Category: Travel


Chaos in Ecuador

Well, it had to happen eventually. I firmly believe that all of us will one day morph into Michael Douglas and suffer a completely public meltdown in the sun. Whilst I was not wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and tie combo, nor did I brandish weapons, there was an “incident”. Douglas’s character in the film I am referring to, Falling Down, is, shall we say, rather appropriately named though. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

It was the last day of my trip to Ecuador. A trip I made because I needed to leave Peru in order to obtain a new visa and become a legal citizen once again. After a hectic couple of weeks work-wise, I foolishly thought the all-inclusive Royal Decameron resort in Punta Centinela would offer some welcome time to relax, bask in the sun and gulp down several swift libations. Bask in the sun and merrily make libation, I did. Relax, I did not. The reason being that on this fateful day, I was a victim of the aforementioned hotel’s chaotic checkout process. A process so disorganised, it made an Ethiopian aid drop seem ordered and disciplined.

aiddrop They say a picture speaks a thousand words but the one above just doesn’t do justice to the checkout process I endured. For one, those in the picture do not yet seem to be involved in THAT much of melee. Second, I am quite sure they were not asked to fill in a customer satisfaction survey at the height of the chaos. That said, the photo and the Royal Decameron checkout process do share some similarities. In both, people visibly scoff at the concept of a queue and instead, barge past each other while sinking the occasional elbow into someone’s ribs. In the Decameron, the action is then replicated at the outdoor storage room where guests go to retrieve their baggage before heading off to whichever destination awaits them. Presumably the zoo. Call me a mentalist but retrieving baggage from a hotel storage room is normally something I manage to accomplish with minimal fuss. On this occasion, I bore witness to guests forcing open the door of the storage room, attempting to climb over one another and in through the window before demanding that they be attended to ahead of those who had the audacity to patiently wait in line.

The point at which I finally snapped occurred when a gaggle of squawking Ecuadorians ploughed through the baying mob quicker than a column of panzer tanks on their way through France. With the bell boy urging me to collect my suitcase, there was no way that I could move because I now found my feet buried under a collection of other people’s feet. As someone with a limited grasp of the Spanish language, I quickly searched for the words needed to politely rectify the situation. All I could inappropriately muster was “mal educación” which I think means bad manners. While this was acknowledged and understood by those I’d aimed it at, they still refused to be moved and I remained trapped. Fearful that I’d miss the pending arrival of my taxi to the airport, I was faced with no choice but to physically “remove” those who saw no problem in trampling all over me before unleashing a string of English profanities as I collected my suitcase. All while hotel security stood idly by and onlookers remarked that I seemed annoyed.

I have since bought myself the ultimate breakdown momento – a Panama hat. Like the now infamous Scottish hotelier, Alex Scrivenor, I am now visualising my anger as a demon that lives in a deep dark pit and telling myself that there the demon must stay.

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Twenty Thirteen

As 2013 comes to a close, I am left to reflect on what’s been an excellent year. I’ve met lots of new people, seen some amazing places and realised plenty of goals; I can now understand a fair bit of Spanish, run my own successful business and have grown a not-too-shabby moustache. What’s more, I spend every day with a wonderful girl, who’ll soon be my wife. Someone who tonight, encouraged me to buy some beers, likes AND understands football, hates the concept of paid slavery as much as I do and most importantly, got me a radio-controlled helicopter for Christmas. Slightly intoxicated and conscious of the fact I’ve not provided an update for a while, I decided to knock together a quick update on what’s been happening with me in MMXIII.

  • 5 countries visited: Panama, Colombia (ok, it was only Bogota airport), Peru, Uruguay and Argentina

  • 1 bird shit stained pair of shorts

  • 1 moustache grown

  • Marriage proposals: 1

  • Proposals accepted: 1

  • 20+ internet streams of Leicester matches that infuriatingly buffer at inopportune moments

  • Argentinians offended: 0 (surprisingly)

  • French nationals offended: 10. All of whom were sat round the same table in a restaurant which fell deafly silent at the precise moment I drunkenly expressed my disgust at their country’s lack of gratitude for our help during both world wars. That and their food snobbery

  • 1 successful football match where Peru’s 1970 world cup goalkeeper wanted to sign me up, not realising I was approaching 30

  • Times serenaded: 1

  • Chirimoya, blanquillo, mamey, granadilla – 4 of the new fruits I’ve tried and can remember

