Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in superb form and that you had a fantastic weekend.
Here is your weekly round-up of news and rambling nonsense from the city that never sleeps…
Get a room!
(Courtesy of the magical memegenerator.com)
You do see some sights when you´re out jogging. Although my training is of a lumbering style (and that is being as complimentary as I can get), you do cover ground quickly and in Lima there is always something going on…
Tuesday morning, 10am. I was sweating my way down a cracked pavement running parallel to the smoky, noisy car park that is the “Panamericana Sur”. There is a small banking, so that although you can still hear the horn-honkers, you cannot see them (and importantly they can´t see you). Now it is common to see workmen sprawled out on any piece of grass sleeping through their “refrigerio” (lunch break, not their fridge as I thought it was for months). There is so much construction going on that workmen are everywhere, but it was a bit early, but I thought no more of it until I got closer and saw that it was in fact two people; a man and a lady. A man and a lady in an advanced stage of what safety signs in swimming baths in the 70s used to call petting. Now it was 10am and I´m just glad that I wasn´t 5 minutes later as they looked like they were getting warmed up.
(Courtesy of cpfc.org)
By this stage it was impossible to turn around/take a diversion, so I tried my best to tiptoe around them, but of course I couldn´t slip past unnoticed. In an instant there was all hell to pay. The woman was screaming blue murder at her “amante”, the bloke was shouting obscenities at me and I was doing my best to do a Usain Bolt out of there and stop myself laughing/blushing.
Basically if you´ve got your paws down your lover´s strides/drawers, at least look for a bit of privacy first please!
In search of grass.
Most runners are one of three types:
a) Coming back from injury.
b) About to be/get injured.
(Courtesy of espn.go.com)
I say most, as some athletes are more resilient/indestructible, like my old sparring partner Steve. He would run 100 miles a week on a regular basis and never take any rest days. He´d run over 150 marathons and had run under 3hrs in fancy dress. An exception (he was a Vegan too). I´ve run 100 miles in a week just 4 times in my life and got crocked as a result each time.
My 5 week training programme for the Lima Marathon is not really how the “experts” tell you how to do it. I´m cutting it very fine indeed and despite summer hanging on well into autumn (I don´t expect sympathy, but I am ready for some cooler weather to replace the sauna like conditions), I´m getting out 6 times a week. Everything hurts, my knees, ankles and feet. Will I make it to the start line? Who knows!
What I dream of is some grass. Not to smoke, but to plod on. Lima is a concrete made on crumbling concrete, so that you get the feeling of an off-road run, without the bounciness. Now there are “green areas”, parks which are painstakingly preened, pampered and cossetted by a veritable green army of council workers. Grass is trimmed with shears and trees are butchered to within an inch of their lives. The thing is that most of these oases (plural had to look that one up) are guarded by Huachimen, fenced off and barbed wired out of reach. An incredible amount of time and effort goes into these areas and it´s just for show.
I gaze longingly at the dusty mountains that surround the city and sadly most of these are off limits too. Razor wire and guards bar access to the fells. This is to stop what people call “Invasion”. When the homeless populace storm the hills to set up shack. With no water, electric nor amenities it is a brutal existence, but vast areas of dusty barrenness lay empty and inaccessible. Further afield there are hills (BIG mountains in fact) and tracks/trails, but it takes an hour+ to get there and I´m shoehorning a run in between classes, so that´s a non-starter.
Clunk of the week…
Spotted this beauuuty this week. The mighty XL500, a drum-braked dual-sporter capable of 90mph. I’d never seen one before and it’s just a good job it wasn’t up for sale!
A run of two halves, but with a happy ending!
(Courtesy of popentertainment.com)
Wednesday was the day of final exams, I´d had a bad night, we´d all had a bad night (and my nightmares were back in full swing, so any kip I did get was scary stuff!) In short, I was battered and really didn´t fancy a run. It was megasweatyhot early on too, but training doesn´t listen to excuses so out I went.
I´ve been trying to get off my normal routes, familiarity breeds contempt and all that (and I didn´t want to stumble across the randy duo down the alley again), so I ran in the opposite direction, towards the hills and the posh side of town. Wealth/status in this city ranges from abject to exalted, rubbing shoulders in the “malls” and grinding (Tico) bumper to (top of the range 4×4) bumper in the street. There is a huge gulf between the “Haves” and the “Have-nothings”.
