Good morning folks
I trust you had a splendid weekend and that this finds you in tiptop form.
Your weekly round-up from the madhouse…
I’ve finally managed to string a week of running together, just need to keep doing this and up it every week!
Thursday was a bank holiday here so I was up at 4:30am and after an hour of intolerable faffing, on the road before half five. There is two miles of pavement/road between my house and the hills and normally it is rammed, even though it was a bank holiday the streets were already full.
The hills however were deserted and swarthed in mist/smog. I almost stumbled over a youth traipsing out to an outside loo at a shack on the edge of the hill, not sure who was more startled!
The junkyard dogs on “Cerro Sentinela” were still snoozing so my ankles were safe. Despite a huge lack of kip, it was good to be out early. I knew the route (-ish) but was confused when I got to what should have been Lima’s largest cairn, a towering 8ft high Jenga-block-pile, it was gone.
(Two months earlier…)
More worrying was a stack of numbers painted on the summit, not fellrunning bingo but what is known as “invasion”, plots of land sold (many, many times to many, many people, who then realise they have been duped by “traficantes de terreno” but can do “nada” about any of the sorry mess). It is a complicated social situation, the people who live high in the hills are very poor, the buildings are 8′x8′ wooden shacks and there are no amenities. “The Wall” is built between the haves-&-the-have-nots. The “haves” live in guarded compounds, huge mansions.
One the other side live those with next to nothing and they are uncomfortable bedfellows.
What is the solution? Redistribution of wealth? Robin Hood style! The ones on the rich side probably worked 14hr days most of their lives, in a good job. (Whereas the ones on the other side probably work 14hr days every day, in not such a good job. What happened? A wall was built. “El Muro”.
I see more of the have-nots on my routes in the hills and the conditions they live in are pretty squalid.
The sun was showing no signs of appearing, so I just pushed on, following the wall (useful guide in this clag), sidestepping the cross and flowers of somebody recently buried on the path! (Which is easier than it sounds, it is a narrow path and it means a diversion with a bit of a scrambling move above a precipitous fall).
The only folk to be seen were the joyless “huachimen” high in their watchtowers, keeping an eye out for the shantytown folk crossing the wall into the salubriousness of La Molina. Most of the time these huachi-blokes are too miserable to even move, sometimes they come out and ask where I’m going to/coming from/whether I’m alone, sometimes they let dogs out, one never knows! It must be a lonesome job…
I’d given up on the sun showing, until I was halfway up the last peak when suddenly the swirly fog dramatically parted to reveal brilliant blue skies and an incredible cloud inversion. Even the air smelt different. Sadly it was short-lived as I then dipped back into the gloom, but worth 3 hours of fogtrotting!
Very short VIDEO HERE!
(I ran the same route two days later and spent 4hrs in a cloak of fog, wind and greyness, if there was a sun above Lima that day, it didn’t quite get its hat on! I managed to get “navigationally challenged”, twice!)
I won’t lie. Living in Lima drives me absolutely nuts! Everything, everyday.
I don’t know if I’m too sensitive to it all, but I just cannot block it all out.
When I first came here, I was so naïve, but a lot more patient than now!
The second time I still had no clue and really struggled. I had a food budget of £1 per day, I lost about 2 stone, but it was an adventure!
This time it’s different. Although I do really love my job, it is the only thing keeping me here (apart from Lina’s commitments with her studies).
It isn’t just a case of trying to speak Spanish (badly in my case) and driving on the other side of the road. The cultural differences are huge and maybe it’s the Victor Meldrew in me that stops me adjusting…
As I type this now, an alarm has been going off for hours, last night too, the night before, you get the idea. House alarms, car alarms, sirens…
A bloke parks his car outside the flats and the smallest movement/sound sets it off. Now crime is an issue here, but I’ve never actually heard of anybody getting their car nicked! I’ve had cars/vans broken into in Blighty and know plenty who’ve had cars nicked. Not one I’ve heard of here and all car alarms are the same 5-tone-racket
On an early doors run I could hear really loud music, concert volume, which was coming from a party (6am) within the university. Now in my noisy neighbourhood this is normal, but up at the university you wouldn’t get much change from a million dollars for those surrounding swanky residences. The thing is that if these students (at one of Lima’s top universities) grow up thinking that it’s ok to have a concert at 6am on a Bank Holiday morning, these are supposedly the educated ones, then it’s just going to continue. I asked people about this and they said it is the fault of the local council, who should stop it, but surely people realise that it’s 6am and it’s still full-blast? (If there is a party in my barrio, I’ve stopped ringing “serenazgo” as they say “It’s only 3am” or “it is the weekend!”)
Traffic I won’t go into.
Glaring poverty in the streets is impossible to ignore (nor should it be ignored), but where is the help for these people (young kids, blind buskers, cripples) selling sweets and living on the pavement. There is wealth here, there has been an incredible amount of investment and money in, but where has it gone? The C-word, corruption, which is embedded in the system.
I don’t claim to fully understand the political system here but the current President seemed like he could change things, but as he doesn’t have a majority in congress his opposition use everything in their power to block everything. Progress doesn’t happen and it won’t unless things change.
24 Policemen were arrested in an extortion racket last week!
Suspicion and mistrust go hand in hand.
