Between the Pasta Party and the Post-Marathon BBQ

Tomorrow it’s the Lima Marathon – for those to whom such things matter – ‘el maratón’, which is to be distinguished from ‘la maratón’. The English translation could be ‘the marathon’ vs “a marathon” in quotation marks*, i.e. the actual official distance of 42.195 km vs whatever distance some deceived marketing department has decided to call a marathon. No, Pheidippides the Greek messenger, of the legend on which the race is based, didn’t collapse to death after a 5k, even if by today’s general standards that might seem completely credible.

(*This may not clear the confusion if, like my daughter, one doesn’t know how to use quotation marks, which I hope is the reason why on the mother’s day card she wrote that she was very quote-unquote “happy” that I was her mother.)

So while I’m still digesting yesterday’s pasta and thinking about tomorrow’s BBQ, I’m taking a quick look back on all the preparation that has gone in for tomorrow.

Training

Around 1,500km since August. My clothes have a permanent smell of sweat only a little less notable than that of the synthetic turf of our local football pitch.

10805822_10152925258772386_147882651488967327_n

Playlist

The other downside of the above is that I’ve got sick of my Spotify playlist. Here’s the partly updated backbeat.

Gbese – Lil Kesh

Wild for the Night – A$AP Rocky

Ride Wit Me – T.I.

Shots – Broiler Remix – Imagine Dragons

If It Wasn’t For You – Alesso

Hold You – Radio Edit – Basto

Next To Me – Otto Knows

Are You with Me – Radio Edit – Lost Frequencies

FADE – Radio Edit – Wild Culture

Siberia – Instrumental – Tez Cadey

Holidays – ft Alan Palomo – Miami Horror

Stronger – Clean Bandit

Of The Night – Bastille

Tarantula (Ft. Fresh, $Pyda & Tenor Fly) – Pendulum

A Sky Full of Stars – Hardwell Remix – Coldplay

Falling – Radio Edit – Fedde Le Grand

Heroes (we could be) – Alesso

Save Me – LISTENBEE

Firestone – Kygo

Shooting Star – Radio Edit – John Dahlbäck

RIVA (Restart The Game) – Radio Edit – Klingande

Seve – Radio Edit – Tez Cadey

Stole the Show – Kygo

Sexual Healing – Kygo Remix – Kygo

Beautiful People – Ultimate Fitness Playlist Power Workout Trax

Kickstarts – Running Music

If I Go – Ella Eyre

Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne

Waves – Robin Schulz Remix – Mr. Probz

Listen (feat. John Legend) – David Guetta

The Nights – Avicii

Numb/Encore – JAY Z

Nobody To Love – TS7 Remix – Sigma

Nobody To Love – Radio Edit – Sigma

Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit

The Last Ones Standing – Tep No

You’re On – Gramatik Remix – Madeon

The Hanging Tree – Rebel Remix – James Newton Howard

Fade Out Lines – The Avener Rework – The Avener & Phoebe Killdeer

Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall – Coldplay

7 / 11 (Originally Performed by Beyoncé) [Instrumental Version] – Brant Ivory

Alive – Empire Of The Sun

Pompeii – Bastille

Running On A Rainy Day – Paul White

I Had This Thing – Röyksopp

Letter To TINA – Fuse Odg

Outside – Calvin Harris

Alright – Logic

First – Cold War Kids

Last Nite – The Strokes

Red Hands – Walk Off the Earth

A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay

Break Free – Ariana Grande

Prayer in C – Robin Schulz Radio Edit – Lilly Wood and The Prick

Midnight City – M83

We Come Running – The Knocks Remix – Youngblood Hawke

I Follow Rivers – The Magician Remix – Lykke Li

Midnight City – M83

Do It Again – Röyksopp

Work Hard, Play Hard – Wiz Khalifa

Can’t Do Without You – Caribou

All of Me – (Tiësto’s Birthday Treatment Remix) [Radio Edit] – John Legend

Say My Name (feat. Zyra) – ODESZA

Waiting All Night (feat. Ella Eyre) – Rudimental

Sinnerman – Felix Da Housecat’s Heavenly House Mix – Nina Simone

Alive – Chase & Status

Children Of The Sun – feat. John Martin – Tinie Tempah

I Need Your Love – Calvin Harris

Powerless – feat. Becky Hill – Rudimental

Move – Original Mix – Mausi

Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris

Without You (feat. Usher) [Radio Edit] – David Guetta

Youth – Foxes

Save the World – Radio Mix – Swedish House Mafia

End Credits – Chase & Status

Spotlight – Moto Blanco Radio Remix – Jennifer Hudson

We Found Love – Calvin Harris

Changing – Sigma

Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding

Safe And Sound – Capital Cities

Red Lights – Tiësto

What You Know – Two Door Cinema Club

Blame – Calvin Harris

Goodness Gracious – The Chainsmokers Extended Remix – Ellie Goulding

Houdini (RAC Mix) – Foster The People

Prayer in C – Robin Schulz Radio Edit – Lilly Wood and The Prick

Changes – Original Mix – Faul & Wad Ad

That’s Not Me – Skepta

Still Speedin’ – Radio Edit – Sway

Spaceship – Dappy

Pasta party

I should have known that carb loading in Peru is an excuse for another social event. On Friday we shared two delicious pasta dishes between eight of us. My take on  Gordon Ramsay’s pancetta spaghetti with Peruvian dry cured ham went down well, although I’m taking no responsibility for any after effects.

Gear

Happy with the official deep blue sleeveless race top and found a matching pair of shorts. However, I realised only afterwards that it only came with a very small side pocket, and after much deliberation I had already decided against my ultra-fashionable hydration belt. I won’t be carrying any water – let the volunteers work for their money. I then bought a much sleeker belt by ASICS, but after I’d stuffed it with four gels, under inspection, from the side, it made me look fat. Given I may not look my best for the photographers anyway, this was something I wasn’t very fond of. Hence I’ve managed to cram two gels in the little pocket, and one will possibly go in my bra. I don’t mind if one of my boobs looks fat and symmetry is overrated. I’ll update later if this was a good idea.

20150516_113226

Route

IMG_20150515_133421192

Strategy

Reminds me of school.

20150516_181038

Support

Gladly no quotations marks.

20150516_123557

Post Marathon BBQ

Booked for the whole family. Apparently this is the most important part of the day.

Sleep. Now.

Blog. Later.

