Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in superb form and that you had a tiptop weekend.
Here is your weekly round-up/resume of another week in the madhouse that is Lima!
We got paid really early in August (for September), which was ace in August, but it looks like beans and toast for the rest of this month, if you could buy baked beans that is (and if we had a toaster!)
Stop Press! Just sold my pushbike, we shall have nappies and rice (but not together!)
Spring is showing signs of arrival, but it could be a hoax.
A veritable mix of chaos, training, trainspotting and Peppa Pig.
Here is your weekly Lima wrap-up…
Well, after 4 trips to a (not-so) local depot, a 3hr round trip to the far side of the city and countless (mainly unanswered) phone calls, I finally got my package from Blighty!
The Postie got slightly lost trying to find my flat!
It only took 7-and-a-half weeks…
Fail of the week I.
Monday morning, up early doors for bus ride across town to Los Olivos. The big buses are the worst as their maniac drivers think they are riding a 125cc sports bike, but in reality they are throwing an 18-ton chunk of metal up, down and round (with up to 100 passengers uncomfortably ensconsed).
Up the Panamericana Norte, trying to forge a way through the centre of Lima (which redefines the term “bottleneck” as 6 lanes of chaos squeeze through) and then burst out the other side. Through the district of Independencia and finally to the world’s biggest/busiest shopping centre (I refuse to say “mall”) of Plaza Norte. Scrabbled half a dozen blocks to what I thought was the entrance to the fortress of ”Serpost”, no queue, result!
A lady who looked like a man/man who looked like a lady sat at a desk told me I was at the wrong place.
5 minutes later I’m at the right door, where I was ushered/pointed towards an office that looked straight out of an office disaster movie. I had a summer job as a youth and had to arrange a zillion tatty bits of paper into order, into files and into drawers. IFor a moment I was back there again, but this was far worse!
You know the feeling when you walk into a place and everybody looks down/away! Looking at the monstrous stacks of paper, I could see why I wasn’t been sat down and offered a cuppa.
A lady looked up and barked at me to sit at the desk of her colleague (she can’t have been a friend), where I waited and waited, until I was acknowledged.
“Put your hands up if you love Serpost!”
A lady called Julia stared at an immobile egg-timer on her PC screen for what seemed an age, then said sharply ”It hasn’t arrived, yet“, but eagle-eyed Johnny spotted his name, misspelt on the system, it was enough!
Begrudgingly she printed off a piece of paper with my magic number.
I felt like I’d won a prize. Back across the city on a bus driven by Evil Knievel.
The central outskirts of Lima are a grim place. Ramshackle, barely houses, in a noisy, dusty, dirty thoroughfare. A poignant place. Life is a daily battle there. We crawled through, but Sterling Moss at the wheel made sure he made up as much time/speed as possible, at every opportunity!
Fail of the week II.
Tuesday morning, up at 6am, ploughed the Clunk through rush hour traffic to be first in the queue at the Sorting Office (at 8:15am). A bit surprised that there was only one other chap in the queue at 9am. Told at 9:10am that it was shut on Tuesdays
Up at the crack of dawn to train and then straight to the depot. Traffic was more bonkers than usual, (saw a pillion carrying a 4ft square pane of glass, on the back of a scooter!)
Made it in one piece and was first in the “cola” (queue, not a sugary pop drink). If I didn’t get the package today, I may lose my patience/temper/marbles (or all three).
A silent and moody line of people looking non-too-happy to be waiting around on a street corner of La Molina soon formed and grew.
The silence was broken by a phone call; half in Spanish and half in English. That was when I met Tony, a friendly New Yorker. We chatted and compared notes. He told me that Serpost had once been a good company; vans, uniforms, smiles and deliveries, but that was now firmly in the past. Cuts and more cuts had decimated the service.
We both agreed that a good postal service here would/could make a HUGE difference, but people don’t trust nor use it nowadays, it’s only folk receiving (or not receiving) packages that loiter around these parts.
9am and the rusty shutter groaned upwardly open. I gave my number and 5 minutes later had a package in my hands. Intact, unopened and finally mine! YES
(It would never actually have been delivered).
Moral of the story: Don’t use Serpost or simply do without.
Penta, Penta, Penta!
At all the mountain races I’ve been at, there are a small number of running clubs/teams.
The main players are Camycam, X-Plora, Aire Puro, Salkantay and Penta Runners.