Most of the well-heeled live in luxurious condominiums. Guards, giant walls, barbed wire, barriers and more guards. I had a route in mind but half-expected to be turned back at the first checkpoint, but I had an excuse ready. There is a swanky hotel slap bang in the middle of the complex, I´d just pretend to be a guest there, if challenged…
Higher and higher the road sweeped skywards, with the biggest hazard being that there were no pavements (nobody walks in these parts, they drive everywhere).
The apartments got bigger and flashier the higher I got, a stark contrast to the poorer parts of town where shantytowns hang on grimly to the side of dusty mountains, spreading upwards. Life is very different there…
I had sidestepped a few checkpoints, security guards (“Huachimen”) and sentry boxes and at the very highest point I spotted a faint track, like a rabbit´s tail, I was away. The terrain was incredibly barren, lifeless and dry as a very dry bone. Dust that was as fine as flour and rough rocks/boulders, it was like (what I imagine) the moon (to be like). No sign of life, but people had been here, there were footprints and tracks, but not recreational idiots like myself, more out of necessity for crossing this fell top could save a person an hour on the bus (although it would take over an hour to traverse, so not much saving, only monetary/bus fares). I was curious if I could drop down off the far end, but the descent just got steeper and steeper and I could see a huge wall topped with razor wire further down, so I backtracked. My run had suddenly taken me a lot further away from home than I intended, but extra miles are always a bonus when marathon training. I slogged back home along Av. Javier Prado, with a big smile on my face
Now I didn´t want to overdo it in my new playground, but the next day I was back up there again.
You can´t just have one taste of heroin (I imagine), one “free pint”, one slice of Pepperoni Deep Pan at the Pizza Hut buffet.
I wanted to see how far I could get in the opposite direction. It felt incredible to be in such an elevated position above the city, away from the hustle, bustle, noise, crime, grime and traffic. I was daydreaming on a cloud, when I took a tumble, luckily in the sand which felt like rolling in icing sugar (albeit very dirty icing sugar, when mixed with sweat, it looked like I had been mudwrestling). Four summits later I dropped back down to the road, but had already hatched future plans.
The hardest part of this simple delight was initially finding a weakness in the defence of the way onto the hills.
I´ve been scratching my head for months and months, poring over Google maps. The great thing is that once you´re up there it all opens up and you can see dozens of little trails. As it is so dry, footprints are preserved for months and months (look at the Nazca Lines down south!) I tried explaining the joy of my little foray into the fells, but people just looked at me, bewildered.
A simple pleasure, but a HUGE bonus for me in my mission to get off the tarmac. Onwards and upwards, “because it´s there” and all that.
When something is in your blood (and the hills have been a massive part of my life since I was 8 years old), you sometimes just have to have it! My main source of inspiration and motivation was in the awesome book by my friend/P&B clubmate Boff & his mighty “Run Wild”.
At work we are not allowed to take hot drinks into the classroom. On Thursday we had the exam feedback session and as attendance is not mandatory only a handful of people turn up. I was gasping for a brew so I snook a cuppa into my room. When I´d necked it down, I hid it under my desk (in the secret cubby hole, which I always lose my markers in, they either grow legs or disappear).
(Courtesy of youtube.com)
At the end of class I went to get the exam papers and clean forgot about the cup. As it plummeted downwards I tried to rescue it with my shoes (thinking I was still at the Brewery in my work boots), it crashed/crunched into my metatarsals, bounced onto the floor and smashed. My favourite mug, mugged. “That´ll learn me!”
Tuesday morning was my day of close-calls. Normally I get two or three a day, I got all three in the first 1/2 mile…
A taxi indicating left, in the left hand lane suddenly swung right and closed my onward path. Why do I take any notice of indicators!
(Courtesy of insidethemagic.com)
Passing the lights, a Police car jumped a red and helped me test my brakes, then a pre-war pick-up truck FULL of bananas and weighed right down was spewing out empty wooden crates onto the Panamericana. As everybody drives so close to each other, everything happens at the last nano-second, it´s tense, it´s a battle of nerves, a war of attrition and a test of nerves/brakes/reflexes.
I do miss those leisurely Clunk commutes to work, along the old back roads through Swillington, Garforth, Baker, Barstow and Berdoo. No daydreaming here, ever!
Shut it Gangster!
