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ALMOST HEAVEN, OLMOS NORTH PERU, COCKROACH HEAVEN.

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Still in northern Peru I moved to a strange town called Olmos on Good Friday as my new base.

Strange town indeed, Olmos is far from Olmost functioning!

Olmost Heaven, north Peru! No Olmost ready to hold the Cockroach Olympics! Honestly I have never seen so many in all my life. The bastards jumping onto my shoes and running up my legs as I walked through the town of sorts for three nights looking for an internet connection. No service I was told night after, no signal. It seemed there were no lights in half of the town as the place had a dark glow to it at night.

 

There were 3 hotels in town. One that looked like a nice clean one but unfortunately was closed for the holidays. A second which was full and mine where I secured the last bed in a place I called Cockroach Hell!

They were running under a gap under the door, onto the bed, up the walls. I sprayed the place with my insect repellent but only with limited success. I became good at aiming my shoe and knocking the slimey pests into la la land!

To make things worse I was directly across from the bathroom which had a toilet that overflowed and didn’t flush down properly. So you can only imagine the stench of it. Running  is the easy part.

The shower was so filthy that I just had body washes in the sink for the 3 nights I was there. Yes I remember my athletes feet problems from Nicaragua. No matter how light I travel I will always pack my shower flip-flops. I don’t know why I didn’t take a single picture in the town.

This blocked toilet issue was a huge problem in Central America. I never mentioned it in the blog but most times in cafes, restaurants and smaller hotels when one went there was no water to flush it.Ofen no water to wash hands.  The etiquette is to fill up a bucket from a water barrel outside and to pour it down the toilet.

I don’t know why so many Latinos have a problem with connecting up pipes, which just about anyone with a maintenance mind can sort out in any other part of the world. There is a huge laziness streak here, a manana mentality. Ah it will do till tomorrow, now go away and let me watch the football or a ‘ we got talent  ‘ show. Sometimes there is a water supply as there is water in the sink but not for the toilet.

As I mentioned before it does not seem to be the culture to complain about bad service, they just put up with it. I have been in Latin America for about ten months now and have yet to see anyone hand back food for being too cold or for some other reason. I am always doing it here. In this town at a burger joint I handed back the same plate of fries back three times till they were heated enough! The next night they improved as I had to only hand it back twice. Now stone cold potatoes or fries or rice may be the culture to some but if the customer specifically request it hot… what is the problem? Coffee and soups are always on the cold side of luke-warm.

One place refused to heat coffee up for me and they were charging a dollar for the coffee. I think a dollar is a lot for a coffee from a roadside shack in Peru. I remember how the women in Guatemala were out selling small bags of pineapple slices for just a few cents from early morning till after dark. And here it seems that once they get a licence for a shack in a corner of a village that they can do whatever they like! I have no problem with people earning a decent living but in a country that has an average wage of $400 a month I am amazed that a pizza costs the same here as in the USA and many other items like shampoos are even more expensive.

Anyway that Good Friday I crossed the plaza and am not exaggerating there were thousands of dead cockroaches and just as many cannibal cockroaches all over the plaza and no sign of any city maintenance services. They just crawled in and out of pharmacies and banks, people just treated them like pets. How come that a few kilometres down the road there are none? I pity the poor people that have to live here, I can just run out anytime I like.

There are many small towns and villages all over Latin America which are barely functioning. A mayor in another country told me that this is often due to corruption. In his town the previous mayor just put the money in his pocket. When he became mayor, suddenly the whole town was cleaned up and painted. Crime then went down. Why are people not marching and protesting about the open drains, broken side walks, bridges, rubbish all over the country. I can understand people burning trash  if there is no collection. But I wonder why children are not taught about littering in schools, after all if they can learn the rules of football, surely this is not beyond them?

Many police officers in much of northern Peru stop cars and search the passengers bags for anything that looks  ’ finable ‘ the people just pay up, usually a couple of soles, just less than a dollar. On much of my commuting in the area I have noticed drivers getting out and reaching for a few coins. I have seen the coins handed over. Then the driver drives off and gives other drivers a hand up signal telling them they have to pay a fine a bit further on. It’s just accepted, like a toll. No wonder there is so much petty crime on this coast. This is one of the reasons police forces around the world are paid a decent wage.

