Good morning Folks
I trust you had thee most superb of superb weekends.
Here is the weekly round-up of happenings in the World epicentre of punters-who-haven’t-got-a-clue-how-to-drive (especially on roundabouts, avoid them like the plague !)
Monday was a busy day & it was hot. 32 degrees by 9am & sweaty as a Glassblower’s backside!
I had classes here, there & everywhere & a shedload of other chores to do. Ambitious & completely unrealistic plans.
I was riding around on the Clunk, the sun was reflecting off the cars hemming me in on all sides, it was reflecting off the road (somehow, which is impressive as it is a mat black surface) & all the fumes were very much in-yer-face. Helmet on-helmet off-helmet on-helmet off.
I had reached & passed the limited bounds of how-scruffy-a-teacher-can-be a long time back.
I passed a hairdressers & had a Britney Spears moment, just shave it off!
Grade I all over, job done.
I don’t suit a skinhead at all, but it feels better. Not being one who looks in a mirror very often, I of course forgot the fact that I had no hair every time I walked into a class. A few jaws dropped. Don’t think it’s the done thing here!
The Nipper just stared at me & kept saying “Oh-ohhh, oh-ohhhh”
I’d just had a tin of the gold dust that is “Dax-Short & Neat”.
I won’t be needing that for a while, but at least my barnet now is!
Licence at last
After 2 medicals, 7 x trips to “Touring” in Lince, 4 x Theory Tests, 2 Practical Tests down in Conchan, 5 x trips to SETAME (DVLA) at the far side of the centre (wild west) of Lima & umpteen phone calls, (& riding without a license for the last 9mths), I finally have my bike licence!
Unfortunately due to my new scalping, I now look nothing like the photo I had taken what seems like a lifetime ago.
Let’s see what happens as/when I get stopped.
Might have to resort to Hair Restorer/Baby Bio!
Lima Honda Parts.
After lightening my wallet & promising since September to come & fix the poor, ailing Clunk, my AWOL Mechanic was a constant no-show & never showed any sign of showing up, ever. So I bit the bullet & looked round for a bike mechanic.
I’d had a bit of a fall-out with the local Yamaha crooks, when they charged me (twice) for bits&bats that I never had. “We’ll knock it off your next bill” they said. I thought I’d give them one last chance, but when I rang up for a price (with all the correct words in Spanish, I’d double checked) & the person on the phone didn’t seem to know what “forks” were (let alone the seals of the forks, now I’m struggling to speak in proper English), I looked elsewhere.
There are some (simple) jobs/tasks that I can do myself, but I have no tools, nowhere to work, not a lot of spare time & a Haynes Manual would cost more than the bike is worth to get posted out (if it ever arrived!) In short, I needed somebody to do it for me.
I’d noticed a garage called “Lima Honda Parts” in a rather ropey part of town, every time I’d headed into the centre of Lima.
I’ve been riding round with knackered fork seals, no front brakes & a chain that had long seen better days for more time than I should have, so I called in. A likeable bloke called Leonardo was running the show. “Yes” we have the parts & “Yes” you can bring it in tomorrow.
Only a small shop, but absolutely overflowing with bikes & many, many more outside. It was a real old-style bike shop. I liked the place.
(With a lot of Police bikes too, they don’t seem to know how to ride them, so one couldn’t expect them to maintain them!)
Not completely chaotic (almost), but not a clinical picture of order. All the mechanics seemed engaged/focussed in their work, so I took a deep breath & asked for a quote…
Just under £80 all-in (only £12 of that was for labour); New brake pads, new chain, new sprockets, new fork seals, new fork oil & a wash/scrub-up that made it look brand new! It rode like a different bike altogether. Brakes that stopped & forks that didn’t have 15″ of play in them!
Happy as a (shiny) pig-in-muck, I clunked home with a big smile on my face
If you need any work doing in Lima, Leonardo & his merry men are worth checking out!
Village Idiot & The (very) Limited School of English!
There’s always one!
On my way too/from work, I have to pass through the “Alley of Doom!”
It’s a short, dark “Jiron” (snicket/ginnel) where I put my head down, speed up & hold my breath.
I hold my breath as this was the place where a huge stack of asbestos was dumped a few months back & also because it seems that many, many men think that it is an outdoor public toilet. Sweet smelling, it ain’t!
During the daytime there are always gangs of kids playing & a religious statue gives it a “tranquilo” feeling, but after dark (6pm onwards) it feels much more sinister. There is what appears to be the only “Cantina” (a downmarket watering hole, full of blokes who’d cut off yer Jacobs, as soon as look at you. I remember walking into one of the roughest boozers in Harehills in the mid 90′s & feeling a bit under pressure to “sup-up-&-clear-off”, but I don’t think I’d set foot in this place. “American Werewolf” meets “Trainspotting” wouldn’t even come close).
If I ever get jumped/done in/robbed in Lima, I can almost guarantee it’ll be there. Unfortunately there is no way of avoiding it (maybe with a 5 mile detour via the ring road, but as I walk to work, I don’t really fancy that). Now, there is a bloke, a big bloke, who stopped me in the Passage of Doom recently.
