Sunday, December 26, 2010

Musings and more musing, about a new way of looking at the world and us (not) being wiped off the galactic map, short hols in the north, and Peru news...

Alright then, that’s another Christmas done and dusted. My second one in my new home. Sigh... where did these years go? And, more important, what did I do with them? I am beginning to realise that I don’t always have to ‘do’ something, that I can actually sit back and just enjoy the ride. It must have been my German upbringing which makes me feel guilty when I am not usefully employed, and I don’t mean employed as in ‘employed by someone else to do something useful’, but to put my mind and my hands to good use.

Can you believe that after all these years(!) I still feel as though I ought to apologise (to whom?) for sitting down and reading during the day when instead (as my mother used to intone) I ‘should make myself useful’? Worse still is sitting down and doing nothing at all except a little meditating on fings... Which brings me to something I recently wrote in a different context:

Today I remember emotions and judgments from yesteryear, seen from my 'lofty' position of over 70, and I often wonderingly revisit books, paintings, poems, attitudes, certainties and understand that much of what I dismissed or valued then was totally entwined with the context of the time and my life within it, its tastes, frivolities and fashions. 

It often had as much to do with how I wanted to present myself to the world as with the fact that we mould our whole being to the expectation of our context, or most of us would crack (or be cracked). As in the famous tree which bends with the wind will survive whereas the rigid one will most certainly break.

I do not consider this to be dishonest, neither do I believe that my values of various stations in my life were worth 'more' or 'less', it's simply that we move within the vortex and adjust to its dynamics. I am no longer certain of anything much, having understood that rigid adherence to who I thought I may have been only a moment ago will leave me closed to the exhilarating experience of NOW, and 'all that which sails in her'.

Despite confessing to ‘often moulding myself in the image of current thought and fashion’,  I have never been very good at accepting things at face value, have always painfully questioned everything, especially religion and the arts - even physics, of which I officially understand very little, opposing prevailing opinion often with MY certainties - when I was still at an age of certainties. I seem to have arrived at a point in my life where I can see that everything is in flux and I can more easily contemplate the expression of our lives from various angles with the logical results of a shift in perception.

Talking about which – the shift in perception – I was delighted and very excited by a gift of immense value (to me, potentially to all of us) given to me by my friend Sonsoles who made me aware of a new star on the physics heaven: Nassim Haramein.

If you are not familiar with his name, this is a short para of what is said about him:

“ If you are not yet familiar with Nassim Haramein's exciting work, prepare yourself for an exhilarating odyssey into hyperspace and beyond. Haramein, who has spent his lifetime researching fields of physics from quantum theory to relativistic equations and cosmology, will lead you along a fascinating discussion geared to a layman's understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe and creation that includes black holes, gravitational forces, dimensions, and the very structure of space itself - all of which are integral parts of his now complete Unified Field Theory. Haramein's theory is currently in the peer review process for publication in physics journals…”

Sonsoles sent me two links, the two parts of his presentation at the Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library a few years back of four hours each:

Now that’s an awful lot to digest and many of you won’t have time for it. If you look on Youtube for Nassim Haramein, you’ll find parts of this presentation – taken out of context but still valid pieces of information about a new slant on things.

Here is another quote:

“From these calculations, a new paper has recently been released entitled Scale Unification – A Universal Scaling law For Organized Matter which describes our universe as embedded white hole / black hole or white / black “whole” structures from universal size to atomic and subatomic scales.

Instead of seeing ourselves as separate from everything around us, this view allows us to recognize that we are embedded in a fractal feedback dynamic that intrinsically connects all things via the medium of a vacuum structure of infinite potential. This research has far-reaching implications in a variety of fields including theoretical and applied physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology, archaeology, anthropology, etc. A fundamental understanding of the dynamics of this interconnectivity redefines the lens through which we see the universe and our place in it, and leads to theoretical and technological advancements that move us towards a sustainable future. This new approach to the physics of universal forces has the potential to solve the most pressing issues of our times.”

