Anything But

I have homework, as well as some proper work – you know that stuff that earns £, to do this afternoon so of course I am doing anything but. Hence this post and only because I have a couple of pictures kicking around that may, or may not look pretty. I am still in Arequipa. Chest bug is improving, albeit slowly, but happily the Spanish classes have been brilliant. I’m having my grammar issues sorted out and vocabulary enormously expanded. Classes are one to one which has been fantastic as through conversation we have been able to explore issues relevant to Peru such as politics, history, culture and so on, as well as travels, life at home and pretty much anything else you could think of. It would appear also that I have been something of a corrupting influence with respect to my professors, introducing them to some appropriately fruity English idioms that I have no doubt will confuse the heck out of future english-speaking students. I have to confess I did not expect homework, which often takes the form of an essay to be written, but that is only because perhaps I am a lazy sod at heart….

At the weekend, missing my bike, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a spin and see how the chest, and legs, were doing. I mapped a ride of about 50km to the north-east of the city. It was a long, steep slog back out of the city, the first hour not being overly pleasant as a city this size has a significant garbage footprint around the ‘burbs, and it took an hour just to reach the city limits, up an average gradient of around 15%. However once clear of the city it is back to the rather wonderful desert landscape of this part of southern Peru. The climb took me back up to 3300m, a gain of about 1000m… and hurt a little bit. I still wasn’t breathing very well, and after almost 2 weeks off my bike in Arequipa have de-acclimatized somewhat to altitude. It was still great to be back out in the countryside on two wheels however.

 

My route took me on a deserted track around the eastern flanks of El Misti. It is a very fine volcano indeed. This weekend, along with a couple of locals and a a chap from Missouri, we have hatched a plan to see how far up El Misti itself it is possible to get on a bike. There is a track that goes up the western flank some way before turning into the trail hikers/climbers use to get to the summit at 5822m/19101ft. We have no illusions about getting anywhere near the summit, when I map it on satellite imagery at around the 15km mark (the summit is at km 21) the gradient kicks up to around 35%.. not to mention the altitude. However it is something to do. I will let you know how we get on if we make it past the nearest coffee and cake joint… which is also something equally valid to do with a Saturday morning.

 

There is a book and art fair going on near the plaza at the moment. I picked up a couple of books in Spanish to read by way of making myself work. One being a history of the Sendero Luminoso, particularly important in Peru’s recent history, and the other being a translation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild.. simply because I last read it when I was a kid and I suspect I might find it a little easier than the first title… By the way no idea why the artist here elected to represent only 3 of South America’s 4 native camelid species. Perhaps it’s like those badly handwritten signs one sometimes sees on things at home where the writer realises he (or she of course…) is running out of space and the letters suddenly become smaller and smaller, and the 4th is simply very small and hidden behind the waterbottle…
Portrait artist…

 

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