Saturday, April 26, 2008

A week of sickness

So the last real entry was back in Cuzco, which I´m quite far from.

Been meaning to update but it´s got so backlogged I´ve been putting it off.

In bulletpoints, I went to Puno after Cuzco, managed to suffer from Alitutude sickness or something and therefore spent an extra 12 hrs that I didn´t want to. However, the good thing from this was that I managed to flukely stumble into a tour operator of the various islands, who actually happened to be an Uros islander. I didn´t fancy my chances at that stage of being capable of getting myself to and from without passing out.

The second piece of luck was as I walked into an Italian restuarant I managed to be recognized by 3 canadian girls I met in Aguas Calientes a few days earlier. So I sat and ate with them and Derek, a boyfriend who´d also been suffering from Altitude when I met the others. So we ended up having quite a lengthy dinner as there was plenty of crack to be had. I realised I liked them straight away when Anita complained about the styrofoam boxes you get if you ask to take anything away. We exchanged emails I was heading to Arequipa a day later than they were as I had yet to see the islands.

The islands: Were really amazing. Our guide kept ranting on about "Marita (her name) for Presidente" and how she didn´t want tourists giving the children anything for free, as when they´re older they dont´give them anything and then they steal. She had plenty of good logic and she was in good nick for 60 years old. (Her words) . She munched coca leaves and gave us Maña which is a herb you rip off a bush, break in your hands and sniff when feeling the altitude. It was pretty good, a bit like vicks but more lung opening. We also had Mate (tea) of Muño after our quinoa soup and trout & chips meal cooked at a locals house. With the view of Lake Titicaca in the background, this was on the island of Taquille...where single men flag a red and white hat and married men have coloured ones. Although on further explanation, the red and white signified the Andean blood, and the white purity (ie virgin). So I´m not sure single and being pure are synonymous, even in Ye Olde Peru...(Marita was enquiring which hat I´d be wearing).

Anyway, we got back after about a 4 hour boat ride and then I got on the cheapest filthiest bus I could have found to Arequipa. This managed to eventually get there after some 10 hours I think. It took ages and was cold, uncomfortable and I was surrounded by really irratating teenage girls. The least said the best.

Now Arequipa was bloody excellent. I came here for a bit of civilization, to see condors (determined not to leave Peru without seeing one alive in the wild), to check out the Mummy Juanita and to hopefully hook up with the Canadians. And to enjoy fast internet.

Sadly, Juanita wasn´t about as she isn´t exhibited Nov-May , I heard the US has her for the other time...why the hell this should happen I don´t know. But I don´t know that for sure, the Canadians told me. Also Anita had a picture of herself as Juanita outside the museum which made up for it!

Seeing the condors was a well worthwhile midnight bus ride to the Cañon del Colca, which takes 6 hours, in order to see them at dawn. Now this didn´t seem too bad and it was hot in Arequipa during the day, luckily I thought to wear jeans and coat to go. The bus journey was the worst transport chapter in my life. The road was so bumpy the windows and door rattle open. At this altitude 6 hours before the sunlight came out my body was frozen and shuddering like I thought I was going to die. 6 hours felt like 30 days of night. When an incredibly fat chica plus blanket came on I cursed as she wedged herself into a seat other than the one next to me.

By the time I stiffly paggered off the bus, the winds were setting in on my bald head and big ears. I´d forgotten my hat. Luckily, a bunch of women were already sat out waiting for the tourists to arrive, with all their woollen goods on display, the time was 6.30am. Now by this stage I´d already been internally debating about buying a woollen jumper for awhile, mainly because it´s my culture and also the Allpacas here are pretty well treated, and the wool would need clipping off at some stage. Plus it´s the trade of the local people here. Without selling those products, they wouldn´t be able to eke out a living. However, by 6.32 I was already putting on a allpaca jumper the kind lady had let me have for 20 soles as I´d not actually got that much cash on me as I forgot to budget for the boleto turistico for actually being in the place. Another sold me a hat for 5 soles which did actually make me blend in like a local.

I sat and waited. At 7.00am I saw one condor, then I waited some more, I saw plenty of other birds, one quite cute one I got quite a few fotos of, he totally posed for me, enjoying the attention. By 9.00am, busloads of tourists turned up and then by 9.30 am, about 6 condors were swarming around us all. 2 really huge ones and 4 smaller baby ones. I caught some good foootage of it, and didnt manage too crap a photo, considering by the time you press the button and it actually takes a shot, the bird is out of site.

Anyway, I returend home satisfied, I was dog tired though so decided to meet up with the Canadians the day after, so another day in Arequipa. The next day I moved hostel to hang with these guys and we went out for quite a few piscos, beers and cocktails. We ended up dancing in some trendies bar to really shit music, but it was ok as I was drunk. It was then when Blur "boys and girls" came on, I decided to confide in Anita that I had found this really cool 1925 postcard of 2 women, one butch one femme, sitting on each other. She thought that was amazing and told Steph who I´d already sussed out as queer and then they wanted to know where to get the postcard. I said I´d show them in the morning. We all outed ourselves as queer by then which was a turn up for the books! Obviously apart from Derek who was dating Anita. but then she was queer so he was by association. I didn´t feel the need to say I was trans as bisexual covered my sins. Although it did cross my mind when Anita slurred in my ear that she loved masculine women... I wonder if she thought I was? I know a bit too much for the average bio guy about dyke and gender shit, so maybe. It wouldn´t have mattered anyway and the night rocked on. We ended up going on my theory of getting into a taxi and making him take us to a "fiesta del pueblo", which is what I did in Iquitos under Edu from Lima´s instructions. It worked, although by 3am not much of the pueblo was left at the party. So we made our own entertainment and theres some embarrasing photos lurkign around somewhere but it was fun.

Until 6am when I woke up in my bed with major stomach problems and then spent 6 woken hours emptying my digestive tract, even after Immodium Plus. There was no way I could get on the "only urine" bus toilet for 15 hours to Ica. So I shivered in the patio for abit until I told the Señora I was staying another day. And to fill up the toilet roll holder. More motions, More immodium and peruvian ineffective yellow pills, I decided I was ok enough for 8 hours uninterrupted sleep so I put myself to sleep with my favourite blue pills. Woke up a lot later safely clean, but needing to go. Went, more pills, woke up Monday morning right as rain. Although not right enough to eat breakfast so I skipped that until 11 we went for a hookah pipe and turkish food.
It was the best meal I´d had in a long time. Falalfels, hummus, nice salad etc etc. Eventually I said goodbye to my friends, and off I went to Ica.