Mexico and Colombia, though still not perfect fired a lot of the corrupt police and hired more honest cops. It has always been very tough for the cops that wanted to be straight there as they were often threatened by gangsters with violence against their families. The saying always was…

 ’ So what do you want… Lead or silver? ‘

I went out to the highway to commute back to where I finished the day before. Really I should have taken a rest day as there was little traffic. Eventually a man brought me ten kilometres back down the road. I was a bit worried about getting stuck there in no mans land until a truck driver called Julio came along. The next 35km took an hour and a half as he crawled along up the short steep hills, stopping a couple of times due to his truck engine over heating. One of these times we stopped in a restaurant, so I bought the refreshments. Eventually I made it to my start at km 158. I managed only 12 kilometres before I had to head back, that’s what I mean, I would have been better to have taken a rest day. I got a lift back from a very nice couple, I did not catch his name but his wife’s name was Carmella. They had a sheep in the back of their Toyota Corolla which was asleep.

 A few time it awoke up wailing as if having a nightmare, almost like a child screaming. I got the fright of my life every time it wailed. The couple just laughed their heads off telling me they were going to eat it.

 

CARMELLA AND HER HUSBAND

For tradition reasons, not religious reasons I don’t eat meat on Good Friday, don’t ask me why, I figure it’s only one day in the year. I would have thought it would have been the same here in a religious country like Peru, but no the poor chicken doesn’t even get a break on Good Fridays! To keep things simple I told the hamburger seller I was a vegetarian and didn’t eat meat! That I just wanted a veggie burger and fries with an egg. If I was really a vegetarian I would have been sickened as she cooked the egg smacking it up against someone else’s chicken pattie while using the same utensils.

The next day I returned telling her I was not a vegetarian anymore!

The third day operating out of Olmos I ran a glorious 50km enjoying every step of the way, well I tired at the end but it was still great.

That was Easter Sunday. I awoke in Cockroach Hell to Easter Sunday mass from the Vatican. The television was blaring at 6am from a room just up the corridor from me.  This was the same television which was blaring porn just a few hours before, a lot of double standards here.

 This is something else about the culture in Latin America, the constant blaring of music and televisions at anti-social hours or even at anytime, almost as if they want everyone to hear what they are listening to. Not to mention car and truck horns for almost no reason.

When I was on the road today a pick up truck with a speaker that even Iron Maiden would call excessive was blaring out an advertisement for a store in Olmos that sells ‘ lovely water ‘

There were four of them in the pickup driving up and down the road, one on a laptop, the driver, motor mouth, and another man. They drove by me about four times shattering my ear drums. Eventually I turned around and said…

” Hey I got ‘ lovely water too! ”

And sprayed them with my water bottle! They said nothing!

HEY I GOT LOVELY WATER TOO!

Thank God I am out of here tomorrow. My next base will be Chicalayo. With a name like that I have visions of chickens laying eggs on the highway!

Before leaving here I saw a mototaxi as the motorcycle rickshaws are called here with a sheep tied to the rear luggage carrying rack. It was not obviously secured properly as the poor sheeps head was almost touching the ground having a painful shave as the mototaxi sped along. I saw a young lad running after the mototaxi.

MOTOTAXI. I HAVE SEEN THESE FOR SALE BRAND NEW FOR $2,200. I WAS IN ONE THAT HAD 7 OTHER PASSENGERS. THEY ARE ALSO USED FOR TRANSPORTING HUGE LOADS OF CARGO AROUND SMALL TOWNS AND VILLAGES.

 He looked like he was just out walking and took up the chase. This was the fastest I have seen anyone run in about two years. Fair play to him I hope he caught up as they were soon out of my view.

Yes I am delighted to be out of Cockroach Heaven, Olmos Hell.

And finally I wish a very happy birthday to my mam Sheila who taught me my first steps and is celebrating her birthday on Monday 23rd April.

 I love you mam and dedicate my Peru Desert crossing to you.

 

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4 Responses to “ALMOST HEAVEN, OLMOS NORTH PERU, COCKROACH HEAVEN.”

  1. Ann Says:

    Good riddance to the cockroaches and glad you survived to tell the tale. You made mam’s birthday ringing her and she was over the moon with your ecard. Fair play to you all the way from Peru.We Olmos glad to know you are out of that area. Take care and enjoy your day Ann :)

  2. Fergus Says:

    Tony,

    Happy birthday young man! Very entertaining and informative read there. Keep up the good work. Still cant believe you retrace your steps every day though!!

    Fergus

  3. Mam Says:

    Hi tony, glad you are doing so well and I saw you had plenty of company with cockroaches.
    Had a lovely birthday, I was spoiled with all the phone calls from you this weekend. Especially thanks for your lovely birthday comment on your blog. Love and god bless mam :)

  4. kevin scanlon Says:

    hey tony i hope you get some rest during these few days off running. look after yourself, kevin

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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