The latter, decked out in yellow are always the most vocal!
I have got to know a few of them and like all the others they are a good bunch (and very patient with my masticated Spanish!)
But why the fascination with all things of 5-sides?
It’s all down to “El Pentagonito” (little Pentagon), the main Army Intelligence HQ in neighbouring San Borja.
It is a bit of a magnet for runners and a place I like/don’t like in equal doses. (I’m becoming such a grumpy old git!)
Basically it is surrounded by pavements which draw in runners, joggers, power-walkers, cyclists and pedestrians in their masses. San Borja is quiet a sporty district, the local council dot exercise areas/machines about the place, their are free outdoor-but-undercover dance/aerobics classes going on and free bike hire.
(In my “hood” the main sport is running away from snarling dogs!)
Apart from the three entrances to the secret army base, fifteen car park entrances/exits and three road crossings, it is generally traffic free and it used to be marked with distance signs, which was useful. One lap is about 4.1km and I go there for speedwork (I try!)
However, it gets so busy that it’s not ideal and a local resistance/reluctance to not give way, move nor yield to anybody, ever, makes it a bit “physical”.
I shouldn’t moan. It’s alright and it’s only two miles from my gaff.
I would love to be a sportswear salesman round these parts, as punters are always dressed in All The Gear. Middle-aged blokes walking around in full compression gear, Triathletes in their lycra get-up (it’s a long way from any water, bar a small pond and a fountain), Old dears in expensive tracksuits and full make-up and then scruffy old me!
There is a phone box on one corner and I could never fathom out why there was always a queue. Everybody has a phone these days, don’t they? Then I clocked that it was a weighing machine. People would do a lap, then weigh themselves and then go for some food at a well-placed local Chuck Wagon!
What goes on inside the mystical headquarters? Who knows!
They do have a rather boisterous band who practice every morning at 7am, so just like the Boxercise class at 7am, there’s always plenty of racket!
Hit the road…
No adventures into the hills this week. Time is against me for the RPP Half Marathon and I’m starting to panic, so went on a dawn raid of the six boroughs this morning. Without traffic and people, this mad(dening) city can hold a bit of peace, but only on a Sunday and only very early on!
From Salamance (district of Ate. Pronounced ”A-tay“, not something you’ve just eaten) to sporty San Borja, to swanky San Isidro. Where/how the other half live!
I did a lap of the very exclusive golf course and swerved in between other runners who looked like they had come from a Men’s Health/Runner’s World photo shoot! One day I will smarten myself up, or maybe not.
From the leafy suburb of high-rise penthouses I headed back towards the jungle, into Lince (where the whole of the straight-as-a-die Avenida Arequipa is actually shut on Sundays, for the benefit of runners, cyclists, skaters, skateboarders and pogo-stickers). The importance of sport is slowly growing here.
I then risked my bony a$$ cutting through a ropey part of La Victoria, where luckily most hounds were still sleeping and finally across the Panamericana into Salamanca, and home!
13 miles in the bag before brekkie, I would have much sooner been lost in yonder mountains.
All my running mates here are bound for the MUT next week, I’m working
3 weeks for me ’til the grand RPP Pavement Plod!
Until then here is a tune by the Ex-Brazilian left-back who has a surprisingly good voice for a footballer!
Peppa and Trainspotting!
Sunday arvo was spent with the two wee ladies. I’d been promising to take them to “El Parque de Amistad” (Friendship Park) for yonks, so we did.
Not sure who was more excited about the train ride!
There is a miniature train which the Nipper loves and there was also a Peppa Pig show (which she wasn’t keen on!) I was watching the pram outside, but Lina said that a giant robotic Peppa scared most of the kids in the first 2mins of the show, so it was a brief experience!
The sun was out and the place was rammed, so we had some tucker and went home.
“You can not stop a dream!”
I absolutely love low-tech budget travel.
Why? Because normal people can do it.
You don’t need a billion dollar budget, nor a back-up crew, just do it!
I saw a news report about this intrepid explorer a few years back.
Filippo Dattola bought a $400 Toyota Corolla in Canada and drove it to Ushuaia, on the southernmost tip of southern Argentina. This is worth a watch
Have a week overflowing with awesomeness.
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper
p.s. Next week I’ll be asking myself the question “Do I need to join the 21st century and change my 20yr old Nokia for a smartphone?”
Plus, Trigger Happy TV is back, very soon ;-)