November 25, 2020

The BIG test!

Good morning folks

I trust this finds you fit and well in this mad, mad time!
Apologies for another abridged apology for a blog, time is tight (understatement of the week).
Saturday morning, 6am, scribbling this nonsense from an AQP apartment that looks like it has been robbed, ransacked and ramraided. I think we have redefined chaos this last week and the week to come should surpass even these implausable levels of locura! Less pics this week, busier than a busy bee, under the cosh timewise, apologies.

An impossible task :-/

Potentially (going off this word already, apologies for possible overuse here) this could be the last ever blog from la Ciudad Blanca. This could be our last ever weekend in the White City. If you are reading the next one and it has not been patched together in Lima, we have problems. (More of that later).

This is the blog at your service.

Lockdown latest.

What to say?

The week in news here has been a jumbled mess, 27,813 deaths and 600,000+ cases. El Presidente is coming under attack, despite bonuses for the people being dished out left, right and centre (causing a problem in itself in that many people do not have internet access nor a bank account so massive queues are forming outside the national bank (Banco del Nacion) creating hotspots as folk queue up “on the off chance”. The economy was announced as the hardest hit in Latin America, but with an extended and seemingly indefinite lockdown, what does one expect?!

There are 116 beds remaining nationally in Intensive Care and only 17 in the capital.

A tragedy occurred at a Los Olivos discotheque on Saturday when a clandestine bar was raided and 13 youths were crushed.
Sernazgo are generally a waste of space (replace them with Serenas if you ask me) and the Police are sometimes a bit too heavy-handed. Whatever happened, and events are not clear, by law it should not have been happening as we are still in lockdown so pubs and clubs are still shut. This was just one of many bars/discos rumbled at the weekend.
A terrible event that should never have happened. The club should not have been open and the punters shouldn’t have been there.
13 young people lost their lives needlessly.

I have been sifting through the dregs to find the gold nugget I am frantically searching for, “vuelos humanitarios” (humanitarian flights), a term I used to think only applied to war-torn countries, when a handful of fleeing punters ran for a ready-to-take-off helicopter on a dusty, disused football pitch, wearing ripped clothing and clutching a battered briefcase full of dollars, diamonds and/or doughnuts! (None of which will be in our luggage!)

Humanitarian flights have reportedly started up again, run by KLM (Dutch Embassy) and Air Europa (Spanish Embassy).

Things have been changing here at a crazed rate of knots and news is often sketchy and unreliable.
National footballer Jefferson Farfan arrived back in Lima from Moscow midweek with salsa-dancer-mistress, Yahaira Plasencia. How is this possible in a lockdown, when borders are closed? Take a flight to neighbouring Ecuador and jump the border. With a letter from the Peruvian football federation (FPF), he skipped across the border with his entourrage and onto a Limabound plane.
Footballers here get a Carte Blanche and a red carpet everywhere they go, with complete adulation from fans and press.
Is it right/fair that thousands of other Peruvians stranded abroad have to wait 5mths+ for borders to open?
Who am I to answer a question of such magnitude? My name is not Martin Vizcarra nor Magaly Medina!

Would you like a refund Sir? – Part 574.

At the time of press, we are owed bra$$ by BA, KLM and LATAM.
(If our Air Europa flight doesn’t happen, add them to the list).
I have a long history of losing money on the hopeless nags that are/were some airlines here. (Not that I am bitter, much!)
Aero Continente (2004) and Peruvian Airlines (2019) both went under, then Sky airlines refused to cough up on a (2019) bad weather cancellation.

BA agreed to a refund as they cancelled the flight, saying that it could take 90 days. Then I received a flurry of emails this week saying that the flight they cancelled 3 weeks ago, has been cancelled again, (it is definitely cancelled then), meaning that the 90 day period begins again, crafty!

KLM are perhaps even craftier, as they offer a 15% bonus if you request a credit note (taking 1-2 weeks) instead of a refund (taking 60-90 days). I do like KLM and they fly to Leeds, but their prices have got increasingly steeper. Waiting for a credit note to hedge our bets on a humanitarian flight, if Air Europa don’t deliver.

I have a friend who switched careers from teaching to being a Flight Attendant. The recruitment process is gruelling, the training is tough and this is why LATAM have possibly the best on-board service in Latin America. Even on short haul cattle class flights, the attention is always first class (and they do have to put up with some $h!t off stroppy customers!)

“It is a difficult time for all of us”, is a much overused phrase these days, normally used as stalling material by companies resisting refunding a punter. Now I do understand the economics in that all companies cannot suddenly refund everything , as they would go bankrupt.

I will keep it short, but in a nutshell, after 7 phone calls and 11 emails, I am still no further forward.
The fact that I booked the flights separately for me and the ladies has made things 100 times more complicated.
Each flight leg for each person is treated as a separate charge.
Refunding it all back to the original card would obviously be too logical.
I first got a credit note for my 2 flights (taking 4 calls), then after discovering that the credit notes were invalid (2 more calls) got the documentation for a refund (still waiting 4 weeks on), then 3 more calls got me a credit note (invalid, again), so 2 more calls got me an email, then a dozen emails later I have been asked for “Power of Attorney” from Lina and the bairn to allow them to transfer my money back to my account. I explained that the bairn is 6 years old and sent a wad of information as requested, but I am still no further on!