  • 1,345,784,828,032 occasions where I have pretended to understand what someone is talking about

  • 3 earthquakes

  • 5 condors, 3 scorpions and a talking parrot

  • Counterfeit goods bought: no comment

  • Dodgy guts: too many to mention

  • And a partridge in a pair tree

All in all, I’ve enjoyed my travels and experiences thus far immensely. Peru, my adopted home, is a beautiful country and one I’d love to spend a lot more time exploring. Trujillo, Mancora, La Merced, Kuelap and Iquitos are just a few of the places I’d still like to see. That’s on top of the places I’ve already been to – Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Puno, Cusco and the Colca Canyon. While there have been a number of times that I’ve longed for the security and comparative organisation of my homeland, knowing that I’ll be back here many more times eating ceviche and drinking pisco is a very good feeling indeed. When the UK inevitably slides into the abyss, it’s nice to know I have somewhere like this to flee to.

A trip to the beach beckons early in the morning so it’s time to log off and wish you all “Feliz Año Nuevo”.

Yours sincerely, Ken Roster

Right about now, I feel like Stan The Man. No, I’ve not just been thrown out of a Paris bar for an attack on Ulrika Jonsson. Nor have I lashed in a thirty yard thunderbolt on my Liverpool debut. I’ve actually spent the last few hours reeling from an unexpected wave of depression that struck me like a Collymore kick to a former weathergirl’s head. In case the reference still makes no sense, the ex Nottingham Forest, Leicester and Aston Villa striker reportedly often finds himself in a similar pit of despair. Normally, I’d put this sort of thing down to the after-effects of a night on the sauce when I’d inevitably have to come to terms with having said or done something highly embarrassing. However, on this occasion, I’ve offended no one, and not so much as sniffed the barmaid’s apron so it can’t be a case of the booze blues. So why the foul mood? I can only assume that I have once again become a victim of SAD. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder to those not in the know – a type of depression that only occurs at certain times of the year. Here in Lima, we’re in the midst of the coldest winter in fifteen years. It’s not just cold though. The sky has been painted the same shade of John Major grey for weeks now and save for the odd excursion into the mountains and above the clouds, I’ve seen less sunlight than Josef Fritzl’s basement. All this while the UK basks in searing temperatures of the kind not seen since 2006, which also happens to be the last time I spent an extended period of time away from home. All hail me, god of shite weather. Or should that be Ken Roster? As the receipt for my recent haircut indicated, Peruvians have trouble pronouncing and spelling my name. My girlfriend’s nephew also refers to me as Ken, something my own niece gleefully taunted me with the last time we spoke. “Goodbye Ken!” uttered the faraway git as we ended our Skype call.

John-Major

Lima skyline in winter

Another thing Peruvians can’t seem to grasp is the concept of a pedestrian crossing. Even after six months as a resident here, I am still bewildered as to why they even bother to paint a zebra on the roads when 99% of drivers pay no attention to them whatsoever. If the Abbey Road recording studio happened to be located in Lima and not London, John, Paul, George and Ringo would most likely be a bunch of paraplegics more commonly known as the infirm four. Still, if you’re ever feeling a bit Collymore-esque, there’s a quick and convenient way of ending it all just around the corner, quite literally. Not that I’d want to, mind. Despite the odd wave of depression, I’m still enjoying life as a vagabond and the knowledge that I’ll never intentionally set foot in Wellingborough again warms these bones made icy by the rather inclement Lima weather. I’m also enjoying England crush the Aussies in the Ashes if any of my antipodean friends happen to be reading.

I can’t actually be bothered to write this as a travel journal anymore – if the BBC do not find my material compelling enough to hire me as presenter of a revamped and rebranded Holiday (Foggaway), I give up. Actually, I’d never work for the fascist BBC. I share the same view as my new hero, Godfrey Bloom, on the subject of this so-called “national institution”:

“If you don’t pay for the BBC, regardless of whether you watch it, they will come and take away your furniture. It’s absolutely crazy, and well past its sell by date. On Christmas Eve last year, there were 24 programmes on BBC2 and 20 repeats. The controller is paid something like £400k a year. No one can convince me that you should earn that for putting on repeats of Dad’s Army, however brilliant that show is.”