Tagged , , , ,

Run, Run, as Fast as You Can

There’s nothing as natural as running. As anyone who’s ever survived a school holiday knows, children run all the time. You tell them to stop, mainly because it’s annoying, distracting, stuff breaks and you can’t focus enough to finish a bloody blog post. But parents also fear the horrible accidents that might leave them unable to run, climb or jump ever again – and so we’re always telling them not to run, climb or jump.

Kids don’t ‘jog’ or ‘do exercise’. They don’t run because they missed the train. There’s the sheer joy of movement, even before we were upright, and the language of running is universal. Among my daughter’s first Spanish words was “chapadas”, “tag” (in Peruvian Spanish).

Last Sunday, over 1,500 adults were playing catch in Lima in the Wings for Life World Run global event that drew over 100,000 participants in 35 different countries. Irrespective of time zone, the clock starts at the same time for everyone, but whether you’ll be running a 10k, a half marathon, 42.195 km or even an ultra is up to each runner. Winning in the race is not about being the fastest but also about running the furthest, because once a ‘Wings for Life’ car catches up with you, your life as an antelope is over.

11168452_902353706453839_6713196843036609404_n

Picture by ifitness.

But it was a good life nonetheless for the Lima participants – no rain, no blaze and temperatures of around 20C. I don’t know whether the race organisers do something to ensure that the race conditions are as level as possible, but in any case, it seems for the top Peruvian runners there’s no mountain high enough. Last year’s men’s silver medallist Remigio Huaman running this year’s race in Austria came third in the global category. Remigio made it to 78k, a distance equal to London to Cambridge. To give perspective, he’s had to average 3:50min/km. I just got out of the city onto the motorway as my journey stopped at 23k (So it would have been Uxbridge and a zone 6 travel card for me).

I have nothing but awe for this humble runner, who I was lucky to meet at the North Face Endurance Challenge earlier this year. The father who doesn’t speak any English, says he could have never imagined travelling the world with his young son, which is what he did with his last year’s prize. Social mobility as literal as it gets.

The event was organised for the first time a year ago to raise funds and publicity for spinal cord injury research. In Peru, the charity running format is still relatively rare and no-one’s heard of fund raising. There are probably various reasons for this, including socio-economic, but I feel that as in Peruvian society in general, there’s also a strong sense of entitlement, with little sense of responsibility. For example, “banditing” – joining races and taking advantage of facilities without paying the registration fee – is not frowned upon like in Europe. In fact, the Spanish expression “correr libre” (run free) has a cute anarchist ring to it, a personal choice a bit like the Paleo diet but less annoying.

As this scenario inevitably changes  – Peruvians are getting richer and international donors are pulling out one by one which means fundraising will become vital to the survival of many charities – Wings for Life seems a completely appropriate cause in Lima.  Most spinal injuries are caused by traffic, and Lima’s traffic being among the most dangerous in the world with nearly three deaths per 100 vehicles. There was some finger in the air pleasure in facing the anger of Lima’s drivers stuck behind the police lines that were providing security for the runners.

It is said that spinal injury is among the worst pains one can experience. On my personal pain scale, I’d give birth without epidural anytime over having vertebral compression.  The nights before I’d convinced myself that it might be a good idea to pop in the clinic, I would lie on the floor in spasms, unable to finish my sentences, while my 6-year old would be fetching pain killers, water and warm towels, or massage my back by walking on it. How we were up for school and work a few hours later, I can’t remember, but if I was a grumpy bitch to be around, I’m sorry.

I know I’m bit of a broken record about the (once) broken back, but it’s partly for me not to trivialise or forget the memory only because in my case it turned out well. For many, especially in lower or middle income countries like Peru, it doesn’t. But it’s also partly because the Wings for Life asks ‘what’s your reason to run’, and the experience just gives a bit more depth to the ‘because I can’.

11209615_902357783120098_627492312264302211_n

The ‘quantified self’ there checking her pace too busy to smile for the cameras. Luckily. Picture by ifitness.

11102618_962878317077537_6850845358046164753_n

Together again! Picture by Luis Antonio Roldan for Peru Runners.

Tagged , , , , ,

Rearranging Prejudices

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

William James

There may have been a performance appraisal or an interview, where I’ve been guilty of claiming lofty characteristics of someone who has integrity and is highly adaptable. I’m sure it’s not just me as all the firm’s employees, in exchange for an ok bonus, are required to provide evidence on their performance against the core competencies: Demonstrate integrity! Be open minded and agile!

The perfect oxymoron.

Adaptability on a superficial level – yes, I can eat as much raw fish and onion as the next man. But insisting on certain core values can be just as self destructive when living in a completely different culture as in a performance appraisal. When every day is like the Game of Thrones between Principles and Tolerance, what happens to tolerance as a principle?

Juliet Solomon, in a funny book about starting a new life in Lima, ‘Yes…But It’s Different Here’ (which I highly recommend), describes the shock “of moving from an environment where diversity was the norm to one where conformity is essential”. While it is all good to make “fancy Power Points on Hanukkah as a class project, diversity just don’t cut on the playground”.

Take another example, the advice that both Peruvians and foreigners living in Peru are quick to share with a newcomer: you can’t trust anyone. This leaves an awkward choice between being perpetually mistrustful and cagey; or repeatedly disappointed and humiliated. Even if the advice wasn’t fact based, people act like it was, so the effect is more or less the same.

Perhaps with time I will learn the necessary coping mechanisms, and feel less autistic in interpreting people’s expressions. In the meantime, to the shame of my 20-year-old self, I have found some solace in the ‘expat’ community. This includes border-line nationalist Finnish pass-times I haven’t bothered with since the secondary school. Getting beaten at a Tuesday floor-ball (“sähly”) session by the Finnish ambassador. Or singing Finnish folksongs at an international bazar.

photo 1

Las Brujas Del Norte (the witches of the North) in their full glory.

photo 2

Last Saturday the Miraflores sports stadium Manuel Bonilla looked almost like Tottenham high street, with stalls representing Libya, Qatar, Ukraine, Russia, India… For one day it was as easy to buy British cider as to find the Russians with a bottle opener.  DD’s favourite stalls were (surprisingly) the British and the Finnish ones, although she spent all her money on the Belgian stall – nationalism meets capitalism. Almost the only thing reminding me that we were in Peru was the micro monetary system, where the vendors are unable to accept cash (never trust anyone) and instead you have to (queue to) exchange your money for non-refundable paper tokens worth five soles (one quid) each. You either end up with too much useless Monopoly money or making return trips to the queue when you really do need another Belgian waffle. I won’t even begin on the confusion when the cost of your purchase isn’t dividable by five.

