I trust this finds you in splendid form and that you had thee most superb weekend.
After many, many weeks of gloomy stuff, I’ll try and keep this as positive as possible. I will try not to mention the relentless chaos, heinous traffic and black clouds of Lima. This blog was in danger of becoming a nervous/mental/physical breakdown in weekly installments.
If you had told me that a lass called “Milagros” (miracles) from “Bingo Casting/Productions” would suddenly become my No.1 contact, I’d have looked at you like this.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a mysterious advert came about asking for “actors” who spoke English and could drive a car (on the left).
We (“native” teachers” within the company) are a small, close-knit team and everybody was a bit curious. I contacted the casting director, but the day of filming was a work day, so I kind of gave up on the idea.
Then a message popped up in my work email, it was connected to the company, so I could get the time off, game on!
Expectations: Big set, bright lights, cameras, make-up artists, clapperboards, trainers/caravans full of bowls of cocaine and champagne…
Reality: One bright light and one camera in the front room of somebody’s apartment, whilst a family cooked dinner in a tiny kitchen. Did get to do my mugshot though!
I was given a short script to memorise for literally 2 minutes (which is when my shocking memory suddenly realised why I’d never been in this situation before, I can’t remember things for toffee!) What I would have given for an autocue…
Trade secrets mean I can’t give too much away just now, but I had to roll-off 3 or 4 lines as a man driving a taxi (there wasn’t an actual taxi), then I had to pretend to be a Beefeater Guard and then (this is where it fell to pieces), they asked me to do the same lines in Spanish and then (where I lost all hope/chance/face/dignity) I had to march!
The room was only about 3.5 paces across and although marching here in Peru is very popular around Independence Day, when all the school kids practise for weeks, I had never, ever paid any attention and at the age of 45 gave my first ever marching demonstration, which was captured on film for posterity!
Plus points: I gave it my all, enthusiasm overload and completely OTT.
Minus points: Cannot remember sentences more than 4 words long, complete inability to march!
Don’t call us, we’ll call you!
Which they did. “Would you shave for us?”
What kind of film is this, I asked!
So, with the reluctance of Samson, I hunted for a razor. I hate shaving/being shaved, so I had to ponder on this, but the $$$ signs saw me hacking off my face with a 3 year-old blunt razor and some shower gel!
“We’ll be in touch” promised Milagros…
Off the pills, signed off by the Quack as fit/well, but I am still not quite reet.
Bad guts still gurgling, intermittent nausea and zero appetite.
I’m not back on the caffeine yet either (can stomach milky instant crap, but the proper stuff turns my innards).
The acid test was be on Saturday night at the Ambassador’s Bash.
An event so sybaritic it would be difficult to not tipple.
I was very, very wary of a full-on knees-up, as after my last (Halloween) outing, I was not well at all…
Having fixed the bug/virus/glitch in my phone, I was in danger of feeling smug. This was all brought to a halt when I realised this week that after a factory reset, Google Play reverts to “Auto-update” as standard, so this used up all my credit/allowance for a month in less than a week :-/
I doubled up my stupidity levels the next day when my headphones went through a hot-wash!
I still have to pinch myself whenever I go to the Ambassador’s house!
I always expect a tap on my shoulder and some butler to say “Excuse me Sir, there has been a mistake, would you mind following me…” as I get escorted off the premises.
Under pressure for a 6:30pm start!
Working for the people I do, there is a kind of link with the British Council, so I get two freebie tickets. So, with a 6:30pm kick-off it was an early doors start for Ambassador Anwar’s Last Stand!
Lima is a city of HUGE contrasts, but the condominium where the main man lives (and many other ambassador types) is at the super-plush end of the scale. Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, (but paradoxically overlooked by the shanty town atop a nearby mountain where I go running), about 400 happy punters enjoyed a Ferrero Rocher style bash.
Tasty tucker (plus sprouts, although a bit tough they were), plus curry, plus puddings plus whisky plus vodka, plus me taking it steady on beer with spirits-blinkers firmly on.
A top night was had by all and I wasn’t sick
The Ambassadors get moved around, our man is now off to the Cayman Islands and his assistant is heading to Nigeria. Luck’o'the draw…
(Pics are an assortment of mine and many others, thank you).
It was a great night with brilliant friends.
The new Ambassador has a lot to live up to!
World Cup Fever!
Last week Peru qualified for the 2018 World Cup, no mean feat as it’s their first time in 35 years.
The high spirits (especially in the press) continue, I just hope they can maintain it until June 2018. (With the 2012 rally countdown, I feel qualified to talk about this!)
If “slow-walking”, “walking-in-a-non-straight-line” and “completely-blocking-the-pavement” were ever to become Olympic sports, this place could fill the podium every 4 years, without training
Back on the road – Law of diminishing returns?
After what seems like weeks (as it was) I finally started back training this week.
Like a 3-legged tortoise on valium would sum it up best.
2017 was the year that wasn’t, in my running career.
An innocuous but heavy/clumsy fall in February has caused me no end of probems and apart from one half decent race (where I was running on pure frustration/rage to be honest) and a not very decent half-race, it has been a year to forget.
I got heaps of climbing in during the first half of the year, but was always lacking miles (or KMs as I am slowly/reluctantly converting to), this always catches up and bites yer backside.
I’ve run less than 120 times in 330 days! I am a bit over-obsessed (OCD) with stats.
