Archive for February, 2013


Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?

Why do people of a certain age find it acceptable to pass wind in public? It’s like there’s absolutely no shame factor involved once you pass a set point in life. Whilst looking at some ancient Incan ruins the other day on a day-long journey from Puno to Cusco, an Italian geriatric decided to interrupt the tour guide by floating an audible air biscuit. Not one, but two. The latter changing key several times on its entrance into this world and causing me to erupt into a fit of hysterics. Clearly, I am only 29 years old in a physical sense and not mentally.

Another interesting part of the aforementioned journey was the presence of a chap who bore a passing resemblance to Flavio Briatore in the seat across the aisle from me on the bus. It was not so much his appearance that I found amusing, but his decision to air a spare set of (dirty) grundies and socks on the curtain cord. Although I can’t say for certain, I’m sure that if you look closely, you’ll see that that’s not Marmite or Nutella smeared on the gusset (copyright David Brent)…

“Pants man” as he was thereafter referred to, then decided to gnosh off the tour guide with a series of regular, irrelevant questions clearly designed to showcase his trilingual language abilities to anyone within a five mile radius. Being bilingual myself (English and bullshit) I was not jealous, just extremely irritated. I’ve encountered many a gobbler in my working life thus far and all have a special piece of my unique brand of hate reserved especially for them. I’ll not name names but if you’re reading, “Cecil”, I always wanted to tell you that you really are, an insufferable bellend.

Two days ago was interesting in the fact that we stayed in a grotty hostel complete with dirty sheets, paint peeling off the walls, dogs barking all night long and a rather concerning stench emanating from the bogs (I wasn’t responsible). Still, it was worth it to witness the missus shout down the receptionist in what seemed like a competition as to who could speak the fastest Spanish. I’ve no idea what was said but I loitered in the background, confident that if a situation arose, I would be able to talk down the receptionist with my superior linguistic skills to convince him he was in the wrong. In a decent hotel now – there’s even a phone in the loo.

On a more serious note, I’ve had a wander round Cusco and am impressed by its selection of pharmacies which have proved extremely useful as today, I awoke with a searing pain in my shoulder. Christ only knows what happened but being a hypochondriac, I was convinced that last night, I was having a heart attack. Thankfully due to the existence of said pharmacies, I am now being soothed by Ibuprofen cream and a bottle of Cusqueña. That said, it’s a little chilly here at night and lager is only suitable for warmer climes. Fortunately the Irish bar up the road serves Abbott Ale on draught and I may well have to pay it visit.

I have six more days in Cusco before heading back to Lima where I will doubtless be able to top up my sunburn (and learn some Spanish). First of all, I need to find a place to live, and by “place”, I don’t mean a hostel. I’ve seen enough save-the-world white rastas carrying their lives on their backs to last a lifetime.

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In the immortal, paraphrased words of Errol Brown, “it started with a shit”. Except in my case, it didn’t stop. It could be said that I never expected it to come to this. “This” being a somewhat run down hospital in Chivay – a quaint little town carved neatly into the patchwork-like fabric of the beautiful Colca Canyon. I’m on the mend now, but over the last few days, I’ve spent more time in the bogs than George Michael on a cottaging expedition. That’s largely thanks to the fact I’m taking a concoction of pills Heath Ledger would be proud of. Still, I’m sure he never managed to pick his stash up for 2.50 soles (about 60p). Neither did an agitated Peruvian doctor diagnose him with “traveller’s diarrhoea”.

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The journey to Chivay was a nightmare. It started with a 12 hour overnight journey from a place called Ica, just south of Lima, to Arequipa – a town savaged by floods just a number of days previously. Those agonising hours were followed by a 3 hour wait in a bus terminal and a further 4 hours on one of the crappest buses I have ever travelled upon. Never before has a man stood at the front of any form of public transport I’ve been on and given an impromptu rendition of a seemingly never-ending (and depressing) song on his pan pipes. With my colon doing the conga, my arse playing up and my throat feeling like it had been massaged with a cheese grater (I have man flu too) it felt like I was being lulled, musically, to my death. I exaggerate, of course. Although the sweet Peruvian lady in the seat across the aisle gestured (with a cut throat hand movement) that if I didn’t layer up, my end would be imminent. Either that or she was pretty pissed off with my incessant wriggling and coughing. I guess I must have looked pretty bad so decided to take forty winks after Des O’Conner put the finishing touches to his welcome tune. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only trick up his sleeve. One of the most enduring sales pitches ever given was to be used by Des to flog a whole raft of household paraphernalia to passengers. It was a long 4 hours.