Ica: I arrived at 3am, half asleep and full of shite. I managed to get in the only taxi who didn´t have a perosnal recommendation for me of where to stay at. I was actually counting on someone telling me where to go as my book was a bit think on suggestions. I ended up getting into a bit of a tiff witht he taxi driver as I thought he was trying to rip me off, so I jumped out and flung hoim some change when I saw a secutiy guy on a nearby corner. What had actually happened was the hostal had been knocked down by the earthquake in August, so simply didn´t exist. Luckily the security guy escorted me and a few stray dogs who tagged along to a nearby hostel which was much cheaper. It seems the security guys here just like to stand on corners and whistle every few minutes, not at anything directly but just to let you know they´re there. And theres normally one on every corner in the centre.
I went to the Museo de Ica as soon as I got myself together that morning, and got to see trophy heads, which is why I wanted to go, plus the usual pottery and mummies, a few deformed skulls (coneheads) and some pre columbian preserved dreadlocks. They looked in good condition all things considered. From there a brief lunch break adn then the bus to Pisco.

Pisco: This was actually where the main effects of the earthquake was felt, and much of the town is in ruins. Having said that, the people there are soem of the friendliest, and went out of there way to make me feel welcome. Maybe a little too much effort but I wasn´t complaining.
Seeing as I hadn´t managed to get a response from my volunteering application, I was mainly here to see the Islas Ballestas and just observe the town.

Islas Ballestas: Sweet! Got to see loads of sea lions, in all stages of development. Soem fishing, others baskign in the sun, and others fighting over rock space. The usual I guess. Also got to see a handful of penguins and thousands of other types of birds, including the red headed vulture.

Finally: I got on the bus again and headed back to Lima, Miraflores to be exact. Wanted to see my friend Juan this time, and finally did. Also to sort out my flight back as trouble has brewn at Casa Brixton and I´m needed at home. I have also pretty much seen everything Peru has to offer, except maybe 5 cities.

And then I headed to Mancora to enjoy a few days chill before heading back to finalise my flight.

Today (A Pilsen Callao Day): I started the day by having to kick my birthday pussy out of the bedroom at 5am as she was scratching me. In all seriousness I have felt pretty shit about it as this sweet little kitten came and made friends with me last night. She´s incredibly young, and answered my question as to whether shes been weaned or not by catching and eating a cricket. So i fetched some seafood back for her last night and she enjoyed that. But this morning she was restless and I thought the surf was gonna hit so needed my sleep.
Didn´t see her all day and started worrying maybe a vulture had eaten her or she´d hurt herself or got sick...until she ran upto me as I left for dinner....I said nice one kitten!
At lunchtime I decided to sod the guts, and ate conchas negras in a ceviche. I wish I´d had my camera as I got to see the shells being opened and prepared right in front of me at this stall on the dirt track to the beach. Ate them with chifre which is thin sliced fried green banana crisps.
This evening I went for a fresh tuna steak which was well tasty adn I got a bit in my pocket for the cat. You can tell I´m getting old as I´m looking forward to getting home and feeding the cat.

(I am listening to BongRa though...)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Minutes Hate

I feel like I came to the place my parents came and tried to spread the word of god and actually become completly de-beliefed.

But it´s good. I´m no longer a slave to religion. Feel sorry for my young guide who showed me around the Museo de Arte Religioso as I couldn´t help laughing out loud to the tiny sandals for the image of a baby christ.

Guess I can read Richard Dawkins now.

And the title in spanish, is the name of me and Daves yardcore band.

Zoo. This one´s for you!

(beat it! bit too much time internet surfing...)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Inkas

Monday 14th April

Been to lots of museums today:
  • Museo del Inka
  • Museo de Historia Natural
  • Museo de Arte Contemporania
  • Qorikancha

Museo del Inka had quite a bit of information about the 3 tribes the Inka are thought to have come from. There are of course various theories about how the Inkas arrived, one of which includes being the sons of the Sun God Inti. Some of the more interesting bits of info I found were mentally noted and now I spew forth:

Llamas were key to the Inka empire expansion as they were used to carry stuff, their wool for clothes and for food. There was a certain way to slaying a llama, which included removing its still beating heart.

The Inkas also engaged in head binding / skull reshaping. This was used as a way to show their superiority over the peasents.

The Inkas were allowed to co-exist along the spanish invaders although without any real power and a few uprisings against them. They also mixed racially with the spaniards, and artwork in this museum show the remaining Inkas wearing more spanish style clothing.


The building is essentially a Catholic Chuch built over an Inka temple. The temple paid homage to the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Rainbow and Thunder/Lightning. All the temples walls except that of the Moon were covered in gold. The Moon naturally was covered in silver. (Rainbows were believed to be messages from the gods)

The structure of the walls were built in a 3D trapezoidal manner i.e. angled inwards to avoid destruction by earthquakes. The blocks , made of grey basaltic andesites were shaped in order to interlock at the corners, further increasing stability. The bocks were also "stapled" together by means of carved matching grooves in adjacent blocks; molten liquid bronze was then poured into the grooves and when set, they formed the staple.

The drainage system of this temple was also a feat of civil engineering. In the temple there are displays of the blocks of stone used to form the piplelines. These pipes transfered water from it{s origen at the top of one mountain, down thevalley and back up to the elevated location of the temple. This was done by (Hydraulic Engineering Year 1 coming in here) reduction of the diameter of the pipes in order to increase the head. These pipes were in fact 2 blocks of stone with semi circles cut into them to form each half of the pipe. (The elevation of the beginning and end of the water system are pretty damn impressive being the Andes and all)

The conquistadores (or invaders as i prefer to call them) landed, they enforced their Catholicism/ religion upon the Andean people, also terming them derogatorily "Indians". Qorikancha´s gold was torn off the walls and used for deocrating their own images of the virgen, and the papal and religious clothing (made by the Andean women). They covered up the Inka brickwork by plastering the walls and painting basic artwork over it. The Dominican priesthood further imposed their religion by making the andean folks paint european style Christian art, without letting them sign their name on their work.