If those two quotes make you at all curious, I recommend to set aside the hours somehow and follow Nassim Haramein as he takes us through the paces.
One of the most shocking parts of those eight hours is his assertion (with proof thrown in), that we are only still here because a good old miracle happened or our planet would have been mince meat, or toast, as Haramein puts it. Most of us who are interested in this kind of stuff knew that a planet or meteor, called Nibiru, was on its way to make us disappear very suddenly. A prediction from thousands of years ago, Nibiru was due about now. A comet, called NEAT by NASA and about twice the size of Jupiter (that’s kind of huuuuuuuuge) was about to hit us a little while ago. Its approach and the subsequent deviation from its path has been caught by NASA’s observation satellite SOHO (at the moment in sun orbit if I understand it correctly) and Haramein contends that NEAT was in fact what the ancients called NIBIRU and we are here but for the grace of a huge solar coronal mass ejection pushing the comet from its original and not quite beautifully planned path. Whatever you think, take a peep. It’s a very different take on matters:

In Lima, we’ve had a very unquiet Christmas Eve. Different cultures, different customs. Last year
I missed it all because we went to my sister-in-law’s house about 100 km to the south of Lima, almost at the end of the known world. We stayed in town this time, and during the evening and most of the night the parties didn’t cease. Coming from a time (and country) that was into quiet Christmas Eves, rather more introspective than spectacular, and having - because of emotional need - tried to continue in this tradition while the kids were small, I admit to having been shocked by the fireworks, noise, drunkenness etc which I associate more with New Year’s Eve, Sylvester Night. Just telling you. I am not complaining. Who am I to complain anyway when for years now I didn’t even celebrate Christmas in any particular way but as an event of good will, love and caring, looking forward to the return of the light. Anyway, I still can’t truly get in the mood while it’s getting hotter and hotter...

My friend Sania came over in November - as I told you she would - and we took off for the north, flying into Tumbes and then by Taxi (driven by much appreciated Kiko, the taxi man) in one-and-a-half hours to Máncora – a surfer’s paradise near the frontier with Ecuador.

The weather (as everywhere) is not quite as expected and even then was uncharacteristically cold. Still, we had a great old time of it. The bungalow was beautiful (even though just a little neglected, we felt), the sea still cold but absolutely hypnotising by day and by night, the pool lovely and fresh, and the walks by the sea an adventure every time because we weren’t quite up on when the tide would be in or out. So a couple of times we were surprised by high tide and I was bravely climbing over sharp, wet rocks while the waves were trying to get me and my shoulder bag with powerful cold lashings. These very same waves drowned Sania’s Blackberry. RIP. We saw fish being fished, sea lions competing with the pelicans (and many other to us un-known birds) for the fish that nobody wanted to take home, we went out on the high sea dolphin and old oil-rig watching, we did a beach ride on horseback and we ate phenomenally well (with a few pisco sours thrown in, of course). And on the last day, lo and behold, from our high-up window overlooking the sea, we saw clearly, no doubt about it, a last-minute whale breaching... the one who forgot the time when all the others took off for the colder splurges down south. Or perhaps that one responded to our deepest desires.

Back in Lima we didn’t have many days left but managed to see a few sights. Barranco, as always, displayed its hidden exquisite shops, its outrageous graffiti and its general bohemian air with aplomb, and we visited a beautiful museum (El Museo Larco) which I had not seen before either and were impressed.

Especially with the many huge bougainvillea and other subtropical wonders standing in pots or winding around bits of the white walls of one of the last large hacienda-style colonial houses. Apparently it was the grandson of the family founder who decided to become an archaeologist and who rescued much of Peru’s heritage for the Peruvians. I asked and they told me that they have 40,000 more artefacts than those on permanent show in backrooms and vaults. Wow!


So, what else is in the news?
Oh, I forgot: have a look at the latest news on sustainable energy. Some exciting stuff in the offing.

