Good morning folks
I trust you had a superb weekend & this Monday morning finds you in tiptop form.
A quick round-up from the land of sweaty chaos, incessant noise, near-misses, short-sighted-short-cuts & quick-fixes…
Feliz Cumpleaños Clunk
This week I celebrated the Clunk’s first birthday (with me as it’s owner, it is in fact 6 years old).
It got treated with an oil change & a good wash
As the speedo doesn’t work & is at 00000.0km, I have no idea how much mileage it has done.
In the last year it has had the following goodies: New piston/rings, chain, sprockets, tyre, fork seals, disc,pads & a barrel re-bore. You could say that it had lacked a bit of TLC! I look at it every day & see parts that are worn/knackered, it’s a shame but maintenance is well down the list here.
There is no MOT for bikes & they are heartlessly run into the ground.
Every Clunk I’ve ever had, no matter how old/battered it was, I’ve always looked after them.
Why? Because you really don’t want it to let you down when you most need it, nor to seize up in the fast lane (& I did have that happen to me many moons ago!) Now that I actually have a Peruvian Bike Licence, I use my bike every day so I depend on it. I sometimes see bigger bikes, but what would be the fun in that (& I definitely cannot afford/justify one neither!)
(Third party) insurance is compulsory here. If you’re caught without it, you’ll get stung for a hefty fine. The Clunk’s previous owner had to sell the Clunk (to me) as he had been caught & had no bra$$ to pay his fine! It is a fixed (but variable) price (depending which insurance company you go through). For a car it is around £20 (which morbidly covers up to 5 deaths) and £80 upwards (only covering rider). This disparity seems a bit unfair, but realistically you’re odds aren’t as great on two wheels…
Anyroad, whilst up in yonder mountains last week, I realised that my insurance had in fact run out. No direct debits, nor a policy rolling over to keep you covered here. I had heard about a chap on facebook called Elvis (!) who specialised in cheap SOAT policies, so I got in touch & arranged to meet up on Monday. On the day his phone wasn’t working & I couldn’t find the address (strange random street numbering), but I eventually found the place & rang the bell. A shifty lad who cannot have been older than 18 answered. He looked shifty & talked shiftily. He took my documents & had to prise the readies out of my hand. “El clasico” I said to him jokingly (insinuating that I was just about to be bent over) & wondered if I would ever see him again as he disappeared behind the gate with my documents & dinero. He appeared 3 minutes later with a freshly printed SOAT slip.
Valid or not? I hope I never have to find out…
Honey Monster Glazing
Last week I had a bit of a minor “spill” up in the mountains & the casualties were my rear indicator & my right mirror. Indicators are superfluous here, but (I find) mirrors are useful! Most other riders remove them, they are only ever going forward & never looking back! I am rather attached to my mirrors, especially the right one, my inside line. Lanes mean nothing here & people (especially other Clunks, taxis, combis, buses, cars & wagons) cuts up your inside. Like a lover that had gone, for 3 days I was just looking longingly at a black piece of plastic. It was no good, I had to get it replaced. A new (Honda) mirror was pricey & a copy wasn’t available. I suddenly thought, “La Vidreria!” (The glassman). I took the casing & asked what he could do.
“Come back in an hour with 7 soles (£1.75)!” I went back & it was done. Good as new!
Chuffed to bits with my saving, I rode around admiring the traffic (dangerously close) behind in the shiny new mirror. Later on, riding home in the sweltering midday sun, I noticed a golden liquid seeping from the mirror. It appears that they have used honey (or syrup) to stick it in. I’m just hoping that it doesn’t drop out before the end of summer.
Messrs. Jagger, Richards & Co. played Lima last night (Sunday). Tickets were rather steep & I’m not a massive fan, so I gave it a miss. It has been the talk of the town though.
I’m told they give a good show, despite their advanced years. If I was making £100-per-punter, I’d be smiling like this OAP & playing as long as I could!
Gabba Gabba Hey!
Between the age of 16 to 21 (much to the detriment of my A-levels), concerts, music & drinking were my main hobbies. Leeds Poly & Uni both had regular gigs, plus the old faithful (& very sadly missed) “Duchess” on Vicar Lane, where I saw the best concert of my life, the one & only “King Kurt”, a very messy night which saw me & a group of friends get banned (flour, eggs & sprats were essential items at King Kurt gigs. The Sound-desk-man wasn’t impressed. Banned from the Duchess, bad news, very bad news.
