How do folks
I trust this finds you in tiptop form.
A round-up of the latest madness from the streets of Lima.
It’s been a busy week!
Highlight of the week was a chance meet-up with two amazingly awesome & down-to-Earth Adventurists; Lisa & Jase, the Two Wheeled Nomads.
Lisa & Jase, from Nottingham are on an intrepid mission from Ushuaia in the far south of Argentina, all the way up to Alaska, on a BMW GS800 & a GS650.
Now there are a load of brilliant blogs/website on the go, all of them hugely inspiring, but the Two Wheeled Nomad’s site is in another league.
The sheer depth, quality & content of the site itself is very impressive, and the blogs, pics & videos are that of legend.
I’ve been following them since “The Off” on facebook & really enjoying following their progress.
Jase is a camera wizard & his images are amazing.
I have a friend who is a brilliant Adventure Film Producer , who I approached for tips prior to our Mongol Rally trip.
He told me that…
“Sometimes the trip gets in the way of the film, which gets in the way of the trip, which gets in the way of the film!”
In other words, we live in a world where people expect (nay, demand) HD quality footage, blogs, updates & pics, from Adventurers on the road, as it happens. Social Media has become such a big part of everyday life that sometimes people don’t always realise that to get this info online, it can take a gargantuan effort just to get the camera out/write blogs in a tent in a howling gale/edit hours of video with sketchy internet connection, that keeps crashing, whilst feeling shot-to-pieces knackered, or whilst feeling crook & the fact that after a l-o-n-g day in the saddle, going through footage, writing blogs & updating the World can be difficult.
“High highs & low lows”
But, it definitely beats working
Anyway, check it out for yourself & follow their amazing adventure right here:
and give them a huge “like” on their FB page too:
Jase & Lisa, The Two Wheeled Nomads. Two of the soundest people I’ve ever met.
(I’m not comparing my tin-pot-blog, this is a once-a-week, sat at home coffeefest, in between thinking about planning my lessons!)
We went for a cuppa & good chat in the bohemian suburb of Barranco (one of my old tippling/attempting-to-dance joints from the heady days of 2004).
It was ace to hear all about their trip & to talk about all kinds of other things.
A brilliant couple & a real pleasure to have the opportunity to meet up with them both
In my own personal mission to find a Clunk, it’s been a week of public transport & test rides, time is running out…
With my “Permisio Especial para firmar Contratos” (a magic stamp in my passport that would enable me to buy a motorbike) getting close to expiring I have been upping my game looking for a suitable Clunk.
I’ve narrowed down my search to one bike, the Honda XR125, a small-ish dirt bike, which would cope nicely with the monstrous potholes & fearsome speed ramps of my neck-o-the-woods.
Having dillied, dallied & deliberated over whether I should risk my hard-earned on a Chino-Peruvian Ronco, I’ve decided to stick to what I semi-know & go Japanese. (Although I have seen a few of the bigger Roncos this week & they do sound/look good, but longevity may not be their forte!)
Having seen over a dozen bikes, I really, really need a steed with SOAT (3rd-party mandatory insurance).
As it is pricey, most folk selling their bikes don’t have it.
This creates a bit of a red tape headache & a “Do I/don’t I trust the Vendor” vicious circle.
On Tuesday I was supposed to be buying a bike, but the guy wanted me to give him the brass up-front AND buy the SOAT.
It would be very easy to have ones fingers burnt & end up empty-handed (maybe better to be empty handed if you have burnt your fingers!)
So, Tuesday saw me heading south on “El Tren Electrico“, one of 2 BRILLIANT new-ish Lima traffic projects/developments (along with my personal favourite, “El Bus Metropolitano“).
The Electric Train heads from San Juan de Lurigancho to Villa el Salvador (a place famed for its furniture, forget MFI, get yourself to Villa Salvador!)
Neither of these terminals are really tourist spots, or a place that I’d generally go, on a normal day.
I need a wardrobe
I get sent to Prison!
One of Lima’s biggest men’s jails, Canto Grande is in San Juan de Lurigancho, holding 11500 inmates in a jail designed for 2500. “Guilty until proven innocent” is generally the rule here.
I shall be avoiding this place!
I once went past the place years ago & the thought of possibly not passing Go & not collecting £200 was pretty terrifying!
So, sideboards & staying out of jail aside, I found myself on the Tren Electrico heading down to San Juan de Miraflores (a far cry from the leafy touristy semi-namesake that is Miraflores ).
The Tren Electrico has made a huge positive impact on the headache that is Lima’s traffic.
What would have been a commute that would have taken hours & hours in the past is now do-able & also affordable.
However, like Rome, it wasn’t build in a day & was actually 22 years in the making!
In Alan Garcia’s first term as President, it was unveiled as a Grand scheme & was started & then put on hold.
Despite the line having obtained 32 cars and completed construction of 7 stations for over many years, it did not operate a commercial service in 1990 during the first presidency of Alan García (1985–1990) because the constructed section didn’t have the distance or demand required to make it commercially viable. The construction of the Lima Metro remained paralyzed since that time under accusations of bribes, after an investment of 226 million dollars co-financed by the Italian government…
For years the foundations & pillars lined the length of Avenida Aviacion.
Then in 2011 (Alan Garcia’s second term), the line opened & it has helped a lot of folk to get about, (& may have prompted an increase in Lima trainspotters too!)
I broke my rule of not sussing out the area first & also forgot my SuperGuia de las Calles (1970s A-Z), and therefore arrived in San Juan de Miraflores not knowing where I was going. In addition I was running late, so I had to splash out on a cab. This is Mototaxi territory, but there were none to be seen.
Taxi fares are agreed before getting in the cab.
If a fare is deemed too far (or not viable due to traffic), the Taxista will shrug his shoulders & drive off, whilst the taxista behind tries his luck with an inflated fare. Eventually, someone will take you.
Taxistas are opportunists, some aren’t really Taxistas, they’ve just bought a “taxi” sticker at the traffic lights, from an opportunist entrepreneur, so they don’t all know where they’re going, nor do they have the luxury of GPS.
I knew it wasn’t a mega-distance, but the first 4 cabs wouldn’t go there.
Raul in his trusty tico would though & he’d only charge me a mere 5 soles (just over a quid).
Not knowing how far it was & being up against it timewise, I agreed & after driving two blocks, we took a right & we were there! I told him he’d diddled me & he knew it. but he just shrugged his shoulders & tootled off.
The bike was ok, it looked sound & the Vendor passed me a battered Skid Lid & told me to jump on the back.
He took it as a personal mission to find the worst roads & highest quantity/altitude of speed ramps, to show the suspension was good & then insisted on taking me to a place where the sold the very best Raspadillas in SJM. (A bit like a Slush Puppy. Ice I’d normally avoid, but it would have been rude to turn it down, so I polished it off as he dropped the bombshell.
The bike did have SOAT & papers, but he’d lost them!
Tramites (paperwork of the red tape business) take time in Peru, it could be a week, it could be more.
If it was more, I’d be stuffed as my “Permiso Especial…” would have run out.
I headed home on the train (not on the bike).
Clunk No. 15. I’d even found a shirt to match, but alas it was not to be…
Two days later & I was back on the Combis, scratching my head about how to get to the far flung district of Cercado de Lima. My SuperGuia was as confused as I was. There didn’t appear to be any direct route, so I chugged across town on 3 combis to a none-too-savoury part of town. Heavily industrial & a long way from home.
I’d struck up a bit of (text) rapport with the Vendor & was expecting a much older chap.
A gentleman, a bit of a dying breed. It was unusual to speak in a very, very formal Spanish, but I kept up.
It appeared to have been looked after, but I could only surmise that he had fallen on hard times.
The papers were all in order & the bike had SOAT, a full year too, bonus!
Ironically, part of the reason that the bike had fallen on hard times was the fact that he’d got caught riding without SOAT & had been stung for a huge fine. Which would have to be paid before I bought the bike (otherwise they’d be in my name & the chances are that the Notary wouldn’t let the sale go through anyway!)
A bit of a Catch-22 for a cash-strapped vendor & a potential minefield for a would-be-punter (chancer) like me.
Clunk No. 16. Matching shirt was in the wash…
I said I’d be in touch…
Curiousity got the better of me & I caught a Combi in the opposite direction, which brought me to a stop on the Bus Metropolitano line & I was home in 25 minutes! I’m not Ewan MacGregor, but I’d definitely gone the long way round to get there!
So, it’s thinking cap time!
I even started feeling a bit of apathy towards the whole situation.
Was it really so difficult to buy a second hand bike?
Could I stick to the Combis & stay sane?
A small part of me says “Are you nuts? Do you really want to ride a bike here?”
It’s not ideal & not very safe at all, but it’s a trade-off against a huge amount of (wasted) time on the Combis, which are a log way from safe themselves, (and if the News report was right, they will be off the road in 3 years time! “Si cuñada”, Yeah right!)
Time will tell, but right now I am very, very keen to get my own set of wheels & I have fancied a dirt bike (tailor made for Lima’s mean streets) for a long, long time.
Like most things with me, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but I have promised that I won’t talk about it (as much) at work!
End of an era? No more “Baja la esquina???”
In other news, there was a small earthquake last night.
Measuring 3.9 on the Richter Scale, it wasn’t serious, but it did disturb our nightly head scratching during “In the Night Garden” (I thought Teletubbies was bonkers before I saw this!) The Nipper bops along to the songs though.
Lima does have a lot of seismic activity, as it’s situated along the boundary of two tectonic plates: the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate. In the past I’ve normally slept through them (I am a very heavy sleeper), but they are a bit unnerving.
“What on Earth was that???”
That’s all for now folks
More next weekend…
p.s. Happy 40th Birthday to Big Rich, I always thought you were about 21 mate.
Makes me feel very, very old indeed!