Author: Pepe

August 1, 2011

  Let’s play a game. Guess how many people you can fit into the following vehicle:   The answer is below, just after the video of the car.   So, following on from the previous entry, after my second foray in Rwanda’s Kigali, I went to Musanze. This town was my base for gorilla tracking. I had no plans to go gorilla tracking before I arrived in East Africa, but became seduced by superlative stories people told me once here. The problem is that it is notoriously difficult to obtain a permit to do this: in Kigali, the tourist office…

July 20, 2011

What will the next global battle be over? Received wisdom deems it will be a war between an ailing American and a rising China. Some point to a resurgent Russia instead, or those oil-rich nations with immense Sovereign Wealth Funds. Others, such as Tony Blair, expect strife to occur not over ideology, but over values, notably of the religious variety. Perhaps they are all wrong though. The next global battle may be peaceful. It is arguably already under way. With the globalisation of markets being the main paradigm through which countries plan their economic strategies, communication is pivotal. And what…

July 8, 2011

  Where in the world has an entire continent, a myriad of cultures and multitude of histories, peoples and languages been reduced to a few singing lions and a warthog? Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Africa. Or to be specific, East Africa, as Africa is a continent not a country. Believe it or not – and take a deep breath here whilst clutching your chair – there is more to East Africa than famine, wars and poverty. In fact, almost immediately upon arrival it was startling how normal everything was: yes, the roads were slightly more tumultuous than those in…

September 1, 2010

I almost made it. Until two days before my return flight to England, I had not been mugged since my last update. What a wonderful swan song for South America, I thought; it would be nice to leave on a high. Instead, I broke a new record: two mugging attempts in two days, both in the same city, Buenos Aires. So, what savage attacks did I encounter this time? The one on the final day was a wonderful parallel of the Quito experience, albeit sans the excrement. Whilst passing by the intersection dividing Florida Av with Peru Av (one of…

August 17, 2010

San Pedro Prison is located in central La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. Approximately 80% of the inmates are imprisoned for drug related purposes; the remainder have often committed more serious crimes, including murder. The exterior of the prison is unremarkable. In fact, it looks roughshod and decaying. What makes San Pedro Prison unique, however, is what lurks inside. The outer perimeter is secured by armed guards; inside, the prisoners run riot (sometimes literally). Guards do not step foot inside. The prison is controlled by the prisoners. The result is fascinating. It functions as a microcosm of society – a…

July 23, 2010

In 1970, the captain of England´s football team, Bobby Moore, was arrested in Colombia under the false premise that he had stolen an expensive bracelet from a jeweller. In retrospect, he probably got off lightly. When I was in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, something worse – much, much worse – happened. I was walking around the Old Town; an area renowned for archaic architecture. It was midday. I was near the Plaza Grande which could be called Quito´s equivalent to Trafalgar Square. In other words, it is the centre of the city, bustling with tourists and, supposedly, security. So,…

July 8, 2010

The border crossing from Venezuela into Colombia was seamless. Here are a few observations of the politik sort: This is the first border crossing I have encountered which was entirely optional. You could just walk from one side to the other. Actually, had I taken a taxi or bus, it would have driven straight through the crossing, so I would not have even had the option. The administrative buildings were set aside and whether you have your passport stamped or not is up to your own volition. Thus, A to the J’s advice from the previous post that I ought…

July 6, 2010

It´s a mugger´s game

So, Venezuela was not as dangerous as I was led to expect: I have not been murdered even once. Yet.

However, due to the constant scaremongering peddled by locals, danger appeared to lurk around every corner. And indeed, it was only a matter of time before something serious happened.

Here is the scene: I was walking alongside a busy road – something resembling a dual-carriageway – in Central Caracas. It was 14:00. The sun was glowing and there appeared to be nothing to fear.

March 8, 2010

Hello all, For one last time, I would just like to thank you for all the support you gave me. I met my target by running the marathon in under four hours by finishing at 3:59:19. Considering that I am usually late for my appointments, it was nice to be on time for once. The beginning of the marathon was disconcerting. For starters, even before the race began, there appeared to be a devout group of people whom are best referred to as the Bin-Liner Brigade. Even if there was a possibility of rainfall (which fortunately did not materialise), I…

August 29, 2008

Travelling overland through China, one encounters an array of bathrooms. Do not envisage thrones replete with trinkets or sinks with saps, sanitizers and moisturisers. A sink is a luxury; soap, a myth reserved for Western movies. Yet, despite the disdain in having to clench your fists and discard your dignity, there is often no alternative. This is egregiously acute on long-distance bus journeys. The problem however is that hygiene abruptly becomes subordinated behind other concerns in such circumstances. Bulging bladders are placed on a pedestal of priority, yet, even such discomfort cannot conceal the horror – the sheer moral degradation…