Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in spectacular form and that you had an outstanding weekend. A mid-December-&-very-close-to-Christmas jumble of happenings this week.
The Works Christmas Do being the highlight of the week (and the root cause of a hangover that is threatening to finish me off right now).
As I said last week, a free bar always has a price.
School is out for the Nipper, holidays until March!
This is the weekly Monday morning Superclunk.com blog…
The Christmas Do was on Saturday and it was a proper knees-up, at the swanky naval base in San Borja (where I once disgraced myself with some stinking, rancid trainers at a salsa class in 2004, but that is another story and a traumatic one at that!)
It is a lavish event but it is a tightrope though…
Normally, it starts around 9pm and there is a sit down meal, a band, a big raffle (which I have never had anything close to a sniff at) and then a disco. Pisco Sours first, then wine, then beer. As the first two spell trouble for me, I have to be patient and wait for the cerveza later, but we cooked up a plan for some early doors pre-fiesta beer first. The tightrope is that the entire management team and all the top brass are there so it is important to hold it together! I don’t think forward-rolls would go down too well. People here love to dance and dancing is probably a bigger part of a party than tippling. So a free bar is temptation overload for some wayward sorts.
This year it was a proper full-on booze-up! No meal, just fancy snacks, a free bar and a score of waiters plying folk with drink. I didn’t win the raffle and by 1 or 2am, I’d had more than enough ale and just got home before my taxi turned into a pumpkin…
On the buses…
Lima’s (informal) bus system works on a grid system, so they ply a north-south-ish direction whilst others go east-west, so most journeys require 2 buses (and 2 back), so this week I took 34 buses between Monday to Saturday.
Buses come in 3 sizes: Combis, custers and omnibuses. (Whilst “carros” is sometimes used as an umbrella description, which is also a word for cars!)
Combis are the smallest, a minibus which has had all the seats removed and then refitted with about 6 more, so a bus that should carry 8 people will probably carry up to about 28! The “Cobrador” (a kind of conductor) hangs out of a sliding door shouting the destination(s) and collecting fares. The driver drives like he is being chased by Old Nick himself. It is basically a race between combis.
Custers are a medium sized affair and the big buses should be the comfiest (in a country where being 6’4” is not an advantage on public transport), but the driver thinks he is driving a combi-sized vehicle and throws it round the road like a boy racer. Omnibuses are generally seen as safer than taxis, but getting robbed is a very real risk. This week a friend was sat next to a sleeping pasajero. The guy on the other side made an excuse that he had dropped a coin behind her (my friend) and when she moved, the sleeping pasajero woke up, stole her phone and purse from her bag and then both got off, she didn’t realise until it was too late…
There is a constant stream of people selling stuff (toffee apples, popcorn and candy floss, things I haven’t eaten since I was about 10 years old at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. As a nation Peru must be world leaders in public popcorn eating!) Or singing (or a kind of singing), or selling something or other, staying on for 2-3 stops and then boarding another bus to do the same, all day until they get to a terminus and then turn around.El Chino – The Panamericana Unguided Missile.
An old bloke got on a packed bus I was on at rush hour with a Fender Stratocaster copy and amplifier. There was barely standing room but he somehow managed to belt out half a dozen classics and was actually bloody brilliant. He was selling sweets but most folk just gave him money. Latent talent.
The biggest surprise was when the cobardor on the Pucusana-San Miguel jalopy asked me “Hey, where are you from?” (In English). He then completely ignored his job for 20 minutes as he told me in broken English that he wanted to go to London but he needed to get a scholarship from a place called “Britanico”. (I didn’t let on that I worked there). He pulled out some lyrics from a Flock of Seagulls song and asked if he had translated them correctly. Then came the question!
“You can teach me! I can teach you to surf in return” (something that I poured my heart and soul into for 6 months and failed dismally).
I asked where he lived and he said “Lurin”, which is about 40km south.
If there was ever a time when I really would have loved to say yes, this was one of those times, but it is just too far to teach my new mate Dinar.