The Duchess hosted live music every night of the year & a fresh Duchess list was always a source of excitement. Radiohead, Coldplay, Inspiral Carpets & Nirvana (third bill) all played there. It was knocked down in 2000 & replaced by a Hugo Boss boutique. It’s not quite the same! Sometime between 1988-90, I saw The Cramps,
The Stray Cats (knocked myself out & still have a bump on the back of my head),
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers & the Ramones at Leeds Uni, (not on the same night!)
The Ramones. I was partially deaf for a a week after the Ramones.
It was loud.
Fast forward to 2015, I had a junior student wearing a Ramones t-shirt. The conversation went something like this:
“I saw them in 1989”
“Who are The Ramones?”
“The band on your t-shirt!”
“(Confused look – End of conversation!)
Invisible Man & the remote control
One of the occupational hazards of being anywhere near a pavement (as pedestrian, or chancing Motorcyclist) here is the automatic garage doors that swing open without warning. I’m not sure if it’s down to security or laziness, but everybody has them, including the garage where the Clunk sleeps safe & sound at night. The garage shares a sliding mechanism with the garage next door. At first our side was manual, but one too many close shaves prompted us to get it automated.
I have a pair of board shorts that I bought in Australia. I was working (blagging it) as a chef in a café & they cost me two days wages. I love them, but they only have one pocket, a back pocket. One night I was putting the Clunk away & the door suddenly started closing.
“Noooooooooooo!” I shouted at the top of my voice (it was an involuntary noise, the impending & imminent threat of being squashed sapped any kind of verbal creativity/originality). I was convinced that somehow the mechanism had been over-ridden by somebody opening the other door, then I realised that the remote control was in my back pocket…
Dealer in the house
The Nipper found a pack of playing cards & the house has been filled with cards in every nook & cranny: In the washing basket, in draws, in my Clunk boots, in my work bag…
It’s like sharing a house with David Copperfield!
My mate Hyrum & his wife are expecting a Nipper in 2 weeks time. I had promised him Valentina’s old travel cot. I’d been taking it over to his house for the last 4 months. As the Wee One is due next weekend, I thought I’d best get my skates on! I live in Salamanca & he lives 20km up the road in Los Olivos. A 30 minute Saturday Clunk sprint, surely? The Cot is not especially heavy, just a strange shape. It wouldn’t fit on the Clunk (with me as well) one way, so I had to strap it on sideways.
Now I once heard a tale of a very naughty child who once “trimmed” the whiskers of hos pet cat. The poor moggy was bumping into things for weeks to come, until the whiskers grew back.
On a Clunk, you get a good idea of what gaps you can squeeze in & which you shouldn’t. In Lima it’s a bit like the clashing rocks in “Jason & the Argonauts”. Nobody drives (or walks) in a straight line & as someone once said “A tremendous amount of white paint has been wasted in Lima, painting traffic lanes”.
The problem was that my load was wider than my mirrors (my honey coated “whiskers”). On top of this, the lanes on the “Panamericana Norte” get slimmer & slimmer, the closer to the centre of Lima they get. On top of this (again) this was perhaps the heaviest traffic I had ever been in, in my life. The main Panamericana (which stretches from Alaska down to the far south of Argentina) was directed by the Peruvian Transport Boffins, right through the centre of Lima, reinventing an extreme definition of “bottleneck”. I eventually made it to Los Olivos & clunked home, a bit faster & a with a slimmer back-end!
A strange thing happened on Wednesday.