Once my Andean tour guide (included in the entrance fee) found out my blood runs just as peruvian as his, he took great pride in giving me the alternative interpretation of the museum. One of the most interesting pieces of artwork I saw was a piece depicting the cruxifiction, but with Andean subversive touches. For example: JC is brown, unlike the european custom of painting him white. His nailed legs are not crossed like the euopean version, and the bendy legs typical of Andean folks are instead portrayed. The man and the woman at his side although caucasian and dressed in typical catholic golden robes are very subtley chewing coca, which can be seen by a little round ball at one edge of their cheeks. JC also wears a petticoat - traditional to the Andean women, instead of the typical nappy-like effort. The best bit about this was that the Catholic invaders didn´t realise any of this at the time and even now probably goes widely unnoted as the style is european. The painting is very important to the Cusqueñan people today, because of this subversion.

How this temple´s built over existence came about was by an earthquake. As stated before the Domincan knocked down bits of, built and covered up as much as possible of this engineering feat of a structure. When the earthquake came, the Catholic part fell down revealing the Inka walls and much of the original work. The Andeans has been made to believe by the Spaniards and the Church that they came from a barbaric uncivilised past, and that they were inferior. The earthquake revealed the splendour of the Inkas, their engineering skills and attention to detail (precious stone embossed walls). The indigenous people began to feel pride in their roots.

Interestingly enough, in the Museum the information below the Catholic plasterwork and shoddy painting glorifies it as being the "only piece to have survived the earthquake" (?!). I wanted a tippex pen to write over it.

Saturday 12th at Dawn: Macchu Picchu:

Well, most people know of it and want to see it.It does concern me that the majority of Peruvians can´t afford to see their own heritage. Even with different prices for nationals, it´s way out of most of their pockets. It´s definetly worth the trip although I´m glad I didn´t do the 4 day hike. Not having any proper shoes was a major issue for a start, the other being that I´m not exactly built for it nor do I understand hiking as fun...I´m sure plenty of people don´t understand lifting weights as fun but there you go. Vive la difference!

I did however trek up Waynu Picchu from Macchu Picchu which confirmed my wise decision. By this stage I´d made friends with a(nother) spanish lass and 2 chilean guys so we all scrambled up the steep and narrow tracks. It took us about 30 mins but I thought I was gonna have a heart attack, the altitude and scorching sun was harsh. Much respect to my compañeros as they´d been hiking for 4 days at this stage! I´d bought a box of sangria with me, which hadn´t been planned but with that and Natalia´s mary jane, some well chewed coca leaves, sweets and coca chocs, the view was pretty fucking ace! (the half man-half goat locals do this in about 12 minutes!)

We finally all got back to Cusco at 1030pm and ended up going out to a mixed gringo and local club. The music was shit and not even the cheeky peruvian class a made it any better so I called it a night. or rather a morning. :)


A few hours later, I woke up and determined to get to the Sacred Valley and have a gander. My thin soled hard shoes were killing me by this time, espeically as much of San Blas were I was staying is cobbled. Ouch! I kept repeating to myself I was really feeling Peru by putting myself in it´s own shoes / or that the Inkas wore silver sandals. It didn´t help much.

This time, after buying a bagfull of gifts for my family at the market, I trekked up to the ruins to see the Inka citadel. This took about an hour I think, although I did go quite slow as the blood was running to my head, I was finding it hard to breathe and sweating insanely in the sun. Not to mention my feet were knacking. Anyway, it was a good view. I still don´t get trekking but the Andes are painstakingly beautiful.

Caught a jam-packed bus back to Cuzco and balanced on one foot for one hour, one hand shovelling my choclo (corn on the cob)and cheese down.

Friday, April 11, 2008


After a few hours of arriving at Cuzco (a 25 hour bus ride from lima) I managed to find a flyer for a free screeing of this film.

It´s worth the 2 hours to check it out, my brain was like a sponge after a week of beachtime blankness. Although a lot of it wasn´t new stuff, the final episode talking about a one world government and internal human chips is fucking freaky - especially considering some people have already gone ahead with the implant.
The first chapter I also thought was pretty radical to show in Peru, a population where most are believers. (This is often a question I get asked by girls - if I am a creyente (believer)..). I say no.

I arrived a little late to the film so I thought the theatre was just full of western crustys and punks. I was pleasently surprised when the lights went on to see only one such face, although one of the peruvian guys comments was that it was only applicable to the US.
I was trying to think of how to say the US has their fingers in all the pies but couldn´t come up with it quick enough..

Sunday, April 6, 2008

CNN on the Olympic Torch Protests, London

¨We need to remember that in the UK peaceful protest is part of their democratic expression¨

If only the entonation of the US presenter could be conveyed in text. Especially horrified at the fact the pigs were on ...bicycles...?!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

a little bitch

there is only one band in peru, they're called Grupo 5. They have about a maximum of 4 songs released which are played continuosly wherever you go, the bus, the boat, the shopping centre, the restuarants, the beach... i'm ready to poke my eyes out..4 songs about love, hearts, love lost.
"que locura mi amor que locura" and they more or less sound the same.

i wish i'd never thought to upload my mp3 player with the latest horrorist cd, as it wiped my whole flashdrive. so now i have just that album and a few bits of breakcore. but its not enough..i'm dying here. this may see me returning to the uk sooner than expected...
i'm definetly going green at the idea of missing the bangface weekender, but with youtube i'm trying to pull through by listening to some nostalgic metal favourites.

in other news, Hunachaco is an even better beach than Pacasmayo. it's a proper little coastal town with better waves although a bit of a spiky reef on the beach. already surfed once yesterday and got a lesson booked for tommorrow to get used to a better board. it's only 8 quid a lesson, so i'm not going to find one cheaper anywhere else.

this is the place for ceviche. i don't trust eating it anywhere else apart from peru, and where else except right on the sea front? the fish, the lime, the heat of the aji and the coriander = hot sour protein - at least i'm in culinary fucking heaven.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Olas Peru

Pacasmayo was a sweeeeeet place, I think the smaller the place is the better in terms of interacting with local folks. Or maybe locals are just used to oddball surfers everywhere, so no lizardman freakshow reactions these past few days. Even met a pierced peruvian

The waves on Saturday were perfect for my level, especially using a lot shorter board. Further down at El Faro, they were a lot bigger. Scarily crashing on sharp rocks, so I decided against trying there.
There´s something compeltley enjoyable about seeing the sun set during 3 hours of playing around and forgetting about anything else but trying to catch the perfect wave. I hung with some young pacasmayan lads who were also getting used to smaller and thinner boards on both days. Sunday unfortunatley was a bit flat wave-wise so only went in for 2 hours.. I it was also my T shot day so felt quite tired and watched a few crap films on the box.

