Pills, bills and bellyache…


Good morning folks

I trust you had a superb weekend and this finds you in sterling form.
Here is your weekly wrap-up of nonsense and locura from Limalandia.

Ranty angst warning!


Sat here typing this with a blinding migraine (not a hangover) and gurgling guts contemplating murdering a salsa band blaring, it is 9am! (Still going as I finish this at 9pm!)

I’m on antibiotics, off the ale/coffee/bananas/milk (my 4 favourite foodtuffs), not a happy chappy  :-(

A week of near misses and run-ins, including a ridiculous impasse with a Latino “50 Centavos” on a bus when he almost took my shoulder out/off when slamming a sliding window open. (It was drizzling, cold and damp, but Tough Guy had his big puffa jacket and wraparaounds on).
Words were exchanged, but neither side actually understood what the other said so it fizzled to an awkward eyes-burning-into-back-of-head (his into mine) from Mr. I “want the window open”, whilst the rest of the bus shivered!




Halloween is also “dia de la cancion Criolla” and this year it all seemed to go mental here!
I went hunting for an outfit for the Nipper last Saturday to Jockey Plaza, the World’s biggest shopping centre, and almost drew a blank, but found one shop selling a choice of three disguises, so fortunately I didn’t have to resort to needle & thread.

All set for the work party (for bairns, not for teachers). As Lina studies at college on Tuesday night, it was always going to be tricky. A quick Nipper baton swap at 5:30pm, me getting permission/cover for my 6pm class, then nipping home with bairn at 6:30pm, to be back for 7:45pm class. (I did my work commute 6 times on Tuesday).


The Wee One sometimes is a bit shy around other nippers, especially when she doesn’t know them. Last year it was a party for two, this year there were double figures and the bairn had slept in the afternoon and woken up on the wrong side of the bed :-/
Not a word to anyone!

It all went downhill when we played the “Mummy game” where the parent has to wrap their youngster in loo roll. I had never played before and it kept tearing, then the tears started flowing. (Indignant doesn’t come close, later she told me that loo roll was for wiping “potos”).



The diddy mob went from class to class “trick or treating” and the nipper was a bit bemused as to why she was getting a lifetime’s supply of sweets in one night!


She does of course think that my job is like this every day, as every time she goes there, there is a party!
On the way home we got into an interesting conversation on the bus…

Nuns on the run…

I can count the number of conversations I’ve had on the Combis here on one finger!
Although it is the closest thing to a public transport version of “Twister”, not many folk strike up a conversation (so neither do I).

Halloween night was bonkers, I have never, ever seen the streets so busy (punters and traffic), so getting home with the bairn and back to work was always going to be a struggle.

The nipper is 3 years old (4 in March) and thankfully people do generally give up a seat for you (I is in fact a law, but not everybody does follow this law, or any other laws.

The short ride home was jampacked, hanging out of the door, but a friendly Nun gave up her seat. Laden as I was with nipper and nipper paraphernalia, I gratefully accepted. As the bus stuttered homewards, Sister Rocio engaged me in conversation with 101 questions.

20mins later (just over 1 mile) we had been invited to a “Gran dia de Bingo” (Big day of Bingo) at the convent and swapped phone numbers. I am very tempted to go along, but not sure I agree with gambling ;-)


Watch this space…


Above the clouds 

A midweek bank holiday was a bonus!

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It has been a while since I escaped into the Doubtful Round hills, but a 4:30am alarm had me up on the tops before dawn. Swirly cloud and a murky sky that seemed set in for the day. Only on the very last top did I suddenly break out of the clouds into blazing sunshine and clear blue skies.

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Saturday morning threw me the chance of an early get-out-there too, so another crazy AM alarm had me (eventually, after waiting yonks for a bus) up on the far side of the Doubtful Round, which involves a stiff old 3000ft climb in the first 3 miles, but the sun had firmly got its hat on and never came out to play. Always good to get out though :-)

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Paolo’s pill problem!