Other than that, I’ve seen condors soar, majestically, above the indescribable tapestry of the Colca Canyon, caught a glimpse of a snow-capped volcano and had a mooch round an ancient pre-Incan clay pyramid in the centre of a bustling metropolis. Lake Titicaca and its floating islands beckon tomorrow. Puno, gateway to the lake, is close to where David Icke experienced his awakening. Expect me to be wearing turquoise tracksuits from now on in.

As I sit here, 35,000 ft above the Atlantic Ocean, presumably several hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, I feel compelled to document my travels thus far. Fair play, I’ve only been on the move for about 11 hours but enough has happened already for me to open up my new Microsoft Surface and road test the note taking capability of its wafer-thin keyboard. Take note Apple cultists – this would be nigh on impossible with the oversized phone (iPad) you’ve come to love and defend so vehemently, despite its numerous limitations. Unfortunately, I’m not able to upload this blog as a fly, for LAN Airlines has yet to embrace in-flight connectivity. However, according to this chap (fraud), things could be about to change – and soon. Then again, who on earth would listen to a man who ums and erms, throws in the odd “you know” and visibly melts under the glare of a studio light hotter than a vindaloo consumed on the surface of the sun. Not me. Nor you, probably. Well if you do, read on for tales of arrogant Germans.

Yes, whilst milling around in Madrid, waiting to board a plane destined for Peru, I encountered the krauts. Many a time I’ve sat by a European pool and feared the arrival of a hirsute female or europop-loving, speedo-clad mullet-wearer to make an appearance and signal the presence of the hun. I know it’s an unwritten rule for the English to meet the Germans abroad, but this time, I was unprepared. I was taken by surprise. There I was minding my own business, when I spied a queue. I wasn’t completely sure it was the queue for flight 2707 to Lima but being English, I joined it as that’s what we do. Feeling slightly superior at being at least a foot taller than every other prospective passenger, I inched my bag along every couple of seconds, safe in the knowledge that my place in line was assured. That was until Fritz and his egg-in-bun mate, Jurgen, showed up. Displaying a complete lack of consideration for anyone in the vicinity, the Deutsche duo barged past a petite Peruana to my left and cemented a position just in front of me. Amazingly, neither had read the sign that stipulated that those to the left were to be seated at the front of the plane, and those to the right were to head to the rear. The Germans had found themselves in the wrong line. I say amazingly as Germans are known for their ruthless efficiency and a mistake such as this is punishable by death back in Berlin. Even more amazing was the fact that I had somehow managed to find myself in the correct lane, despite an incredibly frustrating history of getting every 50:50 decision I’ve ever faced in my life wrong and also, being unaware that two lines were actually in operation. As the enormity of this unfamiliar situation sank in and rendered Fritz and Jurgen immobile, those who had been supplanted marched forth to liberate their places and the krauts were once again removed from land they had had illegally occupied. Beautiful.

Buoyed by this news and convinced the times were-a-changing, I confidently answered the Chilean check in attendant’s enquiry as to how I was – in Spanish. Predictably, he replied in perfect English and left me questioning my ability to converse with any non-English speakers upon arrival. Undeterred, I decided to order myself a “vino tinto” when airborne. Thankfully, a beautiful drop of Chilean red found its way into my hands as intended. Maybe the times are a-changing after all. Nope, the twat in front has predictably put his seat back (the first on the plane to do so) and reduced my personal space to something a battery hen would be dissatisfied with.

Time for a kip.

Day 1: After many days of uninterrupted sunshine prior to my arrival, I was greeted by grey skies on my first day in the Peruvian capital. Believing this to be great news for my pasty white skin, I decided to take a stroll to Parque Kennedy – a pretty little park dedicated to the late US president and inhabited by a number of stray, but tame cats. One decided to sit on my leg – my first pussy of the trip. After a spot of people watching where I saw a man who looked like Screetch from “Saved by the Bell” serenade his decidedly uninterested girlfriend, I returned to my hotel, passing a gay chap who took a fancy to me on the way. Catching a glimpse of myself in the room’s mirror, I realised I had underestimated the cloud cover and was now resembling a Swan Vesta match. Obviously, it was time to buy some sunscreen so I set off to find the nearest supermarket in search of some “keep white” cream. No sooner did I leave the hotel lobby than a bird emptied the green and white contents of its gut on to my arm and previously clean shorts. Now looking like a red, white and green idiot, a woman decided to film me as she walked past. An interesting first day.