“Huaicos!”

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Good morning folks

I trust this finds you in top form.

This week was a bad week in Peru.
All of my moans, ramblings, random observations and other what-nots, all pale into insignificance.

A “Huaico” is a cross between a flood/mudslide/avalanche/landslide/flash flood and they have wreaked havoc in Lima and all around Peru this week. 72 people are dead, dozens are missing, 72000+ have lost everything and over half a million are affected.

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Not just in Lima, but all of Peru. There is no bottled water in the shops and no water in the taps.
Whatever you have got stored in buckets/bowls/bottles is it basically, until the water truck arrives. (However, when the water truck arrived yesterday, a local building site “paid” for the water and the local residents were sent packing, then to be told/lied to that “the water was dirty and not for drinking”, yeah right!)
I saw a water distribution point yesterday in the middle of one of the busiest roundabouts in town, so punters were risking life-&-limb to cross the road (roundabouts are especially unpredictable here, for cars. I wouldn’t fancy my chances crossing with a bathtub of water!)

It is a sorry state of affairs…

We are not affected ourselves (bar having no water and ponging a bit), as we don’t live near a river and we live on a hill, so if we get flooded over half the city will have gone!

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The people most affected are the poor, who live in flash-flood areas by the river(s) or inland along the “Carretera Central”, the main highway inland which is a terrifying sight.

People have lost everything. Others are trying to salvage what they still have, but in this heat (where you sweat without moving a muscle) and without water, imagine trying to clean up your worldly belongings, with all the time the threat of more huaicos ever present.

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The problem is that it is not water but thick mud and debris which fills houses. People here don’t have house insurance (and if they did the crooks who run such companies would find a way to wiggle out of paying), and the poor are so poor that they can’t just chuck things out, as that is all they have.

The main cause is that the ocean is around 6-7 degrees higher in temperature than previous years, it is called “El Niño Costero” which causes heavy rain inland in the mountains and as Lima is a desert (with little vegetation), surface run-off occurs and a ferocious power sweeps everything in its path; boulders, trees, cars, trucks and anything else that gets in the way. Lima itself is not designed for heavy rain and general building standards just cannot cope, so supporting walls and whole buildings are destroyed.

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The water board (Sedapal) are battling around the clock, but are up against it as the filters become clogged with the very same filthy floodwaters that are raging.

Water queues are blocks long full of folk with buckets, bins and anything that will hold water.

Food shortages are starting to occur, partly due to panic buying and partly due to logistics chains being interrupted. The humble lemon (which looks like a lime, but let’s not go down that path right now) which is a core part of many dishes here has risen in price by 400% over two days and is rising!

Roads are being washed away and it will take months and months to rebuild everything.
The Government has resisted calling a national State of Emergency, but this may change.

There is talk of imminent power cuts.
School has been cancelled since last Thursday until Tuesday, at least.
(So I’m not working, nor is Lina and nor is the Nipper at school!)

Watch this space…

It does put everything else into perspective.
There was a “Safe in Peru floods” feature on FB last week, which I wasn’t going to click as we aren’t in any immediate danger, but then a few people asked as the news spread, so I did.

It seems a bit irrelevant to write about anything else happening, but for now we have to get on with things the best we can and you don’t want to tune into the weekly blog just for bad news, so here is a round-up of less significant happenings this week.

Nipper’s first day at school!

The Wee One had a (brief) taste of school this week. From the boss at the Nursery to the diddiest in her new class came as a bit of a shock I think, but she’ll get there.

A2

Due to classes being cancelled she could go to a party at the nursery on Thursday, which she was very happy about :-)

A

Nipper’s video of the week: https://youtu.be/VOq966qZwdw

(I’ve had this music going round and round and round and round, in my head all week!)

The Fall Guy

Last week’s tumble was not a first, and it probably won’t be a last!
Fellrunning, by its very nature can be a tricky game.
A game of two halves:
- Up: keeping it together on the climbs (not blowing up, going quick enough not to lose ground/places and conserving energy for the descents).
- Down: As one top downhiller once said “Brain out, brakes off!”
I’ve never been a good descender, ever, although I try (and usually fail or fall).
You do have to just “let go” because if you hold back, you trash your thighs (through braking every step).
The top runners seem to glide/float over greasy rocks, but I haven’t managed that, yet.

