Tales of the Unexpected

Trip Start Oct 20, 2006
Trip End Oct 22, 2006

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tales of the Unexpected
Its election time in Mancora .And boy has this been fun to watch. Seven political parties or Individuals I should say, chasing 3000 votes to become mayor. They are acting a bit like "The Peoples Front of Judea". Or is it "The Popular Front of Judea"? They all have a John Cleese and Michael Palin in their ranks. Every party has a speaker system lifted from Pink Floyd's last live set, or Motorhead, AC/DC or Iron Maiden. You name it, they blast it out. All the equipment is strapped onto the back of their designated aging tour buses, breakdown vehicles, or kombi vans. And all graced with a PA to speak over the volume of music they play...very very loud. Salsa and Regatron. The idea to win votes is to show who can party the loudest, well that's the impression they've left me with so far. That and bribing the poor with bread and bags of rice. Bit like Caesar and Rome and the coliseum. If you can, buy the votes. They drive up and down the high street all day, salsa and mix regatron playing non stop, With someone saying something, but who cares, the music is loud and good and it's party time.

At night, they've taken it in turns to have a gathering, tour the streets with supporters, rattles, horns, cars, more horns and then have a shouting contest on what I think are their electoral promises. Everyone having fun, painting their cars all the different colours. Me, I'd like to sneak up one night, change the music and slip in some Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and yes, why not, some Whitesnake. Get the speakers used for what they were designed!!. Jam the cd players so it can't stop either. In my dreams.

I've attached a video , that I hope you can open . It shows the winning party tour on the street of Mancora. However, What I didn't know, is that it's the law here for three days before elections to ban the sale of alcohol. No wonder they partied hard. 1200 soles fine for breaking the law too, if caught selling a beer and the Police take it very seriously. Funny that. Get you rucksack stolen on the beach and somehow the law fails to comprehend its wrong!! forgive my slur!

Tales of the Ridiculous
Sleep here is turning into a precious commodity. This has also been happening over the three day 98th Anniversary of Mancora too. A heady cocktail of beer and more salsa and regatron mixes. HELP. It started with Miss Mancora. Oh yes!!! Ten 16 year olds fighting it out on a catwalk. And all sponsored by Brahma Beer. To the right of the stage was a big blow up bottle of beer. Who said sex and beer was an outdated mix...not here. If that wasn't enough the girls came onto the catwalk in their swim suits, to a crescendo of wolf whistles from all the men , and each costume was sponsored by ......Brahma. Brahma for the left breast, Brahma for the right breast and Brahma for the crotch. Mary Whitehouse, where are you!!!!

Saying that, with dancing girls in Braham Beer Colours and more regatron, the Judges where starting to tire. And I didn't blame them. Best of all were a couple, who decided to get really drunk at this big occasion. The more he drank, the louder his applause for every girl that walked by , whilst his wife sat the other side of the judges, sucking on each and every fag , supping from a bottle of ...yep, Braham and giving the evil eye to the one female judge who was actually a Miss something or other from somewhere. The aforementioned bottle drinking, fag chewing lady, looked like she may once have been a Miss something herself too, albeit some time ago, and the jealous looks where becoming obvious. So, when she'd run out of "Braham", off she totted to her man who had the bag of beers and fresh cigs, past the back of the judges and as she passed by, inhaled a good lung full of smoke and blew it right into the face of the pretty Miss "Something or other" Judge. Leaving her in her own mini smoke show, coughing and waving her hand so she could see the stage once more. And if that wasn't good enough, Hubby, now very gone, decided he needed to be the other side of the stage. He remembered to not walk in front of the judges. He was about to, but stopped, wobbled and checked himself. Then passing his wife, gave her a big sloppy kiss on the check, left her his beer...kind man, and carried on to have a chat. Then returning, he remembers to walk behind the judges and back to his seat. But where's my Beer. This time he turned round and decided no bottle of good old fashioned Brahma beer was worth a short cut and walked in front of the judges, even giving them a wave and a wink, collected his beer, plus depositing another kiss on the wife's wet cheek. And then back again in front of the judges with a "here's to you" gesture with hand and bottle of beer salute. I was wetting myself. Who wants to watch Miss Mancora when this is on?

And then they went to the vote, and we waited and waited and waited. Waited whilst a girl sang two songs like something from a Karaoke night in Newcastle. Forgive me, but that's exactly what it sounded like. Then a dancing act, then a Jack Nicholson look alike. Thought he was going to announce the "difficult" decision. Nope, he sang too. Three songs, in the style of a northern nightclub games show host too.