As far as Peru goes we are being told the immensely important facts that

  • four million Peruvians are on Facebook (that’s 13% of the total populace as Mike points oout),
  • beer consumption has doubled (but is still below the rest of Latin America) and that
  • Peru's quinoa exports are likely to grow by 30% in 2011 thanks to the North American demand. The US buy - according the  consulting company Maximime - 60% of the country’s exportable offer. In New York, according to ‘my sources’ (in other words friends) quinoa is offered in delis and restaurants at extremely high prices and is praised as a ‘total’ foodstuff. This wonder food is still not very highly regarded in Peru itself, especially in the ‘sophisticated’ Lima and surroundings due to lingering prejudices to be overcome. We eat quinoa approximately once a week and it’s absolutely delicious and totally addictive the way Elena makes it (her family comes from where they grow it). You’ll perhaps ask yourselves ‘Elena’? What happened to Jenny? Well, Jenny wasn’t quite as honest as one would like when one lives with someone in the house and is no longer with us; but Elena is and she is absolutely amazing.
  • They say that the artefacts of Inca and pre-Inca origin nicked (as all those things were nicked all over the world from all over the world) by wicked foreign archaeologists and which ended up at Yale University will be exhibited in Cusco in July of 2011, but nobody talks about returning the stuff. See Elgin Marbles?
  • And last but not least, the Peruvian president Alan García says that the WikiLeaks’ revelations about his ‘colossal ego’ and his (colossal) weight have not offended him. Excellent. So all is well with the world.
I leave you with a little friendly dig and a few pics:

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.

Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should have known... ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

Ha! Smile... until next year. Be well and brace yourselves for a somewhat bumpy ride which however will end well, and we’ll get off it in much improved circumstances. Have faith!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A rant, all about ayahuasca and some personal moments …

My friend Barbara told me this as a joke, but I am beginning to believe that it is a clear indicator of our reality (from the mouths of babes...): A little boy is asked by a big-shot politician during some baby-kissing event what he wants to be when he grows up. He answers with a sweet smile: ‘Corrupt’.

A very personal view on politics in general and Peru in particular
I told you about the fact that Lima held elections for mayor. Mayors in plural rather because each ‘barrio’ got its own. But the big prize was the nucleus of Lima, the übermayor as it were, the one who gets the most attention and whose political career is a free for all to receive praise or attack from the media, depending on the political winds.

Peru is arch conservative. There is great fear of change. Whether the reason for holding on to the status quo is because the treasure chest is not for sharing, or whether it’s the bad memory of Peru’s own Khmer Rouge, the infamous Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path, and the war which erupted in the 80s, or because up to now the ‘Left’ has been of the old-fashioned kind, the one that wants to make everyone walk instead of aspiring to wealth for everyone, I don’t know. Perhaps nobody knows, not even the Peruvians.

I remember a book published end 50s by a Frenchman called Pierre Daninos (about a very British Major W. Marmaduke Thomson - very sharp and very funny), where he draws a comparison between the English (or was it the French? – same story) and the Americans and writes something like: the English guy looks at one in a Rolls (remember, the book came out in 59) and thinks, full of envy, ‘wait you bastard, one day you walk, just as I do’; the Americans look at a guy in a big Cadillac and sighs, full of envy, ‘wait you bastard, one day I have one just like yours’. For me that was always the epitome of my conviction: I want everyone to be well off and bouncy instead of everyone going down into a uniform grey of badly understood equality. There isn’t any political creed or system we have had (or have right now) which can fulfil my vision.

Anyway, back to Lima. So the rather attractive (in looks and personality) left-of-centre candidate wins. That’s almost a miracle because there were great efforts made by those in power to prevent this from happening. Since too many voices shouted ‘fraud’ (well, not many voices, really, but enough) they couldn’t allow themselves to be successful in that endeavour. So now we have a new mayoress with left leanings, probably ‘clean’ (in the corruption department) and the major media are creating an atmosphere of fear before she’s actually sworn in and is acting mayoress. They already ‘know’ what she’s going to do, what not, who she’s going to collude with (to bring the country to its knees of course) etc etc etc. Last night in an important news programme we learned that more shenanigans are in the pipeline. Quite pathetic and sad. I am watching and learning.

It is of course one of Peru’s greatest fears that, with the slightest whiff of instability, foreign investment may dry up. At least that’s the big bad fear paintbrush they are bringing to the defence of the status quo and, as always, nobody’s thinking. Brazil is on the up and up, Chile is the star, and little Lima is going to be the beginning of the end for Peru? Gissussabreak. Perhaps I am being too harsh. Europe’s democracies can survive some storms and have had to in the past. Latin American democracies are only just emerging and some are still on wobbly legs.

