Mes de Pintura-Part II, Second Hand Market, the Revolution has begun, mmmm-coffeeee, Star Wars (again), Black Wednesday and Red Mist, Happy Snapping and Congratulations!

Good morning folks

I trust you had a superbly fantastic weekend.
Here is the weekly round-up from the city of Chaos, ceviche, Cristal, Combis & more Chaos (with a capital “C”).

Mes de Pintura-Part II

I remember Trick-or-Treaters once spraying “Free Chips” on the wall of Peggoty’s Chippy in Rothwell
One night, last November, overnight, appeared a shedload of slogans painted onto houses throughout Lima.
“Por suerte existe el mes de la pintura” (Luckily the month of painting exists!)

It made me curious, so I did some digging & discovered that a paint company was doing a bit of graffiti-publicity.
If you let them vandalise your house, they’d paint it for free!
Two months later, true to their word, they did.
Now I’m colourblind, and I’m not 100% sure just what colour this is, but I’m not sure that punters actually had any say in the matter!
(See also “The Revolution has begun!”)

Second hand market?

About 3 years ago, we came to Peru for a short holiday.
Lina had 3 weeks & I could only muster a fortnight off work.
Lina arrived a week afore me, but the airline (LAN) managed to lose her luggage for 18 days.
We had to go to the airport (which is an epic in itself) every other day & got her bags 3 days before we went home.
I arrived a week later than her & had a bit of an eventful flight here.
I seldom wear a white shirt, but for some unknown reason I was. (Probably dreamimg of an upgrade, it only happened once & I was in all my scruff, so a white shirt didn’t open the magic door!)
Anyway, it was an early flight from Amsterdam & I had the window seat.
A Chinese lad (who spoke no English, nor Spanish) next to me popped what I can only surmise was a sleeping pill, as he slept for 16 hours straight.
The chap next to him was a rather rotund fellow, who gently flopped into half of the Chinaman’s seat & into the aisle.
I was quietly reading my book when I felt what I thought was my nose running.
No hankie to hand, I touched my nose & saw/felt a constant stream of claret dripping down.
A nosebleed, ace!
I tried to stop it, but had nothing to stop it with, I already was starting to look a bit like Terry Butcher (or just any butcher) with blood soaking into my white shirt nicely. I had to get to the khazi…
I tried (& failed) to wake up the Chinese lad, so clasping my nose shut with one hand, I clambered over him, then the big lad was also asleep & I couldn’t wake him either, so I clambered over him & legged it to the toilet.
The toilet was at the front of the craft, so in the half light of dawn, my fellow passengers only saw my back.
However, coming back, I was walking from the front to the back & people were starting to stir.
The first old dear who saw me got a shock.
A lumbering, lanky mustachioed hippy, with a white short covered in blood!
The old lass started to scream (not hysterically, just in a “just-woken-up-&had-a-shock” way).
I ran back to my seat & after clambering over both my dormant neighbours, it was an uneventful flight.
(Somebody later said, why didn’t you just ring the bell!)

Anyhow, we only had 2 weeks & a road trip was ambitious.
Family reunions are a big thing here, so it was basically 2 weeks of eating & we never actually left Lima.
Beforehand I had thought about buying a second hand car, a trusty TICO.
Ubiquitous as they are completely underpowered & crap, perfect for mischief.
However, as soon as I started looking round the free-ads, I got a big shock.
The prices were sky high.
There are 2 currencies in operation here.
Dollars (U$) & Soles (Peruvian /s). In 2004 £1 was worth $2 or s/6.
Nowadays, £1 is worth $1.5 or just under s/5. So everything seems more pricey, although I get paid in Soles, so it’s all comparative.
They were asking around $2000 for a really, really old & battered tin-can-Tico.
(Plus, when I looked into the paperwork side of things, it would have taken a fortnight to all sort out, I had planned to buy/travel/sell it within 2 weeks, overambitious as always). So the idea never happened.