A fall going uphill is normally a comedy tumble, downhill is obviously a tad more serious.
You have to be able to scan about 2-3 steps ahead and not be distracted by other goings-on.
Mountains/fells/moors are made of different ingredients, in the UK they can be rocks, grassy, muddy or a mixture of all three. Here in Lima, they are predominantly rocky and dusty/sandy. A trip will cost you! Like it did last Sunday…

Here is a brief round-up of my top 5 tumbles, categorised by three factors (1-5,five being the maximum):
a) Stupidity factor
b) Ouch factor
c) Comedy value factor

 

1- Half Tour of Pendle fell race – March 2002
Face-first-faceplant which happened too fast to stop myself with my hands.
a) Stupidity factor – 3
b) Ouch factor – 5
c) Comedy value factor – 4

2 – Saddleworth Moor – training – January 2002
Whilst trying to read a map, take a bearing and work out where I was in foul weather, I took a flier going downhill and rather than losing my map in the gale, I took the fall on my left elbow.
When I got back to the van, I noticed I’d ripped my pack-a-mac and could see bone through the wound. Stitches time :-/
a) Stupidity factor - 4
b) Ouch factor – 5
c) Comedy value factor – 5

3 – Whiteside summit, Lake District, May 2009
Bob Graham training, tripped over a boulder and landed simultaneously on my hip, shoulder, wrist and face, winding myself in the process. One of those moments where you just lay there and don’t move for fear of having broken something/everything!
a) Stupidity factor - 5
b) Ouch factor – 5
c) Comedy value factor – 5

4 – Avenida Canada/San Luis – October 2016
An urban spectacle on one of Lima’s packed pavements!
Tripped over an invisible obstacle and took half-a-dozen giant lumbering strides before crashing on the concrete, nearly missing a queue at the bus stop. My elbow almost smashed my ribs in the process and I laid there cursing as a group gathered saying “Cuidate” (“take care” it was a bit late for that). I had sunburnt my arms to a crisp two days earlier, so this was a cheap form of exfoliation!
a) Stupidity factor - 3
b) Ouch factor – 3
c) Comedy value factor – 5

5 – Avenida Raul Ferrero, April 2015
Lima Marathon training on a busy road where the pavement suddenly disappears, on a blind bend. I hopped onto the dusty rubble at the side to avoid being flattened by a 4×4 and instantly was taken out by a sly boulder, crashing floorwards and cutting my shoulder and arms. It was early on in the run so I carried on, much to the disgust of local La Molina residents doing their Sunday morning power-walking!
a) Stupidity factor - 3
b) Ouch factor – 5
c) Comedy value factor – 2

They are a brief selection, there are more.

Desafio Ruricancho 2017.

The lead-up to the first race of the year was far from ideal!

Monday: Couldn’t really walk after last Sunday’s fall.

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Tuesday: Went to see Maro, my miracleworker/Physio/magician

Wednesday: Kept fingers crossed…

Thursday: Short run, seemed ok.

Friday: To the hills! An acid test of a 6 mile/3000ft up-&-downer.

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Ups were ok, downs were sore.
Afternoon: With the Nipper across town (two buses and two trains) to pick up my number.

B4(She insisted I include my knee in the pic!)

Friday night: More widespread Huaicos…

Saturday: Umming and ahhhing. A moral dilemma whether to run or not?
The area of the race was not directly affected and the organisers had spoke to the local communities who had no problems with the race being run.
(Had a state of emergency been called, all sporting events are instantly forbidden).
It was Lina in the end who said “Go! You train for these races don’t you, so go!”
I took a bag full of long-life/non-perishable food for the collection and went to bed, very unsure.

Sunday: Didn’t have much time to not sleep as my alarm rang at 3am and I had to resort to a taxi to the meet-up point at 4am. Driving through the centre of Lima at 4am was madness, as many cars/taxis/trucks as rush hour and a lot of inebriated punters staggering home.