I train to race and without racing I soon lose interest/motivation.
It is a fact of life that as you get older, you have to train harder just to get the same results and to improve you have to train even harder than you trained previously. The issue is that your recovery time increases and you need more time in between sessions, if not you start flogging a lame horse and that is the one-way road to the Physio…
(I am not condoning drug use, but the main reason many sportsfolk have taken drugs in the past is not to feel happy or to like electronic music, but to recover quicker, to enable them to train harder, quicker. This is of course an unfair advantage so “Just say No!”)
In July I changed my training completely and started following a programme, plus I did some altitude training and although there was one promising week in August (in Blighty), the wheels started falling off again in September and they kept falling off…
Every time I try to up the intensity (speedwork) I get crocked, normally my hamstring(s).
However, to get better in the hills, I need to do this speedwork.
Pure hills makes you stronger, but blunts speed completely. It is a frustrating vicious downward spiral…
I love running in the hills and I really hate running on the roads, especially here where you need four sets of eyes for everything; potholes, pedestrians, motorists…
It is an all-out attack on your senses.
(Incongruously I absolutely love running on the track, but only when I’m fit, which is not often).
I am being much more selective with my races next year, choosing only 4-5 big races (as opposed to the dozen I had planned last year).
So, although running is one thing that keeps me sane here, it also a source of maddening frustration too.
What is the solution?
Answers on a postcard please…
“The Spirit of British Adventure”
What’s that smell?
I arrived to work for placement exams on Friday to an overpowering stench coming from the staffroom, worse than my shoes in my locker, it had a foul smell of a dog food factory, or the smell of a dog which needs a bath, I changed my shoes whilst holding my breath for fear of my fragile stomach emptying itself again…
When I mentioned this to a security guard, they told me they had just cooked their dinner. Oops!
Geckos, wild dogs and a snake…
A 4:30am alarm on any morning is a shock, but with the prospect of a foray into the hills on Saturday I jumped out of bed, (not quite true, I sat on the edge of the bed for 5 minutes but resisted the overpowering temptation to go back to the land of nod).
A crampacked venga-bus ride spat me out at the far side of the Doubtful Round and I was on the hills by 6am. Popping suddenly out of the clouds around 1000ft, it always feels like drifting into a different world. Climbing up to 3000ft in the first 3 miles, the horns and car alarms slowly fade away. Geckos scatter away in every direction, (I don’t know what they eat up here in this dusty sloping desert). I was in a trance when I stood on what I thought was a short length of rope, which suddenly came alive, took offence and then slithered off at high speed, sorry Mr.Snake!
This end of the Doubtful Round holds some inexplicable secrets. I once stumbled across a beautifully well-kept garden and cabin here. These hills are devoid of colour (I think, remember I am colourblind, but it does feel like running on the moon at times; rocks, dust and dead cacti). However this place
was like a brilliant green oasis (see this VIDEO
I snooped around for a while and then two minutes later I was whistled at furiously (not the wolf kind, but the dogs these whistling Huachimen had resembled wolves, I’ve never run as fast in my life!)
There is a “caseta” (watchtower) at the nearby summit, you know you’re getting close as the ground becomes more and more scattered with bog roll stuffed under rocks, nice!
There is always somebody in the tower, I’ve never been up here at night and I never would. Apart from the ground being perfect ankle-breaking territory in the dark, there is something sinister about this patch. I once went out with a walking group and saw a giant white swan, a giant lizard, an extraterrestrial triangle and an Inca Chief’s head. I’d not been on the sauce, these were real and the story goes that these are landmarks clearly visible from the air, for light aircraft to make air-drops of drugs. It is in the middle of nowhere and there is nobody around…
As I passed the caseta on Saturday morning, a guard dog started barking ferociously and a guard came out. I waved and sped off as he shouted something (unintelligible) at me. It wasn’t a situation/time/place to stop and say “Come again?”
From here there is a brilliant traversing dog-leg descent which hits a moondust track, it freefalls about half a mile, but the guard above/behind was shouting his back-up-man on the track, so I had to take a direct line through some horrible chossy boulders, as I tried best to get away from the whistles and the barking.
The land is not private as such, but if there are any dodgy dealings going on here, obviously they are sensitive to anybody passing through, even scruffy runners. Think I’ll avoid this bit for a few weeks…
Although the valleys were still swarthed in cloud, it was hotting up by 7am, it was the first time I’ve seen this route clear of fog in over 6 months (Lima winter). I stopped to take a million photos, which are never quite the same and must have clicked a switchon my phone to turn on something as I suddenly received a message.
I always have internet turned off, I like to get away from emails and all that when I’m out.
At the last summit a one-line message popped up from “Milagros-Bingo Productions”
“Would you have you hair cut for the role?” The $600 question!
I was more than a little distracted in my thinking for the remaining hour of my run dropping down from the cerros into the cloudy valley, Big question…
A few weeks ago there was the 2nd annual “El Misti Sky Race”, which one day I hope to actually get to. El Misti is a (generally dormant) 5822m/19,101ft high volcano in Arequipa, S.Peru.
Kim Karca$hican could release a video of her verrucas and it would get a million hits. WHY this video has less than 1000 views is a mystery, it deserves more.
All the action is in the last minute.
WELL WORTH A WATCH
I found this video ,
taking things to new levels, BIG cojones!
Have yourself an awesomely awesome week!
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper