Realisation, Convent, Debris, Saturday night, Clunkboots, Exam time, Sweaty-as-a-Glassblower’s-backside and Clunk Trip :-)

Good morning folks

I trust you had a mighty fine weekend.
An expresso-style round-up of this weeks chaos from the city that never sleeps (because it’s always so bloomin´noisy!)
Sometimes I have a few hours to hash this blog together & then re-jig it.
Today, It’s been a proper rush job; scribble & “publish”, so I apologise for typos & scruffiness. Under the cosh. Here goes…
I admit that this has become a bit of a moaning outlet, I apologise.
There are people a whole lot worse off in this World, we should make the most of what we have, spend time with our friends, families, loved ones, lovers & smile/laugh more :-)
On the back of that, I’m going to have one FINAL moan, then the tired topic of trafico will be put to bed!
Not exactly a lightbulb moment (not had one of those since I realised that I actually understood what my Columbian boss was saying to me, my Spanish has been on a slippery, downward decline ever since), it was more of an inward groan… 
For years & years, when I was trying to convince Lina to move back to Lima (when she was in fact, more than happy in sunny Yorkshire), she would give me countless counter-arguments to my pestering to return here, which were spot-on predictions, that have all come true! (She knew).

Traffic, chaos & crime. The dark side of Lima, the bit you don´t really see/experience when you´re on holiday in Miraflores. (Although the first time I did get robbed was in Miraflores. Tourists=Tealeafs. How many punters do you know who have been relieved of their readies in places such as Barcelona, Birmingham, Baker, Barstow & Berdoo?)I have a weekly rant about the traffic here,  this is the last. It is a monster that affects everybody here. I´ve overanalysed this to the point of it becoming OCD. Three heady ingredients, which form a very potent brew.
1- Volume of traffic (insane, limping ancient, bellowing fumes)
2-  The way people drive (erratically, recklessly, unpredictably, without looking/giving a monkey´s about anybody else & always with less than zero anticipation).

3- The design of the roads (seemingly dreamt up after a heavy session on the Pisco, by somebody who had never actually seen a road. Sliproads 10yds long, next to a bus stop, exit roads preceeding & (agressively) sharing the  same strip of rutted tarmac as the entrance roads). A bit like jumping off one Waltzer, onto another Waltzer, with your eyes closed.
It could be exhilerating, if it wasn´t so terrifying.
I choose to ride a motorbike, as it’s the quickest way to negotiate the bedlum & I really, really love motorbikes.
The flipside is of course that it has its perils too (putting it lightly!)
You are literally/constantly riding with your fingers on the brake lever & your heart in your mouth. Eyes darting in all directions, looking for signs; the slight turn of a 4x4s wheels, potholes/craters, a Taxista with his hazard lights on (a dangerous sign, he is about to do something illogical, illegal or ill-mannered), a Combi trying to cut in across 4 lanes of traffic. A Police Motorbike turning right, yet being in the far left lane…

However, you pay your dinero & you take your chances.Anything in life can be risky & if we shy away from any danger, we’d just stay at home hiding under our beds.
You can get run over by a bus & you can (in theory) drown in a teaspoon of water!
I saw 2 horrendous crash aftermaths this week, the kind of wreckage that you know people didn’t walk away from.
Both vehicles were so utterly destroyed that I just don’t know the damage/force could be so great, in this limping chaos (that never really moves), how could a vehicle be so destroyed?
Not something to dwell on, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever thought about mortality, but when your number’s up, your number’s up! I do kiss the ground whenever I get home.


Noise _1
There is a painful bloke upstairs (he probably thinks the same about me), who rides round in a souped-up sports car & comes in late SLAMMING his door in the garage, setting his alarm on his car 3 times, slams his depository door & then SLAMS his apartment door like he is closing the gates to Castle Greyskull. How do I know, because the idiot wakes me up every night at 12:30am with his noisiness!
I mentioned this to somebody else in the apartment block & they said “We don’t live in a convent!”
I said I know that, but he’s just one of many thoughtless people who doesn’t give two hoots about anybody else.

This got me thinking.
Noise drives me nuts. However, noise isn’t an issue to people here. Punters start parties at midnight which go on ’til 7am, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I’m not saying that people like noise, but they tolerate & accept it. It is part of life. I can hear buses blasting their air-horns from my house, at any time of day/night (& I live about 200m away).
It would be unheard of to complain though.
I once rang up the World’s most useless service, the famous “Serenazgo” (somewhere between the Keystone Cops & Brownies, no disrespect to Brownies). “Serena” in Spanish means Mermaid & believe me, a Mermaid would be more use that these waste-of-spaces. I rang up at 3am to ask if they could maybe have a word with a houseful of noisy revellers, it was a Sunday night, I was up at 6am & the bloke said “It is the weekend!”
Ok then, I just won’t sleep.
I was born in the Lakes, I LOVE peace & quiet. I love libraries, I love the mountains, I love the wilderness, I like silence (sometimes), you won’t find it here amigos. Punters fill the silence with noise. It’s just not a place for P&Q…
Saturday night
When I used to live in Leeds 8, at the legendary “Lambton Towers”, the neighbour was a man of dubious occupation.
He had a lot of “Customers” late at night, who came cash-in-hand, for goodies of a possibly, slightly illegal nature (allegedly).
One night I heard the loudest car stereo around 3am (mobile discos were very common) & I looked out to see three very hefty homeboys in a (Bedford) Rascal, blasting out Funkdoobiest’s latest.
On Wednesday, I heard the loudest noise imaginable & looked out to see an old lad, of at least 70-if-he-was-a-day, in a battered Nissan Cherry (fine car) blasting out Whigfield’s classic (!) “Saturday Night” at a volume normally only heard with your head inside the main speakers at the Monsters of Rock Festival!
As a support act, one of the neighbours now has a daily 6:30am soundtrack/anthem (showertime/sexy time/some other time?) with another classic, “In the Air Tonight!” He/she never tires of it. Maybe he has a monkey that plays the drums?
Joy of joys…
More on this next week, but on a tangent & maybe a new regular slot “Interesting road conditions” or “Things that almost had me  on my ar$e!”
Wednesday: An ancient on dumper truck, full of building/toxic waste, most of it pouring out behind him.
I was about 20ft away & spotted a HUGE birds-nest of tangled heavy-duty steel wire. I swerved to avoid it, just as another bundle of lethalness (it wouldn’t be nice on two wheels) fell in front. I had to do a bit of stunt riding & spent the rest of the day being grateful to be alive.
Thursday: I was forced by a kind Taxista into the outside lane, when rounding a corner & was a tad startled to find that the outside lane was already taken, by a huge restaurant chalkboard advertising “Menu del dia – s/7″ (which is a good price, but short of a ride-through, I had to turn down the generous offer with  swerve & bunny-hop onto/off the pavement.
Jorge at Honda Desert Racing. Top bloke :-)
I’ve been looking for shoes/boots/footwear since I got here (& the previous two times, so in all I’ve spent a LOT of time looking, fruitlessly, bar a pair of running shoes). Most shops go up to a size 44 (& give you a shoehorn), & I’m a 47/48.
Whilst buying some oil in my latest favourite shop HONDA DESERT RACING by one of Lima’s last remaining gentlemen, Jorge, I spotted some huge outsoles on the counter & asked if they had boots that big.

“You’re in luck! Just come in this week.” Size 47 & 48 Clunkboots!
Having just gone in for a bottle of oil, I was dubious to try on some boots that might fit me.
However, I did & they did (fit), but I made my excuses & left.
Now I’ve been riding round in my work shoes & I’m wearing a hole through the left toe, with changing gear & they’re one of three (rapidly wearing out, had one pair resoled already at the Cobblers) pairs.
Pricewise, they were possibly one of the first things here that has been at a favourable price (compared to the UK, they were about half-price).
– Could I afford them? No
– Have I justified them (yes, if only to myself, but I haven’t worn them outside yet & I have kept the receipt. They are hidden under the bed, but in a shoe box that measure one metre squared, they’re tricky to hide!
– Do I like them? As boots go, these are very, very nice indeed.
– Will they improve my safety? Absolutely yes. (A justifier in itself, when convincing/persuading/arguing!)
– Will my work colleagues laugh? Si! They call me Robocop already, so I dread to think, but I’ve got broad shoulders (& big feet!)
IMG_0044Valentina wasn’t too sure about her new boots, then I explained that she’d grow into them!
Exam time
This is a week that I am dreading. End of cycle for 7 classes in total, so around 120-150 exams to mark on Thursday.
I have an extra jar of coffee in my work bag…
Due to the mischievous behaviour of El Niño, it is bonkers hot this summer.
Due to Lima being the humidity capital of the World, it is also amazingly sweaty too.
Not expecting any sympathy, but I do sometimes daydream about rain, heavy rain.
Clunk trip :-)
I’m not counting my chickens yet, as a mad week is ahead of me, but if all goes to plan I have a rare Saturday off work, so I’ll be up & off into yonder fells for an overnighter!
I’ve had my eye on this particular route for months. I don’t know anybody who has ridden it, nor if it is actually do-able, but a feint line on google maps seems to create a kind of loop, with an 80 mile chunk in the middle off-road & only passing through one tiny village. Ambitious? Perhaps?
Wait & see if there is a blog next Monday, if not please send an AA van to somewhere between Antioquia, Langa & Cieneguilla!
IMG_0015“Where are you going now!?”
And finally…
To hopefully leave you with a Monday morning smile on your face, here is possibly my all-time-favourite video off youtube.
I do not know the story behind this video, but it is very true that there is no better feeling than sharing the moment of a successful wheel change with a group of friends :-)
Have a week overflowing with awesomeness!Cheers
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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