Archive for February, 2013


Blow by blow

virfinalwhitehelicopter

Piccy, BBC

The Pope leaves the Vatican (piccy of pretty virginal white helicopter)

The Pope washed his hands (probably with white soap)

The Pope farted (hmmm, do Popes fart?)

Who cares?

What does an unemployed Pope do?

I think he should join the dole queue like anyone else. He resigned, he didn’t retire, therefore there should be no popy benefits. It’s not as though he is God or someone semi-important.

The last two days have been cooler, with some heavy rain.

Yesterday, I left home and halfway walking to work it began to rain, then stopped when I arrived, but I was already soaked. Walking home, it started to rain heavily and stopped when I got home, soaked again.

I think God is punishing me just because of my views about the Pope.

It’s not because I am not a Catholic, if the Protestant head got the same treatment, I’d be slinging off about him. I don’t play favourites.

Then we’ll have the play offs for the Pope Finale… to see who gets to destroy the world a little more.

Oh, later, I have to go to work.

I forgot…

Yes, old age is certainly creeping up.

I had meant to add this clip at the end of Sunday’s post.

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I just love the pan pipes from the Andes, makes me homesick for Peru.

And this one, this one could well be the group we listened to at Rumillacta, I can’t gurantee that.

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Sunday Travel Tales

Back to our Peruvian story this week.

Chapter 8 – Colca Canyon

 

Breakfast in the garden, as we had come to expect, bread rolls, strawberry jam and coffee, once again with white cheese and fruit juice, we also had the choice of tea and coca tea liberally served to the tourists as Arequipa was situated at 2,200m a.s.l. and we were fast approaching higher altitudes where people suffered from sorochi, altitude sickness. The group had formed the previous day, most of the same people we had been travelling with. Twelve people in all, after breakfast, bags downstairs and we were ushered into a microbus. Our guide was Freddy, he was young and gay. He was a perfect tour guide, great sense of humour and knowledgeable. He conducted the tour in English and Spanish.

 

Our first stop was a roadside restaurant, where Freddy advised drinking coca tea because we were ascending slowly from Arequipa and would soon be passing a plateau of 4,500m a.s.l. We dunked our coca leaves in the steaming enamel mugs and were joined by a nosy alpaca who had entered the place like he owned it. The amicable beast visited each table in turn looking for friendship in the form of tidbits. Photos were taken as the animal wandered among the tables.

 

avicuña

Herds of vicuña on the high plateau – image: AV

Again, on our way, we passed vast expanses of plateau, herds of guanco and vicuña were pointed out guanaco are a smaller version of alpaca, and the vicuña smaller still and the bearer of the finest wool of any animal, making it very expensive and very sought after, this fact had consequently placed the animal on the endangered species list. The vicuña was now protected, but still subject to poachers.

 

Some of our number began to feel woozy. Headaches and nausea, the first signs of altitude sickness. We all felt the need to gasp for air in this rarified air. The oxygen bottle was assembled and distributed amongst those who needed it, the mood was very quiet in the bus as those who did not suffer could sense the obvious discomfort of those suffering.

 

At last, we came across the sight of Chivay, way down in the green valley, and the bus started its long windy descent. Into Chivay, it appeared a sleepy hollow as we stopped in the main square, surrounded by trees and neat little paths.. We were herded into a small restaurant where we were told we could sample alpaca steak. I did, I wasn’t impressed despite being told it was a local delicacy. The meat was as tough as old boots, so tough as to be unpalatable.

 

acabanaconde

Our hostel in Cabanaconde – image: AV

We didn’t stay in Chivay, but continued along the Colca Valley stopping at a small town for refreshments. We arrived at Cabanaconde, several degrees more primitive than Chivay. Streets were not paved, no power after 8pm, extremely simple lodgings with friendly people. “Mate de coca” was freely available and our sufferers began to feel better now that we were at 3,600m a.s.l. With no light other than candles, we were in bed early.

 

Woken in the morning to a mountain fresh day, a walk before breakfast. Yes, our bread rolls and strawberry jam were waiting with hot steaming mugs of coca tea.

 

acruz

Cruz del Condor – image: AV

Now for the return journey to Chivay. Our first stop was “Cruz del Condor”, a high point above the canyon where the Colca River flowed 1,200 metres below us. Here, if we were lucky, we would see the giant condors flying from their nests in the canyon walls to soar gracefully on the updraughts out of the canyon.

acondor

Condors soared gracefully out of the canyon

We were lucky and the condors did appear as graceful and magnificent as we had been promised. Some groups are not so lucky due to the fickle condors deciding to spend a morning indoors. Several of the great birds soared out of the canyon so they sported themselves above us on massive 3.5m wingspans. Camera action was immediate and frantic.

 

Around the area several women and children dressed in traditional garb sold wares, souvenirs and “tuna” (no, not the fish) tuna is the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The women and girls peeled the fruit in various stages of maturity, green, yellow and red. Each with its unique flavour. The rock hard seeds were hard on the teeth, but the flesh quite tasty.

 

 

The hanging tombs - image: AV

The hanging tombs – image: AV

After the condors we travelled on down the canyon, Inca agricultural planning was shown to us, as were the hanging tombs on a cliff face, long since raided for their textile riches. We stopped at Achoa, a small dairy shop. Here we tried natural yoghurt and local cheeses. The yoghurt was fabulous, quite unlike anything you’d find in a home supermarket and much superior to the taste. The 90 day cheese was quite tangy, seemed like a good idea, so I bought a wheel that weighed about a kilo.

 

Rumillacta (Stone Village) our hotel - image: AV

Rumillacta (Stone Village) our hotel – image: AV

By then it was already after lunch and we continued on into Chivay where we stayed at Rumillacta (Stone Village), a three star hotel. Billeted in stone chalets. Lunch was served and the rest of the day free. Most of us went to sample the local hot pools, hot natural spring water, the smell of sulphur and a luxurious scolding in the pools soothed our travel wary bodies.

 

The evening was taken by a small band who played local music with zamphir of varying size. Complimentary Pisco Sours, dancing and dinner were the finale. The group also sold several CD’s of their music which was hauntingly beautiful.

 

Bed and a cool night under massive covers. The temperature here dropped to below freezing during the night.

 

A walk in the crisp morning air removed all vestiges of sleep as we circled the square and returned for, yes, bread rolls, strawberry jam and “mate de coca.”

 

After breakfast, back into our microbus for the return to Arequipa. I was travelling on by plane to Juliaca, most of the others were going to Cusco by bus or south to Chile. I collected my left luggage from the hotel and taken straight to the airport by the travel agency for my flight to Juliaca.

Life is so sad

feedjitI want a Feedjit on my sidebar. When I was with bastard Blogspot, all my blogs had them. But alas, not my WordPress blogs. I have to have a ‘plugin’ thingy and I haven’t got a ‘plugin’ thingy.

Just look at that colour scheme, it’s perfect for this blog.

I hate the restrictions of WordPress!

But I hate the duplicity of Google even more!

I believe I have to have their ‘upgrade’ @ $99 before I can have plugins. In 19 years on the internet, I have never paid for anything, I refuse to start now.

Oh, life is so sad…

Besides, I am hungry.

Off to make lunch. Chicken cubes fried off in olive oil, stock cube and parsley with a fresh (in that it comes out of a little cardboard box) cream sauce with soy sauce. Takes about ten minutes to make.

three plus hours later…

Well, that didn’t quite go as planned. On my way to the kitchen my olfactory radar detected the wonderful aroma of BBQ. They were having a BBQ at the botequim.

I did what any red-blooded BBQ lover would do. I put on my clean shorts from the line and wandered along. Of course, the time immediately became beer o’clock. Wonderful flexible time frame beer o’clock.

So then it was home for a nap. Woke at 4:30 and was eating chicken in that decadent cream sauce, that I mentioned earlier, by 5pm.

I love Sundays, nothing has to be done anywhen.

I will have a Sunday Tales post up shortly.

Later.

Not Normal‽

interrobang5gv~s800x800Interrobang ‽

Perplexing, I didn’t know that you could use a question mark and an exclamation mark at the same time. Things like this tend to be unsettling, especially for one who considers oneself as a tad beyond the normal when it comes to language usage.

A SHORT HISTORY

As an advocate of precision in communication, the concept of the INTERROBANG was introduced by Martin K. Speckter in 1962 in an article written for TYPEtalks Magazine.*

The INTERROBANG was created to fill a gap in our punctuation system where writers often used typographically cumbersome and unattractive combinations of the question mark and exclamation mark to punctuate rhetorical statements where neither the question nor an exclamation alone exactly served the writer. (HOW ABOUT THAT?!) – Interrobang

I see that for those who don’t have the interrobang on their keyboard, yes, you can stop looking now, you won’t find it! The symbol is most used in the format !? or ?!

Websters says it like this: “a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question”

I must get some practice using my interrobangs, it there, wouldn’t it be rather churlish no to take advantage‽

interrobang1

Today has not yet been particularly productive. I have only posted on three blogs, then I decided I needed some therapy, so I went to the supermarket, shopping is such wonderful therapy; besides the fridge was empty.

One shouldn’t have an empty fridge.

Fridge is now full, I can participate in that strange ritual of eating.