There is a big swell on Wednesday, so I´m off to Huanchaco today and do a bit of history\ cultural studies tommorrow -the Huaca of the Sun and The Moon. Then Wednesday hopefully hit Puerto Chicama, were the world´s longest left hand break is at...2km.
Nearly bought a second hand surf board this weekend, but maybe good that I didn´t. I´m not sure whether I´ve got the guts to do it in the freezing north sea!

After that I´m heading back to Lima, then doing the Macchu Picchui stuff - might not bother with the trek as I can´t be arsed to buy any shoes. Possibly a bit of Lake Titicaca, and finally the Mummy Juanita in Arequipa, before heading back north to Mancora and more surfing. There´s also a surf competition in Miraflores (Lima) on the 19th-20th April which if I´m about I might go check out...have a perve on Peru´s premium female surfer...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Madonna in ill informed ranting attention seeking bollocks shocker

Pop Queen Madonna has hit out at London's transport network.The star criticised the congestion charge, the Tube and complained that traffic was worse than ever.Madonna, 49, often spotted cycling around the capital but also using chauffeur-driven limousines, told Q magazine: "I would make it so that young musicians, aspiring musicians wouldn't have to pay the congestion charge or pay taxes."They would be exempt from those kind of things so they would have more money to do other things."Will Ken Livingstone get my vote? No. The traffic in London is worse than ever now. All Red Ken wants is roadworks going on everywhere."She added: "Don't use The Tube; can't use the roads? No. I'll just have to walk I guess."Madonna has criticised various aspects of UK life since moving to Britain, including lazy builders, officious parking wardens, fuel prices, old-fashioned hospitals and the weather.Friends of the Earth London campaigner Jenny Bates said of the star's most recent complaint: "The C-charge has reduced congestion and cut carbon dioxide emissions."A spokesman for the Mayor said: "If we hadn't had the C-charge we would now be in gridlock. The roadworks she refers to are long overdue."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tsschk! You gotta show 'em who's dominant

I have taught the cutest 8 week old puppy Mocha in the youth hostel to sit!

Lambayeque Culture

I'm pleased to say I'm learning quite a lot about my ancestors, the ancient civilizations being more interesting to me than the current one.
I don't think I mentioned my visit to Lima's Museo de Oro (Gold) but I buzzed off that place, mainly because there were rows and rows of orejones(earrings), narijeras (nose sheilds) and big gauge labrets (Chimu civilization: has a proper name but I lost my notes)
As I already knew, orejones are the sign of nobility and/or wisdom. Annoyingly only men are thought to have worn them in this manner. (Although not according to Mel Gibson's error filled Apocalypto)

Today I went and did a touristy trip of the Lambayeque culture, which is probably the main reason someone would come to Chiclayo in the first place. (Or at least me anyway)
The first stop was the Huaca Rajada, the original location of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. It was only discovered in 1987, mainly due to Huaqueros (theives) looting lots of gold jewellry from the tombs. So along came the archeologists and started digging - with dental tweezers!) and unearthed some of the worlds best preserved tombs within rapidly disintegrating pyramids. When a lord died, it was custom to bury him with his whole entourage: the missus, the mistress, the child, the bodyguard, the servants (males had their feet chopped off so they couldn't run away), the llama, the dog. His sacerdote (bishop) had a seperate tomb. Should anyone of this clan die before the lord, they got buried temporarily. Folks still alive at the time of his death got slain. It was also custom for him to be buried with symbols of his people, which were the clay pots shaped like people. In this case, the Lord's death was unexpected so the clay pots are not very decorated. He had to be buried quick. (His father's death on the other hand had been expected so the pots are very detailed)
Plenty of gold was buried with the Lord, for the afterlife. This included 3 sets of orejeras, 2 narijeras: gold shelds that were worn threw the septum. They covered the lower face shaped like half moons, hollow on the inside edge so that the wearer sounded like deity from the echo and their facial expression could not be seen. Also his half-moon hat, his gold belts, dress, mouth full of gold coins). But what was even more treasured than gold was shells. And plenty of the jewellry were made out of intricate shell beading (into huge chest pieces) and wristbands. The Lord also had size 6 feet and some sandals made out of silver that were also in his tomb.
The Lambayeque were very different to the Incas in that being from the coastal regions, they worshiped the Moon as opposed to the Sun. The Moon after all controlled the ocean tides, and was represented in their metalwork by Silver. Silver was worn at night, when the moon was out, gold during the day for the Sun.
Some of the orejeras were made with tiny gold sequins pinned on, that when subject to movement (walking) shimmer and reflect light. In their world, even numbers of decoration on jewellry signified life, odd numbers death. Life jewellry would have smiling faces on it, death unhappy faces. Plenty of dress accessories weighed well over 1kg, and the main gold dress weighed 10kg!
Llamas actually were able to live in this area pre-colonization (spaniards changing the land for rice and sugar cane) as it was a forest type terrain. Dominated by the super strong carrob tree which was used as reinforcement in their structures - and to cover their tombs.
El Nino followed by the Inca domination eventually ended this civilization

I think I might take a history evening class when I get back home...

The next stop was the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan, which was one amazingly massive modern pyramid constructed in the middle of a small community. Only nobility lived in pyramids, the commoners lived in houses; so quite true to life!
Here is where the actual tombs and real gold, bronze, ceramic and shell artifacts are kept, sealed in glass to preserve them from our dirty germs ad cameras. (no cameras allowed inside). This was a really cool setup and I'm glad I booked the whole trip. The tour guide passed on a lot of information in a bad combination of spanish and english. As well as getting as many anti-american and spanish stories in as possible (to the pleasure of the chicago people on the tour) , and also some strong pro indiginous rants!
I couldn't stop myself from purchasing a pair of replica orejeras which were quite expensive but unlikely to be able to buy anywhere else. Luckily my hostel is 13 soles a night!

After 3 hours in the museum it was time for dinner (I was starving by this time). I made friend with the americans, one of whom was interestingly half chiclayo as his dad is from here. His cousin was also a good source of knowledge on how not to get ripped off by the locals.