Short-changed or with worthless currency, is what I feel whenever I’m exchanging something I believe in for something that makes me fit in, and this would probably make me less suited for a diplomatic career. On the other hand, while I’m not suggesting that you should severe relations over a waffle, sometimes – or especially? – even foreign ministers have to go packing.

But before I’d do that, there are many comparatively good things about living in Lima, which I’m quite sure I will miss once back in a country where buses don’t try to run me over. Here’s the list, which you can completely trust*.

(*Disclaimer: in case it doesn’t become obvious, this is based on a subjective experience of a 30-something mother hanging out in the posher neighbourhoods of Miraflores and San Isidro. For more methodological lists, one can refer to Buzzfeed.)

Ten Comparatively Good Things about Living in Lima That Are Not Food

  1. No people dressed in bathrobes bellowing ‘what a wonderful world’ to a bottle of vodka out on the street corner at 9am. Peruvians might be “bonkers” as DD summed up another incident that saw her mother employ less diplomatic language, and madness may be more evenly distributed across the society than in Britain. But, there are well-known studies that show that the prevalence of some serious psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia is far lower outside English-speaking developed countries. In case you were wondering why you should visit Peru, THIS, right up there with Macchu Picchu, could be the reason.
  2. Not being told by a passer-by that my bicycle helmet does not conform with the EU standards. No-one cares. Helmet? What’s that? As a mother of a high-energy child with what Sheryl Sandberg might call leadership skills, I’m particularly grateful that Peruvians mind their own business. Really, no-one cares.
  3. The public attitude that doesn’t cast children as either victims or villains. There’s a child friendliness to the point that a kid gives you the entitlement to jump almost any queue. (Which in practice means reclaiming your original place. But more on that on another list.) Tested last Sunday on an older posh lady claiming her right of way at a supermarket till reserved for people with “discapacidades” just as I was unloading my shopping basket. “She’s my disability,” I pointed to my 7-year-old performing cartwheels between the washing detergent promotion and bananas – with a dry tone of voice that was supposed to indicate a joke, not a closing statement of O.J. Simpson’s defence, although the effect was the latter. Child friendliness 1 – Sarcasm 0.
  4. Everyone expects that everyone is a fraudster. But no-one expects that everyone is a paedophile, which, on balance, is worse. This gives even the male members of the society the confidence, unheard of in England, to call a stranger’s kid “preciosa” or squeeze her cheeks, which I do acknowledge to DD is irritating but cheek abuse is not child abuse. (But now I’m panicking that this blog post encourages a plane full of 1980s British TV-stars heading to Peru, because of course everyone…)
  5. I used to think lateness as a sin of the dark age, but now I weigh the frustration of having had to wait for someone/Someone/ex-Someone against the elevated blood pressure when I’ve been running more than two minutes late for a meeting or school pick up (most days). I was once two hours late picking DD up from her school in the Lima outskirts, which is more than enough time for the British social services to open a case file. Here they hadn’t even called me in the first hour and no-one seemed particularly traumatised.
  6. No Islamic threat, no radicalisation of the youth, no ‘rivers of blood’, no immigration “problem”, no capsizing boats, etc that have obsessed Europe since the crusades. Boooring. How about an ex president serving time for human rights violations and corruption while his heiress and supporter is the credible candidate for the next Peruvian presidency?
  7. I’ve not been told to go back to my own country, the particular citizens of which, on the other hand, have told me just that on many occasions, even when I haven’t ranted about everything that’s fucked up about the country. Peruvians are first to react to embarrassing public services with a humble “it’s Peru – what do you expect”, but if there’s any embarrassment in this admission, it is short-lived and la vida goes on.
  8. Not one you might expect, but I feel safe. I leave the house under the cover of darkness just after 4am in a tiny pair of running shorts and headphones on to meet my running buddies in a nearby park, which I’d have never done in North London. There’s always a Serenazco – a Peruvian bobby on the beat – within sight and wishing you good morning.
  9. While diversity still has some way to go, in many ways I find Lima inclusive. In no other country I’ve been, I’ve seen patrolling police in a wheel chair. In DD’s school most classes include children with physical or developmental disabilities, and to DD this seems to be as standard as having both boys and girls in a class. Like, duh. In her British nursery or school there wasn’t one child with a visible disability. Where are they? And while the sight of the indigenous domestic slaves trailing behind and carrying their employer families’ beach gear makes me see red, seeing older or disabled people out and about with personal support, makes up for the lack of accessible infrastructure and seems a lot more humane than the alternatives normal citizens of a ‘welfare state’ could afford.
  10. Running in Lima provides me with metaphors for everything that is beautiful about Limeños. Last Saturday on our training run, separated from the rest of the group, at the 28th kilometre my running partner said she had to cut it “short” to go to work. When she realised I was clueless about the remaining 4k of the route, she decided to stay. “Won’t you be late for work?,” I asked, but she couldn’t leave me there wandering around a few extra kilometres for nothing. She’d come up with something for the boss.

…Happy Labour Day!

IMG_20150425_171627567_HDR

British migrants in Peru. (Or a British interpretation of a Peruvian migrant in Britain back in Peru.)

IMG_20150425_152510827_HDR

Tagged , , , , ,

Running with the Peruvians

I have a confession to make. I’ve been unfaithful. Two-timing. Strayed from a perfectly functioning relationship. I look beside me at 4.30 am and there’s a man, thirty years my senior. And I’m struggling to keep his pace.

Which is precisely 5:13 min/km on a half marathon. After the first 10k of our 21k training run, I fall behind my running buddy. Since the outlandish school hours forced me to cheat on my old running group ‘Miraflores Runners’, I’ve started my mornings with delegates from ‘Corre Perú’, which has a radically different approach to training.

Because getting from A to B is never as simple as getting from A to B. For the past few weeks I have been a slave to my sports watches (I can’t decide between Polar M400 and Garmin Forerunner. It’s me, the person who can’t choose on which continent to live!) to help me follow the detailed data tables specifying my speed zones for each workout. These are supposed to achieve me a respectable finishing time for the Lima Marathon in May. I did run my 10k PB sparked by the words of the Cuban coach Daniel Gorina that too many of us are “conservative”. Not as in Katie Hopkins – although there are too many of her as well – but as in conservative energy savers during a race; like you had any further use for your body parts after the finish line. If you’ve never during your career pledged to give “your 110%”, nor had the pleasure of working with someone who does, we need to have a chat, because I want your job. This boast has never made much sense to me – until last month. Now the cliché could even be quantified (04:20min/km)! Never mind Academia Gorina was only really asking us to give our 98% – less catchy for management consultants, but on a 10k you will enjoy the taste of blood in your mouth all the same. “If you abandon the training, you abandon the training – as long as you give it ALL you got.” (Minus the 2 per cent…)

This is completely opposite to the Protestant take on life of ‘to the bitter end, no matter what or how long it takes’. As for everything delivered while dressed in lycra, I started considering how I might apply this new piece of wisdom as a metaphor to other areas of my life, say, relationships. (But Hazel Davis already makes the case for drinking absinthe in the street here.)