The battle! My last word on noise…
Life in Lima is not just one long procession of Pisco Sours and fiestas! Nowhere is Paradise, but I have a good job, which is about all that keeps me here. I would move tomorrow if I could, I really would. Preferably to a remote Scottish island…
The neighbours, the neighbours, the neighbours. I have mentioned them before I think. There are 3 families in the building who are a pain-in-the-poto. I would never use the C word, but one family really does drive me nuts with their 8am onwards concert/disco which reverberates around the building. People here do have the biggest, loudest, bassiest speakers on earth. I’ve nothing against music, far from it, but if my house is shaking it’s bit too much. (I even Googled “Why does loud music drive me so crazy?” One specialist gave a list of rhetorical questions including “What is missing in your life?” A bit of bloody P&Q that’s all!
On Friday I’d had enough and went to have words.
Doorbell – ignored.
Knock-knock – ignored.
BANG BANG BANG – ignored.
I’d reached a point of no return.
After almost knocking the door off its hinges, a voice answered “Quien” (who?)
I stayed calm and asked them to turn their music down. It was a bit loud for 8:30am. I kept it polite.
No answer, then “ya” (which doesn’t mean anything really, not a yes, nor a no). As I walked away the volume was turned up.
(Deleted expletives on my part…)
At times I wish I were deaf like the bloke downstairs. I have just got to suck it up as it is not going to ever change. I did look at buying a device called a Jammer, but they are illegal and I do not think I would get them through customs.
Asi es la vida en Lima…
I am such a hopeless tourist, I really am.
I’ve lived here in Peru for almost 6 years (in 3 stints) and I still haven’t been to Machu Picchu, which is a crime.
(In my defence, the first time I was here I had no time, the second time I had no money and this time, a cocktail of the two! Maybe one day, but there are no plans for it on the horizon).
It is not that I am some kind of selfish travel snob, I just don’t like big crowds of people, not in a claustrophobic way, it’s just that so many tourist places have so many people that it is hard to actually see or get a feel for the place. I’m not explaining myself very well here.
Obviously the crowds are there for a reason, it is something worth seeing and in the case of Machu Picchu, probably thee reason for many a traveller’s trip. You wouldn’t get a crowd of folk flocking to a place that was crap! It is also all the other paraphernalia you get that puts me off. Hard-as-nails salesfolk pushing tours/souvenirs/crap on you, overpriced/substandard digs and services and the dreaded selfie sticks…
Selfie sticks? Where did they come from?
In the case of Machu Picchu, I do believe that these contraptions have been banned (reportedly after the sad demise of a tourist on a steep bit of the climb, when attention wasn’t being paid to the ground below the feet, although I may be wrong. Punters will probably still sneak in selfie sticks regardless…) before I start a ridiculous rant, these contraptions are sometimes used to brilliant effect. I recently swapped back to an old fashioned Nokia brick (albeit a cheap Chinese copy, nothing comes close to a Nokia).
A week ago, when I pulled out my camera in a restaurant, the waiter looked at me as if I was handing him an ancient antique. Anybody working in a restaurant must get jaded by diners asking (telling) them “Take a photo”, then another phone appears and another…
Get to the point please… At the Parque de la Amistad last Saturday, on a relatively quiet day for punters, the Nipper and I struggled to get past a group of girls all intent on pouting their way up ad over the railway bridge, documenting/filming/snapping their every step with selfie-stick-mounted-phones. What were they filming and who would even watch it?
It is a mystery to me.
At work, in classes, we discuss the internet and social media a lot.
What is it that makes it so popular, when really (showing my age) there were websites in the past like Hi-5 (which still exists) and MySpace, which did similar things to modern day equivalents, but maybe in a lower profile way. I had a strange experience when a New York DJ called Douglas, set up a MySpace account, but with my old email address, so all his notifications came to me. If I was a bad person I could have wrecked his life!