This Saturday 10:30pm (4:30pm NZ time) sees the most important match in Peru’s history in 35 years. A wild-card knock-out against the All-Whites in Wellington and a week later in Lima.
An 18hr time difference between the countries should make things tough for both teams.

(Historically, Peru had its best result in Mexico 1970, finishing in seventh place. In the World Cup of Argentina 1978, Peru ended up first in their group during the first round of the tournament, but was eliminated after losing all their games in the second round. The last time Peru reached the World Cup finals was in Spain 1982. The team was eliminated in the first round after 2 draws and 1 loss. Thank you Wikipedia!)


Last Friday things took an interesting turn as the “Blanquirojas” (Peru) found out their Captain and leading goalscorer, Paolo Guerrero, had been banned for 30 days after failing a random drugs test!

This is kind of a big deal, with Superstar Guerrero they’d always be up against it. Without him, they’ve got Mount Everest to climb, naked, in roller skates!


In the 1998 World Cup, a young David Beckham kicked out at Argentine, Simeone. He got a red card & a lot of flak, for a long time.


The Saturday morning papers here painted a very different picture!

Fuerza Paolo” (be strong), “Contigo Paolo” (we’re with you)

Even the President chipped in: “Maybe he took an anti-histamine and it would be unfair if he was punished for that. However, we are going to look at the facts and I hope they are favourable and that he can play, because right now he’s out.”

There may be a darker side to this story (and I emphasise may) as another report elsewhere stated: According to Globoesporte the 33-year-old’s sample had traces of Benzoylecglonine, the main component of cocaine. (Benzoylecgonine is the most common metabolite measured in urine drug screens to detect cocaine use).
I stress that this is just paper talk, as it may well not be, but if Benzoylecgonine was in his pee, it would be hard to say it was from taking Night Nurse!

It is generally reported here that the substance detected is part of a flu remedy, but a further twist came from the team doctor: ”At the national team, we are aware of what anti-doping control is,” doctor Julio Segura told Peru’s Radio Nacional on Friday. “So we don’t use any substances that produce doping (results). It’s a shame what happened with Paolo but I am sure there was no problem from our side.”

In 1987, I ran in the England Schools Cross Country Championships and remember being told “As it is a big event, you may be drug-tested“. Although I never took drugs in my life, I was sat next to some mates who were smoking a joint at a party a week before the race and I thought the fumes might get stuck in my hair!
(I came 268th and they didn’t test my hair, which I had cut, badly, two days before as a precaution!)


Antihistamines? Lemsip? Nose powder? Watch this space…

Mispronunciations of the week…

My major problem with the lingo here is my pronunciation. I can understand people (generally, but not always).


I can read and write (a very basic letter, perhaps to a 4yr old) but speaking is my nemesis, especially any word which contains the letter “R”, which most words do, so I am stuffed.
The rolling RRRRRRRR is a huge part of Spanish and if you can’t roll with it, you’re going to have problemas.

There are tricks to do it, such as putting a pencil under your tongue (tried and failed), rhymes such as “R con R cigarro, R con R carril, que rapido corren los carros en el ferrocarril” (tried and definitely failed). Then there are countless videos on youtube (also tried, also failed) and the last resort is an operation to snip part of the lower tongue.
Drastic, and it may work, but at the expense of pronouncing everything else, which could be a problem as a teacher! (The other alternative is to try to avoid all words with R, good luck with that one!)

However, this week it was R-less words that caused me bother.


In the bakery, asking for breadcrumbs. “Tienes MIGAS?” (Do you have breadcrumbs?)
The lass must have heard “Tienes Amigas?” (Do you have any friends?) This all turned a bit personal and I had to look elsewhere for my breadcrumbs.


I do 99.99999999% (probably closer to 100%) of my training on my own, but occasionally I do bump into folk on the hills that I know, so I generally confuse them/vice versa in basic conversation for a while.
I wanted to say it is “nice to have some company“. but this was translated back as “How good it is to have my own small business!”