While deviating from the macabre data tables by going too slow or too fast is parallel to making excuses to the speed camera, a failed run with Miraflores Runners would probably just be a run that you didn’t enjoy. Or a run without any group selfies. (My FB friends can appreciate the success rate in this regard.)

While I do need to challenge myself, I feel at home with this philosophy. In Peru I have discovered that endurance running is not about the solitary but the solidarity. The running equivalent of ‘we’re all in this together’ – as Adrharanand Finn describes in his thoroughly enjoyable best-seller Running with the Kenyans:

“In a group it is easier. It can feel as though the group is running, not you. As though the movement around you has picked you up and is carrying you along. The switching back and fort of legs focusing the mind, synchronising it, setting a rhythm for your body to follow. As soon as you become detached from the group, its power evaporates and it feels harder to run.”

If this camaraderie, training in high altitudes, ‘reverence for running’ and, in some cases, escape from poverty lie behind the success of Kenyan runners, it’s not surprising that there are Peruvian runners hot on the non-cushioned heels of the nation of champions. On Sunday, the pint-sized 28-year-old Inés Melchor made a new national 42.2km record nowhere else but in neighbouring Chile – a sweet Peruvian victory that is spurring high hopes for an Olympic gold in Rio next year.

So I will conclude with a wisdom that I’m happy sell to the highest paying political party candidate to use in the next elections, without having to travel 6,000 miles to the ancient land of the Inka empire:

“We’re all in this together – 110%.”

Even if last weekend I couldn’t keep up, and got lost from my literally young at heart running partner. It’s a good time for a dose of Finnish pessimism, and remind myself that despite having the ugliest feet in the world, I don’t currently count ‘Olympic hope’ among my occupations, but rather, am a 30-something mum, with a degree in sociology, a certificate in project management and one or two other weaknesses. Who cares about my (running) achievements or failures – or to the point, can tell one from another, apart from me? And I can always load my expectations and unrealised dreams on the cute shoulders of the next generation. While also reminding her – if something ain’t working for you, it really is ok to leave. (Except the vegetables.) But the face says she might not be doing that any time soon.

11048275_925951120756602_5062913304473119600_n

Playas Del Sur where DD gets covered in pink and comes third.

Sharing the page with Inés Melchor, DD with the Miraflores Runners in yesterday's Libero.

Sharing the page with Inés Melchor, DD with the Miraflores Runners in yesterday’s Libero.

La ciudad blanca - or five white kilometres organised by the local borough of Miraflores.

La ciudad blanca – or five white kilometres organised by the local borough of Miraflores.

Tagged , , , , ,

On Opening an Oyster

IMG_20150318_125041

Good old fashioned magazines.

It was a mother’s day in England on Sunday, and I had the rare luxury of getting hold of some good old printed Finnish women’s mags. They are a fresh breeze from a world that is both so familiar and distant to me, having lived in (only slightly) warmer temperatures for the past twelve years.

In addition to the pleasure of reading in my native language, I often like the worldview they represent. In comparison to their global sisters, it feels to me that they are not as obsessed with success – or that success is defined in broader terms than making it to the FHM’s sexiest women in the world list. They cover fewer people who are famous for being celebrities. Anything from overcoming an addiction to running a business to skiing to the North Pole will be ok. I was reading about Mira Karppinen, skiing 2500km across Norway this winter. No novice to the remotest areas of the world, she’s has cycled in Patagonia in the Southern tip of Argentina and spent four years on Svalbard islands (the archipelago between Norway and the North Pole that I’ve heard mentioned on a Geography class). On this solitary trip (which she blogs about here), she takes comfort in the Internet brought knowledge that there will be one other person completing the same challenge round about the same time. (For a Finn, any more would be a crowd.) Kodin Kuvalehti quotes Mira:

“Sometimes there’s a voice inside me trying to say, hello, you’re in your thirties. You need to have children and a permanent job. Then I ask the voice, says who? … I don’t let the fear take over. I want to push my limits and head towards the frightening… At least I’m trying to realise my dreams. Not everyone does.”

20150315_144020

We’d like more huskies in magazine covers.

I wonder if this romanticisation of both physical and spiritual journeys, is a very Western pastime. Finance assistants running away with the circus, and other ways of self-actualisation, may not be what the vast majority of the world’s population have in their radar. As Dear Boyfriend reminds me, perhaps self-actualisation is used as an alibi for poor life planning and peripatetic careers. We are on the peak of the needs hierarchy, which in fact looks more like an hour glass than a triangle anyway. With the love and family bit in the middle having shrunk, all the sand is racing to fill either the physical needs or the need for self-actualisation at each extreme.

Yet, like hungry stomachs, it seems that even the need for self-fulfilment needs to be satisfied again and again, and weighed up against other choices. Even the circus “isn’t always as exciting as tumbling across elephants in feather headdresses, juggling on a unicycle or swinging across the sky on a mile-high trapeze. Some performers say they have made tough lifestyle choices: leaving a marriage, forgoing health insurance despite high risk of major injury and living out of tiny trailers in venue parking lots.”

With my fruitless efforts of finding a job in Peru, I’m a bit fed up with Pinterest and Instagram feeding beautiful landscape pictures with inspirational quotes (you know who you are); I don’t want to watch anymore TED talks; who is Arianna Huffington; and puh-lease spare me this mindfulness business. I feel like a bit of a twit most times I face an average middle class Peruvian who’s devoted their life to boring work to offer their kids education and their parents a health insurance, things I so lightly traded for stamps in the passport.

It’s a bit like arriving on Mars and just as you are about to write an epic FB status that would merit its own hash-tag for at least a week, you are met by an astonished Martian who instead of congratulating you, repeats you paid how many billions to get here? Welcome to IRL. And then you realise that, yes, the local education provision does kind of sucks. And that Martians have ‘first world problems’ but without the parody. If that wasn’t enough, the nagging voice travels across the space from home at the speed of sound: “so we’re not that happy ever after, after all?” The Finnish version of the ‘world is your Oyster’ saying is ‘it doesn’t pay to go further than the sea to fish’.