I pass a garage every day on my way to work, a second hand Arturo Daly set-up.
Full to overflowing with some really, really flash motors. Then there is a completely knackered old Volvo 940.
In Blighty, in the nick it’s in, you’d be lucky to get £500.
The asking price is $4000 (£2800, in yer dreams son!)

imageYours for a mere $2700000000…


The second hand market here is a relatively new thing, especially online. There is little consumer trust/confidence & only recently have websites like OLX & Mercado Libre become big. (An an ex Fleabay addict, I am glad to say that it doesn’t exist here. yet).
As soon as you start looking around, second hand prices are almost the same as new!
We went to look at a second hand travel cot last year, the ad was sketchy in details & the address was an hour away in taxi, right up into the hills.
When we got there, the “travel cot” would have been ideal for taking a cat or dog to the beach, but it certainly wasn’t for a Nipper.
(More like a cage it was). In addition, the vendor said that she had paid s/400 (£80), 4 years ago & was looking for s/350 (£70)!
This is not an isolated example.
When I was looking at Clunks last year, I was very close to buying a brand new Ronco (Chinese copy of a Chinese copy), going for around s/4000 (£800, give or take a few bob). That was with a one year warranty & free servicing, etc.
There were literally dozens of second hand Roncos, with less than 500km (ie. Not run in yet) going for s/3750 (about £750).
Devaluation doesn’t seem to be taken into account. Punters moan that the second-hand market is slow, but it’s not surprising at these prices!
And whilst bartering is a part of the culture, most second hand vendors (selling goods, not themselves) are adamant that the prices are realistic!
Dream on amigo.

Plus, having flogged lots of tat of my own on fleabay (generally making a huge loss, but the customers are generally happy), I know it can be a patience-testing task.
You sell a red carrier bag, with description & photos.
“What colour is it?”
“What is it made of?”
“Is is useful for carrying things?”
Menial questions, but you generarally reply politely (& informatively).
Countless times here I have made an enquiry & never heard a squeak back.
It’s all about pleasing the punter…

The revolution has begun!


On Sunday, (competing with the World’s worst neighbours behind & the Hounds of the Baskervilles in front), next door had an alarmathon.
Not exactly helping a self-induced headache, the alarm was going off from 9pm until the next dawn.
I promise that it wasn’t me, but somebody voiced their discontent on their wall, in 3ft high letters!
(Apologies, photo will not load, but it did the trick!)

Mmmm, coffeeeeee…

A big THANK YOU to Melissa & to Renato for their superkind caffeine gifts, you know me too well :-)

Star Wars (again).


Lina hadn’t seen the (not so) new Star Wars film & keen to see it before it’s on telly, we found the only cinema still showing it on Tuesday.
(Rescued from a really, really poor list of alternatives, there is nothing at all on right now here).
Only when I sat down did I realise that it was in fact “doblada” (dubbed).

I started to panic, as most old films that I have seen have a very limited selection of voice-overs (dubbers?)
Each of which seems hand-picked to not match the character/original voice at all.
To be fair it was pretty good, I was waiting for the subtitles in Spanish, but of course they never came, so with my limited Spanish, it was like watching a brand new film :-)

Black Wednesday & Red Mist!!!

I’m generally a pretty laid-back & relaxed chap (although I am definitely getting more neurotic with age). A few months back I talked about “Ladbrokes Syndrome”.
A decrease in patience caused by a  constant/unavoidable irritation (that is the most polite way that I can put it).
Basically, I worked for Ladbrokes Bookies in a busy city centre office, good gaffer & great team, but some really “special” punters, who used to try it on, all the time.
My fuse/wick was shortened/trimmed during the time I was there.
I always bang on about the relentless monster that is the Lima traffic, but if you live/drive/ride/commute in this madhouse of a city, (unless you have a helicopter) it is a problem.
I’ve picked up some extra work in a University, it’s kind of a backward step, in that it involves commuting (& it is a hell-ish commute), but sometimes you just have to say “Si” to everything at work, which is what I’ve been doing!

Anyroad, Wednesday was one of those days when it felt that every single Lima maniac was out to kill the Clunk & I.
We didn’t do anything differently to normal, but we were definitely a target.
Cutting us up, squeezing us in & one hairy moment when a Taxista was coming straight towards us (wrong way) down the slip road off the Motorway.
Now people here seem to see no wrong in pulling off the Motorway & then reversing back onto the motorway, if the road ahead is busy.
From there, the “Carretera Central” (a main artery) is having a tunnel installed beneath it, in any other country in the World, the road would be closed, but not here.
Parts of it are blocked off, so you switch to the other side, but nobody seems to know which parts are one-way/two-way. It is a nightmare.
However, it was later on when pulling off one motorway, onto another slip road, when suddenly, the car in front slammed all-on.
An old bloke in a massively overloaded van was reversing without looking, at speed onto the motorway we’d just left.
You never see the ones that get you, but it was a moment when I did think. “This is it, the car behind (with nowhere to go, the slip roads are specially tapered to not quite let 2 cars pass) is going to make a Johnnyboy Sandwich, with the car in front. At the last nanosecond, I squeezed out & pulled up next to the old lad’s window.
I normally avoid confrontation. I’m a lover, not a fighter, I’d just prefer everyone to be good to each other.
I have never, ever felt such fury, as I did in that moment.
A red mist descended over me, I started shouting, screaming & raging at the bloke.
He could have wiped all of us out. I didn’t threaten violence, but he learned some words that I wouldn’t teach in class!
He obviously didn’t understand a word, but if he knew anything about intonation, he’d realise that I wasn’t best chuffed.
He looked equally bemused/confused.
The rest of the day I was in a rage on the road, taxis that cut me up got a mouthful & my blood pressure was sky high.
I realised it was doing me no good & anyway, shockingly bad driving is so deeply ingrained here that most of the time, punters don’t even realise they are doing it.
So now, I take a deep breath & hope for the best.
It is a jungle out there…