So, big bloke stops me, with his mates around him. “Hey my friend, hey my friend, hey my friend, hey my friend…”
The first time he stopped me, I was waiting for the next line, but he just kept repeating the same three words. His mates all thought it was hilarious & I quickly tried to work out the most polite way to wrap-up this meaningless conversation with Mr.Hey-my-friend & get me out of there ASAP.
Mr. Hey-my-friend had a bit of a mad look about him, with a big scar on his cheek & eyes that seemed to go in different directions.
This Cantina sometimes shuts early (whether this is whenever there is a murder, or worse, I don’t know, it has a strange schedule).
I nodded & smiled. “Hey my friend” (he said, repeating himself, again) I nodded & smiled. This was a tightrope. Pay too much attention & I’d be lumbered with this fruitcake as a new best mate every time I passed through the ginnel, on the other hand he wasn’t a looney-tunes that you could just ignore.
So I replied “Hey my friend” & walked round his cronies. Once I got round the corner, I did a Usain Bolt home.
The trouble is that he is often there, (or outside the Off Licence, if the Cantina is shut). “Hey my friend, hey my friend”, I started putting my head down & pushing my earphones in further, avoiding eye contact.
On Wednesday night, he’d obviously been to his second class, as he had some new vocab.
As I got closer to the Passage of Doom, I heard the same old “Hey my friend, hey my friend”, so I put my head down & then he shouted, “Hey my friend, FUKKEEEEY-YOUUUUU!” right in my face.
Charming! (I wonder what he’ll be getting taught in class 3 then?)
I was mortified.
How on Earth can somebody get the pronunciation of a one-syllable word so wrong?
It’s beyond me, what do they teach these days?
I feel that he would benefit from this YouTube tutorial. My brother has got it down to a tee
Just what el Doctor ordered!
Since July the Clunk has been poorly & as my (UK) licence had expired (there is a loose arrangement where you can drive a car for 6mths, I don’t know about a bike), apart from errands round town I’ve not ventured far. In addition to this I’ve not had much time. Sunday mornings used to be a dawn break escape, but not anymore. Plus my health has been sketchy, so I’ve not run at all since August, nor any exercise, so I’ve had no real escape/release from the locura of Lima life (which would drive a sane man bonkers in no time).
On Saturday I got a flier from work & although it was about 400 degrees (& traffic was the usual hell), I thought I could just do a quick dash across yonder mountains to Cieneguilla to the refuge of the best cafe in town at Panaderia Montreal. I’d be pushing it to get there & back in the light, but I thought “Sod it, let’s go!”
I’ve wrote & whined way too much about Lima & its heinous traffic, but needless to say it wasn’t good.
The roads get worse & worse heading over that way, with an absolute glut of huge, crumbling speed ramps.
Doubling as a pothole & a speed-ramp!
In the rougher parts of town, Mototaxis are perhaps the most erratic & suicidal lunatics on the road, along with overladen ancient trucks & boy racer Taxis, chugging up the big hill, escaping the clutches of the city. However, once you reach the brow of the hill, it all changes, everything.
The scenery suddenly turns into a sweeping view of high & dry dusty mountains, a fantastic twisty downhill all the way to Paradise; Cieneguilla!
Sometimes when you go on holiday to a place, you have this romantic (& completely unrealistic) daydream that maybe, just maybe you could live there, I always think this about Cieneguilla.
It is a tiny town with a very simple, laidback, friendly café-cum-bakery called Panaderia Montreal, run by a cheerful French-Canadian-Peruvian.
One delicious cuppa later (I’ve been off the Java, so it was like nectar), a bag of bagels on the backrack & I was clunking back up the hill, then down, down, down. Back into the chaos. Just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Squeezed up between buses, cut up by taxis and menaced by big 4x4s. It is like close quarters combat, you have to keep hyper-alert for everything around you, plus potholes, plus debris (I was so close to hitting a big chunk of 4×2 head-on, resplendent with a dozen nails, I was close enough to count them, it was close). Freewheeling down Av. Javier Prado with a huge bus breathing down my neck & honking its air horn in my shell-like, the big buses are the scary ones, they seem to work on high speed momentum & go wayyyy too fast to ever stop. Across the incredibly illogical “Trebol” junction, where traffic entering & traffic getting off play a game of Chicken with each other. Done. Onto the slip road for my estate, almost home. A taxi right up my jacksie shows his anger with an extended “Beeeeeeeep” as I have to slow down to make a right angle turn. The car in front stops dead. The taxi behind me doesn’t & I have to do a lightning quick s-bend to avoid being the filling of the sandwich. I shout at him through his window, he looks angry that I’ve shouted at him, like I’m at fault. Not worth lingering on. A left hand bend & I’m home.
It’s good to get out on two wheels
On the mend…
Apart from the racking cough of an 80-a-day Senior Service smoker, I’m better!
The last 2 weeks have been a poorlyfest, a cocktail of lurgeys. Rough as a badger’s backside I’ve been.
With everyone here being a part time GP in their free time, I’ve had plenty of opinions, the majority saying that it’s the weather (or drinking cold drinks!) Whether it is the weather. or the foolish recklessness of drinking a cold drink on a hot day, I don’t know. I just wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy’s dog!
I spotted this short vid on facebook. It’s a beauty. If you’ve got 2 minutes spare, watch it
Have yourself an awesome week.
Until next Monday…
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper