Thursday, January 12, 2012

About trust, new ventures, the end of the world – stuff like that

Hello from Peru. Again. I can’t believe I’ve been here since August 2009 and that’s more or less how long I’ve been sharing my life with you via this blog. And this is 2012. Supposedly a very important year for us all. For those of you who are into numerology or simply enjoy numbers and coincidences, I am beginning to write my new post on 11.12.2012 at 11.12. Honest, guv. Just have to trust me.

Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about a lot just recently. You see, in Europe – and more so in the United States of A – we have become accustomed to not only having rules and regulations but, on the whole, following them. This hasn’t been achieved because we are such wonderful and civilized people, but because of the stick and the carrot. Mostly the stick, though, in the form of fines, driving license points and other measures. We all know how it happened. ‘Clunk-click, every trip’ and, ok, so those TV ads (still familiar to most of people in the UK of my age and somewhat younger) did their bit, but what really did it was a policeman with a big ticket book. Oh, yes, and then that ticket was followed up. You couldn’t just pocket it and forget about it. Someone would soon give you shit. And, so, bit by bit new habits formed, mostly thought up by people who wanted to look good, but also by some honestly concerned for the welfare of humanity.

In Peru – and I gather it’s the same everywhere in Latin America – we have apparently (I am learning!) a lot of rules and regulations, but nobody really gives a damn. You can even buy your driving license. No big deal. Out there, on the roads, it’s Darwin’s law. Survival of the fittest. That’s why I decided I’d not drive in Lima. No way. Which also means that my driving license per se has expired in every other country because they wanted me to take a medical every year from 70 onwards and I just wasn’t in Spain, for example, at the right time to do this. But this is a completely different subject matter and deserves a chapter all to itself. Do you remember how much you looked forward to finally having your license and driving a car? And do you remember the sense of freedom when you finally did? And your absolute certainty that you were immortal? Well, imagine how it must feel to be back to your own two feet after having had this extension called a car for over 50 years. Strange one, that.
Anyway, what I was going to talk about was trust. So… yes, Lima’s jungle. Here everyone does more or less what they can get away with. Scary. I am now taking taxis – almost exclusively. They are the public transport in Lima unless you want to squeeze into a combi or a microbus. I’ll see whether I can take some pictures of them. We have a car, the doctor drives exceedingly well (swearing under his breath however well brung-up he is) but it’s his, really. For me it’s too posh, too shiny and too big. If I were to drive here ever, I’d need a Hummer with a machine gun strapped to the top deck and I’d probably die either of stress or of fury (I am into justice, you see, and thinking of the other traffic participants). So, every day, I (here we go) TRUST any odd driver with my life. I trust that the car won’t fall apart under me. I trust that he’s one of the survivors, I trust he won’t suddenly be obsessed by strange urges as in ‘road rage’, trust that he doesn’t drive me somewhere lonely and tries to steal my bag, my credit cards and perhaps my virtue, and so on. 

The other day – in a taxi – I idly began to think about the whole issue of trust and that, in fact, we live by it every day. We trust that the pilot isn’t drunk; that the maintenance crew have been paid well and have checked out the plane to their satisfaction; that the online bookshop or e-Bay or whoever will actually go through with a transaction for which we have paid already and not take more money out of our credit card than the cost of the transaction; we trust the doctor who is about to cut us; we trust our elected ‘servants’ that they don’t screw up too much (since they are only administrators of a system that’s run by the big guys); and that nobody put poison in the yogurt in protest against the fact that it’s no longer made from milk. The list is daily, hourly, endless.

The whole deal is rather precarious, if you think about it. It only works as long as (almost) everyone is playing by the written and unwritten rules. When we stop running through the well-designed maze, lifting our heads and sniff the air ‘outside’ we may get tempted to put spanners in various works. Scary.

It could all be scary, really, except for the fact that we can’t even imagine it. We’ve been in it too long. And from time to time we take another route in the maze and call it an ‘adventure’ or a ‘new venture’. That’s what the doctor and I are doing right now. If all goes well we may soon (well…) be rainforest dwellers and rancheros. We had a dream when we came to Peru, and there are indications that it will now become a reality. The land we are buying is at 700 m above sea level not quite the hot, dense, sweaty jungle area where swarms of  giant mossies ambush you, and the alligators can’t wait to nibble your foot. It’s called la ceja de la selva (the eybrow of the jungle) and is a little kínder at that height. Our place  is by a huge lake. The doctor is going to learn about reforesting and ranching and… it’s really very exciting and yet another new beginning. I have absolutely no time to get old or do other silly stuff like that. So, thoughts can become things. We had a dream.

Ever since those Mayan calendars became common knowledge (some of us knew about them for many, many years) they, whoever ‘they’ are, found a new way to keep us happily scared. Once upon a time it was between either the Catholics or the Protestants, then it usually was ‘the Hun’. Then the Cold War came to the rescue. Oh, those bad Communists who would eat us all alive and send us to the Gulags. When the Soviet Union fell apart – as it had to – wow, we had 9/11 and what a tragedy it was indeed, but now we could start with the War on Terror. One terrorist behind every door and they all have all bombs strapped to themselves. TV made sure we all believed, and we gave up
even more power to the ‘authorities’ to keep us detained without a warrant, kill us with robot planes, undress us going through airport scanners, enter our e-mails and cell phones… and in order to be safe, we stay in the maze, don’t even look. Now, with the Mayan so-called prophecy all over the place, Hollywood had (and still has) a field day. The end of the world on the big and the ever bigger small screen is now a daily occurrence. Be afraid, be very afraid. Remember the snake in 'The Jungle Book'? ‘Trusssst me…’

I just don’t buy it. I’ve been an awkward kid, a rebellious teenager, an odd-ball woman and now I am an old woman who just won’t do what she’s supposed to. You know something? If thoughts become things, the power of our collective consciousness (the collective unconscious transformed) is awesome (and this time I use the word ‘awesome’ deliberately). Just read your Jung. Carl Gustav. That one.  Oh, yes, also take a peek at 'Crowds and Power' by Elias Canetti. And if our collective consciousness is added to by so many young people (all over the world) who ‘are sick to death of it all and won’t take it any more’ (remember the film?) they will make a huge difference to the maze. It looks to me as though new generations everywhere are stretching their necks to look over the walls of the maze and are beginning to get the whole shebang to tilt a bit... a bit more… and suddenly we’ll have a critical mass. They are not afraid. They are fed up. 

Then there’s the other amazing thing (not growing on my dung heap this wisdom, but investigated by people much cleverer than I am) that virtually all prophecies have two outcomes – a positive and a negative one. That’s why the doubters always say, the whole prophecy stuff is obviously nonsense. But, now here’s the twist: if we are making our own past present and future, and there is a considerable shift in the general consciousness, we are actually pulling ourselves out of the bog by our own hair - just as foreseen and just as one Freiherr von Münchhausen (the lying baron), written by Gottfried August Bürger, once did (or so he would have us believe). Makes sense? The film based on the book was directed by Terry Gilliam, ex Monty Python. Of course.
I leave you shaking your heads and sighing, perhaps smiling about my silliness. But I would love to see ‘The End of the World according to Monty Python.  Here are a couple of quotes from the film: 

  • Reality? Your ‘reality’, Sir, is lies and balderdash, and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
  • And that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death, an experience which I never hesitate strongly to recommend.
  • Trust me, Madam. Your underwear is in good hands.

I nearly forgot, I owe you a recipe. Let’s make it something for the cold:


CHUPE VERDE: a really terrific winter soup         

2 lb (1 k) yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in ½ in (1 cm) slices*
2 lb (1 k) white potatoes, peeled and cut in ½ in (1 cm) slices

1 cup corn kernels
1 cup fava beans (optional)
½ cup green onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ají amarillo fresco / fresh yellow ají, seeded and deveined
1 cup fresh farmers cheese (feta, ricotta)
1 cube chicken bouillon
8 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons of: black mint, orégano, parsley, mint
½ cup fresh farmers cheese (feta – ricotta) chopped
1 ají mirasol / sundried yellow aji (chili) , roasted in a skillet and finely

Place 8 cups water, potatoes, corn, fava beans, green onion, garlic, ají, bouillon, and crumbled cheese. Bring water to a boil. Cook until yellow potato falls apart and white potato is cooked. Lower heat. Drop eggs one by one, carefully, and allow them to cook. Optional: Replace 8 eggs for 3 slightly beaten eggs and pour them slowly to boiling soup. Add herbs and milk.

Serve hot. Serve with chopped cheese and chopped sundried yellow aji.

*I am sure you can make it without yellow potatoes, but they do ‘behave’ and taste different to the white ones. There are enough Peruvians everywhere now for Peruvian shops to have sprung up. Try them.

The pix today are taken by the doctor himself when he did a recce of our new 102 hectares of rainforest in the middle of Peru:

This is a salt mine (pink salt?)

This is the view I want from my studio window (once the house has been built!)


  1. I enjoyed your blog. Your exploration on 'trust' echoed one of the most lucid approached to living a full life I've read in a book by David K. Reynolds called Thirsty Swimming in the Lake.

    The photos are beautiful and intriguing. And wow, you are living a huge adventure. Be well.

  2. Rose, what a view that will be!