But on the other hand, if you survive an illness or an accident, for some time at least, you will want to go further and think about the moment you have and not so much ‘the after’. And this is why I continue to draw inspiration from the non-famous women pushing the limits. I realise that I’m lucky to have many friends doing just that. My friend Anne, a mother of a four-year-old who runs a health food business in the wee hours after finishing with her ‘real job’. Or Liisa who secretly from her employer completed an MBA while taking care of a toddler. Or Lotta, a mother of four who, in her late forties, the last time I checked, was learning freestyle BMX. It is these every day trapeze artists I want to read about. I suppose I could finish this, which was not about oysters at all, with a bit of an ode to the Finnish woman with the cojones – who I could say is my ideal man. I love their grit, adventurousness, physical and mental stamina and the Sahara dry sense of humour. It is a mystery to me, how in the collective black hole of pessimism and xenophobia that Finland represents to me, there are so many of these Northern Stars, glimmering  hope on the sometimes misguided path of this aspiring ultramarathoner far from home.

“Inside all of us is Hope.

Inside all of us is Fear.

Inside all of us is Adventure.

Inside all of us is… A Wild Thing.”

d2f1bc7d544401d4cc6fc95c4f9e518a

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak

Tagged , , , ,

Problems and possibilities

In February, the always reliable BBC reported that training very hard is as bad as no exercise at all. Timed well to relieve the guilt of possibly already broken new year’s resolutions, the study of 1000 people found that strenuous joggers were more likely to die sooner than couch potatoes. Later it turned out there were 36 people in the self defined category of ‘strenuous joggers’ and two of them died (of unknown reasons), but the story was out, and now only strenuous joggers and sociologists were interested in the truth.

So when my running buddies joke that I run nine days a week, it’s not far off the truth. Never mind what BBC would make of that, I don’t know how many casualties there might be if I DIDN’T run. The more intensive training plan the coach Rolando has devised to prepare us for the Lima 42k in May, has not just kept this sociologist out of mischief but also reasonably balanced.  This is code for not going completely berserk. Because, man, do I have reasons to start buffering:

  • The school holiday in Peru is longer than an average Kardashian marriage and about as long as the Falklands War, which precipitates all kinds of problems in itself.
  • Our tourist visas expired, of course we had made zero progress in obtaining residency, and thanks to the mental damage caused by David Cameron I couldn’t bear the thought of staying in any country illegally. Having read about foreigners being denied re-entry or, worse, being kidnapped by bandits, our border hopping trip to Ecuador was ok. DD got fined for overstaying her visa, though. Given that the stamps in our passports had exactly the same dates, and that you just don’t argue with border officials, my only conclusion is that time must literally fly faster when you’re small (except on school holidays), a bit like, you know, dog years. It was the only time in my life I was happy that I don’t own a Bichon Frisé.
  • There comes a point when a career break becomes unemployment. We can argue about the exact coordinates, my guess is definitely by the time the bank balance drops below £49. My sympathies go to anyone trying to find a job in a foreign country that requires that you’ve gone to primary school (and possibly other places…) with every juan pablo worth knowing. Peace be with you.
2015-01-23 16.09.46

Feeding iguanas in Guayaquil, Ecuador

So against these and other adversities, I’m happy to share some running success. My first race since the Amazon Race Forest, was slightly less respectable 10k dirt track by the beach on a hot Sunday that the Real Club organisers preposterously called the ‘marathon’. (Real Club is a leisure club…) Had it been a marathon, I’d be in the world records, which I’m not, but nevertheless took my first ever podium position in an organised race. I also got 500 soles (and so doubled my wealth) for coming second! This was great given I’d just spent 200 soles to sign up to run 21k in the North Face Endurance Challenge on 28th February. I can’t help feeling that my achievement had something to do with the state of women’s participation in amateur sports in this country.  The very elite aside, the people from Huancayo aside, I think the gap between men and women’s level in such events is not really justifiable. But if that means I can run through the cracks and to the podium, what are ideals for if not for discussion?

11004099_10152801574458789_1146161929_n

She’s not here to discuss ideals.

11023030_10152801574443789_1433086280_n

Miraflores Runners took home four medals in three categories.

No such cracks at the NFC event though. We’re talking about one of the main ultra and mountain races (including a 10k and 21k) events in Peru taking place in the serros of Asia, about 100km south from Lima. The landscape may feel homely if you’re e.g. a Taliban, but for me the sight of endless dry rocks, sand and scree with a few pitiful cactuses, made a too strong metaphor for the solitude I often feel in this country. If it was a jigsaw, it would be one of those fucked up ones with 5000 pieces and just two colours: blue and brown. I filled my bag with more water, snacks, vaseline and sun screen than what might have been necessary.

The NFC also supposedly had cut-off points, meaning anyone taking longer than a set time to pass an aid-station would be automatically disqualified. I didn’t see this being enforced by any degree (as with most of civil law in Peru), any more than I saw anyone getting penalised for throwing rubbish on the route, another commendable principle, I think.

What was enforced, and controversially so, was the two hour penalty to the originally claimed male winners of the 80k, Remigio Huamán and Emerson Trujillo. According to the race organiser, the elite runners had “involuntarily shortcut”. This is a very Peruvian way of assuming responsibility, be it bad sign posting or bad public policy. (“!No es mi culpa!”, as I’ve heard several times from our back garden during this – did I already say ‘long’? – school holiday.)

IMG_20150228_134029

Still the winner, Remigio Huamán. Still alive, me. (right to left, ahem)

Apparently somewhere at 70k, the two leaders (“involuntarily”) missed a turn and so cut 3 km of the official route. Of course the opprobrium of Peruvian runners and fans, was not the least alleviated by the gold or, to be exact, North Face gift vouchers – which makes it worse – being now handed over to a gringo, Michael Wardian (US). “The route wasn’t well sign posted,” people protest on Facebook. Even worse, some of the poor course marshals whose job it was to keep the runners on the route, had involuntarily fallen asleep when the first runners passed them at the crack of dawn! (They’d been up since 2am and it was only the most hailed ultra marathon event of the year.) Those who hadn’t, gave wrong, even contradicting directions, which ANYONE who has ever asked for directions to ANYWHERE in Peru will find extremely shocking…

But back to the more interesting topic, that is me, at least to me. Although proper trail shoes and protective gloves wouldn’t necessarily go to waste on a route like this, I enjoyed every second of the race, and was kept going by some atavistic survival instinct. When many seemed beaten by the mountains, I was able to pick up pace and run the last four kilometres well below 5min/km ending up as the 16th woman. More importantly, this race marked a special anniversary. One year ago, one momen20150228_093432t I had been filling my time sheet or doing whatever important shit consultants do on a Friday, and preparing to go for drinks with the colleagues. The next, I was sitting in front of someone with a lot of letters in front of their name calling an operating theatre about an urgent case of a female patient, who I figured, had some connection with me.