I was watching the people's faces. Not a flicker. Straight as they were as when they'd walked in. Was it just me finding this difficult? They then played a video of the ten contestants at the beach and hotel and hotel swimming pool and then in the sea and waves splashing over them and STOP. I want to get out of here. As I leave the mesmerized audience a meet a group of volunteers I know here. They offer me a beer and I have a good suck on Brahma suds, thank them and take my leave before the beer makes me stay for another.

Tales of the Unbelievable
Thing is I never did find out who won, and everyone I asked since, they don't know either. So onto Saturday night and the party. Free entrance too. YIPEE. I stand at the back of the coliseum and watch the band play and the people drink and for the first hour, not much happens apart from people going back to buy more beer. So I take a seat on the steps in front of me and rest.... A young woman with baby in arms sits next to me and proceeds to haul out her 40DD left breast and starts feeding her baby. OK, I'm liberated, I'm new man, I'm what ever I'm supposed to be, but the baby is half in my lap with one huge breast too, sucking away. A wave of Englishness flows over me and the trusty stiff upper lip wants to take shape. But I let it go, relax with the scene as no one around me sees anything indifferent in it, and I listen to the band play with baby sucking away and this very large breast waving around in the evening breeze. Champion kid. No splash back, never even dribbled or spilt a drop. I was going to say "lucky Baby" to the mother, but thankfully, my embarrassment couldn't be translated into Spanish and thank god I didn't. Soon, the breast was back in its bra and baby was smiling, my lap had been liberated. Enough excitement for one night I thinks and I left to get some sleep!

And all of this has been mixed in with two thieves who arrived here from Piura, the capital town of the province. They've turned up with guns and held up a few locals at gunpoint and gringos too. Finding One girl on the beach and as rumors go, one in an internet café. A right pair of modern Dandy Highway men. The reassuring police response to all of this, one large Jeep, clad with black booted hard looking dudes who'd make the West Mids Police force look proud, with .....Sub Machine guns, casually hanging over there shoulders. Nice response. Funny that, there's no more theft, for now anyway. The locals are so much more considerate, they just threaten gringos who stroll onto the wrong beach with a knife of run off with your rucksack. More on my experience with the thieves of Peru later!!

Tales from the other side
There is no logic to this story. Be warned. I've watched for some time the street vendors selling food and as I walk to school, I pass many a house where the women sell home made food. I decided to see what was safe and how cheap it could be. The first street vendor is always busy so I took that as a positive. His cerviche, raw fish marinated in lime juice was excellent. My guts where intact and my confidence in my project soared. Next was a lady outside here house and closer into "down town" and the school. Again, the cerviche was good. You see, I reckoned that if I had bad fish, I'd know in 2-3 hours and a bit of discomfort later and the experiment would end. I know what you're thinking. So, two down, I'm getting cocky and the food is getting cheaper. 50p now. The third vendor passed the stomach test and so I went further in. Wise people may have stopped by now. Well, cerviche and rice and all for 50p from the fourth lady and I felt fine. Then it came, that evening, a sharp shooting pain from right to left. Bad wind then what followed for the next 12 hours is hard to describe, but my toilet and I became the best of friends. We hardly let each other out of sight. "OUCH." It was the rice that did 'im in" . Cooked in tap water and then left sweating in the midday sun in its pot. I must be mad, my bottom barely forgave me and now I know where not to go and eat!!!!!

Tales from the Dark Side
So, as for school,
Well, the fun continues in that quaint British black humour. There are so many cases of kids who need help in reading and writing, that the cases of delinquency are too high. One day I'm marking some work for Ruth, the head of English, remember her, the one who doesn't speak English and after eleven weeks, still hasn't spoken to me in English, anyhow, the sentence read, "I was wanking in the garden". My first though was, well if your neighbors don't mind and you feel you have to..... Then I check for where that cam e from, look at the black board and see, W-O*R-K-I-N-G....now I get it. I correct the error and more keep coming.

Ruth who isn't the happiest of ladies, then writes on the board examples of frequency adverbs and writes " The students do not like Teacher Ruth as she is never Happy ". You wrote it dear. I had to drill the kids on this and looked at Ruth as if to say WHY? The next week, it had changed to Teacher Jose. Shame really.

