Category: Health


Back in Lima and sweating like John Leslie. Partly because of the humidity, but also due the existence of millions of insane drivers. Having been a passenger in a car driven by my good friend and holder of the world land speed record between Milton Keynes and Oadby (on the back roads), Jonathan Gorvin, I am no stranger to four-wheeled fear. However, the ride from the airport to Miraflores, where I am now staying, means my bottom now resembles a wind sock – and not for the first time this trip either. Just last week, I once again fell victim to both-barrels-in-the-bathroom (BBB) syndrome – a hideous experience that leaves the sufferer stark bollock naked, sweating and close to tears in the WC after enduring constant exits from both orifices (barrels). The cause? Alcohol. In my case, copious amounts of Pisco, consumed at high altitude, on an empty stomach. No amount of Gatorade, water, pineapple juice and Coca Cola in the mini bar could shift the inevitable, nagging dehydration the next day.

After an extended period of recovery, it was time to fulfil a lifelong ambition and visit Machu Picchu – one of the “new” Seven Wonders of the World. Waking at 3am to catch a bus to Ollaytantambo, the departure point for trains to the mountain top city, was predictably unpleasant. I should, however, put this unpleasantness into perspective as I realise my blogs have thus far made my experience in Peru sound well, erm, unpleasant. If truth be told, the early start that day paled into insignificance as the sticky dawn mist gave way to bright sunshine revealing the majesty of these most remarkable of Incan ruins. My words could never do the vista justice, so the picture below will have to suffice.

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Stone walls at Machu Picchu are like curry houses in Leicester – everywhere. Although much of the masonry is undoubtedly astonishing, the yank couple who repeatedly clasped hands and shouted “wow” each time they saw some nifty brickwork made the thought of hurling myself down the soft green slopes and into the muddy river below an extremely attractive proposition. That was until I encountered the Japanese, who absolutely fascinate me. I have often silently pondered just how many units of memory exist on SD cards housed in cameras belonging to the entire Japanese race. If said memory were stacked side-by-side, would it exceed the length of the Great Wall of China? My guess would be yes. Just what is it that compels the Japanese to take photographs of absolutely everything, no matter how bizarre? Picture the scene: There I was, enjoying a tube of Cheese flavoured Pringles and admiring the breath-taking scenery, when a chap unfurling a karate uniform caught my gaze. The chap then donned the uniform and instructed his girlfriend to take photos of him adopting several iconic poses in front of the ruins. Then they swapped places. I just had to take a sly snap – even though I was fearful of being castrated by a perfectly executed kick in the bollocks for showing such disrespect. My punishment was actually severe sunburn as stupidly, I didn’t wear any sunscreen that day and was to spend the rest of the week with a face like a baboon’s arse.

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After Machu Picchu, it was time to make up for time lost due to BBB by embarking on a couple more tours. The first took in several sights in the Sacred Valley and the second was supposed to consist of a whistle stop tour of the city of Cusco. I say “supposed” as despite being scheduled to arrive at 3pm, the bus that was to transport us around the city had still not arrived at 4pm. Vexed, my girlfriend and I decided to ask for our money back, which was to prove an extremely arduous task. Cue another heated argument in Spanish. Determined not to be outdone this time, I chipped in and gave the tour operator some feedback which I think may have consisted of me threatening to remove his computer to sell to passers-by unless he returned our money. 20 minutes and 30 Soles later, I was enjoying a pint of Old Speckled Hen in the nearby Irish pub. Happy days…

Not for long. After taking all of my clothes to the launderette, I then forgot to collect them at the agreed time. By the time I had remembered, the place was closed and I only had a small window of opportunity the following morning to collect and pack everything before a mid-morning flight back to Lima. After hurriedly shoving the lot into my bag in order to get a taxi to the airport in good time, I was then told by a check-in attendant that the flight had been delayed and that I had been sent an email informing me of this. I hadn’t. As such, I whiled away the hours playing Stick Tennis on my phone and subsequently went on to dispatch the likes of Anna Kournikova, Mark Phillippoussis, Carlos Moya and Amanda Coetzer with consummate ease.

Upon our arrival in Lima, I helped a nun retrieve her luggage from the overhead storage bin. If you’re reading, God, in return for my good deed I would appreciate it if you could see to it that I suffer from no more shits, sunburn, mosquito bites, birds crapping on me, mysterious aching shoulders, argumentative Peruvians and laundry being shrunk in the wash.

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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.