A lot has passed since the spine operation, including miles I thought I’d never be able to run. The organisation of these events hasn’t put me off the idea of doing an ultra marathon either. It’s Peru. “Problem and possibility”, as Jorge Basadre, the nation’s historian put it nicely. By the time I’ll be passing them, no course marshals will be asleep anymore – or they’ll be waking up to my victory scream, should I ever, ever, ever in my life make it past 70 km. And I promise, they don’t want that to happen.

20521_870419816313895_6143902478233997864_n

iFitness photographer exposes the ‘I enjoyed every second’ lie.

Tagged , , ,

Amazing Race

10426783_10152863196169250_1488827972322604169_n

Picture by María Viloria Ortín published on ARF Facebook page.

Chullachaqui is a legendary devil of the Amazonian jungle. He has the ability to take the physical appearance of a family member or loved one of his victim, to lure you deep into the rainforest where he then leaves you, lost forever.

10514654_10152918470649470_8780071195336955803_n

Picture by Carina Ramos. On ARF Facebook page.

My loving boyfriend told me this at the starting line of the Amazon Race Forest half marathon that took place last Sunday in the village of San Roque de Cumbaza in San Martin, Peru. I had looked forward to the race so much, that if on my laptop you type ‘Amazon’ in the google bar, the retail company will appear only on the page three of the search results. We had signed up for 21 kilometres in the blazing sun, but there were also people doing the full marathon distance, and a shorter 10k trail run. I looked around and saw mostly lean bodies doing warm ups and wearing the latest running gear that a few months ago I didn’t even know existed. This was definitely no McDonald’s charity run.

If one were to miss the orange signposts, and wasn’t wearing the event sponsor Suunto’s GPS watches (which, by the way, is a Finnish brand. Just saying.), the way to recognise Chullachaqui is, apparently, by looking at his feet. ‘Chulla’ means dissimilar and ‘chaqui’ means foot. If you notice that your loved one has a foot peculiarly bigger than the other, then probably you are being tricked by the devil.

gollum_by_graggzter-d72lwgy

I imagined Chullachaqui to look similar to Gollum.

DSC1538-0x550

An artist’s impression of Chullachaqui at http://www.amaruspirit.org

In hindsight, my boyfriend might have chosen to share another legend after what became three hours of him limbing in the forest with blue toe nails and a twisted swollen ankle. But according to the race directors, and to their credit, no-one went AWOL. Even if the most experienced trail runners among us were surprised by the difficulty of the route.

To give an idea, the winner of the men, Stalin Carrasco, ‘el caballero de trail’, finished the route in two hours. On a normal road race the winner’s time would be around half of that. Maria Delgado Salmon who came third  in women’s marathon distance, was heard saying that the previous eight hours it took her to finish the course were tougher than the famous 100km desert crossing in Paracas on the south coast of Peru.

But at 7am, tropical butterflies in my stomach, I knew nothing of this. If you really need any further indicators of my naivety, then what better than the fact that I decided to have a french pedicure at the Lima airport while waiting for our departure to the city of Tarapoto, the ‘city of palms’. (Some ultra runners have their toe nails removed, because the acid-based procedure is a less painful one than losing them on the track) Also, blame my map reading (I can read a map, but only in 2D!), I didn’t realise how relatively little running there would be along the course! For the rest of the time I was doing what I usually tell my dear daughter off for: climbing, jumping, crawling, sliding down, falling head first, swearing,  and heaving myself up gripping a low branch or a fellow runner’s hand, as we crossed mountains and rivers, and no, Motown was not playing in my head. There were four points with local people offering water and I couldn’t tell from their expressions whether our little adventure left them anything but bemused. The oncoming traffic consisted of a man with a horse, and a woman carrying a baby in a sling wrapped around her body. I had no idea where they came from, or where they were going, but mostly HOW on earth they’d managed to get there.

banner_21k_web_web-2

The route. I shall never overlook elevation diagrams again. Source: Amazon Race Forest.

I’m sure waking up before 5 am to train with Miraflores Runners and practicing power yoga almost daily in the past months paid off, however. Weekly repeated hill runs and interval training meant that while my calves were throbbing (and three days later still are), my heart was happy, and not just literally. Speeding downhill I felt transcended back into the little girl running in my childhood’s Finnish forests (often to an outdoors toilet) in the middle of the summer. Ecstatically overtaking many military-fit looking men after ten kilometres of uphill, I remembered that for a considerable time of my youth I had entertained the idea of becoming the first black female in the Finnish army (I wonder if that would have been a better choice than the hours of leadership skill workshops at a management consultancy. Not least because I’d soon be retiring.) At one point, the slight young Peruvian woman in front of me, who probably didn’t weigh more than 50kg and didn’t exactly fit the description, said she felt like Rambo. This is why I guess they say running is like a drug. We were on the same trip.

The beauty of the place was (Ujjayi) breath taking. I’d bathed in insect repellent, which knocked out the wildlife within a five mile radius, but I still saw butterflies as big as birds and birds as small as butterflies. (Luckily, I missed the big eggs that my boyfriend saw.) After the first hour, I ditched my headphones as the pounding of David Guetta started to reach levels of irreverence, just like the plastic pollution left on the path by some of the runners*. Those things belonged to the city; here I wanted to be able to hear the sounds of the nature, which I’d usually pay an entrance for, and leave through a gift shop.

10367120_10152863201039250_7379405289855276769_n

Until recently, the Chirikyaku population in San Roque mainly cultivated cocaine. This has been replaced by coco beans. Picture by María Viloria Ortín published on ARF Facebook page.

1966709_10152863196084250_8971066401155534405_n

*I don’t know how much extra effort it would have been for the runners to pick up their own rubbish.The route was cleaned by locals afterwards. Picture by María Viloria Ortín published on ARF Facebook page.

The sight of the finish line took me by surprise too. I’d long stopped relying on my Garmin watch. Not because the satellites weren’t working, but because distance became a completely useless indicator. One kilometre could mean anything between five or twenty minutes depending on what the path in front turned out to be. (Did I just come up with a running and life metaphor for Pinterest? No? Perhaps if I paste it in a big font over some instagrammed abs?)