Ruth had however taken a fancy to a few days of here and there as I could be her cover. Of course this I hadn't been asked about. I just turned up the one day to find myself on my own and the rest of the teachers in the classroom, looking at me as to say...good luck gringo, with hidden smirks and smiles. Bloody needed it.
The one group were ok , and whilst marking there work, one kid threw a condom on my desk, I looked at it and was so tempted to open it, place it between my hands, work it loose a little and then blow it up over my head. Just like the good old school days. I was going to see if I could beat my personal best of three feet on my head, when I stopped and realized I'm not the kid, but the teacher and if anyone, walked in, how I would explain this. Besides at 39, it's time to grow up. So I just made to stab it with my pencil to the horror of the kid who shrieked no. Gringo 1 -0 Students

Then I was teaching them frequency adverbs and this same kid decided to mock me everytime I got them to drill new sentence. I created an example for rarely and pointed at the kid and said "For example...his girlfriend rarely kisses him" The classroom where in hysterics. Gringo2 - 0 Students

But I let my defense down and fell into a trap. This time, with Ruth in the class, we're drilling on sentences and he's taking the micky again, so I stop, hand him the chalk and ask him to teach the next sentence. As I watched i thought that was a big, huge, mistake because if he does it, how do I look. He did it and I shook his hand and went back to work on my defence. Gringo2 - 1 Students

This has been nothing though to my run in with a teacher called Sumilda. I teach her class of ten year olds in the morning. All the morning classes here are for me to teach and for the teachers to help me with my spanglish, discipline and just being supportive. But Not Sumilda. Oh no, every class she was disruptive, like a six year old herself, wanting attention. After 4 weeks I was wearing thin of it .She shouted answers to questions that were for the kids to answer. Whispered answers to kids on Bingo when we practiced listening to numbers and spent her time making it pretty damn clear that she saw little need to be there When I handed out a sheet with the alphabet on it, she questioned it as thought the kids wouldn't understand it all. It was the kids who shouted out and stuck up for me, phew, and we carried on. I say this candidly, but making the class fun to learn was part of the objective I set out, and the kids did laugh and giggle with some of the stunts I pulled, but never old smiler Sumilda. Then she triumphed herself by deciding to get up and put posters on the walls and get the help of five students, as I was teaching. At the end of the class I was teaching numbers and she kept shouting the answers to stifle the students. I turned to her and asked her to shut up. Not clever I admit. At the end of the class, I went to leave and explain that I wouldn't be there next week as I was traveling to Ecuador. But before i got to the reason as to why and Ecuador, she raised her arms in a gesture of triumph and roared. I then told her if that was how she felt, sod the class altogether. The arms went higher with the resounding scream of success too and I looked at her and the kids in the classroom and sank. I'd forgotten my bag and had to go back and collect it. She laughed loudly and waved her arms in triumph as I returned and left again. I told the Head that that was it with classes for Sumilda, aka Hitler's Daughter. The next week I passed her class room with the kids shouting for me to come in. They followed me upstairs not knowing that the classes had changed. The next week, Adolf's child asked me why I wasn't teaching the class. Pretty bloody obvious to me dear, but let me spell I out to you. She was not a happy bunny and walked of in a huff. The following week she asked me to teach the class. WHY? Well I'd been giving yoga classes here in town and from the money raised buying each class a volleyball and football. Sneaky of me eh? I'm Playing by there rules now. Plus she's spoken to the Head and he's backed me up.
Gringo 3 - 0 Sumilda.

I've been teaching animals and getting the young ones to stand on a chair and act out the animals to the class and then guess what it is. It's been great fun and I always save a flash card for the teacher to do one animal too. Though with Rosita I thought I'd gone to far when I gave her the dog by chance and she stood there barking like a dog. However, when it came to the reinstated class with Sumilda, what sweet joy awaited the dog flashcard. I showed her the pic and to my amazement, she got so excited, at being included and joining in the laughter, she ran onto the chair, and at 5'10" herself, hardly needed to be on the chair and from a lofty position, barked her head of like a wild dog from Borneo. What a picture. We all laughed and smiled, and then it was back to normal. You see, I'd found out in between going on strike, that she had lead a teachers revolt against gringos from teaching the kids English. She didn't want Gringos in the school as she doesn't like us. Then she didn't want to be in the class room when the gringos teach and asked for extra pay if she had to be present. Her little stunt cut no ice with the Head and the school has had volunteers teaching English here for the last 7mths ...but it speaks volumes about life in the school and Mancora itself.
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