Good morning all
I trust this finds you in tiptop form & finest fettle.
Hope you had a mighty fine weekend.
A lightning quick blog this week.
Lina is away on a course & it’s the Nipper & I home alone (typing this extra quietly so she doesn’t wake up).
A quick round-up from the city of mototaxi madness.
(I always carry a camera to capture the madness & had an amazing pic, but Valentina has now worked out how to delete photos from my camera, so it’s history, albeit not recorded history!)
(Whilst not fronting a Madness tribute band, this Suggs lookalike had a second income…)
Never, ever let your guard down, ever!
That’s a pretty good maxim for life in Lima.
I did & I’ve learnt a (valuable/expensive) lesson…
I’ve only ever been robbed once in Lima & it was ironically when I was telling some friends to look after their things, without being paranoid.
(I often see backpackers shopping in “Vivanda” one of the swankiest supermarkets in Lima, wearing their rucksacks on their front & eyeing up everybody as a would-be-tea-leaf. It’s probably the safest spot in the city!)
Precisely at the very moment that Mr. Worldly-wise was giving his public safety speech, a lowlife toe-rag spotted his opportunity & snaffled my bag, from between my legs. I felt the faintest of feint brushes on my flares & it was gone. (Lina had just said to me, “Shall I look after your bag?”) Inside the bag was my old I-pod (not backed-up) & a camera with 300 pics that I hadn’t downloaded. Gutted. Bigtime!
Anyroad, I had a lesson which involved prices & money, so I took along some Sterling as “Realia”.
None of the kids had ever seem the mysterious banknotes with the Queen’s head on (& as they are constantly referred to articles including ££££ in their textbook, I thought it a good idea).
I must have been flush when I went to the cashpoint at Heathrow, as my little bright orange wallet had a £20, two Tenners & a Fiver, plus a heap of change. The students appreciated it & it added a bit more reality to the exercise.
I ride the Clunk to work every day now (especially as I do split shifts) so there’s few combis in a typical day.
A day passed & I had the same lesson with another group, so I reached for a handful of the Queen’s heads & was dismayed for it not to be there. Rifled, snatched, gone!
Bugger & double bugger. It’s unlikely it fell out, but I just can’t puzzle out who’s nabbed it & when (& how!)
Pounds are pretty hard to change around my parts, Euros yeah, but Sterling no.
Always keep your eyes on your stuff. I didn’t & it grew legs & ran off.
Only £40, but £40 is £40.
I was still sulking about it riding home & was almost wiped out by a 4×4 in a hurry.
Lima’s roads are not a place for daydreaming…
Victor Meldrew says…
“Cállate!!!” (Shut your cakehole!!!)
If there was a contest for the World’s worst neighbours, our delightful “vecinos” would be Olympic Gold contenders.
24hr non-stop dogs/parrots/squawking wife & kids.
We’ve dropped unlucky. I’ve moved house 35 times, so duff neighbours were on the cards at some point.
After a night of pretending to sleep, whilst trying to ignore their poodle yelping (I’m sure it’s a robot), I left for work at 7am with bags under my eyes. It’s not like me to shout, but I shouted “Cállate!!!” at the top of my voice as I left.
I woke up everybody who had slept through the poodlefest, but Lina said that the squawking wife, shouting at her squawking kids, did actually shut up.
There is a different attitude to noise here. Not that it is tolerated, just that it is expected!
Our flats are made from bricks made of toughened candy floss, so if someone sneezes on the top floor, everybody hears it.
Neighbours come in at 1am & SLAM car doors, set car alarms off, slam their “depository” doors, slam their metal security gates, slam their house doors & the baton is passed on to the next noisy bugger at 5am.
Now I’ve nothing at all about anybody having a booze-up, shindig or knees-up. However…
Saturday night, a party started up at 11pm, with a band & Compere. There was a heavy metal band then from 3-5am & then the disco started at 5am, with women screeching until gone 6am.
Now if you want a proper blast-out, go to a discotheque or a deserted beach, but is it really fair to have a party so loud that nobody within a 100m radius gets any sleep at all? I think I must be getting old ;-/
The Nipper is still not sleeping very well, so tiredness leads to grumpiness, leads to anger, leads to arguments & so on…
I love animals, but I do think some very dark thoughts about the poodle at No.255
Victor Meldrew says “Piense Varon, SHUT UP!”