The we went on to the pyramids, which were pretty impressive - my photos don't do them justice, especially the trek up to the top. There was a magic stone up there which I had a go on but no signs of anything abnormal just yet.
By this time is was half five - I'd done the equivalent of a full day at work and was feeling it. Oh to be travelling. Suckers! ;)

El Perreo


The journey to this place was by far the best thing, had a few pre-journey beers with one of the collectivo drivers in a video bar opposite the garage. It didn't take a genius to work out el gordito was trying to drink faster and more beer than me, which cannot slip when sharing the same big bottle and two glasses - as per custom here. I can't help competing and my trained trans-bladder held the whole session until he pissed first. I was educated in Perreo and where to go to find clubs like this. (I already dance like this at least in my head)
By this time 2 more passengers had arrived so our collectivo car was full and off we went.
After the first 30 mins of silence, we eventually began talking about our mutual dislike of the cops, who in cuzco apparently are called Incas because the worship El Sol (i.e soles/currency/money/bribes) I chuckled to myself as i actually got the joke, but it was to be the only one of that journey. Didn't understand the other jokes apart from one unfunny gay joke not even amusing.
I arrived, determined to go El Pabillon to meet my pal from the bar and the guy who I talke politics with in the car. Unfortunatley I was knackered and kind of over being stared at like a freak for my ears and tattoos for the day. So i watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (reminding me I need to research that on google) plus quite a good semi animation about Lions called Zuki, la leoncita valiente. Brushing up on my spanish.

The next day I set off to get my bus ticket to Chiclayo, from the outskirts of town. Got a bargain trip of 14 hours for 50 soles, which was 30 soles cheaper than one competitor. Little did I know that this meant the toilet could only be used to pass water...which immediately made me need the other function and in for quite an uncomfortable journey. Luckily I managed to sleep for at least 7 hours non stop and then dozed here and there till we finally pulled up to the dusty city of Chiclayo.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We are Everywhere

There is a local transperson here in Yurimaguas! I thought I spotted her the first day I arrived, but then dismissed her as a tall woman. However, this morning she walked right into me as I left the hostel. So that was cool, except of course I´d like to talk to her but am not about to strike up a conversation about her trans status considering I don´t even know her. In the reverse situation I´d be a bit annoyed if some random came up and wanted to know about my personal life. Anyway, she was hot and latina and it made me happy to know I´m not the only one here.
...I wrote this earlier this morning before the computer I was on crashed..(luckily saved by blogger) anyway, I bumped into the transwomen again on my way out of a shop. they were both loving my orejones so I blurted out I was trans was cool! unfortunatley my ride to tarapoto was in 10 minutes so I couldnt talk for long or hang with them as they suggested, but not even! 3 transfolks in the Jewel of the Huallaga.

I realised I forgot to say anything about Iquitos, where I stayed for two days before leaving for Yurimaguas. Well it was quite a pleasent place, if totally touristy but in some ways nice to see some other travellers as I´ve been pretty much on my own most of the trip. On the boat I ´d already joined a bunch of 3 guys who were all from different countries in europe, and spanish was the only langauge we all understood. So we were actually speaking spanish for the whole trip. I learnt lots of card games and dice and refreshed my chess.

They got accosted by some peruvian scamster who wanted to take them to the jungle for free and to a hostel he knew well. He was doing the complete "that hostel you want to go to is full\closed\etc, come to this one" To cut a long story short I left them saying I needed to be near the centre and would check the situation for myself. One in the motortaxi, the driver tried to get me to go the SAME hostel our "amigo" had been trying to push on the boat! So I decided well against it, and the way things turned out one of my friends got 300 soles stolen out of his backpack when he left it in the room. Even dodgier considering that when he kicked up a fuss and was going to get the police involved and told the owners he was going to slate the place on the internet (as they didn´t want him calling the cops) they gave him his 300 soles back!!
Im hoping they´re all ok as when I left they were heading out to the jungle with the peruvian guy as a guide (Rene is his name in case I need for future ref) .

I made friends with one of my hostels jungle guides who was actually a Yagua tribesman, mainly when I stumbled into the hostel after a night out on the town. In the morning he took me to Belen which is a huge market area in Iquitos to show me the sights. There were plenty of horror sights there though, de-shelled turtles cut up to show unhatched eggs on display (also eaten here), a very sad bloody shell on the side :( and even worse, crocodile limbs and tails. Seeing as these animals are heading towards extinction, it´s very sad to see that those living the closest to the are completly oblivious to their welfare. It was a simliar situation to the animal sanctuary where the main purpose of the reserve was to conserve the butterflies of the area. The woman who ran it was an austrian lady who obviously has given up with humans and dedicated herself to these orphan animals. Apparently the local kids kill all the caterpillars they find because they think they´re poisonous worms and don´t understand that they become the butterflies - certain breeds of which are in threat of extinction. The sanctuary is a place the kids can go to learn about the process, as they don´t get taught this sort of stuff at school. I found that concept really odd, consdering how when I was little and living in a 3 storey flat in Spain used to collect caterpillars and feed them until they made a cocoon etc etc.. However I didn´t know that the butterfly or moth only lives for 2 weeks after transformation.
Maybe a jungle version of "The Hungry Caterpillar" book would be a good option...

I then made friends with a peruvian guy called Edu who was in my dorm, helpfully from Lima and quite pleasent. It´s definfetly a lot better going anywhere with a paisano as they know when someone´s trying to take the piss soles-wise or just generally. Anyway, we went out for a few beers and then he decided to take me to a "fiesta del pueblo" where apparently the locals are going to be at. It was quite a strange set up, felt a bit like i was in a reggaeton music video except there was also a kind of hostile vibe going off too. Not sure whether it was to just me or Edu or both or just general peruvian guys being all macho. When nature called for me, we decided to go rather then get duffed up in the bog. However, I did spy a group of peruvian emo kids!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Max^s Gym, Yurimaguas

Finally managed to workout yesterday, after a month or so of no training.
It was but a stroke of luck, seeing as my moto-carrista was wearing a t-shirt advertsing the gym and i asked me to take me there instead.
it{s a spit and sawdust place with retro 70{s equipment, but has enough to keep me from going over the edge for another few weeks. it has a roman chair so could do my obliques and a dipping station. perfect!
haven{t lost much, if anything i was pretty strong which was good. stronger than anyone else there, which i guess is down to western diet and the fact im not working. i had to also remind myself i was born female, just to blow my own private trumpet! :) the break seems to have done my knackered elbow tendons some good, as they aren{t hurting at all.
also got told about an Amazonian bodybuilding competition that{s happening in August. im quite excited to hear that folks are doing stuff like this in somewhere so remote! (Yurimaguas is on the edge of the Amazon). obviously not my scene seeing as my idea of a six pack is the tinned or bottled kind... going again later today.