What’s cooking
Peru is on its way, whatever my rants. It’s one of THE Latin American economies and a leviathan on the rise. A time of change is a difficult time for everyone. Don’t we know it? Aren’t we all in it and wouldn’t we rather hold on to the status quo sometimes? Peru is also a mystical and beautiful place, and its poorest people are strong and still wait quite patiently for things to trickle down all the way to them. And perhaps it’s not our new mayoress who’s about to make the change, but the change has begun by people listening to her voice and voting for her (even quite a number of the ‘ruling class’ – that’s a huge bundle of hope!). I believe I am privileged to watch a country in transformation (and living it).

One of the locomotives for Peru’s increasing visibility on the international stage and being seen as more than just an exporter of raw materials is Peruvian cuisine. Every country is waking up to its charms, and Peruvian restaurants are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere. ‘We’ are even infiltrating the cordon bleu stronghold: France. Ha! And you have to have tried Peru’s Pisco sour to know what you’re missing. Today the kitchen, tomorrow the world. Peru is rocking.

Ever heard of ayahuasca?
Which brings me to something quite different. Did you ever hear about ayahuasca? It’s not peyote, it’s not magic mushrooms and its effects are apparently quite something else, from opening your eyes to an expanded inner universe to healing drug addiction (first-hand knowledge). Ayahuasca is a ritual hallucinogen from Peru’s Amazon region and has been part of the Peruvian shamanic tradition for as long as the indigenous people can remember. Everyone I know who’s dared, has quite an experience to relate, and most of those experiences seem to have been entirely positive, making changes for the better in many lives.  No, I haven’t, neither has ‘my’ doctor, even though we don’t exclude that one day we’ll do the deed. I am not saying you should – but I thought you may be interested.

If you want to know more follow this link: and read all about it. I also wanted to let you take a look at a few of paintings by ex-shaman-turned-painter whose work is by now known worldwide, Pablo Amaringo. In Amaringo’s colourful world mystical and jungle creatures, heavenly visions, the rich plant life of the Amazon and just about everything else, even aliens, meet and give the observer a glimpse of  the ayahuasca experience, always intended to help with meditation, raising of consciousness and personal growth.

Holy diplomacy
As you all know, news broadcasts are no longer concerned with news, but with things that either make you worried and fearful (like murders, beatings, terrible accidents, kidnappings etc) or scandals of all sorts. Peru is no exception. We just heard that in a parish far from Lima a husband placed a video on Youtube showing his wife and the local priest in full swing. Oh, and the missus is preggers but they don't know whose it is. When the priest apologised to his flock, he didn’t say something like “I’m sorry I have sinned, I’ve been a bad boy” but “This was a trick played by the husband and I apologise for the impact the video may have had on you.” And when they interviewed one of the parishioners we got, “He’s only a man, isn’t he...” Anyway, the whole thing inspired me to write a tongue-in-cheek po-im:

Holy Diplomacy

The husband had
his wife and a cell phone.
The priest had a bed and the wife.
He’d found her stealing
the weekly collection
coin by coin by secret coin.
A bargain was struck and
favours exchanged
quickie by quickie by secret quickie.
He’s only a man.
Holy man.
Teodorina, hired to clean
the church left it muddied and
the muddied priest attended
her well
while Yupanki drew his cell 
and shot the priest and the miussus
‘en el acto’.
The priest spake onto the TV crew:
‘Yupanki has committed a grave sin
trapping his wife in this way,’
and then proceeded to
apologise to his parishioners
for having had to watch
a pornographic video.

Well, it takes all sorts. And we won’t even mention which part of the Bible some priests have so sadly misunderstood: 'Let the little children come unto me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' (Matthew 19:13-14).

My grandchildren are beautiful and growing, and I can’t wait to see them. Blossom will be so big when I can hold her again and Daphne I haven't even met, except via Skype and a few pictues. I am planning to be back in Europe around May. Can’t wait.