I do feel hypocritical at times when I am teaching a language and say that practice makes perfect…

Hand signals

If you see a car with indicators on here in Lima, the chances are that the switch was accidentally knocked by the previous owner! In other words, don’t take any notice.


When I took my bike test here, I presumed the theory part would be a rough translation of logical rules similar to the Highway Code (which I had to learn in my Cycling Proficiency, aged 8 more of that next week). Obviously I was super-naïve for thinking logic would come into it, but eventually (after 3 times) I passed (the theory. Practical also took 3 attempts!)

It startled me to discover that there are in fact any rules!


It is a free-for-all, mass pub-brawl style scrap on the roads. I used to ponder whether the drivers here were either:

a) The best drivers in the World (with the sharpest reflexes)


b) The worst drivers in the World (with the most dented collection of cars).

The answer is a very firm (b).

As in general day-to-day Lima life/struggles, there are zillions of laws, but very little order.
If you go out early on a Bank Holiday it is a very different picture, a different world. How different (how much easier) life could be, but I am dreaming, again…

Here is a quick resume of the three most common signals you will witness in the daily hurly-burly…

1) The waving hand.


This means “let me in” or generally “I am cutting in” (regardless of whether you move, give way or otherwise!)

2) Hazard lights.


These mean “Expect something supercrazy now. I am about to do something extra-unpredictable”.
These are also used by Learner drivers (the few who actually drive a car before the test), left on at all times, no “L” plates necessary!

3) Banging on the door

Image result for banging on car door

Close-quarters combat for when incessant horn use just isn’t cutting it, or worse (shock horror) if your horn ever stops working (through overuse)…

Curry time!

It is possible to buy “curry powder” here, but it is a blandish yellow mix of spices that generally produces a bland wishy-washy curry-ish taste. However, undeterred, we set out to find the ingredients for a curry night, pre-organised ages ago for November 4th.

- James B provided and butchered the turkey, (it was dead at the time).
- Erika found the various herbs and spices.
- Lina found the Garam Masala.
- James and Erika cooked up a feast.
Game on!


Despite impeccably bad timing with my stomach playing up, on Saturday we all had the most delicious curry I have had in years. It was one thing on my fantasy food list that I forgot to eat on my summer Blighty trip.
Sterling work Mr & Mrs Dunn. Hasta la proxima :-)

PC Singleton.

Next week!

Bad guts, bellyache and Boldo!


The loneliest loo in Lima…

Way back in August on my birthday, up in the Highlands of Ancash I suffered 30hrs of uncontrollable digestive problems, which coincided with an all-day coach trip (the kind of thing you do in your mid-forties!) After a day of not eating anything, it settled down, but I’ve had bad guts ever since. In October these stepped up a gear and last week they became a serious problem. (I do fear they’ll find a 50ft tapeworm in me!)
I’d tried cutting out all the different things I eat/drink, but nothing made a difference, so after resisting for months I went to see the Quack.

23335887_10159603863325302_2144514610_oDo NOT try to inject the gut flora, says the packet!

After the shortest and most expensive appointment of my life, the doc prescribed me a boatload of drugs, (most subscriptions here would make Bez blush, the only plus point is that they are cheap). Will they work? Watch this space…


Before getting these chemicals I had tried various natural remedies, all failed.
One I had tried was an apparent  wonder substance called “Boldo”.


This plant has been used traditionally to treat insomnia, dizziness, rheumatism, cystitis, stomach cramps and earaches. It is also purported to help thin the blood and thereby prevent blood clots. In addition, boldo leaves are said to exhibit antimicrobial activity, meaning they can help to prevent and treat infections caused by harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Due to its purported antimicrobial activity, boldo tea is used to expel worms and to treat colds, syphilis and gonorrhea. boldo is arguably best known as a liver tonic and for its ability to stimulate the production of bile. The tea may help to treat a variety of liver and gallbladder-related disorders such as jaundice, hepatitis and gallstones. The tea is also used to stimulate the appetite, enhance digestion, promote bowel health and relieve flatulence and constipation. Brilliant! Give me a pint now please :-)

However, I was told in the next breath that “you should not use boldo tea for prolonged periods of time, and large doses of boldo may cause paralysis and even death”.