If you do want to know where I’ve been lately, whack Huacachina, Cinieguilla, Paracas and Islas Ballestas into Google – you’ll find lots of proper blogs complete with nice pictures. They are all pretty interesting so if you’re an ex-colleague of mine looking for a distraction from your daily fraud activities as I often was, get researching. If it helps you sleep at night, I am also in the process of planning a trip to Buenos Aires (where I will pretend to be Canadian or another inoffensive nationality) and Montevideo.

CAM00325

I’ve had some rather strange dreams of late. A few days ago I managed to wake myself by growling for a short while and then yelling “fuck off”. I seem to recall that some kind of ghostly apparition was strangling me and temporarily rendered me incapable of clear speech, hence the incoherent noise prior to the cursing. Although I have recently befriended an abandoned dog called Orejas – with whom I can practice my Spanish without fear of ridicule – I have not got rabies in spite of what the aforementioned behaviour might indicate. After that, I was back to a familiar theme and once again dreamt about my teeth. Unusually, they didn’t fall out in this one but a dentist equipped with one of those meat slicing machines supermarkets use on gammon joints did take off my top lip. He then reattached it, slightly higher than before, so as to give me a Bugs Bunny like smile. Willem Dafoe made an appearance in my next dream and by all accounts, made a great deal of money stealing one of my business ideas by successfully pitching it on the Dragon’s Den, the bastard. If only I knew what that business idea was – maybe then I wouldn’t feel compelled to write this crap down.

On my recent trip to Panama, I unfortunately chipped a tooth and am therefore in need of a filling. The second dream did, therefore, have a purpose – it reminded me that I needed to pay a dentist a visit. Whilst I was impressed with the prices at “Multident” (fiver for a consultation and then same again for an X-ray), I was suitably more impressed by the cut of the dentist’s jib. After the standard small talk about the Premier League which almost always follows me revealing that I am English, he moved on to politics – my next favourite subject. Unaware that Blair had been replaced by Cameron, he attempted to redeem himself with talk of Thatcher. Redeem himself he did and spectacularly. With no hint of camaraderie or loyalty to his South American neighbours, he informed me that he thought Thatcher was a good prime minister, but not for the Argentinians, before bursting into a fit of laughter. Most people I have spoken to here politely question Britain’s claim to the Falkland’s so to hear something like this was quite frankly, brilliant.

“Thatcher – buena presidente pero no para los Argentinos”

I am now seriously considering giving the man some more business and entrusting him with the removal and replacement of my silver fillings. Why the British Dental Association still think it is acceptable to put mercury into people’s mouths is beyond me. Break a CFL light bulb containing mercury and you need to embark upon a laborious clean-up process after evacuating the house for a while according to government guidelines. However, it’s fine to stick this crap in your gob for a lifetime – something which an increasing number of respected dentists and toxicology experts throughout the world now refute.

I suppose I should enlighten my burgeoning readership about the trip to Panama given that it was my first excursion out of Peru. To be honest, I went because I needed to leave the country and come back in order to renew my visa and return once again to legal immigrant status. However, I’ve also always wanted to have a look at the Panama Canal, do a bit of tax free shopping in Zona Libre and visit picture-perfect Caribbean islands like San Blas (see below).

san-blas-island3

Except I didn’t get to San Blas. Instead, my “organised” tour had me journey through the Panamanian jungle in a 4×4 for three hours with some typically excitable Americans to wait two more hours for a boat to take me to the island of Coco Blanco. The boat didn’t arrive and nobody seemed to care so I then travelled back through the jungle – this time with some car sick Americans – and back to Panama City where I proceeded to spend my refund money getting hammered while enduring the agony of sunburnt shoulders. During this wonderful trip, which was presumably organised by Frank Spencer and Mr. Bean, I also witnessed some insufferable, arrogant Israelis tell the native Cuna Indians their flag was offensive. I have inserted a picture of this flag below and although I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, I am expecting these dickheads to campaign for the eradication of the backwards swastika from the Hindu and Buddhist religions next.

flag-cuna

The disorganisation I outlined above is actually not confined to the Panamanians. It seems to permeate Peru and apparently, the rest of South America too. As such, it is advisable that if you want to go ahead with the seemingly simple task of purchasing or returning goods in a shop here, you do so only before getting the once over from your doc. Anyone with a dicky ticker or a low patience threshold is liable to keel over/commit an atrocity if faced with some of the obstacles I have faced. I won’t go into detail for if I do, the bottle of Bombay Sapphire I recently procured will be decimated in an instant.