Green Cross Code II…
Back in the day, in my diddy little Primary School (about 40 kids in total & only 6 in my year) we had to pass “The Cycling Proficiency” before we were set loose on the road, a bit like a CBT on pushbikes. On the day of the test I saw the first Policeman I’d ever seen, a village bobby by the name of PC Singleton, a giant of a man, 6’6″ if he was an inch. At the far side of the playground he said (when he spoke it sounded like a man bellowting, he had some authority) “Hi kids, I’m PC Singleton” & then proceeded to walk the full length of the school playground on his hands (an impressive feat when wearing full uniform & an old style Policeman’s hat).
Now PC Singleton also taught us “The Green Cross Code” (in the absence of Sir David Prowse, imagine Darth Vader turning up to school to teach you how to cross the road!)
“I won’t be there when you cross the road / So always use the Green Cross Code.”
Now this campaign obviously never quite reached the fair shores of Lima!
I’d never had a Clunk with disc brakes until I got the (sadly missed) CB500. Being used to drum brakes, which if you stamp on them hard enough, generally have a similar stopping distance to an Oil Tanker Ship. The first time I touched the front brake on the CB500 I almost ate the speedo! They do stop.
Luckily I had new disc pads fitted a few weeks back, otherwise Mr. Ice-Cream-Salesman/Chancer wouldn’t be flogging Cornettos at the lights of Av. Petit Thouars/Av. Javier Prado (nor would I be typing this, as I’d have been on the deck too!)
People here do NOT look, ever. Crossing the road especially. Riding a Clunk would be an invigorating business, if you knew that you’d survive, but the traffic here is so erratic/unpredictable, that I kiss the ground whenever I arrive to my destination I kiss the ground.
You’re riding on your brakes & your nerves, especially with the risky pastime of filtering. It goes up in intensity when a pedestrian suddenly appears between moving cars! You watch pedestrians & think “Surely she’s not going to cross there!” (& she does). People just cross without looking & expect traffic to stop. One of the riskiest occupations here must be the traffic lights salespeople, they appear as suddenly as the shopkeeper off Mr. Benn.
Sadly I did see a dead body a few weeks back, a man who had been run over after not using a footbridge over the Panamericana Sur (busy, busy highway escaping Lima), he paid the highest price. It is tragically common, why don’t people learn/realise?
Riding a Clunk (or any vehicle) should mean being observant. Constantly looking: Is that guy going to pull out? Is he going to stop? Are the lights going to suddenly change. “Anticipation is the sign of a good driver“, a driving instructor once told me.
It’s not taught here & nor is the Green Cross Code!
On the Clunk I wear a bike jacket, helmet, gloves & knee pads. My work colleagues call me “Robocop” & think I’m overdressed.
(A student of mine had a bike accident & told me that, for the moment he’d swapped for a slower bike; A KTM Duke 200, which he showed me & then rode off on wearing shorts, t-shirt & a baseball cap!)
I had a “Spill” a few years back. Tarmac is hard & there is only one winner. I was wearing all the gear & it all got trashed, but it did its job, so was money well spent in my eyes.
Here coming off isn’t my biggest fear, it’s the traffic stopping behind. A pair of knee pads are little use if I’m squashed under a bus. it’s mainly psychological, but I wear it, sweating cobs or not.
I released a VIDEO of my typical commute to work midweek & one mate said that I should get some “Taxi Kickers”. After looking for a pair of boots (over size 9, I’m a size 13) for yonks, I finally found a pair, can I justify them, watch this space…
(Artist’s impression. The boots will not be a brand that anybody has ever heard of!)
p.s. The abbreviation means “All the gear, all the time”. I had heard it, but had to look it up!
“Fit the best, Everest!”
Ted Moult used to get very animated about kitemarks & the famous feather test.
This ADVERT is a classic.
Whilst trying to block out the incessant racket of next door’s robotic poodle yapping & yapping & yapping, I suddenly thought “Double Glazing!”
That is the answer. I got on the case, it was so obvious that I was almost embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of it earlier.
I looked around. It wasn’t in abundance. Everybody seems to have the same style of sliding windows (with cracks just big enough to let dust in & to not keep noise out). Double Glazing works well in the cold, not an issue here, but noise definitely is.
In Blighty, if you ever carelessly whisper, or even think to yourself that you might possibly be interested in double glazing, you will be hounded by an overenthusiastic & pushy salesman, until the end of time.
I rang around. Numbers that led to answerphones that led to messages being left that led to nothing.