It took me 3 hours 45 minutes. I feel this was a decent achievement but in trail running the position (which are yet to be published by the ARF organising team) matters more than the finishing time. Nearly two hours after I’d taken advantage of the onsite ‘facilities’ and catering – bathed in the river Rio Cumbaza and sucked my teeth in five oranges – people were still reaching the finish line. (Of course some had run the full marathon.)

10383487_10152863220389250_6217548036902544141_n

Rio Cumbaza. Needless to say, the sight of the river beat reaching the best located hydration point in a city race. Picture by Maria Viloria Ortin published on ARF Facebook page.

For visitors, the Amazon Race Forest is nothing less than bucket list material. For the locals – who rightly took home much of the bling – I hope well organised events like this bring more benefits than the Olympics did for London. I don’t have such data, but I believe this is the case. For one, runners eat a lot (I have a new  Peruvian love affair: ‘juane con cecina’ which is rolled plantain with marinated bacon-like cured pork. Try. It.). They go to bed earlier than the average eight-year-old, and don’t leave beer cans around. Bar some portaloos, they don’t need additional infrastructure – the route has probably been chosen for its inaccessibility. Their adrenaline addiction feeds on the natural environment, so possibly their presence increases the awareness of the region’s fight against the expansion of gas and oil companies in the Amazon.

Perhaps that’s why Chullachaqui didn’t appear. Believed to be a member of ancient species that lived in the jungle long before humans, he started his mischief to take revenge on people who had little respect for the forest or those that lived there first. Which naturally earned him the devil status. With the gas and oil companies, the indigenous people seem to find themselves in the same predicament.

10624786_903206426379221_3734118649416755657_n

My half way victory smile. Pinched from the ARF Facebook page.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Consultancy In ma-La-La Land

I’m really happy that Malala has won the peace prize, even if I had my money on Vladmir. Hey, when I was seventeen, all I could worry about was looking fat.  Gendered problems all the same, but on the scale of feminism, more Emma Watson than Malala.

But I was fortunate enough to be born in a country where we shoot ourselves in the head so  the Taliban don’t need to; where both girls and boys go to school, eat organic, have lovely teeth and get good enough marks to put Finland on top of the PISA education league tables, year on year.  So as any mother would do, I’ve sold our things and moved to a country that has the poorest education out of all OECD countries, just behind Azerbaijan.

So is it a surprise that my first consultancy request is to run a mini workshop on the Finnish educational system. The request comes from Iquitos, Loreto, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and one that you can reach only by air or boat.  I know I was the one pretending to be busy whenever there was a risk of being sent on a consultancy somewhere you couldn’t access by the Northern Line, but that doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate to drop everything you’re doing and go WICKED WICKED JUNGLE IS MASSIVE.  (Watching Ali G with your 6-year-old is. Unless it’s done to maintain your cultural links to the Commonwealth.)

In my response email, I caveated my experience like no-one in possession of a Y-chromosome ever would, and suggested an agenda for the workshop. They were thrilled. I was exactly what they were looking for in this region that suffers from the poorest quality education in the country. I was the one to change this and train 400 teachers in 100 hours over two months.

Hold on.

Either Mr Rainforest is in lala land or something in my management consultancy CV gave the impression that compressing the five year Finnish teacher training into a two month course in the middle of the rain forest was my special competency. Was it the bit about operationalising payment by results to maximise value for money and optimal yet measurable and demonstrable outcomes in an effective, efficient and transparent manner while engaging and empowering project stakeholders, at the baseline and going forward? Need to re-word that. Again.

Deploying the same rigorous due diligence methods known to bluechip consulting outfits, DP then googled the prospective client, which hadn’t occurred to me yet.  It revealed that he had been on trial for paying for sex with an underaged girl. I started rewriting the agenda. Item 1: No sexual abusing of the pupils, paid or otherwise. Never. Item 2: the pillar of success of the Finnish educational system – all teachers are university educated with a post-graduate degree. Lunch.

But I decided to give it a benefit of a doubt – we’re after all in Peru, where it’s easier to buy the justice system than sugar free yogurt. Let’s be professional about it i.e. I need the money; and when before have I been promised “a team of psychologists to help because the atmosphere in Loreto is special,” despite the fact that in my experience the atmosphere is always a bit special from the moment management consultants arrive.

I email Mr Rainforest – so perhaps you are not looking for 100 hours introduction to the educational policy in Northern Europe, but a course in pedagogy. Which I’m not qualified to do, so best we meet or have a phone call to clarify the project objectives. In the meantime, if you could kindly tell me about the project…such as who it is funded and managed by?

To this email I didn’t get a response – and DP told me to forget it. But nearly a week later:

“It probably wasn’t a good idea to tell you about the reality of the educational level in Iquitos. But this is the truth and we want to change this little by little. We want to be taught to apply the Finnish educational system in our class rooms. Do not worry, we will find a specialist who is willing to do this. I profusely apologise for bothering you.”

Today I woke up convinced that I’d been in Peru a month longer than I actually have. I don’t think even a hundred hour workshop could have prepared me for all this insanity. To all my Facebook friends who are sick of seeing me wearing lycra at sunrise: running is no longer a hobby, it’s a lifeline. Because it really says something, if the sanest, most normal people I’ve met here are the ones who get up at 4am on a Saturday to drive 50km out of town to then run 7.5km uphill. And then for the fun of it, run it up all again. Booyaka booyaka.

If anyone is interested in an education consultancy, all expenses covered, a team of psychologists included and good prospects for a Nobel prize, send your CV and cover letter to the author.

iquitos-01

As the picture demonstrates, the hot topics here right now include online bullying at schools, hence commissioning a Finnish education consultant. Picture from DS Lands.

Tagged , , , , ,

Not So ‘Lone Runner’ in Lima

Whatever my idea of a sabbatical was, it wasn’t getting up at 5.10 am on most days. Now that I’m used it, I consider sleeping ’til 6am on a Sunday a lie in. This has nothing to do with DD starting school, as it has with the pre-mid life crisis of once the runner-up of the fifth grade school trail running championship suddenly bestowed more spare than there are Youtube videos to watch. So she becomes completely outdoorsy.

I’m no speedy gonzales, but I’ve always loved running – even before I spent an hour a day reading the Runner’s Magazine. But me and trail running hit the rocky road when I became a single mother/management consultant. For the first couple of years especially, my nose would be running more often than my feet. I’d be reaching my maximum heart rate at the top of the escalators at King’s Cross.

