Saturday, 30 June 2012

Fawlty Towers

1)    Yesterday I got up at 4:30am, having got to bed at 12:30am.

2)    On arrival in Lima we were met by a guide and a driver who were warring with one another in Spanish. ‘Why do all the drivers called Rubén cause me so much trouble?’ asked the guide. Half an hour later, on arriving at our first museum stop, she remembered to introduce herself. ‘What’s the Spanish for Fawlty Towers?’ asked one of my clients.

3)     Having visited the archaeological museum, where we were berated for not knowing our Mochicas from our Nazcas, and I’m ashamed to say I got the giggles, we had lunch at what the government styled a healthy restaurant. The health was bacteriological, not arterial.

4)    In the sumptuous town hall in Lima’s beautiful Plaza de Armas we met Miss Peru, squeezed into a skin-tight pink-shock frilly ball-gown and being photographed in preparation for her trip to China to participate in the Miss World pageant. She congratulated us on being from the country which had given the pageant to the world.

5)    At the San Francisco church we admired the catacombs where generations of vergers with far too much time on their hands had sorted the bones of thousands of faithful departed into piles of dusty skulls, femurs and tibias. Miss Peru looked fleshy by comparison.

6)    Our guide explained to us that she had been down in the catacombs during an earthquake and during one of the frequent power-cuts occasioned by the terrorism years. My clients seemed keen to leave.

7)    At Lima airport, leaving the country was as long and protracted a process as anywhere I’ve ever been; not quite as bad as entering Madagascar, but close.

8)    Around seven-thirty, the boarding time for our flight, the captain admirably and charmingly informed us that a hydraulic pump had failed on landing. Our flight would inevitably be late.

9)    Two hours or so later he told us, with a touch of frazzle in his voice, that the pump could not be fixed and a new one would have to be brought from Holland the next day. Our flight would be rescheduled twenty-four to thirty hours later.

10) Getting our exit from Peru legally cancelled, allocating us to hotels, restoring our luggage to us, bussing us to our destinations and getting us fed were a hoot. So too was the fury of some of our fellow passengers. Two elderly ladies in wheelchairs smiled benignly, amused by the drama of it all and not a bit flapped. I got to bed around two in the morning. What’s the Spanish for Fawlty Towers? (In fairness to KLM and the Sheraton Hotel in Lima, this logistical migraine was dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as could be expected under the chaotic circumstances, and all my clients seem cheery. Naturetrekkers are a nice bunch.)

11) And now in Lima we wait. Tummies full, clean beds to laze on and black vultures on a pylon outside. It could be far, far worse and I am enjoying not having to know when we have to leave for our next activity.

12) If you’re one of my UK employers and you’re expecting me to teach a workshop for you this week, I imagine I’ll be back soon.

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