Social media has made it much easier for people to publish everything about their lives, which is exactly what I am doing here (with a blog), so what is the problem? A lot of people, probably younger and less-Victor-Meldrew than myself, feel an intense pressure to portray an amazing, ideal, enviable, perfect life, which is most of the time a complete sham. (My life is not perfect by a long way but I don’t pretend it is).
One of the best places I have been to recently here in Peru was a town called Churin, about 4hrs away from Lima, but still inside Lima. Renowned for its “trucha” (trout, which was very average, not a patch on Tebay Trout Farm) and “aguas termales” (hot springs, full of various minerals).
Nestled amongst the hills at a semi-lofty 2500m, we took a bus tour up to some more remote springs high in the hills. Ranging from luke-warm to make-you-want-to-faint-&-possibly-render-a-bloke-infertile-within-a-minute. Some big communal baths and some diddy ones too. The majority of people seemed content to paddle about in the big, tepid bath. Lima folk don’t like things too hot, nor too cold, just in the middle. Being the antisocial grumpy git that I am, I snook off to a boil-yer-cojones private bath, with a view out to distant snowcapped peaks. I was in training for the Lima Marathon at the time and my legs were pretty shot, but lying in this murky water I felt everything unwind, untie and relax. It was an absolutely amazing feeling! After almost passing out I went back to find the girls. They were in the big pool and I noticed a lass who was getting her boyfriend to take a photo (of her pulling an extraordinary unnatural face, not quite a gurn, but getting there!).
“Otra” (another) she snapped, checking it and “Otra”, which went on and on and on, until the bus tooted its horn and we all left. This performance was repeated at the next baths and the next baths and the restaurant too. She must have had over a hundred very similar photos. Maybe she will send her portfolio to Egemont Crab Fair?
What I am trying to say is that I feel that so many people are missing out on stuff that is happening right at that moment, when they are trying/failing to capture “the moment”.
When I was back in Blighty on a lads night out in August, as groups of middle-aged lads do, we were reminiscing about the past and all agreed that the summer of 1996 was the best ever. We were all young(er), had very few responsibilities, all worked together (which made work feel more like a Youth Club, than anything professional) and apart from the heady days of Euro 96, it was a time when camera phones didn’t really exist, CCTV was in its infancy, so you could basically get away with murder!
A few years back I driving down Churwell Hill, near Morley, when I hit a (new) speed ramp and thought I had torn my sump off the car (in the old Silver Streak, pre-sumpguard days). When I pulled into the Asda Express car park I did a vertical limbo shuffled under the car, so in effect there was just my lower torso sticking out. I sensed somebody close, so dragged myself out to the sight of a lad taking a photo.
“Might I ask you what you are doing young Sir?” I enquired, to which he replied, “I thought you were dead”. So, you thought you’d take a photo I wanted to say, but he looked a bit handy so I didn’t.
Is that how modern society works? I have nothing against phones, but they can rule our lives.
Back to YKW. Next week…
New strip is out now in the club shop
My bloody foot!
It’s been 4 weeks since the El Misti race but I haven’t run (or down) a set of stairs since. Numbness/pins and needles in my right foot led me to the Docs, then to a Neurologist to an EMI scan, back to the Neurologist then for blood tests which will take me back to the Quack tomorrow, probably to be told that the problem is “idiopathic” (with no known cause).
I’ve had a quick look at the blood tests and with my GCSE in Human Physiology I personally think they are barking up the wrong tree. There are a few anomalies, some contradictions and the fact that I was registered as a woman (!) which may mean that the ranges are slightly out anyway.
All this back-&-forth-ness to the Hospital has led me to nowhere so far.
Will they just chop my foot/head off tomorrow?
Watch this space…
Kind of ironic to post this on the internet (as most people use their phones to access the world or the web), but this is a very valid point (in my luddite eyes anyway!)
I only wish some of my students would watch this VIDEO and take note…
Have an outstanding week!
Johnny, Lina and the Nipper