There have been a string of big fires recently, including an inferno in an industrial warehouse (zero fire precautions, doors locked with padlocks). 4 young people died, it is a miracle there weren’t more. The (volunteer) firefighters couldn’t control the blaze for some time as there wasn’t sufficient water, nor pressure to put it out.
Reports have denounced the deaths as modern day slavery and human trafficking.
A final mention, albeit a trivial one.
The second I got down off the hills on Thursday morning, the very moment I set foot on the pavement, I was stopped by the Serenazgo. (Security guards employed by the Municipality, not Police). A chubby bloke in a brand new van and a stroppy young lass with her notepad out.
She barked questions at me. “Who are you, what is your name, where have you been, where do you come from???”
A little bit of power is a very bad thing, as is a uniform!
One big mistake is to question such authority, but the mood I have been in this week made something snap in me and I snapped back “Why? Why do you need to know all this?”
That started her off on a rant about the local residents complaining about people from other areas coming here. The hill I’d just stumbled off could not be described as beautiful, by any stretch of imagination. A mate of mine described a photo I shared as “a cross between a building site and landfill!” (There is a lot of debris on them there hills). She informed me that I shouldn’t be running there, it was against the law, blah, blah, blah, blah…
I decided that I really didn’t want to pursue this conversation, nor get into bother with them. I only had 2 soles (my BFH, about 50p) on me and if a bribe situation did arise, I’d come unstuck.
That would lead to me getting in trouble and I just wanted to get out of there and home.
I started reciting my 12 words of Russian at her! In 3mths of listening to a “Learn Russian” CD prior to the Mongolia trip, I’d learnt about 4 phrases which we used to avoid bribes when stopped by Russian/Kazakh traffic cops. Talk bad Russian to a Russian and they’ll quickly get bored & tell you to move on. Talk dodgy Russian to a person who doesn’t speak Russian and they’ll get confused! It went something like this…
“Здравствуйте, До свидания, яне понимаю. Счастливого пути. Где отель? Большое спасибо. ухабистая дорога?
(Hello, goodbye, I don’t understand, where is the hotel, is it far, thank you, is it a bumpy road?)
I sensed that she had lost interest/the will to live, so I started jogging away repeating my phrases and jumped on the first bus heading roughly in my direction. Not seen any wanted posters on lampposts yet!
I do moan about this place and I do apologise to everybody for this, especially to both of my readers, my friends and colleagues here, but it just frustrates me so much that things could be so much better for everybody. I’ve changed, I’m a lot less patient/tolerant. Lima has changed, it’s even more manic than before. I wish I had a magic wand, but I don’t. I’ll get me coat…
Hip to be crocked?
After my recent foray into the Andes (disastrous DNF) I was suffering from a real pain in both hips, like they had both replaced whilst I slept on the overnight bus back home!
After resting up a week and then another week, one was still really sore so I went to see my Physio/magician Maro. She is the only thing that keeps the wheels on this old bus rolling!
It turns out I’ve been suffering from “Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome“, which in English is a bursa sac under the hip swelling up. The good news is that I’m not going to die, nor is my leg going to fall off. A bit of magic ultrasound and I was right as rain. Just my right knee that is on the way out…
A phone call…
My poor old, but ever-trusty Nokia brick rarely rings (apart from recorded adverts), which suits me! 99% of punters here (and probably most places on the planet) are glued to their smartphones to the point of complete and utter distraction, grumble over!)
However, it did rang on Wednesday and suddenly made August look very exciting indeed!
My mate Charlie, (UT69 organiser) from Yungay rang, out of the blue…
He’d got me an entry into a big race in the Andes in August, “Sierra Andina“ which would be very handy training for “The Andes Race”. Three planned bouts of altitude training and hopefully no stomach disasters like last time!
Good one yer mate
Shop mannequins have feelings too!
Following on from a story last week, the Nipper has been spreading the love
Day out with the Nipper!
Lina has got a bit behind with her studies and as I was out in yonder foggy hills Saturday, I took the Wee One out Sunday. I asked where she fancied going and got told that the day would involve trains and face tattoos! “El Parque de Amistad” it was then…
Lima’s top Inker
Two laps on the steam train, facepainting, uncertainty oven a giant Peppa Pig, Pizza then home
We dragged Lina away from her books later on!
T-shirt of the week.
I often see somebody wearing a t-shirt here with some slogan or other which makes me chuckle. My previous favourite was “WTF -Where’s the food!”
Then this week on the same day I saw a lad best described as rotund wearing ”Fat & Furious” and then another wearing a t-shirt with a slogan ”What are you looking at C#c#s#c###!” The lad wearing it must have been 14 at the most. Not sure if he realised!
Inevitably the stars of ones childhood disappear.
When I were a lad, TV was a bit more simple than nowadays, 3 channels (Channel 4′s arrival was big news!) I’m not about to get nostalgic about the likes of Tiswas and Captain Pugwash, but they were classics.
Although many of the TV stars of that era turned out to be complete wrong ‘uns, there were some faces who you remember.
Last week saw the sad demise of Brian Cant, this week saw the death of Michael Bond
To finish on a high note, here is a video that shows the perils of drink!
Just remember, “Cider is very good, but it makes people very sleepy…”
Have an awesomely outstanding week.
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper
p.s. My favourite company/brand/store have just opened up in AMBLESIDE!
If you’re up in the Lakes, check it out