Getting to the tipping point of time spent Vs sacking it off.

In the air, LATAM are spot on, on the ground they are the biggest pile of steaming horse$h!te on Earth (with all respect to horses!)

This video, from the greatest film of all-time (in my opinion) is just about how I feel when I call LATAM. I am Clarence, obviously!)

The BIG test.

I absolutely aced my Eleven Plus (which was actually completely pointless and made zero difference to my life). I was good at spelling at Primary School, but not brilliant at anything.

Folks of my age were the guinea pigs for the brand new GCSE exams. I moved schools at the age of 15, not ideal halfway through the 2 year programme, especially as my new school has a different syllabus and I had to catch up quicksmart, but scraped through in all bar Chemistry.
The first year of GCSE results were ridiculously high and did not really prepare students for A-levels, which were a big step-up, especially if you lost your way around the time between 16-18 years of age (hands up!)
The downward spiral continued and I managed to screw up Geography when I was forecast a “B” on my project work, so I kissed goodbye to being a Geography Teacher, (which was next on the list after astronaut and pilot (both scratched off due to colourblindness).

All these tests are nothing in magnitude to the phial of blood we will donate to medical research on Monday morning.

Our “Salvoconducto” car permit pass up to Lima depends on a Covid all-clear for the 3 of us.
If any one of us fails the test, we can’t get the pass and if we don’t travel this weekend we are not guaranteed to get a pass in September, plus our lease of this gaff runs out next Monday and I finish work the same day.

There is no Plan-B, so we are not thinking too much about this :-/ V-Log…

Apologies, the V-Log is on hold for now. Hoping to have it back on air soon…

Colas, colas and colas!

Tails, pop and queues!

The word “cola” has various meanings; an animal’s tail or a bottle of pop, but right now if you go to any supermarket you are very likely to encounter a huge cola (queue)!

Supermarket queues here never really flowed well before this carry-on. Disinterested checkout staff, punters who think that they are paying for said staff to pack their bags for them. Anybody with a pair of hands and a few brain cells can pack their own bags surely, but no.

Queue jumping is a crime that Victor takes very seriously to. Wait in line, order of arrival, it is simple.

The famous phrase “I was here” is so common. When? I’ve been here for 15mins and didn’t see you.
(Some chancers enter the store and put an empty basket/trolley by the till, then do their shopping!)

Last week I had seriously bad migraines and accompanying exploding intestines. Think the stress got to me.
Therefore I wasn’t in a great mood as I counted 5 people in front of me, a mood which was worsened when a bloke blatantly pushed in. I asked the woman in front “Was he here before you?”, she shook her head and Firestarter here pressured her to challenge him, which she did in a voice so high/light that only neighbouring dogs (like those bloody hounds of my neighbours) could possibly hear.

So, I piped up (maybe a bit too loud, but I do have a problem with my ears right now) ” Señor , hay cola” (Mister, there is a queue), to which he took immediate and dramatic offence to, storming bowlegged up to me and shouting in my face (social distancing was obviously forgotten) “Are you threatening me, are you threatening me?”

“I’m not threatening you, I am just saying that the queue starts behind me” pointing over my shoulder.
“Are you threatening me…” was repeated a few times until he waddled back to his pushed-in place.
The good guy on my left shoulder kept quiet, whilst the bad guy on my right shoulder chirped up (a bit louder).

Señor , hay cola

This really irritated Mr. Queue Jumper who even threatened to call the Police (!)
I was tired, irritable and with a gurgling in my stomach that gave me a warning that I needed a bathroom ASAP.

Idiot features was still going on at me, and for a moment I was really, really tempted to resort to violence, but other people were looking at us now (plus getting banged up for a supermarket scuffle would be a bit dumb right now), so I turned it around and turned on the sarcasm saying that he was welcome to his jumped-in spot and that maybe, as he was so important, maybe people should give him free passage right to the front of the queue.

He finally lost his rag, threw his basket on the floor and stomped off.

I will call that a silent moral victory then 🙂

(I only get out once a week, I am a cantankerous old bugger, not sure this is the best place to spend my time/freedom).

Super Saturday – part I.

Next week…

Our ruling master, the 23kg scales!

And finally

Youtube is ace!
(True, there is some absolute dirge on there, but there is some gold).

I have no idea how I stumbled on this, but I wish I could hire this pilot to get us back home.
If you know Lima, this is well worth a watch.
It straddles the line of absolutely brilliant and completely pointless.
Not sure if it is a video game or something, but for somebody whose last video game playing experience was “Asteroids”, this is pretty impressive!

A moment’s silence please…

That’s all for now folks.
Stay safe, stay sane, don’t cause a scene in your local supermercado!

Johnny & the girls



4 thoughts on “The BIG test!

  1. ‘that would be too logical.’ I seriously laughed out loud.
    The coke thing was great!!
    I am glad (sad) you all passed the test!
    Good write up. Love keeping track. Ready for v-logs to come back!!

    1. I have not discovered any logic yet in my time here!
      The test results baffled me completely.
      Thanks for your help on that.
      Hoping V-logs will return soon.
      We are already counting down to your Blighty visit 🙂

    1. How do Aly

      Absolutely over the moon about phase I, (or at least I will be when we are in that 4am taxi on Saturday morning, Limabound!
      Not counting my chickens yet, but every step is a step closer to home 🙂

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