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Archive for September, 2010


Whoop Whoop!

About two months ago, I was struck by the possibility of making an article out of my upcoming experiences in Huaraz.  Well, I’m super-excited to say that  there was more to my idea than piss and vinegar because Adam Roy, the very nice editor at Matador Sport, just dropped me an email to say that my piece on bouldering the rocks of the Cordillera Blanca has gone live!

It is great to see a pre-trip pitch turn into something put up on a nice big website like Matador, and I have to say I’m addicted; what next?  Llama racing?  Extreme pisco drinking?  I know…shark wrestling.

I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the editorial process and getting a nuts-and-bolts look at what goes into putting an article up at Matador.  My writing has definitely improved for it.

You can see the bouldering article by following the link, and while you are at it I heartily suggest having a browse of Matador’s range of sites; there is some inspiring writing and some fantastic articles.

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This, apparently, is a ‘sneeze page’.

Clever online marketing people use it to re-hash old content and give a second life to popular articles and blogs.

Tardy travel bloggers also use them to present a big lump of posts that should have been done a month ago as sequential posts on the actual date-stamp of posting.

I’ll leave it down to the intellect of the reader to guess which category is mine.

My trip to Huaraz in August was a wonderful, life-changing milestone in the never-ending journey that is this Jolly Bloody Nice Outing.  If you’d like to browse the gallery of my experiences, I offer the following.

  1. Trying out hitching for the first time in Peru, against all the advice and odds
  2. A blast from the past – old friends in new places
  3. Walking into a dream-bubble at Keushu
  4. My first glacial meltwater-drinking experience
  5. Outwitted by piles of rocks
  6. The Jolly Nice version of the Santa Cruz trail
  7. What was left of my fingers after researching a climbing article
  8. The marvellous disaster that was the return hitch back home

Good bless all those who make it to the bitter end.  I wish I had a cash prize to offer.

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Over the course of the last couple of months, Peru has been gearing itself into a political frenzy in preparation for the national elections on the 3rd of October.  I haven’t seen a great deal of enthusiasm from the population, conversations limited to the occasional grumbling complaint about the general state of things or the corruption in politics.  Nope, the vast majority of the enthusiasm has been from the candidates.

Applying what seem to be near-identical “Shock And Awe” tactics, each candidate from the extensive range of political parties (27 at the last count) is painting walls and erecting huge billboards, attempting to achieve victory by the simple means of literally covering the greatest square meterage of Peru possible.

Each billboard displays an identikit picture of the gurning candidate, normally giving a cheery thumbs-up and festooned in a shirt with the top button casually undone to exemplify that they are, in one hard-hitting combination, a formal and effective politician whilst still being an easy, approachable man of the people.

In modern politics, it is necessary that your campaign influences an apathetic electorate blessed with attention-deficit disorder with your entire policy summarized in the space of 140 characters.  Thus slogans play an important part in the Peruvian politician’s campaign efforts.  Unfortunately, all candidates seem to have employed the same incredibly overworked campaign manager and everyone seems to be employing the same messages.  To make matters worse, the campaign manager seems to have focussed on promoting things that one instinctively expects from a political leader, occasionally degrading into a blatant brainwashing exercise (see number 5).  Here are some examples that I’ve seen replicated amongst the various different candidates:

1) A Trujillo For Everybody!

2)  A Team With An Ability To Lead!

3) Honest And Hardworking!

4) Against Corruption!

5) Mayor of Trujillo!

This has the effect of making one wonder why candidates have to make such a fierce point about honesty, equality, ability to perform one’s job, dedication and corruption; parallels rise in the mind of the dubious character that begins every sentence with the phrase, “To be honest…” which inspires the listener only to consider that honesty, when made explicit, is normally absent.  Continuing the theme, perhaps the campaign manager should also consider the following:

5) Can Tie His Own Shoelaces!

6) Is Pretty Good At Reading!

7) Has A Lovely Smile!  Look!

My personal favourite amongst the candidates, for no other reason than his billboard appearances (and realistically, there isn’t a great deal more to go on) is Fernando Bazan.  Screaming the same messages as everyone else, Fernando looks, for all intents and purposes, like he sheepishly wandered onto the billboard and promptly sat on a cucumber.  After analysis of his photo, I think this is due to the unfortunate presentation of his teeth.

Aside from the amusing circus, there’s a darker side to the proceedings.  “My husband was recently approached by the mayor,” one of my friends tells me, “And told that if he didn’t surrender his wall to be painted for the election, we’d start receiving very expensive water bills.”  Despite what the billboards and bricks tell you, corruption and abuses of power are very much alive and well in Peru.

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