By this point I was still in two minds and an ancient bus with a foghorn took us up into the hills…

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There were in fact three races:
Chasqui- 10km
Super Chasqui- 20lm
Ultra Chasqui- 32km (20 miles in old money and my choice of punishment).

dr start

33 of us lined up on a dusty road in Jicamarca for a 6:30am start.
Evidence of a recent “huaico” leaving a boulder-strewn trail and surprisingly (in an area which never sees rain) a veritable blooming of plants and flowers which must have laid dormant for a long, long time.

I didn’t know the first part so had no idea of how long the first climb was, and it was long!
Still not in the best frame of mind, it wasn’t until I got on the ridge that I started to enjoy the race. Me being there, or not being there was not going to change matters.

There was an elite bunch pulling away in the distance, the best off-roaders in Peru.
I ran my own race (i.e. On my own and slow!) Sometimes it’s good to have time to think and six hours in the mountains is about as peaceful as it gets here. Apart from a chat with my mate, Edu and my shoe saviour, Jhon (Saucony) who was on the course taking pics (below)

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It was a case of head down and grinding out the miles, more than I’d run for almost a year. No stopping for photos, but a worrying amount of pit-stops (is it my age?)
I had made a deal with myself to be self-sufficient as possible in the race, carrying precious water from home. (The organisers were going to distribute all surplus food/drink/t-shirts to the community after the race). This was going ok until the wheels fell of my moral horse-&-cart dramatically and I ran out of agua!

Drinking from a camelback (drinks bladder) is a bit like scuba diving, in that if you run out of air/water, it has dramatic effects. There is no reserve water, you are suddenly trying to suck on a tube with nothing in it. There is no dial either (like those Patio Gas BBQ bottles which show full all the time!) It was stupidly hot and getting hotter and I was entering “bonk” territory.

This was a schoolboy error.

At one point I was sure I saw Elland Road stadium and I was wondering why there was a huge concentration of houses really close together, until I realised it was the big cemetery of Independencia district. I had three gels in quick succession and suddenly felt a sugar rush.

The course is a mixed bag, “tiene in poco de todo” (it has a bit of everything).
The first three miles were like a really rough boulder field, then some rocky ridge running, some technical descents and the infamous “marble gravel” of the Lima mountains, which nothing could get a grip on. It rises 7687ft over 20 miles, up to a lofty 4117ft (according to my clever-clogs watch), dropping down into local communities for checkpoints and water, where I eventually got myself some. Catching the tail-end-charlies of shorter courses gives you a boost (as they are normally shot to pieces and struggling), and at 16 miles you can physically see the finish “Cerro San Cristobal”, a conical lump almost in the centre of the city with a huge cross atop. It is dangerous however as the distance looks foreshortened and there are still several climbs and a final sting in the tail; an uphill finish!

A1

Photographers , friends shouting encouragement/abuse and a bit of pride raised my old ticker well into the red zone, but I crossed/fell through the tape in 5hrs 43mins. Not first (by a long way) and not (quite) last. It was my first race since August last year and I was race-rusty, so the conclusion is: Work to do!

B1 B2

That’s all for this week folks, apart from this week’s video…

And finally…

Tenuously linked to my clumsiness above!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you CHEESE ROLLING!
(Once threatened by the H&S Good Time Cops, this year’s event is on 29/05/17

Have an awesome week.
Cheers
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

B3

 

2 thoughts on ““Huaicos!”

  1. Ayme Proaño

    Read the whole thing as usual and I liked… although I must confess I had to run to the dictionary the second time I read it… jijiji… so much for my CPE. Just a quick comment, even though the situation looks sad right now, this country has survived so much more than this and I want to believe we’ll come out of this one too. Water shortage is really depressing and frustrating but I took it as a life lesson on how to save more effectively when this is all over (God: let this be soon)
    Awesome writing skills, thanks for sharing and keep writing because we’re reading.

    Reply
    1. Johnny Bravo Post author

      Thanks Amiga:-)
      Much appreciated.
      It is true, we can all adapt & learn to not take things (or people) for granted.
      It makes one put things into perspective.
      I am honored that people are reading my ramblings!
      I sometimes see it as a conversation going on in my own head & forget that others may be actually reading it…

      P.S. There are some words that may not be in a(ny) dictionary!

      Reply

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