While disorganisation is rampant (unfortunately), so too is national pride (fortunately). Unlike in Britain where it is now a criminal offence to be English and celebrate St. George’s Day, Peruvians rejoice in their heritage. House after house, shop after shop and vehicle after vehicle are all now proudly displaying the Peruvian flag in anticipation of their independence day on July 28th. I salute this annual show of patriotism with an envious eye. Sadly, my compatriots only seem to get excited when an extremely privileged royal family pop out a sprog that will spend its entire life on benefits – much like great swathes of Labour voters.

When I first set up this blog, the aim was to impress a global audience, all of whom would be enchanted by the unrivalled poetic beauty with which I convey my thoughts on life. My inbox was to be jam-packed with emails from editors begging me to contribute to their publications and they’d pay me a king’s ransom to do so. I’d then retire at the age of 30 and fulfil my dream of turning MultiYork (née Oadby Furnishers) into a GTA Vice City-style 80s bar, complete with casino. That life hasn’t turned out like that is a big fat travesty. The fact that I can rarely be bothered to write anything and when I do, it’s of absolutely no interest to anyone is if no statistical significance whatsoever.

The above is, of course, bollocks. However, I wanted to write it as many a time, I’ve been asked what it is that I do for a living. The opening paragraph is a perfectly succinct microcosmic example. I’m a gobshite and this gobshite hasn’t updated his blog in a while as he’s been busy being a professional gobshite in order to earn the requisite cash that will keep him away from the UK for a little longer. To return to the land of his birth at this stage would be tantamount to suicide – he cannot jeapordise his recovery from a working-in-Wellingborough-for-four-years induced breakdown just yet.

Back to writing in the first person.

I will return, one day. Maybe in 2015. That’s because in 2015, we are due to have a general election and countries magically improve the day after general elections. Or that’s what people seem to believe as they alternate their vote between two parties with a history of failure and the exact same policies, time after time. That’s right, it makes perfect sense to vote for the Tories once you’re tired of Labour rule and then switch back to Labour again when you’re sick of the Tories. If you repeat this trick ad infinitum, you can convince yourself that you live in a democracy, feel better that your country invades other countries to install similar “democracies” and gleefully denounce anyone who thinks otherwise as a fruitcake. Speaking of “fruitcakes”, I’m very pleased that UKIP has so spectacularly managed to upset the status quo with its staggering success in this week’s council elections. However, I’m sure the LibLabCon cabal will continue wreaking destruction upon my homeland making the prospect of a return less appetising than a ones-up with Diane “I’m not racist” Abbott.

Other than losing more hair and getting agitated with the brainwashed robot radicals that are a cancer on the UK, what have I been up to? In a nutshell, I’ve been enjoying life. I’m of the opinion that you’re a long time dead and while money is of course, an unavoidable necessity, human beings were simply not put on this planet to carry out a lifetime of drudgery (work). So while I have been working, I’ve been doing it as and when I want, and on my terms. Not between the hours of 9 and 5 on weekdays as so many are forced to. Instead, I’ve been bettering myself. I’m getting physically fit for the first time in years, I’ve resurrected my once semi-successful tennis “career” and I’m learning a new language – Spanish. Fair enough, the latter is proving difficult and I’m largely incapable of coherent conversation, but I’m persevering. I just cannot get my head round the need to assign genders to inanimate objects. La mesa? El sofá? What if something new is invented? Who decides whether it’s male or female and what criteria do they use? Maybe if the Spanish weren’t so busy faffing round with the dictionary, they’d never have had to cede Gibraltar to us Brits!

While I have been expanding my cultural horizons, I have not forgotten the things that make Britain great either – stupendous tea and incredible beer. Thanks to my dad’s generosity, a shipment of the finest organic tea arrived last week. If there’s ever a slight crisis, out come the teabags. Similarly, each day now begins with a good cup of tea, as it should. For St. George’s Day, I managed to procure four bottles of Abbot Ale and two dimpled pint glasses. It was a truly fantastic moment to enjoy “warm beer” once again (I’ve explained that it’s not warm, many a time, but it’s rarely understood). Maybe that’s because I explain in English, like every arrogant Englishman should. And if I’m still not understood I talk a bit louder before smashing the place up, safe in the knowledge that I tried my best.

One thing that did amuse me the other day was a chance encounter with some Germans. There I was, making my way to admire the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from a beautiful cliff top vantage point in Larcomar, when not one, but two distressed Germans accosted me. This is pretty much a summary of our exchange:

Heavily-perspiring German: “Habla Español?”