Personal not so news in brief
  • I had a friend here from Philly. She is an online travel agent and came for a recce, adding a few days so we could chinwag after not having seen each other for some years. Back home they didn't quite believe that one could just go, fly to Peru and meet up one's friend quite casually at the bar of some restaurant in town. We made the date, we got there (on time) and it was as though we'd seen each other only last week. In fact I think the last time we met up was in London.
  • I am expecting a friend on the morning of Friday, 12 November. For Saturday, 13 November, we have our tickets for Tumbes in the north of Peru, close to the border with Ecuador. Sandy beaches, whales and dolphins (we hope), loads of fresh fish and hot, hot, sizzle. I’ll report after we get back and after she’s left, when I get back to ‘work’.
  • The doctor is doing important and interesting things; he’s very busy and delighted about the way things are working out. We are very, very happy.
  • I've just come back from the dentist and I swear he's the best dentist I've had in my entire life. I'm impressed. He's an artist if ever there was one, sense of humour, speaks English, doesn't torture, the result is brilliant and he's got a sub-tropical little garden with a calming fountain to watch while he is doing the construction work. I try and attach a picture of the garden, but it's a bit LSD-ish, thanks to bad exposure and some nifty computer technology.
  • Spring is not coming any longer, it’s here, and my collection of Pacific sunsets is growing. Sitting on the terrace with a nice cold beer (opportunity for a little word play: an ice-cold beer) and contemplating the ocean, the birds, the fishing boats and the setting sun is an unrivalled non activity. Who would have thought... 
  •  I am walking a lot around my area, Miraflores – which is huge. Lima is huge. So there is no way I could discover all of Lima on foot, just explore each area one by one (I sprinkle in some more pics taken during my walks). Haven’t been on one of the Lima Walks yet, somehow every one of my Saturdays or Sundays took off in a different direction. I’ll make it one of these days. But I am becoming quite a ‘Limeña’ in the immediate neighbourhoods and know my taxi prices. A bit like in Bangkok, we bargain the price beforehand. It’s not a bad system. In Madrid, where they have meters, if they suspect you don’t know the city they drive you a few times around the block...

This time I leave you with a few jokes pulling ze legs of ze Europeans:

  • The captain of a sinking ship wondered how he could persuade his European passengers to jump in the water. He decided to appeal to the dominant instincts in each of the nationalities. He told the English it would be unsporting not to jump, the French that it would be the smart thing to do, the Germans that it was an order, and the Italians that jumping overboard was utterly prohibited.
  • A German 12-year old has never spoken a word in his life. Over dinner one evening he turns to his parents and says: “Salz, bitte” (salt, please). His astonished parents ask him why he’d never spoken before. His reply: “Bis heute war alles in Ordnung” (up to now everything was OK).
  • Sir Alec returns to his London club, fresh from his holiday in France. “Did you have a good time?” his friends ask him. “Yes, wonderful!” he says. “Did you have any problems with the language?” - “No,” says Sir Alec, “I didn’t, but the French did.”

Back with more in a couple of months.

Oh, by the way, I am drawing again and I have plans in the fine arts department. Hurrah, life is good. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

About snot, elections, spring and fings

Hello friends, I’ve been a bit brain-dead recently. Was fighting a cold of cosmic proportions and I was (as always) amazed how much snot one relatively small nose can produce. I suppose all that stuff sits in your brain and makes it feel as though every little spark there was has been wrapped in cotton wool and is unable to attend.

About springtime and umbrellas

Almost by stealth spring has come to the southern hemisphere. The Equinox took place around 3.00 am Greenwich meantime in the night of the 22/23 September, and I was up and about at around 21.00 Lima time receiving it thoughtfully while munching on a sandwich and enjoying a nice cool Peruvian beer (they have some very, very good beers here, I promise). Even though that first spring day came in from the cold, the weather is keeping what the word ‘spring’ promises, and we’ve had some rather beautiful days with me here writing away at my desk being offered some spectacular views. (No, I won’t resist the impulse; I shall post a couple of the photos I took only about three days ago.)
In Lima, as you probably know, it never rains, and nobody owns umbrellas. What the natives call ‘rain’ is simply a cloud sitting on the ground and slowly spitting out its contents in all directions through the tiniest holes. One would look silly in Lima with an umbrella, but even if you didn’t care about that it would do you no good. That wet stuff comes at you from all sides. Did you ever encounter a cooling mist spray, delivered by ventilators? They have those in tropical and subtropical climes for terraces of restaurants and gardens... A bit like that.