There is one perilous bit of road that I have to negotiate twice a day. It is testament to the lunacy of the road designers, who must have been off their faces on some form of processed coca when they first built these mean streets. It is called “El Trebol” which roughly translates to “clover”, so far it´s been of the four-leafed variety (i.e. I am still alive!) In a nutshell, a stretch of rutted tarmac is shared (!) with those fighting to get on & the others battling to get off. It´s like jumping off one treadmill onto another. This happens 3 times in the space of half a mile & it´s the last one that makes me shiver. Slightly uphill, with a tapering-in-the-middle slip-road (punters force their way past you in the middle bit & then cut you up), just before you have to close your eyes, hope for the best & pull out, into the exit road of those gnashing their teeth at you. To spice it up a bit more there is also a bus stop, so all the ancient coaches (driven by their drivers as if they are driving a Mini Metro, or a Fiesta) all in the far outside lane, have to carve across 4 lanes of traffic (no anticipation here) & slice across your way ahead. It’s a stretch that I fear & loathe. Other punters could wait, but don’t. There is a complete disdain for any kind of consideration for anybody else.
I watched in slow-motion horror, as the red line bus heading north filled my left-hand mirror & then swatted me out of the way, blocking my path/light. I somehow swerved right then left, avoiding two knock-out punches & made a beeline for the driver’s window. An anger I´ve never felt the likes of before filled my head. I was screaming, shouting & swearing blue murder at the guy. What are you (expleted deletive) doing & so on & so on. He looked at me, bemused. (Above the sound of the traffic, air horns & me ranting with a helmet on, it would have made no sense.
Then, suddenly, I was instantly calm again. Emotionless. Not feeling better for my outburst, not seething, just numb. I rode off, wondering whether this (void of) emotion was a good or a bad thing? I never really curse or swear & rarely lose my temper. In the last 12 months has this been happening, more & more & more. Is Lima getting to me? There are 12 million people in this madhouse & it seems they are all trying to get to the same place at the same time. Even if I had a hissing paddy fit with 6 drivers a day, every day, it would take me several lifetimes to tell everybody to drive a bit more aware of other folk. Would they listen anyway? If I’m brutally honest, it is a side of Lima that I despise with all my heart & soul. However, there is not a single thing that I can do about it, so I’ll just Clunk-on…
Book of the week!
I absolutely love reading & anything connected to motorbikes &/or travel, is a winner for me!
I’ve just finished my first book on the Kindle, (what an invention). Nathan Millward’s “Long Ride Home”, an absolutely BRILLIANT book about one man & his ride from Australia to England on an Australian Postie Bike, a Honda CT110. (A slightly bigger brother to the mighty C90). It is an epic, entertaining & very honest book & well worth a read.
Check out his WEBSITE too…
Dodgy Russian laptop.
This weekly blog is thrown together on a Sunday night, normally about 3hrs work on my museum piece Mac, an Ipad (that is living on borrowed time with the Nipper’s heavy-handedness) & Lina’s laptop. I can’t do everything on one machine, but I would love to be able to do so. Just after Christmas I spotted a second-hand laptop on “Lima Expats Garage Sale”, a facebook page where folk get rid of their bits & bats & where mugs like me buy them! It’s not as addictive as fleabay, but there are occasional bargains to be had. This looked like one, but turned out to be quite the opposite…
It was a HP laptop with a Cyrillic (& English) keyboard, it just needed a new video card I was told by the Russian owner. I foolishly thought that this would be a quick 5 minute YouTube tutorial fix. Wrong. Then I found a local chap who fixes computers, Don Raul, a likeable & trustworthy type, who bends over backwards to help. He comes to your house on his pushbike & at the price he charges, it’s a miracle that he makes any money! He tried this fix & that fix & this trick & that trick, but all to no avail, the deeper we dug, the more parts we found were missing, already bodged or just knackered, so after 3 weeks of trying, it’s been written off.
If something looks to good to be true, it generally is, or in Spanish “Lo barato sale caro” (cheap stuff always costs more! Or, a bargain never is).
There may be some potentially exciting (for me & hopefully for you too) changes afoot in the future! More when I know more…
I try not to, but I always end up moaning about Lima traffic on here. I’ll try not to in the future, I’ll really try…
Last weekend I escaped into “La Sierra de Lima” the high, dry & dusty peaks that surround the city on 2 sides (a prelude to the Andes). Nobody really goes there, it’s not a place where tourists go, but I love it! Solitude, fresh air & amazing mountain trails. It is my favourite playground here.
I took this short VIDEO last week, but it too several days to upload, so missed last week’s blog.
Here it is. Don’t look down
Have an AWESOME week.
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper (who will be two years old on Thursday. She is firmly in charge of the house & soon the city!)