Me: “No”

Heavily-perspiring German: “Do you speak English?”

Me: “Yes”

Heavily-perspiring German: “Thank you, thank you. Where are you from?”

Me: “England”

Heavily-perspiring German: “Nice to meet you. I’m from Germany. I hope you’re not offended by what I am about to say but I need some help. Earlier today, my backpack was stolen and I lost all my documents. My passport, money, EVERYTHING. I have been to my embassy and they have managed to get me a hotel room for the night, for free, but they’re not like your embassy. They won’t give me any financial assistance. Once again, I’m sorry to have to ask you this, but would you be able to give me some money so I can get something to eat? I haven’t eaten for over 24 hours and I’m so tired. I can give you my details so that I can repay you as soon as I can”.

Me: “I’m really sorry, but I only have enough money for my taxi home and I don’t have my cash card with me. Best of luck though”.

Seconds later, another German approached.

German #2: “Do you speak English?”

Me: “No”.

As a man who talks bollocks for a living, I found this story to be highly dubious. Firstly, I’m sure German embassies don’t abandon their citizens like that. Secondly, it might have been more convincing if both weren’t wearing brand new t-shirts emblazoned with “Atlantic City Casino” in the middle of the gambling part of town. It would seem that, given the extreme panic emanating from every pore, one of them had stuck the lot on red, while the roulette ball agonisingly settled on black. Strangely, in my three months away, I’ve encountered numerous inefficient Germans. Is it Merkel’s policy to deport the inefficient minority these days? I hope so. I also hope that they replace “Deutschlandlied” with Nena’s “99 Luftballons” as their national anthem.

Tienes Una Pluma?

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table in my humble La Molina abode – a tranquil, affluent and very pretty suburb in the mountains surrounding Lima. In front of me is a bottle of Inca Kola, a strangely addictive Peruvian soft drink that tastes a little bit like bubblegum and in my ears are a pair of “Izuum” headphones I purchased for a bargain s/ 9.99 (£2.50). At this precise moment, I am listening to the UB40 classic “there’s a rat in mi kitchen”. While I’ve never actually heard of an electronics brand called Izuum, I’ve also never understood why people will happily shell out hundreds upon hundreds of pounds for a pair of earphones. To me, they’re all much of a muchness and the dulcet tones of Ali Campbell’s voice sound better than ever on my shiny white Izuums. Sadly, I didn’t manage to catch today’s “Hora De Los Beatles” (Beatles hour) on Radio Mágica – a station that puts the likes of Radio 1 to shame due to an admirable policy of not playing any modern day shite.

Now that you have a picture of my surroundings, you should know that there’s not actually a rat in my kitchen. However, there was a scorpion in the bog the other day. Luckily I wasn’t on the throne at the time as if I had been, there would have been no time to pull up my kecks when fleeing the bathroom and everyone in this house would have been subjected to me screaming while my meat and two veg performed a (mini) Linford Christie impression. Just like that episode of Lady Chatterley’s Lover where perennial soft porn actor, Sean Bean, eagerly pursues young Constance through a heavily-wooded thicket (no pun intended).

Strangely, given that recent blogs have tended to focus on the frequency of my bowel movements, there exists a small number of readers who’ve requested that I provide an update of my travels. Although like Gilbert Grape’s mother, I’ve not moved around too much of late, the paragraphs that follow are dedicated to all two of you – I just hope there’s enough content to raise a smile and bring you unquantifiable joy on what I hear is another cold, snowy day back in the motherland.

Today, I had to do some work. While being able to wear shorts, flip-flops and not having to leave the house was nice, “trabajar” came as a shock to the system after three months of being a vagabond. Sadly, finances dictate that I must write a report or two to continue my foreign existence and unfortunately, I can’t claim that I am fleeing persecution in the UK to obtain an extended leave of absence here in Peru. A quick glance at my tax and national contributions over the years and the fact that I am entitled to sod all of off the government (unlike vast swathes of society) would suggest otherwise though. Daniel Price, if you’re reading, can you ensure that when you inevitably reach Number 10, those who work for a living aren’t penalised, while those who can’t be bothered, aren’t able to live the life of riley at the expense of others? Anyway, as I was working, I needed a pen to write something down which meant that I had to do something that I have been desperately trying to avoid – speak Spanish. As Pedro, my Spanish teacher in the UK, only taught me how to obtain camping equipment (wrongly), this always proves difficult. I knew the word for “do you have” (tienes) but crucially, had no idea what a pen was in Spanish. Google told me it was “pluma”, so I coyly uttered the words “tienes una pluma”. Although I did obtain not one, but two pens, I have since discovered that pluma means quill which explains why I was laughed at.