had a weird dream last night of buying my old gym in leeds called Adams, for 888,840 pounds..which is well excessive but it had a huge basement and upper living quarters. hope thats not an omen of how much its going to cost in real life. can{t wait to get that gym started though...

the boat trip to Yurimaguas was less thought provoking as I managed to trade my interesting books for some rubbish ones about nymphomania (not half as interesting as it sounds), a crap book about a female spy (again a let down) and a story about twin incest and murder....this one was vaguely more interesting especially at the end as there is some crossdressing. the forth book was actually quite a good find, a diary of a CIA agent in the 60{s, which im still reading at the moment but has some food for though in it. like the CIA actually being the unknown leaders of certain socialist and workers parties within ecuador, in order to control the level of anti-US feeling. hmm. the book is not for sale in the US , so im gonna keep my hands on it.
otherwise, i was stationed behind a small girl who cried and whined most of the journey (4 days) and put me off wanting to have kids.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Amazon Adventure

I arrived from Tingo Maria to Pucallpa, the last city to be reached by road before the Amazon on Sunday night I think.. the days are blurring a bit to be honest, in true slacker style.

It was a fairly uncomfortable journey given that 10 minutes before getting on the bus I had just read in the Lonely Planet book that this route isn´t safe (esp at night, which i was also doing) as there are armed robberies linked to coca trafficking on this route. Ooops. not to mention my persistent trots and a non-stop 8 hour journey due to the armed robberies.

however, i arrived in one stain free immaculate piece without any trouble. spent two days here, staying in a hostal run by two elderly sisters who enjoyed the grim side of christianity - my room had a huge picture of a bleeding christ over the bed, dying for my sins. pucallpa was pretty dull, im assuming becuse i arrived on a monday. still, i managed to hook up with some gringo guys heading to Iquitos on the Don Segundo boat so i was a little more relaxed about the 4 day trip.

Unfortunately, i am a tourist in my own country. which sucks but is true, I have been told out right a few times. Peruvian men are pretty persistent in trying to rip me off at any possible chance, hence the above relief at meeting some other europeans. Around the Amazon i don´t look like any of these guys, and come to think of it, not too much in Lima either. In Huanuco, where my birth mother is from, also stood out like a sore thumb.... On the plus side, the peruvian women are pretty keen...every cloud has a silver lining and all that. My sister does look immensely like the folks here though, scarily so as i looked around the boat from my permanent 5 day hammocked state. I wonder if she would get the same treatment as I am. I´m keen to call her and talk to her about it, as really she´s the only person who will ever be able to understand what I´m feeling right now.

Managed to get my shoes stolen on the boat by day 3, which sucked due to Night of the Gigantic Flying Cockroaches on Night 2. The bugs kept flying towards the light above my hammock and then falling down on my body, in order to avoid getting trapped on the spiders web that has been thoughtfully spun over the bulb. (fortunatley quite a small arachnid). These bugs are the size of the Kinder egg toy holder, so this regular incident wasnt exactly welcomed. My shoes, carefully positioned so I could drop out my hammock and slip em on and stamp the fucker dead. They do not die under the weight of a flip flop, so luckily this event was a one night only occurrence. As i dodged the cucarachas exiting the toilets, i passed a young girl squealing as she brushed a sizeable pile of carcasses out into the river, some of which in their crushed state still managed to waggle their legs. My friend David put one on my head in the morning as a practical "joke". There are downsides to being a bloke.. i guess i was looking a bit too practical for this trip though, so maybe its back to inpractical wasteful skate shoes or stick to the flip flops.

I wrote this on the boat yesterday...

The boat ride is pretty cool, in terms of living like the average poor peruvian. I can feel my muscles wasting away from lack of protein and exercise. I´m hungry and in low spirits which I´m sure so are they. The meals on the boat are pretty much slop and stale bread for breakfast (i haven´t dared try the slop tbh), rice, a tiny bit of chicken (eg: half a wing) and 2 boiled green bananas for lunch. Tea is chicken broth with noodles in it. All cooked up by a fabulous pair of queer looking people, a hybrid of biffa bacon´s mutha with eyeliner and plucked eyebrows. They scowl and serve very little to anyone who laughs at them. In my head I have conjured up fanatasies of them having Meat Men times in the downstairs boiler room - especially after seeing them holding hands with the super butch macho captain. I got a lot of meat on the last day, and my two friends got a special tomato and pepper with their meal. it was noted.

I wonder if the peruvians think the food is good or not? They all run for the meal gong when it sounds, very unbritish behaviour. My mum always used to tell me off for doing this.. But I like seeing their happy faces as they can´t get to the Esmeralda kitchen any faster. I wanted to take a photo but as with many situations I realize it´s pretty out of order. This their life, not just a boat trip. I´m glad I got to experience this.

The boat is a great place in terms of reading, planning and reflecting.

So far I´m going to Yurimaguas after a few days in Iquitos, and then onto Chiclayo on the bus. That will probabaly take a week to get there, maybe more if the boat to Yurimaguas isn´t that frequent. I reckon I´ll spend 5 days in Chiclayo looking at some of the ruins and surfing in the nearby beach town. Then another bus back to Lima and either surf there or make my way to Ica, Arequipa, Puno and Cuzco. I might buy myself another pair of shoes for the Inca Trail or maybe not...the flip flops from Brazil seem to have stopped rubbing my feet so I´ll see how my flat feet deal without a supportive arch.

Read two really good books on this boat, George Orwell´s 1984 and the Motorcycle Diaries. The latter had some quite harsh reflections on the people of this country: " they are a defeated race".