As often happens with the taken-for-granted things in life, I realised how integral running was to my identity in a hospital bed. High as a kite from morphine the day after my spine surgery, I read ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ by Lance Armstrong, and googled swimming instructors in London.  As if reading my thoughts, my neurologist (what, not everyone has their personal neurologist?) said the words that have followed me to South America: “You will be running soon again.”

And so I am – but in Lima rather than London.  I’ve joined a local sports aficionado group Miraflores Runners led by a Peruvian elite distant runner. Mr Ricapa likes taking photos and making people get up at 5am. There are now so many unflattering #nomakeup shots of me on Facebook that cancer charities would probably return donations on seeing my account removed.

In the past month I’ve taken part in three of Lima’s big races. Toyota 21k, Maraton RPP and New Balance 15k. If you’ve clocked most of your miles in Europe, the first thing to note is the absence of fund raising, but you can take comfort in your nice new t-shirt in which you’ll be raising the awareness of car manufacturers/fast food chains. Someone’s got to burn the calories. The second thing to note is that the Maraton RPP is not a marathon. It’s a 21k. But, hey fifty percent margin of error- let’s not be so pedantic.

The third thing is the gender balance. As you walk to the race start area, you are greeted by (presumably) Argentinian models. You can’t miss them, because they are tall and blonde and their boobies that have more gel cushioning than my trainers, are at the eye level of the average height Peruvian man. Qualities that would make them excellent pacers, but despite the misleading clothing, they are not there to run. They have more important things to do. Like to be blonde.

So that’s the women done…

I’ve observed about 1 to 4 female-male ratio at the events. It’s great if your bowel is telling you that carb-loading before a race (you learnt about that in Runner’s World) is not for people who tend to load on carbs anyway. Welcome to your first public event ever where there are no 5-mile queues for the ladies’! On the other hand, this means Lima’s trees get watered extra well (before eventually dying of ammoniac). But most importantly, mind the machismo on the track!  Some say that men are worse at pacing themselves. My guess is that they have been to South America. In which case they, like me, may have noticed the first aid treat someone at the 1km point.

10457799_10152068198907185_8742049966700703329_n
Running away from her problems as usual. At RPP.

The New Balance 15k is a nice fairly flat race and my favourite of the three: you can even win a trip to the Disney 21k,  if you are wearing a new pair of NB trainers. AND you make your best friend happy when they will be carrying your chip as you’re recovering from a knee injury for breaking the runner’s rule #1: ‘do not try anything new the day of the race’.

So, Lima and its races. Are they worth it? I wouldn’t be booking flights… unless you want to tell your Facebook friends you finished a ‘marathon‘ in an hour, or you’re a woman and have a nervous gut like me.  But if you happen to be in Lima and not that busy on a Sunday morning – as they say here: ‘alas y buen viento!’ (wings and good wind) You may see a race regular English bulldog El Biuf on skateboard enjoying just that.

Maraton RPP
Source: Maraton RPP Facebook

But it seems that as with everything else, the most amazing things about Peru are found far outside the capital. We are currently booking flights to Tarapoto for the Amazon 21k Race in November. Trail run in the jungle – now that’s what I call a sabbatical.

IMG_20140929_182212ASICS, Brooks, Nike, if you’re reading this, I will review your latest runners in exchange for a free sample. Who cares I have 100,500 fewer followers than El Biuf? I can write better than the bitch.
Tagged , , ,

Tuesday is a Point of View

Now that DD has finally started in a school in Lima (DUN-DUN-DUUUN!!!), I can close the phase of the home educator with the most grateful amen ever uttered on this continent. Although it had only been a week since the kids in London were back to school, my anxiety  (and jealousy) was multiplied by the possibility of our ‘summer holiday’ extending until the next term… or beyond. That in addition to entertaining and trying to keep calm and blah blah blah, I’d have to start pay serious attention to some curriculum – don’t even know of which country – so she’d not fall behind. In the four weeks we’d done the Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología (the day I got robbed); the mini city for kids Divercity, ChocoMuseo; climbed Peru’s biggest indoor climbing wall (three times); gone surfing, cycling and visited most playgrounds with little to do or see, apart from around twenty five homeless cats, half of which appeared to be pregnant. We’d even been to the exhibition of contemporary chair design, as you do. We’d done it all apart from paragliding.

Lima is not necessarily a great city for kids. They don’t do amazing or even pretty basic attractions, like libraries. They seem to value primitive anthropological concepts such as friends and family and spending time together.

We obviously don’t. Thanks to all the years spent in nursery and school, DD seemed to have got this idea that at 8 am she and I would sit on the carpet, and I’d call the register and reveal a white board with a list of twenty-seven fun and developmental structured activities planned for our day together. When spotting her mum’s failure to plan was heading towards planning to fail she started injecting our day with some direction:

What are we doing today? An art gallery? What’s a gallery? I don’t want to go to a gallery. Is there a cafe there? How long are we going to be in the gallery? Can we go to the cafe after? Can I have what I choose? What if they don’t have what I want? What are we doing after the cafe? After we’ve eaten? Draw a picture? A picture of what? And what are we doing after that? What are we having for lunch? What are we doing after lunch? What are YOU going to do after lunch? … and after you’ve been to the loo? Can I watch Frozen? What are we doing now? And if it rains?

IT NEVER RAINS IN LIMA!

Yeah, but what are we doing today, if it rains?

I tried to think what my home schooling friend in London would have done. She organised the ‘Forest Club’ in a true Finnish ‘we-fought-the-Russians’ spirit in Hampstead Heath. There are no forests in Lima, but there are the rocky beaches. I’m sure my friend would have said something like: “Let’s go down on the beach and paint!”

We sat together, back to back, with our paints and brushes. I mixed greys and blues. It’s Lima, it’s the winter. It’s always overcast, it’s always grey, polluted and it never rains. School hunt sucks and I need a job. She was reaching for the purple, pink, yellow and orange with her paint brush. I was going to remind her the point of this planned curricular exercise was to observe and reflect on our environment – not paint rainbows or hearts – but thought better of it. She was engaging in an activity, at least, and wasn’t asking what we were going to do next –

DONE!

(Now, dear readers, here comes my Buzzfeed link bait moment: “I always knew me and my 6-year-old saw things differently, but then I saw this and OMG THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED!”)

10255

Photograph from GuiaGPS

20140914_150640

‘Tuesday’. My interpretation.

20140914_150657

‘Tuesday’. Her interpretation.

96992

Photo from Nirvanadmc.com.

Tagged , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 447 other followers