First published17th June 2008 on

Hi there

Whilst I wait for my blimming photos to upload I….d better fill you in on where been and just why (dammit) I….ve chosen to miss the glory of Big Brother this year (I saw the opening night and I liked Mohammed the be-affroed toy demonstrator most).

On June 9th after a bargain night (hmmm sarcasm doesn..t work on Peruvian computers) at the “Premier” travelinn, Gatwick, I bid farewell to my beloved and with a huge sense of “what the fuck am I doing” set forth to New York. Upon my arrival, the place appeared to be in meltdown – with temperatures of over 100 degrees in English C. Sadly everyone remained calm and I didn….t hear any taxi drivers shouting “are you some kinda wiseguy” at each other. However I did discover that staying near to JFK, whilst it might seem sensible, is the act of a mong – as it….s fecking miles out. Undeterred I went to Manhatten on the Jamaica line (confusing?) the very afternoon I arrived, and loved the Staten Island ferry – not just because it….s free – but cos the views (complete with dragonflies buzzing around the boat) are gorgeous.

View from Staten Island Ferry (the dots are dragonflies)

I also discovered that the subway is less scary than mental. On my first trip back to the hotel, a lay preacher guy stomped up and down our carriage telling us we were all sinners and homosexuals and that he made loads of money and didn….t even need to be there, whilst everyone rolled their eyes (and I tried not to smirk). Suddenly the cloth shopping trolley of the guy opposite me started moving and it emerged that a small wiry haired terrier dog was hiding within when it poked its head out, took an instant dislike to the preacherman and snarled at him before trying to attack him, whilst being half heartedly restrained by it….s owner. I….m glad to say I wasn….t the only person who could now no longer hold in the smirk, and the preacher man hopped off after two stops worth of near terrier death.

The next night I met an old acquaintance (finally – after realising that their directions were 10 years out of date) over the water at a place called Hunters Point and found a great little bar with a very civilised beer garden where we sat in a thunder storm and got soaked watching lightning strike the empire state building. My mate was due to give me a lift home but cos I didn..t offer him a blowie he dumped me into a taxi and I eventually got back to the “Comfort” Inn.

Next day I found that it is unpleasant to negotiate JFK airport with a hangover – but also discovered the restorative qualities of the chicken noodle soup from Au Bon Pain and the Corned Beef Reuben sandwich (praise be!) from the Brooklyn deli outlet. In fact I was to become a connoiseur of airports over the next few days, with Miami scoring high for a civilised smoking area, but low on information and comfy places to “sleep” for 7 hours. Bogota “International” airport scored low on any facilities, but high on me not being taken out in a gangland killing during my stay there.

Finally I arrived at Lima where I was due to be met by a representative from the volunteer group I….m working with in Cusco. Scanning the array of eagerly scrawled taxi drivers.. placards at Arrivals, I couldn..t see any signs resembling the one I….d been asked to look out for, and my heart sank. I tried the number left by the volunteers representative to no avail, so decided to take some maverick action, and approached the airport customer information desk with a sense of trepidation.