Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in tiptop form and that you had a superb weekend.
Here is the weekly round-up of events in Limaland.
A historic week!
Vamos a rusia!!! (Or when is a feriado (bank holiday) not a feriado?) The biggest week in Peruvian football in 35 years! After drawing away 0:0 in Wellington, the Kiwis came to Lima to face “los Blanquirrojas” (red & whites) at the National Stadium (as reported in one UK tabloid, “Peru have the advantage on their altitude affected home turf”, I hope the away team weren’t suffering too much at an altitude of 137m above bath water! Not all Peru is in the Andes). I have never, ever in my life seen such passion and hysteria. Incredible!
Basically, Peru had to win. A draw would see NZ win.
Captain and top goalscorer, Paolo Guererro, was still out. It depends who you listen to and which papers you read, but it was either from a snortfest of marching powder up his nose (allegedly) or a banned substance in a cold remedy. Anyway, he wasn’t playing. (Going off on a tangent completely) August 8th 1992 was also a special day. I went down the Old Smoke to see the Magnificent 7/Nutty Boys, “Madness” at Finsbury Park for “Madstock“. A one-off reunion gig had been announced and tickets were bought, then, a second night was announced and they haven’t stopped playing since, (and who can blame them!) The first number on the setlist was “One Step Beyond” which triggered off a mini-earthquake (4.4 on the Richter Scale). It was a fine day for football too as the mighty Frenchman, Eric Cantona scored a hat-trick in the Charity Shield, beating Liverpool 4:3, them were the days… Back to Lima – 15th November 2017.
I finished classes at 9:15pm (kick-off time) and I have never seen such deserted streets here. When the first goal went in off the foot of Jefferson Farfan, this triggered off a “sismo” alert. I honestly thought the building was going to fall down from the neighbours above! This was even more intense with the second goal and it sounded like bombs (extra loud fireworks) were going off at full-time. (The Kiwis had also been treated to some unexpected 3am fireworks outside their hotel the night before their match, by some underhand fans). On Wednesday the firworks, the parties and the noise went on until gone 4am and although I was up for work, bleary-eyed at 5:15am, I couldn’t deny people having a party, they’d waited a long time for this (As a footnote, I remember Wigan RL famously not qualifying for the Rugby League Challenge Cup, going out to Salford in the 5th round. A lot of “Wembley” merchandise had already been printed and being the Pie Eaters, a lot of the humble flavour had to be eaten by them! Luckily, despite all Peru tops being sold in the street having “Rusia 2018″ (one “s” in Spanish) stitched on the sleeve, this time they’re going there!) The President (who is plummeting in popularity) had announced a “feriado” (public holiday) “if” Peru qualified. Obviously this wouldn’t be known until 11pm the night before and suddenly it was changed to “public sector only” and therefore I had classes (and so did my poor students) early doors. It was a quiet walk to walk anyway…
Factory reset woes…
When a phone asks you “are you sure?” it normally means that you are about to do something stupid/undo-able! I know this as I accidentally wiped clean a full I-pod (unbacked-up) and was looking for somebody/anybody to blame, knowing it was my daft fault all along. I never learn… My phone suddenly started going mad this week with pop-ups, ads and music playing in the middle of the night. I scoured the internet (for 5mins) and all the forums came back with “factory reset”, which I thought would save all my gubbins across to Google. “You know what thought did!” (A phrase I never understood). Needless to say it didn’t so I lost the lot. Music, photos apps and numbers. At least the pop-ups have gone! Where’s my Nokia…
Auf Wiedersehen Pet!
In 1983 I was 11 years old and “Auf Wiedersehen Pet” was on at 9pm, just past my bedtime, but as it was on Friday neet, I begged and begged and was usually allowed to stay up!
Dennis went on to Benidorm, Kevin went on to Inspector Morse, Oz went on to Evita (he didn’t get on right well with Madonna apparently), Moxey went on to Wallace & Grommit, Bomber went on to Indiana Jones, before his untimely death and Wayne died of an overdose before series 2. Barry went on to many great things, a truly underrated actor. For me, they were all part of one of the best British TV comedies ever! (TV Critic, aged 11)! I went on to Salamanca, Lima…
In the near three years I have lived in this building, I can count the days on two fingers when there hasn’t been some noisy git drilling (the tool of choice for everything). This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the walls are made of candy floss and noise carries too well. The flats were still being built when we arrived, then as each flat became occupied, as they are complete shells, the drilling started. Then 3 more houses were demolished in the street to be replaced by blocks-of-flats, so it all started over again. When we bought our diddy little gaff in Morley we converted the attic into a room and it is a neverstretcher to live in a place when building work is going on, but there is always an end in sight and it is worthwhile. When there is no end in sight and the work is being done in another flat (but feels like the noise is in your own), it can grate a bit. Can you see why I am ultra-keen to move? House move #31 House move #37?
There was a bit of midweek confusion when a Sparky called Manuel appeared (nobody told me he was coming). The door buzzer is like an audible electric shock. BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ: (Something unintelligible in Spanish) Me: “Come again” (thinking it was a door-to-door salesman or somebody trying to sell me a religion). Buzz Lightyear: (Silent) Neighbour upstairs shouted “He doesn’t speak Spanish” (in Spanish. Oh but I do, it’s just that nobody understands my Spanish). I let him in, he’d come to replace some plugs, which he did without turning off the mains! Being colourblind, electrics are a big no-no, but Manuel was undeterred. (Even the new sockets were shocked by Manuel’s fearless audacity!) Now the plugs work and Manuel lives on!
P.C. Singleton Will be here next week, I promise!
Jockey Salud! Is the name of the local “clinica” where I have been spending a lot of time and bra$$ of late. It does have quiet a nice view up into “Doubtful Round” territory, so there is some consolation. My “Gastroenterologo” doc is nice enough, but is a dead-ringer for Vladimir Montesinos (ex-head of Military Intelligence), currently in jail for corruption, embezzlement, gunrunning and drug trafficking, with CIA ties (not the ones you wear, but they may as well have been, as he received $10 million from them too, allegedly!) Anyway, for fear of being wiretapped I did everything Dr. Gastro told me. Three appointments, test-after-test-after-test, all of which eventually came back blank! My guts still grumble (loudly), I still feel sick-as-a-sickly-dog but my result say I’m reet as rain, so there’s life in the old dog yet, hopefully! Supermaro!
The only runner in the World who can get crocked whilst not even running! I have been getting excruciating cramp in my right foot for a month, (I am dropping to bits) and whilst walking to work I thought I’d stepped on a nail. I do have to cross a bit of a building site, but when I looked there was no nail. I called in to see my physio/saviour Maro, midweek and it was just light ligament damage, nowt serious!
So I am starting running again this week, bad guts or no bad guts. Four months until the first race of the new campaign, Desafio Ruricancho. Injured even before the Off, Desafio Ruricancho 2017.
Here’s hoping there’ll be more time running than being crocked in 2018.
Club Centro Cultural Peruano Chino.
Thanks to Lina’s friend, Eugenia, we were invited to a place I’d never heard of and didn’t know existed on Saturday; the Chinese-Peruvian cultural club. 13 miles (an hour in the car) up the road but feeling like a million miles away from Salamanca. The best thing of all (for me in my current unsociable, grumpy self) was that it was deserted. This place is set about a mile back from the road and is an oasis of calm. Some lucky punters live there; I was talking to the ex-concierge to the Ambassador for China, who had studied in Birmingham as a youth. Times like that I do wish that my Spanish was better than it is. I just see people with blank faces thinking “Where did this joker go to school?” After a tasty Barbie, the Nipper and I went for a swim and then battled home through the gnarly brawl that is the Carretera Central. Just trying to trace my family tree for any Chinese links right now. Sunday lunching… Lina was up to her ears in studying so the bairn and I gave her some space on Sunday and met up with James B. Irma, James D. & Erika at a rather unique French-ish (with a northern twist, the staff all wear flat caps) place called “La Folie”. Good food and trippy décor. We said it would be good to try and eat a meal off the tables and chairs on the walls, maybe one day KMFF. Facebook has a daily habit of reminding you what you were doing/yapping about last year all the way back to when FB began. Obviously it was tricky to get back to my hometown for the Kendal Mountain Film Festival this weekend, but I hear that the man, the fellrunning legend, Billy Bland was a star of the show. “Uncle Billy” was a born-&-bred, no-nonsense, hard-as-nails Cumbrian fellrunner who still holds the records for the Wasdale and Borrowdale fell races. He got so tired of runners following him round the tricky navigational bits of the Ennerdale race, that he set off 10mins after everybody and still won! Plus he still holds the Bob Graham Round record (42 summits, which he sprinted round in 13hrs 53mins for 66 miles and 29000ft of ascent in 1982, nobody has come close since! I got round in a whisker under 23hrs in 2009 and it almost did for me, physically and mentally!)
When asked whether his Bob Graham record will be broken, the answer was to the point. Yes. It has stood for too long and there are many capable. We know more about nutrition and training then ever before, and yet we aren’t faster. “We didn’t know much about nutrition in those days, we just ran till you couldn’t run anymore and lie down.”
Speaking of superstar Kilian Jornet and his talk of running a round, Billy called him out “Get your arse over here and do it.”
In an age of GPS watches, sports gels, wickable undies and knee-high compression socks, it is interesting to see that records of old still stand!
Presentation – Round II. As part of my contract at work, I have had to give some “cultural presentations” linked to British culture. My first effort was “An A-to-Z of British Sport” (black pudding throwing, Cumberland Wrestling, Worm Charming, Cheese Rolling and more). This time is was “The Great British Spirit of Adventure” which was given to a bemused crowd of about 40 students at the HUGE centre in Surco. No Kendal Mint Cake this time, but all the Old England Toffees (not old, nor English) went down a treat and nobody died of Powerpoint exposure. More details in a future blog…
“One Great Thing!”
The benefit of having a completely empty phone is that it is like having a supermarket sweep in a record shop! Another good thing is that I have the memory of a forgetful goldfish, so when I suddenly remember a tune, gracias to the wonderful world of technology, a few clicks and it is in my ears! I don’t know where the thought came from, but I suddenly thought of the old McEwan’s Lager advert (off the pop at the mo) and Big Country. Dunfermline’s finest and the only band in the World who could make geeetars sound like bagpipes! Stuart Adamson sadly took his own life in 2001. The Edge from U2 spoke at the funeral and told mourners that Big Country wrote the songs that he wished U2 could write.
Here is Albert Tatlock!
Asi es Peru! (The serious bit)
This is a tricky subject to write about. My weekly blog is a collection of observations, opinions and general nonsense. If you are still reading, I thank you!
Both my regular readers will realise that things are never quite straightforward out here. My inability to adapt back to a place that I begged Lina to come back to for years and three years of moodswings, frustration, anger and bewilderment all mean that if you’ve been a regular reader, it hasn’t been cocktails and selfies!
My stubbornness is my weakness.
All my life I have been always told, encouraged, taught to try and do as well as possible at everything I try. (I have tried and failed at many, many things, but I tried, boy I tried!) I am not mega-competitive, nor superambitious, but I always do my best.
To make things better, more effective or simply just a bit easier.
(A major) part of my frustration here has stemmed from seeing a big change in the country between 2004, when I first arrived, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and wet behind the ears, to a trip here in 2012, between which there was a huge influx of “mining money” which boosted (part, but not all of) the economy and an increase in opportunities, at least that is what I saw on a short two-week, mainly jetlagged holiday (away from a job that really was going nowhere for me in Blighty).
The sheer magic and mystery of 2004 could never be recaptured and my selective memory had forgotten the bad parts. Lina had warned me, everybody had warned me, but I still came back!
The gypsy blood in me has forced 36 (soon to be 37) house moves in my 45 years and I think that stopping is what kills me. I feel like I’ve been bogged down in soft tar in a crappy neighbourhood (noise and neighbours) and when we should have moved on long ago, we’ve stayed hoping it would somehow get better and it just got worse and worse and worse.
January will see us moving and hopefully 2018 will be a new start (still in Lima, the Arequipa dream never happened).
I am very, very wary of whingeing out loud. (My old boss in Australia used to say to me “You’re not a bad lad for a Pom, at least you’re not a whingeing Pom” which was as close as I’d get as a compliment for sweating out my heart and soul in a completely blagged job as a chef!)
However, I was moaning (quietly) at work when a colleague and good friend whose opinion I do trust, put me right!
I was saying that if I was paying to see a Doctor, I shouldn’t have to wait over an hour past my appointment time, (as I had once, having to leave before being seen, to go to work).
She said when compared to the State system (where you can spend a day in a queue) it is good.
I said that it wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t understand why people weren’t up in arms/marching in the streets against all the wrongs (most of which are intrinsically linked to corruption, which runs deep in the veins of all Latin American bureaucracy).
I said (which I regret now and I have apologised for) that the problem here is the acceptance of the mediocrity and that when this becomes ingrained into the society, how is it possible for a country to advance. She told me that only when one stops believing, can one be happy. It wasn’t a lightbulb “eureka” moment, a life-changing vision or a flash of clarity, it was more like a “Shut-my-mouth-&-put-my-head-down” incident.
I felt bad and I still feel bad.
On my way home I saw two blind buskers with a baby, it was almost 10pm, what sort of a marginal living do people such as that make, but the guy was singing his heart out like he was Elvis. Then there’s me getting paid to teach English for 6hrs a day. One of my mates always says that I should let things go, another tells me if I don’t adapt, I will become a bitter man.
Why do I take it personally?
I always remember a job I had in 2005 right out on the fringe of the city, a poor part of town, when a young student said that the worst thing imaginable (for him) would be to lose hope. So, so many things drive me to despair here: Parties raging on until 5am, incessant noise, battling in the crazy traffic, nobody trusting anybody, crime and grime, I could go on… Why do people rave on about the food here? It is good, better than neighbouring Chile and Bolivia by a country mile, but no better than Blighty tucker (for me).
Why do people rave on about it? Because it is something they have and something they are very proud of.
Why do people have parties ’til 5am? Because their neighbour does and they don’t complain when they do.
Why do people drive like maniacs? Because everyone else does and you are forced to do so.
Why are people not marching in the streets? Because they have accepted what they have and are happy with it.
Why do car alarms go off when a flea breathes within 10yds of a car? I can’t answer all the questions!
Peru is not just Lima. There is a WORLD of adventure and beauty here.
I saw something midweek, when Peru qualified for the World Cup and it was a powerful, glaring, positive thing. I think it I what is called hope! (Plus, I can always just stick these a bit further in my ears!)
Twin peaks – The Return…
I don’t get to watch much telly these days. Our TV is not connected (don’t ask) and we never really have time together to sit down and watch it, but thanks to the kindness of a good friend and fellow MR veteran, David P, I finally got to see the third series of “Twin Peaks”, after its 25yr absence. (Amigo, if you do get out here for the Monkey Run, the Lima cervezas are on me!) I won’t even try to explain Twin Peaks here. It is intriguing, confusing, comical and deeply disturbing in equal doses, it is sheer David Lynch brilliance. I remember staying up until 3am on a Tuesday night to watch “Eraserhead” and went to work very tired and very confused. If there is one famous person I would like to meet, it would be David Lynch.
I cannot watch horror films (lifelong problems with nightmares), so most of his stuff is at my limit of wussiness, but the new series of Twin Peaks (reviews said it was “unreviewable”) is a similar emotional feeling to watching “Trainspotting II”. Same characters, 25 years on! Interestingly (for me anyway) Kyle MacLachlan (Agent Dale Cooper) was almost chosen instead of Charlie Sheen for the lead role in “Platoon”, a (top-3-favourite) film I can relate to so much, although I have never been to Vietnam, Sheen has never been to Salamanca!
When you can have this much fun with a 99p plastic mug, life is good!
Have an outstandingly awesome week
Cheers Johnny, Lina & the Nipper