Oh, that cloud with the little holes made me remember a po-im by Spike Milligan we used to like when we were young (!). I quote from memory so don’t get back to me telling me I got it wrong – I probably did. Here goes:

There are holes in the sky
Where the rain comes in
They’re ever so small
That’s why rain is thin

Saved by the (Marmite) bell
Just to lower the tension you must all have felt during the last few months: I have received a 500 g jar of Marmite. It was brought back to me from Spain by the good doctor. He didn’t get in touch with anyone because he was working like a mule AND he wasn’t in Madrid for the greater part of his short trip. He was mostly in Almería and Algeciras and if he wasn’t teaching or in meetings he was doing his magic, and if he wasn’t doing any of that he was dying in sweltering Madrid… it was August after all and most people had escaped the brutal heat anyway. Speaking of Marmite, my dear friend Loretta in the UK, after reading my last lament, sent me a jar which of course never arrived. I would have loved to see the face of the Marmite thief when he/she stuck his/her finger into its dark and sticky content and licked it. I figure that was punishment enough.

More on granny-dom
My guest bed will be occupied in October, November, January and probably February so far.
Not all of the time, of course, there are fixed dates. But it’s wonderful to see friends and family here in Lima. Talking about ‘family’ – you all know that I am the proud and loving granny of my daughter’s beautiful and good-natured daughter who now has a name: she’s called Blossom Belle. On 30 July they made it a double whammy: my son’s partner Saskia gave birth to Daphne, dark where Blossom’s blonde, and with a very naughty smile. Can’t wait to meet her. I am planning to travel in May 2011, again via Madrid, of course.

Lima Walks
A very clever Dutchman has started an activity called ‘Lima Walks’ and instead of telling you more about that I thought that the link to his website would be the easiest for anyone who is interested to know more about it AND the city. For the curious:

I remember that we had a load of those in London. They were usually themed. There was the walk following in the unlikely steps of Jack-the-Ripper and co., or night walks taking in all the haunted houses, parks, murky spaces in general and recalling what had spooked whom where; then there was one of my favourites: the ‘famous pubs’ crawl. No, not the 'famous' pub crawl. Visiting famous pubs. Well, we started to walk and crawled towards the end...

I love walking and I am discovering my neighbourhood on foot. It’s keeping me fit as well as allowing me to begin to come to grips with the geography of the place. Which reminds me: I have to call a neighbour. She lives in the building next to mine, and we met because she saw me studying my internet page with ‘our’ bit of Miraflores on it and wondered whether she could help. We chatted and discovered not only that we were neighbours, about the same age, but that we both love to walk. She is Polish and once upon a time married a Peruvian. The Peruvian is no longer around but she is and we promised to call each other and arrange to walk together. Ok. Shall do that next.

Feverish activities leading up to the election of Mayor of Lima
Lima is in the throes of the election of its next mayor. It’s an absolutely amazing spectacle and keeps me entertained. It started out relatively unspectacularly but the tone changed as did the intensity of the race as we’re coming ever closer to THE date (3 October). Some candidates have fallen by the wayside by now, some for lack of interest and one was kicked out because he didn’t really live in Lima! As far as I understand matters so far you have to live in a town at least for two years before you can become its mayor. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But apart from that little mishap, he did something very Latin American (I don’t think something like that is particularly Peruvian): amongst other successful schemes of siphoning off a little extra, he apparently had a road built that (at least then) never quite materialised, but he built toll booths which earned him around 14 million Peruvian Soles, all of which apparently have more or less disappeared. So now there are two ladies still slogging it out. Both are intelligent and would probably administer the city well. One is conservative and the other what we would probably call ‘socialist’. Here she’s representing ‘THE LEFT’ and may well win, which pisses a lot of people off something royal. So they’ve started dirty tricks campaigns against her and certain TV personalities (call them journalists) take sides and sling more mud.

In the streets a forest of election posters is shooting up. Every morning there’s another one, and the little bits of green we have are dug out indiscriminately to shove in the posts. You literally cannot see the wood for the trees; and not only that, but they tell you absolutely nothing. Nobody says “I’ll steel you blind” or “I’ll build schools” or “I’ll get rid of all those stinky old cars” – not likely. They just say, “Vote for me” and show their very best photoshopped white teeth in big smiles with thumbs-up gestures. Clever, no?

