre of liquid gushing out on the floor all over my kit, schoolboy error! On the trails by 6:30am with no real route plan, but up and down. I followed a dry riverbed which got narrower and steeper to the point where I really didn’t want to reverse it, so I was relieved when it branched out onto a track. Up and up and up, through the tiny village of San Bartolome, where two old-timers shouted encouragement and slapped me on the back! Onto a ridge which I thought looked familiar from the race, so I followed it for an hour before realising it wasn’t familiar. I’d been kicking myself for forgetting my camera, but to be honest the sharp colours of an (almost) Andean dawn would only be caught by the best photographer/camera/lens, so I’ll just have to store them as memories (sorry, next time!)
It is an incredibly powerful feeling to be a tiny, tiny ant on a ribbon of a track

DSC_0036“Ooop there!”

Although I’m colourblind, the sheer colours in the thin air are incredible, no haze, no clouds and a sunrise shadow so sharp you could shave on it. I had an inkling that I could follow the track from the top of the ridge downhill all the way home, but it started descending the wrong way (away from where I was heading), it’ll come right I thought. Heating up quickly in the early sun I was glad that I had refilled my bottle, but a nagging doubt that I was on the wrong track was gnawing away at my conscience. I’d told Lina I was heading “Oop there!” On these twisting mountain tracks there are normally a scattering of roadside shrines, where vehicles have taken a bend wrongly and gone over the edge. There seemed to be as many tiny monuments on this road as I’d previously seen on ”The World’s most dangerous road” in Bolivia.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the faintest trail imaginable, it was barely there, but it looked like it might head downwards and most of all, in the right direction. Worth a try?
Less than 1/4 of a mile later I was cursing my poor decision. It was a bad idea on a sketchy trail. With a gaping drop to my left and a handful of cacti and spiky grass on the right, it was slow going and a bit hairy. I considered retreat. As I tried to do an about turn it seemed that the ground below started to crumble away, I clutched frantically at the rocks on my upper side and they crumbled away, as if they were made of cream crackers. It was like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie and I didn’t even have a bullwhip to get me out of my predicament!

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Somehow, I managed to reverse myself back onto the main trail and although I was heading in the wrong direction, I was at least not in imminent danger of tumbling to a spiky end (this is “Tuna” territory, not of a fishy kind, but the equivalent of prickly pears (I think!) The drops aren’t sheer, but I wouldn’t fancy taking a big tumble down through the cactus and boulders…

After about two hours I managed to find a snaking track going in the right direction and was relieved to drop down into Cocachacra itself. Even getting chased by a wild hound wasn’t enough to finish me off and I got back just in time for breakfast last orders :-)

Awesome award of the week – TWO WHEELED NOMAD!

The internet is a great thing for connecting with people. I do become a bit of a Victor Meldrew in my classes when I have to ask students to get off Snapchat, pinterest, tumblr, twitter, fb and the rest, but it can be an incredibly powerful tool (and just because I don’t have a smartphone, I am a self-confessed fb addict!)

twn Photo courtesy of Two Wheeled Nomad. 

I had the good fortune to meet Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford last March. “The Two Wheeled Nomad”, Lisa and Jase are an incredible couple hailing from Blackpool and Nottingham on an amazing Panamerican journey from Ushuaia to Alaska. Their regular blog is a work of literary art and Jason’s photography is  not your average point-&-shoot stuff that I put up on here!

This weekend they made it to Prudhoe Bay and tarmac/trail end. They did it!
Following their journey has been sheer pleasure. I don’t know if they are planning on writing a book/making a film about it, but I hope they do. Good on yers amigos :-)
Check out their website/blog at your earliest opportunity.

And finally…

A video treat to hopefully put a smile on your face and a spring in your step for the day :-)
There is only one man I know who can look this cool, running along a beach, in a Tux, with a trumpet, whilst he and his band are in grave danger of being washed out to sea, by a rapidly incoming tide and that man is Herb Alpert.
This is musical (& video) delight
https://youtu.be/z_KDPUTyDyQ

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Have an outstandingly ace week.

Cheers
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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