It is really hard to see people living in such shocking conditions, especially in Huanuco. It was extremely filthy, poor, small and boring, yet without any other options. I met a little boy called Joni who asked to eat my sloppy seconds, that I only really ate so I could take my malaria tablet with. It was very humbling and I made a note to always finish whatever I get from now on, as well as to stop being such a stomach on legs. Joni lived up in the shanty town of Huanuco, he said he knew my birth mother when I told him my story and her name. I thought it was sweet of him to try and pretend. It was also a good slap in the face as to how life could have turned out for me. That kid could have been me. I´m not angry with my birth mother anymore, at 19 she gave me not only the chance of life but also the best opportunities to go with it. I´m probably one of the luckiest bastards alive and I´m not planning on throwing it away.

A corrupt government and a failing economy hardly inspires people to believe life will ever get any better.

1984 on the other hand explores how heirachal society works on the need for the poor to be kept in their place, uneducated. As well as for the government to keep engaging in war, in order to waste resources so that the poor can never have enough and never afford to go to college. Never to fully realise that they carry the economy and deserve more than anyone to have more. War is necesarry so that the masses believe in the government (who manipulate the media) in order to look after the difficult affairs that they dont have time to understand, because they´re busy working to survive.

I guess that´s why we look at South America in general\in hope to actually overthrow the government and demand change. Their hierachy is built on a mass of extreme poverty, they revolt because to not do so would mean (means) starvation and death. Unlike Europe, where the poor can still scrape an existence.

Hierachy only exists by keeping the majority down, and whilst I for one would like nothing more than to live in a world where everyone has the same opportunities, wealth and (un)status, there´s always someone who would want more - it´s human nature isn´t it? I just don´t understand how everyone on this planet will ever co-exist in peace and harmony, which isn´t meant to sound pessimistic just a need for me to do more.

Think globally act locally, has always been one of those phrases out of Schnews I think a lot about. The plight of transexuals in South America is something I´m keen to inform more people at home about. In Brazil for example, your aquired gender is not even recognized. I´m sure it´s like that in most of these countries, but need to do more research...

Because really, England is my home. My respect for my Parents has gone up tenfold on this boat trip. They spent 10 years living on the Amazon and loved it. Their own self constructed mud hut, just like the rest of the locals, if anything they´re more peruvian than I´ll ever be, than I´ll ever be able to experience in this trip anyway. 10 years living on the Amazon, as beautiful as it may be, would be tough as fuck and sounds like my idea of living Hell. Respect.

All that said, the extremely young mothers on this boat have done a fantastic job of making sure their numerous offspring are clean and combed (with filthy brown water pumped fresh from the Amazon into the sink tap) before breakfast at 7AM and in another set of clean bed clothes at 9PM. As opposed to us gringo scruffs who havent showered or changed clothes since Tuesday. (I don´t actually have any clean clothes left)

We really are on a chicken boat. There is a cock and a hen upstairs, the former greets in the morning at 5AM with a loud series of uncontrollable cockadoodledoo´s. They are the proud parents of the woman in the hammock next to me´s cardboard box of 7 loud cheeping chicks. They get let out every so often to run around the decks and strut their big strong legs. No battery farm here, although they still will get eaten. At least here, they use absolutely everything, and the little runts dont get their necks snapped just for having a gimpy leg. I picked a few of them up and asked the woman if she could eat them after having reared them, as she genuinely seems very proud of them, an extension to her own offsping. "Of couse" was the smiling answer.

There´s also 3 scared cows on the front deck who crap themselves frequently with fear, and a few pigs too.
The children are doing really well all things considering. Only tonight are they really starting to get bored and tired (read noisy and hyoeractive). There´s so many really small kids, one of them reminds me of my nephew Joel quite a bit. And whilst he plays with our beers cans - his mother being complelty fine with this- and puts bits of dirt off the cockroach corpse ridden floor into his mouth, I can´t help but think about the stark differences in his and Joel´s life. Because Joel had a 50\50 chance of being one of these kids too.

Got a few hours left before nightfall (7PM) when the mozzies start and hopefully we´ll be in Iquitos before morning. Being on testosterone I think makes me extremely tired. The trip has been great because I get to lie in my hammock all day, reading, sleeping, having a beer, before having the communal meal and then napping off the food\drink before settling down for a nice early night around 9PM...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lima Limon

So Lima is interesting in terms of people watching, but generally too chaotic for me.

The traffic network is stressing me out because I can´t understand how the hell people aren´t getting killed on these roads. Plus in true engineering geekness, I have been racking my brains on what the best solution(s) would be for this city. And I can´t work it out...God help whoever gets to sort these roads out 20 years down the line.

I fagged out for a bit the other day as there was supposedly some "queer\curious" event on a tuesday. It actually consisted of just about 10 gay guys sipping overpriced cocktails, listening to shocking 1994 dance music. Still, it was an experience as 75% of them had similar builds and features to me, which is odd after all these years.

I´m not feeling that connected to the people here as it does feel like I was just born here, look like them, but I´m pretty british and priviledged. Yesterday I got to see the hospital where my life began and took a few photos, then got callously ripped off by the taxi driver who demanded the quote in dollars, not soles. Looking back, this was only 16 quid to me, which in all fairness has been known to dribble out of my pockets with ease and probably meant him and his kid could have a few nice days. It was just the fake pal-ness of it all, pretending to give a shit about something quite deeply personal to me and asking me lots of questions about my family; once he knew i lived in London he was laughing. So from now on I have decided to publically be a student or a firefighter, and generally not say too much about much.
Sitting back in Larco Mar I took note of all the indigenous people begging and the general astuteness they have towards gringos. It´s hard to explain exactly how that makes me feel, because I guess I dont´t know what it feels like to have nothing. But I´m also not capable of ripping people off either, and it makes me irratated that so many people from where I come from are quite capable and skilled at doing so. I realise that having grown up with white parents makes it impossible for me to see myself as "us" and my folks as "them", and there´s no racial animosity in me.
So I have decided to leave this chaos behind and trek up to see the area where my biological mother is from, called Huanuco. It´s an 8 hour bus ride and cost 35 soles which i think is pretty good considering the picture of the nice coach. Will save me a night at a youth hostel anyway, so I hope the bus doesn´t turn out to be a pumpkin! From then on I plan to make it up to Yurimaguas (by bus and collectivo) too, and see where my sister is from. And then I´m going to take a lancha upto Iquitos and hopefully sail down a bit of the Amazon just to say I have. My British parents spent a good decade sailing up and down this river, pulling peoples rotten teeth out and dishing out medical supplies, so I think this venture might actually allow me to have a valid opinion on Worldly matters in my Dad´s eyes.
And that´s as far as my plans go, will probably take a week or so to get to Iquitos and another week of Amazon Adventure. I´d like to buy a shrunken head but life may not be that kind to me.