Crikey! Paralysis and death from a really, really foul-tasting cuppa, just 4 cups a day then. Leading on to another crisis…

The Salamanca Tea Drought!

My good friend Matthew A brought me a BIG catering bag of Tetley teabags two years ago, then my mate Mr. Joolz brought a huge box of PG Tips and I bought some prized Yorkshire Tea back in August. Obviously as I had loads of teabags, I was drinking them like I was Joe Cocaine, 2 or even 3 cups a day, I lost all discipline and control…



Then the PG Tips ran out!



My normally accurate calculations have let me down.
One-a-day will last me until July the 3rd.
Dark days ahead before next August :-/

M is for manners…

Next week.

P is for patience!


Something that doesn’t really exist here and I am very quickly losing all of the little that I have left. Does that mean I am adapting?

Gringo tax.

Next week.

Clunk memories…

Facebook has a (daily) habit of reminding you what you posted last year, the year before and every previous year back to the beginning of FB-Time. Hence, half the daily traffic is recycled memories (guilty your Honour).

This week Mr Zuckerburger kindly reminded me that it was a year ago to the day that I had sold my old red Clunk. The Honda with no name. The little red XR125…


I was genuinely gutted to have to sell that bike, but it was a case of needs-must (Nipper’s school fees, no free education here) and also needs-must (for my sanity and safety, both of which would have probably been taken away from me, had I still been Clunking around here. Too many way-too-near-misses on a daily basis did for me).


It was a brilliant little bike for razzing away on in the sticks on a weekend, but as a daily commuter, it would be safer to ride a hungry crocodile bareback through shark-infested acid!


Blast from the past!

This one is for Sophie M (and Louise K if you are reading!)


When I were a lad and we lived on the farm, we had a tame-as-anything pony called “Silver”.
If you sat on her back she would happily walk slowly around the field, all day long.

A few years later I was on a school “adventure” holiday in the Isle of Man, activity of the day was horseriding and when asked who had ridden before, three people stuck their hands up and said yes, so I stuck my hand up too!

30mins later, 200yds down a gravel track, I was dumped on the floor by a wild mustang, 3 other looking down at me, people shaking their heads and 33 other “non-riders” trotting past on tame ponies, looking down and laughing at me on the floor. Obviously you just have to get back on again…

Fast forward to 1996, I had just started at First Direct and had loads of time off midweek, in between working at Ladbrokes, so I fancied a new hobby and booked some riding lessons!

The young lass “teaching” me was a bit stroppy and impatient, which was understandable as I was clueless! I changed instructors a lot and eventually got a really good one and started riding twice a week, eventually reaching the dizzy heights of winning (!) the riding school gymkhana :-)

(I will not lie, my fellow comptetitors were generally half my age, but all had been riding for twice as long!)

“Bob” was the laziest of lazy riding school horses, just doing the bare minimum, but put him on a course and he was a different animal altogether!



I’ve always been interested in horses and horseracing. Riding a good horse at full gallop (only done it once, there is not much space in your average riding school), is a REAL buzz. Proper adrenaline stuff, as you never really know what an animal is going to do next!


The Nipper has obviously got my riding genes too, but my deafness does tend to get worse whenever she mentions that she would like a pony (in a 2 bedroom flat, in Salamanca!)

All-King-Edward’s-Horses-Carry-Many-Brave-Fighters and all that ;-)

Remember, remember the 5th of November…


Ever wonder what would have happened If this lad has succeeded?

And finally…

Have you ever seen “Dude, where’s my car?”

and then

The classic Chinese Takeaway scene was recreated in Salamanca this week HERE.

That’s all for now folks.
Have an awesome week.

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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