Happy Snapping!

My good mate (& brilliant photographer) Pete kindly nominated me for the “challengeonnaturephotography” challenge on facebook.
(Check out Pete’s awesome photos & give him a “like” right here:
This involves posting one of your photos ever day & then nominating a person to carry on with the baton.
I’ve always liked taking pics, I got my very first camera (a Halina 110) when I was 10 years old & then a Hanimex Disc camera when I was a bit older.
I did some bits & bats with 35mm & even tried (& failed at) developing my own photos for a short while.
Despite my Technostubbornness, I did eventually go digital in 2004, lashing out what seemed like a shedload of bra$$ for a Canon 5mp Ixus, which lasted 4mths, then I got a cheapo 3.5mp Canon which took some great pics. I’m not a photograpgher, I really admire the work of those who know what they are doing. Me? I’m just somebody who likes taking photos :-)
The trouble was that I’ve never actually got round to scanning any old pics & any pre-2006 photos are on CDs, in my Dad’s shed.
So, you could say that I had limited resources!
Here are the 7 photos I chose, & a few of the also-rans.
Every photo has a story, that is what I love about photos.
(Cue “Tony Hart Gallery” music…)

Day I – Doubtful Sound, South Island, New Zealand.


Day II – Cerro Castor, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.


Day III – Storm brewing, Castillo de Morella, Valencia.



Day IV – Flamingoes, Laguna Colorada, Bolivia.


Day V – Kasteli Rock sunset, Kalymnos.


Day VI – Rally sunset, somewhere near Bayankhongor (perhaps?) Mongolia.


Day VII – Ulgii, Mongolia.



Burritos, Sierra de Lima, Peru.


Laguna Llanganuco, Ancash, Peru.


Swirral Edge, Helvellyn, Lake District.


 Candelabra, Islas de Ballestas, Ica, Peru.



River Rimac (looking parched), Lima, Peru.


 Health & Safety Nervous Breakdown! Best skid patch in the World, Horton-in-Ribblesdale.



 ”No Dumping”, Sutherland, Bonny Scotland.


 Silver Streak in Glencoe (March), Scotland.




 Sardinia sunset.


 Lost in the desert, not very near to Ica, but that’s the nearest place.


Ancash, Peru.


 El Misti, Arequipa, S.Peru.


Andean pooch, Argentina/Chile border. 


Hairpins all the way to Chile. Ruta 60, Argentina.


Goat herding en-masse, Tarija, S.Bolivia.


 ”World’s most dangerous road, Bolivia. (The Panamericana Sur in Lima is a close contender in my eyes!)


 Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.


 Mongolian Horsemen, Arvaikheer, Mongolia.

Storm brewing, Yungay, Peru.



Victor Meldrew says…


The whingeing one is taking a week off, but he will be back to vent his spleen about something/nothing/anything next week.


Heard some amazing mews this week. An awesome couple who we met through the Rally; Rob & Andrea are expecting a Nipper!
Rob is one of my two regular readers, so I just wanted to say a HUGE congratulations to the pair of you :-)

And finally…

To leave you hopefully with a smile, here is a short video.
Sometimes YouTube leads you well off course from where you were originally going!
This is classically illustrated here.
A bad man, a very bad man. A modern day (Russian) Dennis the Menace.
More front that Blackpool & definitely living on borrowed time…

p.s. This made me chuckle too :-)
imagep.p.s. The Nipper’s behaviour is going in the wrong direction. Still a month off the “Terrible Twos” & she is well in charge in this household!


That’s all for now folks.
Have yersens a mightily fine & superb week.

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper




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