Customer Service is still in its infancy here. “Call a customer back?” That’s a novel one!
Emails were unanswered too, but I eventually found two firms that answered the phone.
Lina called (“Gringo Tax” is not something that I am comfortable talking about. It does still happen, not always & sometimes locals get fleeced too). We awaited the quotes…
How much do you reckon for a 1.5m x 1.5m fitted?
Quotes between £200-£400.
I said it was for just one window, not the whole building.
Might have to start saving up egg boxes then…
Money has always burnt a hole in my sky-rocket, always.
Pocket money, Little Chef/Brewery Canteen/Library (twice)/William Hill’s/Texas/Sweater Shop/Next/Argos (twice)/Ladbrokes/first direct (twice)/Skanska (twice)/Gas de France/I-to-I & Brewery (too many times to mention) wages all get blown/frittered/wasted on something (after the bills have been paid & nappies bought of course).
I picked up some extra work at a local university which is connected, but not entirely to my job & I get paid travel expenses, paid separately.
(It involves a 2hr round trip to collect them, not bad going for 12 miles!)
Now they pay in cash & one of my favourite bike shops is nearby, so this is not going to have a happy ending (for my Accountant anyway).
(A million miles off the likes of GetGeared or Jordan’s, but it’ll do!)
This week I have been mostly buying replacement visors for goggles (it’s good to see again) & some new grips, which don’t fit (& for anybody who has fitted grips, you can laugh at my stupidity of loosing the retaining nut for the bar-ends inside the bar, novice that I am!)
The boots I mentioned are the first boots of any kind that have seen near my size here.
Worth a punt? Just not sure what my colleagues will say/think when I rock up to work in full-on Motocross boots.
“You have 20 seconds to comply…”
Whilst leaving the bike shop above, a big heavily laden Honda Transalp pulled up.
Now normally here, there is zero acknowledgement between bikers, but this guy nodded.
I’d noticed the plates were Swiss, but when I asked the guy (& his missus) were from Belgium.
It was a lightning quick conversation, but the lad said that his bike was up for grabs, they’d bought it in Ecuador & was good as new, (bar a new battery, he had to keep it running, wouldn’t fancy bumpstarting that!)
$3000 (If you’re tempted, you can find them as “Astonishing American Adventure“on FB)
I don’t have $3000 & I’m not sure it would squeeze between the Combis here, but as with any bike, I was tempted (but financially I resisted!)
El dia de San Valentin…
I’ve never been very romantic on Valentine’s Day (was normally on shift/sleeping off nights at the Brewery for the last 7 years).
I did once give a lass I was courting, a dozen red roses (how unoriginal & overpriced, I know). 3 days later we finished & £25 was a month’s wage 25 years ago!
After 10 years of not getting flowers, Lina decided to get her own back & disappear off on a course for a week, starting yesterday, so it was just the Nipper & I on Valentine’s Day. We headed into Miraflores to meet up with my good mate & Tea Saviour, Matthew. He’d very kindly brought out some Dirtpunk goodies & a new pair of sungigs for me (perfect timing, as I broke my only pair yesterday).
(Beware of a man taking photos of you, if the statue/sculpture gets you in the mood!)
The string of parks along the sea front were rammed. Valentine’s Day is HUGE here, not just for couples, but seen as a day of friendship.
(My neighbour was obviously spreading the love by noise last night). At the “Parque del Amor” there was a competition for the longest kiss. A Slobberfest with s/300 up for grabs. 3 buses & a 2 mile walk there & a cab ride with an ex-Navy Marine Intelligence Officer home.
An interesting afternoon out.
New DIY Expert in the house. I taught her everything I know, which took about 30 seconds!
“Stuck with YOU for a week?” the Nipper said!
Hope you & your loved ones & lovers all had a superb day too.
I stumbled across this card thanks to FB daily reminder of how one was wasting one’s time over the last how many years.
Morley, although far away, is still a place close to my heart
To leave you with a smile on your face on this Monday morning, I leave you with this little video.
Six years ago to the day, we happened upon a small but ace little Adventure Film Festival called the HVAFF, in the Hope Valley.
All the films were good & the Compere said “This next film is a bit different, I loved it, you decide for yourself!”
This is the trailer of the film that started an obsession with Micras, sumpguards & dog repellant spray…
Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Sir Buddy Munro…
Have yersens an awesome week
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper
p.s. This year the festival is on the 27th February, more details here: http://www.hvaff.co.uk/