If, one Monday my weekly blog is not here, I´ll have either copped for it on the Panamericana, or succumbed to a messy end at the hands of gangsters…
(Courtesy of gnwp.ru)
There is a chap on my street, who never seems to do a lot, except tinker with his car. It is an ageing Mark V Escort, with a constantly flat front wheel. If it´s not being washed, there is a mechanic under the bonnet. The bloke wears dark glasses, night and day. Some say he is a “Druggie”, others say he is a Dealer. I have nothing to do with him. Not through snobbiness, just the fact that I never really have to speak to him, nor him to me.
The Nipper is still not sleeping and anytime that we can get her off to the land of nod is a huge bonus.
She´d just dozed off before I left for my afternoon shifts and I could hear somebody outside having a hornfest. Not just a beep-beep, more like a person who had never heard/used a horn before, a constant beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
It shouldn´t do (as it is part of the deal here), but noise irritates me, especially needless noise, especially if the Wee One is going to be woken up by it.
(Courtesy of pinterest.com)
I got the Clunk out of the garage and looked across the street. It was a really, really overweight bloke on a diddy Chinese “Honda Wave” copy, honking as if his life depended on it.
I stared, he stared back, my hackles raised, but I had to get to work. He kept on making a right royal racket and glaring at me.
I had my skid lid on, but raised my finger to my mouth (i.e., be quiet you moron), when I heard a really loud “SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”
Hornman looked confused and I clunked off to work, just as Mr. Escort jumped on the back of fat-lad´s moped.
Later I asked Lina if she´d heard the commotion and she said that she had told him to “shhhh” from the balcony.
Teletubby must either think that I have Darth Vader powers, to be able to make such a loud noise through my helmet, over the noise of both bikes running and his horn,
he is potting to finish me off for my insolent impertinence!
I´ve got a brand new Combine Harvester…
(Courtesy of wurzelmania.com)
In one of the Final Exams there was a task where students had to fill-the-gaps in a sentence, with the right verb, in the right form. It went something like this…
“When the sun (rise), it (be) daytime”
A number of students must have been to the West Country on holidays, as they all wrote “When the sun rise, it be daytime”. It made me chuckle, but when I tried to explain it to others, it fell flat, as always.
I´ll get me coat…
Five whole days off !!!
(Courtesy of giddykipperdolls.blogspot)
Due to the timing of the cycle end/start, work has kindly dropped five days off into my lap and I´m taking it!
It´s been a long start to the New Year and I´m ready for a rest.
However, the marathon is in less than 2 weeks, so instead of working I´ll be running myself into the ground. Work to do (lots of it…)
Stop trying to work it out!
There are some films that I have seen (Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, Donnie Darko) which are great films, but the plot is either so bizarre or overcomplicated that you spend the entire film trying to puzzle it out. Whilst good for mind exercise, it can sometimes spoil the enjoyment.
I have spent the best part of the last 16mths trying to work out what this mad, God forsaken city is all about and it has at times pushed my limits of patience and sanity. Tempers have been frayed, relationships have been strained, patience has been pushed and there have been infinite times when I really have wondered what on earth I am doing here!
However, I think I have been over-analysing everything.
I like to know what makes a place and its people tick. I´m generally a sociable sort and I can adapt, but a shaky start here led to dodgy foundations and apart from my job (which I love, but I´m doing more hours now than I used to do in my Brewery shiftfests) turned me into a bit of an angry young man.
Road rage, losing my head when a bus cut me up (for the umpteenth time), pedestrians walking out without looking, going off on one when people queue jump, incessant noise and total inconsideration.
I´m not capable of changing these things. (If I could solve something as colossal as the traffic here, I´d be given a Peruvian knighthood, a place in Congress, the keys to the city and a night out with Maria Julia Mantilla (Peruvian Miss World 2004, who I once (almost) met in a disco, but that´s another story!)
“Why?” was always the question I asked myself, but with almost 10 million people in Lima (and most of them on Av. Javier Prado) I´m never going to suss it out. Peru is a complex place.
So, I´m just going to make the most of what I have and make the most of every day
A big FELICITACIONES to our good friends Travis and El on the birth of their nipper Alby.
A whole new world of adventure awaits. Enjoy every second amigos
The Adventure Travel Film Festival is an event that I am desperate to get to (one day).
I almost went (twice) but shifts and the speed of the Clunk (and the proximity to my next shift) prevented me.
The TRAILER is out & it looks as awesome as ever.
If you are anywhere near London, Inverewe (an incredible place) or Bright in Victoria, Australia, get thersen there, you won’t regret it
Have a superb and spectacular week full of awesomeness.
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper