Volcanoes, Long Live the NHS, Open Clunk Surgery, “Victor Meldrew says”, 21yrs without a sickie, El Niño, the dream that never was and Blog of the week…


Good morning Folks

I trust you had thee most splendid of splendid weekends.
A quick round-up of the weeks events in the city of Ceviche & chaos.



After last week’s blog, I had a feeling that an explosion was imminent!

Bottling things up is never good & I’d just let the frustration of the big bad city build-up.
I apologise sincerely to those who I lost it with.
I am now tranquilo & ready to do battle again. (I also accept that on the road, nobody will  never ever give-way, ever!)
BAD GUYYes, I am.

Long live the NHS.

I don’t really talk about politics on here, but I am a massive fan of the NHS
Although I’m well out of the news loop, I gather that the Government is doing its utmost to destroy this incredible institution.
Mainly due to my own personal clumsiness, I’ve been in & out of Casualty over the years more than your average punter & the NHS have done an incredible job for me. They provide an absolutely World Class service, under difficult conditions.
The Wee One has been a bit poorly this week & we ended up in the hospital on Friday. The Health System here is very different, it’s private for starters & although we (& everyone else) are paying an arm-&-a-leg, the service doesn’t even come close to that of the NHS. I have a lot of friends who work their hearts out in the NHS & they do so because they are passionate about what they do. I just wish that the Government could see what it is doing.
Not a rant, it’s just very sad to see (something that could be avoided).

Open Clunk Surgery
This time last week, I thought that I had sold the Clunk (at a knockdown price) to a Dealer (bikes, not drugs, just say no!)
When I actually went to do the business, they started knocking me down even more, (half expected this) so I told them it was all off. Although the Clunk is poorly, it’s not going for nothing.
About a month ago I got to know a brilliant Mechanic called Jimmy, a Mechanic I can trust, a decent bloke.
He is the man with the plan, I just make cups of tea & ask questions!

The only way to see how poorly, was to open it up, which isn’t a 2-minute job.
Upon opening it up, it didn’t look good, I had been in denial that it would magically “just come right”, but it was going the other way & it’s a miracle that it hadn’t seized up on the Panamericana!
So, today started “Operation Top-End Rebuild”…
Getting the tools together was an adventure in itself! I’ve now been to parts of Lima I never knew existed.
Part II is on Thursday, more details next week…

Victor Meldrew says “TAXISTA DE M!!!”

In Honduras, if somebody is a bad driver (i.e., cuts you up or just drives like somebody who is completely unaware of their surroundings or that there are other people around them), they are called “Taxistas” (Taxi driver, but not in a “One of these days I’m gonna get organezized” way).
I recently heard that there are more Taxi drivers (& Police too) in Peru than in any other Latin American country. One figure quoted over 240,000 taxis (& over 40% of these are “informal”). 1 taxi for every 4 people. Since the economic boom it has become much easier (than before) to get a car on-tick, so this has created a whole new wave of Taxistas. It’s evident when you get a cab & the driver has no clue how much to charge, or where you’re heading! `

Don’t get me wrong, it must be a murderous job being stuck all day in the snarling mob of traffic that Lima offers & some of them have driving skills/reactions that would put them well up on the grid, but generally they are a menace (especially if you’re on a Clunk! Unpredictable doesn’t even come close.
Catching a cab (if the traffic is bad, a result of over half the cars on the road being taxis) involves the following pantomime – Flag a cab down (if he and a group of his compadres haven’t already stopped), stating your destination & then haggling over a price. Often they won’t budge, so the next guy behind goes through the same motions.
I’ve no beef with anybody trying to earn a living, but it does drive me nuts when you stop one & they refuse to go to a particular location.
(Near or far, there is no logic to their obtuseness). It would be like me saying “I’m not teaching grammar”, or a Binman saying, “No, I’m not taking your rubbish”, or a Bartender refusing to sell you beer!
Apart from driving in their own little bubble, completely erratically & with less than zero consideration for others, they incessantly honk their horns. You’re walking down the pavement, they honk their horn (& slow down), you’re running in the opposite direction, the honk their horn, walking on the other side of the road, you guessed it. If I had the time, I’d spend a day flagging down these honkers & when they stop I’d say “Where to? A place where you keep our hand off your horn & drive like you’ve got a set of mirrors
Victor Meldrew say “TAXISTA! Piense Varon!”

21 years without a Sickie

The 21st of August is always a minor milestone for me.
This year I have achieved 21 years without a day off sick. I’ve dragged myself in to work in some sorry states, but I’ve never knocked. Bigger the fool me & I’ve not received an extra penny, nor ounce of recognition, but ever since I rang in sick after the 1994 Ebor, I’ve felt eternally guilty!

El Niño

El Niño
are two words that strike fear into the population (especially the Anchovy fishermen). Along with its little sister la Niña, it is a phenomenon that I don’t know much about, but in this land of stable climate it causes chaos & cans shift/skew/screw up the seasons completely.
Rumour (there isn’t really a weather forecast here, nor any need for one) has it that El Niño in 2016 is going to be a big one!
This could mean rain of biblical proportions (in Lima, a place where is doesn’t rain) &/or blisteringly hot sun &/or no rain at all (up in the the Montañas, where it should rain, as this provides water for Lima). In the past, there have been years where the rain never fell in the highlands, which meant there was no water for the entire summer.
For anchovy fans (apart from gold, silver & copper, Peru is one of the world’s leading exporters of fishmeal, the main ingredient of which is anchovy) this is also bad news, as they are particularly elusive when El Niño is around.
Water is something that we generally take for granted.
The prospect of a sweaty Lima summer without a drop is a worrying prospect.

The dream that never was…

I do suffer from a bit of OCD. (Unfortunately) it doesn’t mean that I am an especially tidy, or spend my life rearranging towels on towel rails, (like David Beckham). It means that if I get interested in something, I will give it my very best shot, to the point of obsession. In many sports I’ve tried (well, generally in running & probably in very few others) with a tremendous amount of hard work, passion & enthusiasm, I’ve achieved some semblance of success (I once won a Fun Run, back in 1989).
In 2004, I set my mind on focusing on one of three things:
Scuba diving or snowboarding or surfing.
I had an hour of snorkeling down in the south of Lima & it was pretty disastrous. To get my diving license looked a bit like flying to the moon, so I shelved those plans.
My brother & his wife were in neighbouring Argentina, and I did fancy a crack at snowboarding in Bariloche, what could go wrong?
At the last minute ‘are kid talked me out of it. With my coordination/lack of skill, a fatal injury looked highly probable, so I took the ski lift to the top of the mountain (them with their boards & me with my walking boots). My first time on a ski-lift, like most things I hadn’t thought through just how I’d get off, nor how I’d get back down again. (Most ski lifts, especially this one, just take punters up the mountain & skis/boards/gravity do the rest. I had to sprint across the runs in my boots, avoiding angry Argentines, & I grumble about folk crossing the Panamericana without using the footbridge!) Snowboarding was destined not to be.
(Both my brothers are really good, but they’re both good at football too, which was also a non-starter for me).
Anything involving a ball, racket or coordination is hard for me.
Surfing looks easy & it looks fun, so I set my heart on it & dedicated a year to dominating the sport. I didn’t expect to be Taj Burrows nor Kelly Slater, but I thought I’d give it a crack…
When I lived in Sydney, my first house was on Paramatta Road (a great place if you ever wanted to buy a 2nd hand car, but a long way from the sea!)
I did a one-week course up the East Coast & convinced myself that if I bought a board, all would be plain sailing. So I bought an 8’4” “Liquid Shredder” & lugged it from Byron Bay back to Paramatta Road. (My brother lugged his from Australia, across SE Asia & India back to Blighty, so my little jaunt was small fry, like anchovy!) I did eventually move to Bondi & I went out every single night after work. Apart from a few near territorial Point Break fights “Dropping in on MY wave” and a near drowning (when there are no surfers, there is generally a reason, definitely my closest call in life so far), surfing success still eluded me. I moved back to Peru & had a board built. It was a beauty & I lived by the ocean, so surely it was just a matter of time. Waikiki Beach (Lima) is not an especially hard place to surf, but it’s over rocks, so you don’t want to get it wrong, which I did every time I went, so when I moved away from the sea, the board languished in a mate’s garage & has done for 10 years.
I’ve still got my wetsuit top & my big lobster-style booties, but I guess I’ll save them for when the rains come (or not), as I’ve just sold my board, to a lady who wanted it as a decoration for her house.
Effort + determination + time + complete lack of skill = Fail.
(In this/my case anyway).
For now I’ll stick to my running!

Wandering Desk – Blog of the week!!!

My good friend Neil, author of the nothing-short-of-brilliant Dancing Feat &  my main writing guru writes a far better blog than me. That is why I’ve stuck this at the end!
Check THIS out :-)

That’s all for now Folks.
Have an awesome week :-)
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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