I can’t believe that under their expensive suits the European politicians are that much purer at heart and in mind. In any case, it’s fascinating to watch. Still, there is some excess in the Peruvian  criminal mind: just last night we saw a video from a security camera which showed the contracted workers of a company laying copper cables to provide electricity ripping them all out again at the end of the day to sell them somewhere. If that’s not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs...

Apart from that things are terrific. Barbara and I went last weekend to the Lima Flower Show  and she showed me Chinatown where we bought a lot of VUT = Very Useful Things for very little. Next week we’ll go to a market called ‘Polvos Rosados’ – I have no idea why they called it that or what it means – to acquire a stack of the latest films at five Peruvian Soles apiece (about 1.50 Euros). Yes, you guessed it. Not quite legal. In Peruvian that’s called ‘bamba’.

Peru rocks
As I wrote in at least one previous missive, Peru is on the up and up. Before I moved here, about six years ago I did my ‘recce’ and loved the place, of course. Now, over six years later, there is a new optimism, people are working, infrastructure for Lima is on the mayoral agenda and most Limeños have a new spring in their step. Have a look at these pages in the FT
Let’s hope it’s for real. The people here need a bit of a helping hand. They are willing to change.

Talking about infrastructure: they finished the bus on its special lane called ‘El Metrapolitano’. Not everyone is happy about it, and it certainly needs to be revisited in concept and form. But Lima does have its first proper public transport and that’s not where it’s going to stop. In the lives of a lot of commuters it will make a life-changing difference.

The markets are indicatorss as well, they are full of goodies and people. They are busy places and for any 'gringo' exotic l. I leave you with a few pix of the famous market of Surquillo inside and out. Some of the graffiti in Lima are of amazing imagination and quality and I couldn't walk past these without keeping them for electronic eternity. I leave pix of this discovery at the end of the blog.
A bit of luxury in La Rosa Nautica
It’s not the best and probably one of the most expensive restaurants in town, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and the setting is a dream. Barbara and I had a day without our men and decided to have a wonderful day all on our own. We even met a little monkey on the way in.

Newsie bits:

  • I have been to a wedding and a baptism, to the cinema and the circus (and, of course, the Flower Show). So I am beginning to be as ‘Limeña’ as any other. The circus, Landó, I was told does not just do what any circus does, they pick up problem kids with talent, offer them schooling and discipline and a profession that gives them selfrespect and keeps them off the street.
  • I am a bit more comfortable now with my second novel, had a problem getting my head around the ‘sequel’, but by now I have finished more than the first third and have given it a first edit. I know where everyone’s going and what they want to do. The characters have come to a point where THEY very often are telling ME what they want for the next chapter. Curious process this.
  • I think I promised you a report on my first Lima winter. It’s been f***g freezing. Not outside, that remains perfectly acceptable, but indoors. Nobody has central heating and consequently I have never, ever been as cold as here. I have to add that sitting in front of a computer a few hours per day doesn’t help. As soon as I move around a bit I’m ok. But everyone who comes to your house keeps their coats or jackets on – and you’re beginning to do the same ‘cause it’s just too too cold. This is not going to happen again. The next winter will see me prepared. I am not the suffering type.
  • We are no slouches when it comes to a bit of entertainment. Loads of galleries showing paintings and photography, there is dance (just now a tango group is here) and music – from Bon Jovi to Diana Krall; the Cirque du Soleil is just pulling down the tents, moving on. Don't you agree with me that this Martial Arts poster is particularly macho? Love it!

A couple of nights ago I felt – for the first time since I live here - the earth move. No, nothing to do with the doctor.  And it wasn’t a big, powerful, mind-blowing earthquake (or you would have known about it). Thank you, earth, for keeping it down in size. But even though gentle, it was quite a long-lasting one and rather disconcerting because by the nature of the beast I am a trembling-virgin. Did I just write that?

I think from here on it can only go downhill. So, good-bye for today. I hope to report in with a little more frequency.

To give you an idea how far downhill things can go with my stupid sense of humour (shared by my son), I leave you with a special one which made us both break up:

Why did the crab leave the disco early? Because he pulled a mussel. Boom boom. Till next time.