I got home and my students arrived for class. We sat in the shade in the praça (park) and had a conversation class. We discussed humour and humourous expressions and they learned what ‘a cheeky bastard’ was; I teach all-round English; something that many English teachers fail in. Students went and I did the only sensible thing there was to do; I had a nap.

The time is now 4pm and it appears that I have done nothing. I have coffee, I’ve fed Lixo, who has returned to his habitual sleeping activity. Lixo has discovered a new trick, if he bumps my hand when I am dishing out cat food or milk… he gets an extra ration as spillage.

I must seriously consider how I should use the remaining two hours and a bit until my mode changes to couch potato. In that time, I must consider more posts, beer o’clock and the possibility of eating; all not necessarily in that order.

Later.

I love this ad…

Not One of my Brighter Ideas

Occasionally, one does stupid things. They say coffee helps you do them faster. Yesterday was one of those days; and it wasn’t even a Monday.

They’ve got stacks of them

I went to town. I needed new shoes.

As we were passing a computer shop, I yelled “Stop!” The kombi driver nearly pooped himself and the other passengers were so startled looking around for the reason to stop.

I had planned for months to visit this shop, they were selling reconditioned PCs for R$249 with monitor and I wanted to see them. I have plans to buy one for the kids. It’s payback time for my ex… can you just imagine the uproar when you’ve got four PC literate kids and one PC in the house? Think about that. Sometimes my evil side works overtime. I also bought a new CD-ROM and cable that I had needed for sometime.

Any, moving right along. I walked and walked visiting shoe shops along the Calçadão (it’s a pedestrian street of shops), checking them all and only finding expensive ones. I was actually on my way to a shop where I had seen the pair I wanted, but I checked, just in case.

I finally ended up in the last shop. Made my purchase and left the shop wearing my new prizes. It wasn’t all that long before I realised the folly of the idea. You see when I went to put clean socks on, one had a hole; the day old pair had a hole too. So I wore a pair of those stupid little sockettes that I bought by mistake once and didn’t have holes.

The leather of the boots began to rub the back of my leg; at first it was irritating, then annoying, then a little sore, until it was finally unbearably painful. To top it all off it was a stinking hot day. I passed Brazeiro (my fav restaurant) ah, cold refreshing air, seats, BBQ and beer, so I followed my instincts.

I had a wonderful lunch and then a taxi home.

I took my new boots off and inspected the damage. There was a little chaff mark, not a quarter inch round; something that small could be so painful…

Geez, I’m a sook.

The Mind Plays Tricks

Nostalgia Trip!

When I was a kid, I had a favourite pudding.

Three Quarter Hour Pudding

Something happened the other day and took me back years. My mother died two weeks ago, and I suddenly thought, OMG, the world will never see this pudding again. Even though I haven’t had it in well more than 30 years, I suddenly missed it, and Googled it.

My Mum never used a recipe book for this one, as a kid I guessed it was her receipe, even though we never discussed the origin.

treacleYes, on Google, there it was…

On the Chelsea sugar company site.

I can’t find an image that looked like Mum’s. But I remember that she served it at the table in the steaming bowl and dolloped it out onto our plates with a spoonful of Golden Syrup. My father preferred Treacle, and I followed in that preference; they say like father, like son.

This was also posted on Things that Fizz & Stuff today, but it’s a part of me, so it belongs here too.

Yesterda’y crumbed hake and Roquey Cheese sauce was wonderful; and the good news is, I have some left over for today. Waste not, want not.

I really should go and water my plants outside, they are doing a serious wilt and making me feel guilty of neglect.

I washed the dishes this morning. *Round of applause* I actually washed my coffee mug, which is unusual because it never stays empty long enough to wash.

Heating up lunch.

Later.

Tried twice and failed

aroqueycheese

You’ll see the reason for the Roquey Cheese below

So here I am.

I was up at six, so it’s not unreasonable that after four hours in front of the PC to have a nap. Just as I was dropping off, my Thunderbird pinged… Oh, somebody loves me! I tried to ignore it, but curiosity and all that.

Then I tried again and in the sluggish moments before the mallet of sleep strikes, “I haven’t taken the fish out of the freezer for lunch.” Ah, forget lunch! I couldn’t, this terrible nagging thought kept returning. There was only one thing for it, get up and take the damned fish out of the freezer.

Now I am bleary eyed and in front of the PC again.

Life was never meant to be easy.

Read a wonderbul story on Lottie Nevin on Being a Bad Mother.

Have drunk two litres of water already. The day started of grey and cool, now it’s hot and dry, very dry.

The hot weather continues. Which I guess is why the house was invaded by two large cockroaches last night; duly dispatched. It’s bad enough when they come in ones. Ugly bloody insects, those and silverfish, they give me the willies. We have other creepy crawlies as well, like millipedes and geckos, but they’re good guys, they eat the other creepy crawlies. I have a resident gecko in the bathroom, we have conversations when I pee.