Here’s a picture of me writing my blog:

250px-Quill_(PSF)

Once upon a time, I used to complain about public transportation in Leicester and the uncanny ability of Arriva to charge a small fortune for the privilege of travelling on buses that are never on time. Not anymore. Despite that fact that buses are generally on time in Lima, they are anything but pleasant. In fact, I would much rather pay £3 for a two mile journey from Oadby, land of the drongo, into the idyllic centre of Leicester while being subjected to musical masterpieces like Flo Rida’s hit, “Low”, being played out loud on phones belonging to Burberry-clad cretins. Let me correct myself. There are, in fact, no buses in Lima. Instead, hundreds upon hundreds of minivans built in 1982 zoom around town masquerading as buses while conductors repeatedly and aggressively throw open sliding doors to yell incomprehensible bollocks at would-be passengers. Inside, an average of 14,657 Peruvian sardines contort themselves into a space that would normally be an uncomfortable fit for Warwick Davis. If you’re lucky, you might get to travel on a bus where you can embark and disembark without your nostrils coming into contact with Jose’s armpit, or Conchita’s sweat-drenched bosom. Sometimes, you’ll be able to park your backside on a tiny seat invisible even to electron microscopes that is not bolted to anything secure so that when said minivan drives over a pothole every 0.1275 seconds, you are flung into the personal space of an effeminate hairdresser called Ricardo.

Speaking of disgusting noises (Flo Rida et al), the other day, I awoke to the sound of a neighbour coughing up his guts so loudly that every living creature in a 15 mile radius was shaken from its slumber. Prior to that, my alarm clock was a group of dogs that often decide to bark for no apparent reason at around 6am and another inconsiderate prick who thinks that closing his garage door needs to register a sound 160 decibels more than when Concorde last took off. Noise is a constant irritant here – even the ice cream man (who amusingly has a bike, not a van) possesses what can only be described as a kind of bugle. Drivers honk their horns with alarming regularity and seem to believe that by doing so, the immovable traffic jam will, somehow, miraculously vanish opening up mile after mile of uninterrupted roadway.

Something else that irks me is South American football. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the unparalleled skill, poise and grace the average Latino seems to possess more than the next man. What I don’t appreciate is cheating in football. England might be pretty terrible proponents of the beautiful game these days, but I’m proud that few of our players take to rolling around in mock agony at the slightest of touches. Here, it is commonplace and considered to be an integral part of the game. Just the other day, I watched bitter rivals, Alianza Lima and Universitario, contest “el clásico”. It was anything but a classic as evidenced by a final tally of four red cards and about twenty yellows – none of which were the result of foul play. On one occasion, a Universitario player was tapped on the shoulder and decided that the appropriate reaction was to scream, clutch his face and drop to the floor as if he had been shot by a sniper on the roof. The guy who committed this monstrous act was promptly sent to the stands by a woefully inept referee. To get an idea of the extent that players cheat here, watch the video below. Still, the recent world cup qualifier between Peru and Chile was highly-enjoyable and refreshingly bereft of play-acting.

As I bring this entry to a close I am left wondering why someone can’t employ me to write bullshit. Writing about sport would be nice also. So, if by some strange stroke of misfortune, you’re an editor of a sports magazine/website who has stumbled upon my blog, would you like to take a chance on me? Like John Motson, I bring my own unique and affable style to football commentary. However, instead of wearing a sheepskin coat, I sport a white Panama hat/suit combo, monocle and pocket watch while pointing to things with my cane when reporting on Leicester City’s inability to win games every time I leave the country. Also, if anyone wants to send me some tea bags, HP Sauce or Branston Pickle, I will attempt to break the world record for ruining as many photos as possible by appearing naked in shots of people adopting cringeworthy “look at me I’m a twat” poses in front of Machu Picchu.

PS, I’m actually having a very good time and have no intention of returning any time soon. It just so happens that I don’t want to rub in how good the weather is here, how it is frowned upon for men to do the washing up and how it only costs me £2.50 to have my ever-thinning thatch washed and coiffured.

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.

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.

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.