Todays´s treat was hearing Angels by Robbie Williams on the panpipes in El Parke de la Cultura. Laughed my arse off.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Un Nuevo Sol

so here i am waiting for my washing to be done before I head out to discover more of Lima.
I spent around 2 weeks in Rio, although the last week was a good 60km south of the city - surfing in Recreio.
Prior to that I did the usual sights of Sugar Loaf Mountain,nearly bumping straight into Neville Glue & wife who are church friends of my parents. Almost a sticky situation (!) seeing as they havent seen me since i was 18 and female. Luckily they didnt even recognize me - I was kind of tipsy and not in a mood to explain the ins and outs of my life since 1996.
I found a weird black flower in the Jardin Botanico, nailed a few caiprinhias by the Redeemers feet and also got to see a footie match in Maracana. Botafogo vs. Flamengo - it was pretty cool, somehow i managed to get a good spot just behind the goal post. Unfortunatley Botafogo lost after being 2 up so the atmosphere was pretty tense at the end. got chased by riot police on horses as i went to get the Metro home which was fairly full on but luckily (?) i have plenty of experience at this sort of thing. it was like Mayday all over again.

It is not possible to purchase steroids or arimidex over the counter at pharmacies here, at least not in the tourist zone. Apparently in Peru it is, according to the chemist. More on that later.

I`m shedding a new skin as I have been surfing for the past week amongst doing absolutley sod all apart from lie on the beach, swim and eat. The waves in Recreio are fat. I can sit and watch them for hours before tapping into a coconut and reapplying sunblock. I`ve always loved the sea, and after this week its made me even more determined to actually live near an ocean in the next 10 years. My only problem is whether I can last that long!

Made some new pals, my surf instructor Milly who is from Hawaii and will be heading up to Peru to catch some waves on this side of the continent. I`m looking forward to seeing her surf seeing as generally she`s just been teaching me or other beginners. Also made friends with some of the other brazilian and venezuelan workers there as I was sharing the dorm with them. Dorm being an overstatement - my bedroom back home is twice the size of that dorm; and only houses me, as opposed to 6 people. Still, it`s been an experience. I have had my tits out just the same as the other guys which is the first time anyone straight has seen my chest since surgery. Was quite nerve racking, especially as all the guys are proper surfer dudes with bodies to match. But noone batted an eyelid so I think it must look real. Also had to deal with the all male dorm habits of jerking off unsuttley. Now I thought about joining in, seeing as my bunk bed is jigging on its own accord cos of whoever above or below, but decided against it as theres gonna be certain aromas or sounds i cant replicate... i have studied xtube too throughly i think. it`s hard in more ways than one: little reminders that i`m special...timmy!

anyway, brazil was alright. im not sure if its the Nibido or what, but I havent seen better racks yet. I will monitor this though, world service and all that.

Meanwhile, here in Lima I got in at 5am, after an 18hr flight that stopped at Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago and finally Peru. Don`t ask, yes there are shorter routes. Needless to say I was exhausted when i got here, especially due to the time difference. However, I have had about 10 days of early nights in a row (minus one or two)so tonight I`m gonna check out my roots.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"i killed Jay"

..said my nephew for the first time this saturday gone. Making me the happiest uncle alive!(although i lost the sword fight)
And my sister is happy that I'm becoming her brother, although she told me she was angry when she first found out.
i guess time and patience is what it takes, and so far it's paid off.
i'm finishing work on tuesday 19th, with a meeting of "TfL vs. A Developer", my role being to make sure surrounding bus journey times and reliability will be minimally affected. I've developed a fetish for intelligence. Work have been ok with me leaving, spun a bit of a white lie as to the reasons, but i have my future to think about!

TransActive goes live towards the end of the summer and i need to be in a position to be fund it. (that's my transgender and queer gym - popping up in the south east of london, exact place yet to be determined)

i'll leave work at 4pm and meet my bro, quick change of clothes and get on that plane - destination Rio de Janeiro. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jungle Warfare

tonights session:

squats 3x10 @100kg - piece of piss
deadlifts 1x8 @70kg, 1x6@110kg, 1x8@130kg, 1x3@150kg
shrugs 1x10 @60kg, 1x10@100kg, 1x10@140kg
plus calves, abs, obliques

i'm back! my ab and oblique training is really paying all lifts were raw except for the 150 deadlift, where i used a belt

really enjoying training thom up, he's motivating me to lift heavier all the time even though he's just beginning, im pleased with his final 5x60kg deadlift
protein beckons

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


my passport is now officially M...
the week started a little darkly but i can see the light at the end of the tunnel :)

Monday, January 7, 2008

inca kola

just been reading this book over the weekend, my xmas present off dave (plus the latest horrorist cd seeing as i had the norovirus when i tried to see him play a few weeks ago).
all sorts of worries are now creeping through my head - like how too piss standing up at the side of the chicken bus, segregated: one side for men, one side for women. the mango is effective sometimes, but its uncomfortable and always that worry of screwing up.
i've been thinking a lot about metoidoplasty lately, i wonder if it's all just a progressive spiral until everything is done. i can remember a couple of years ago believing i would never transition. or never have surgery. and definetly never have bottom surgery. i guess circumstances change - i never thought i'd enjoy working!
tommorrow i'm seeing my cousin tim for the first time in about 3 years. seeing as we both work in tfl, we booked it as official meeting...
saw my dog at the weekend, and had a good old chinwag with my friend who looks after him. she's actually become a really good mate lately, in many ways reminds me of myself when i was younger, except with much more of a clue of what life is about. anyway, it was nice to see all of seth's clan who've done such a wicked job of looking after him this past 16 months. it's funny to think of seth not so much as my dog but a little bear in his own right, with his own network of humans!
i also met up with a lot of the guys i used to hang out with back in the early 2000's, and a sort of mild panic rose when i saw them all sat on the train waiting for me to peg it down the platform straight from having walked the dog, and shiv driving me manically from shipley to leeds train station. but they were all super cool about everything, not even needing explanations of why my name's changed since i last saw them or why i have sideburns now. i assume good old kinder must have updated them all which made it a lot easier and just plain nice to not to have to start the conversation with "so i changed gender..." and their attitude made me remember why i used to hang with them in the first place. sweet.