Who said that? I heard you, “He’s crazy!”

Of course I am crazy, I tried being normal once but it was so boring… so I went back to crazy.

Word Press 101

agravatarsI have noticed in perambulations around Word Press blogs, that many blogs show only crazy little squares, default avatar) instead of a person’s (if they have one) real avatar.

Mine used to do that. It was quite frustrating, until I discovered the secret, and I can’t remember how, but I did.

Try this: Go to your dashboard, settings, discussion.

Scroll down and find this:

aagravatar

You’ll find the G setting on by default. Change it to PG like I have done and ‘save settings’ at the bottom. You should find that you see a lot more avatars.

My case was so frustrating because I couldn’t even see mine, which is why I resolved to resolve the matter.

Now, I’m off to clean up cockroach carcasses, water my plants, put my fur on (that’s what Lixo thinks when I get dressed) and indulge in a tipple, or two…

After all, it is beer o’clock. I’m sick of water, I feel like a parched camel.

When I get back, the fish will have thawed and I am going to make crumbed hake fillets with a Roquefort cheese and caper sauce…

blue-cheese-dressing

Mine will be a little different, kill the mayo, add Colman’s mustard powder, chopped capers and parsley.

Damned Daylight Savings

The time when clocks go into atomic meltdown

The time when clocks go into atomic meltdown

Saturday night Brazil went out of hora da verão (daylight savings, summer time, call it what you like). Yesterday my PC woke an hour before I did and I spent the rest of the day wandering around wondering when I was.

I did, however, enjoy my ‘dead cow’ experience. A leisurely three hour ordeal stuffing myself with the best Brazilian beef beyond what would normally be called one’s capacity. I was back home at 3pm, and the only sensible thing to do was have a nap to escape the heat; so I did the sensible thing.

Today, I woke better adjusted, although it was still dark, I rose with the sun. Everything was fine until I got a snotty remark comment left on my Eco-Crap Monday Moaning about the use of another site’s post. In nine bloggerful years, I have never been chastised in that manner for reposting a post. So, I am miffed, and not entirely disposed to blog further today. I have just rewritten the post and bypassed his references. Part of the reason I am miffed is that I am not entirely certain that I didn’t over react; I don’t feel I did, but will it be perceived that way?

I have given up all thoughts of lunch today. I am still on a ‘beef roll’ from yesterday. Talk about overdosing… I have class at 4pm, I’ll be home about 8pm, by then I should be famished.

Yay! Something to look forward to.

Sunday Travel Tales

The main plaza, Santa Cruz de la Sierra – image credit on the photo

Going to have a break this week. I’ll leave the continuation of the Peru story for next week.

A few weeks ago I saw a great story on Lottie Nevin, This Little Piggy Went to Market about an Indonesian market. It got me to thinking of some of the South American markets that I have been to, and used to frequent.

Most notably was Los Pozos in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, but also Abastos in the same city and San Juan in Lima, Peru.

Sloths live in the trees in the plaza – image via: about.com Ron Miller

Some of Lottie’s photos (she a great photographer) could have been taken in any of these markets, they are so similar. The thing they have in common would give a sanitary inspector nightmares. Let’s just say you will not find anything like it in the First World. If you haven’t already, hop across to Lottie’s blog and have a look.

los_pozos

Los Pozos at the lower middle, close to Arenal Park on the left. This is just a few blocks from the central plaza – image: Google

Los Pozos today is not at all like it used to be when I lived there.

The old market was demolished and a new one built, but that didn’t mean that the level of hygiene was up graded, it just meant that the market was in a new building.

The building looks new, as you can see by the frontage.

lospozossrz

The new Los Pozos

But the surrounding streets are still an impromptu jumble of stalls and colour.

One of the things about these markets is that despite the lack of hygiene, there aren’t hoards of people getting sick. I certainly never suffered any illness by buying my food there.

This also got me to thinking that we in the First World are babied, mollycoddled… “I guess the big attraction for me, apart from the hustle and bustle, is that they show what wimps the western world have become, a point that I was blind to before travelling all over South America. I found that in the 3rd World I could live with half the baggage and double the fun.” – quote from a comment I made on Lottie’s blog.

The colour and hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets

The colour and hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets

lozpozosmeat

The meat market

These aren’t my photos, they are ones that I found on Google, I can’t remember who to credit, but if they are yours, let me know and I will. Can’t figure out why the market photo is out of alignment.

The western world is over-regulated. There are too many rules and laws, that we don’t need half of them. But we have become so used to everything being ‘squeaky clean’ we have forgotten how to live.

Next week, back to Peru

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