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Old 01.12.2011, 14:51
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For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

The Copa air 737-800 was landing in Lima, the capitol city of Peru and after three months in Mexico City I was looking forward to breathing air again. The thing about breathing in the Districte Federales is that the ahhh! Additives (Yes just the right word) will wither your membranes like salt on a snail making you cough, wheeze and splutter.
On a bad air day it is like trying to breath emery cloth, your eyes will water they will redden and go all puffy, giving you the demeanor of a long time alcoholic. A dentist in Santa Fe that I visited told me about the problem; he told me more than I really wanted to know. Mexico City is in a geographical bowl; she is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes causing the air to accumulate the muck of thirty million people, and their cars. That wouldn’t be altogether too bad though. It is the winds that frequently blow in from the high plateau.On the high plateau people and livestock shit and piss anywhere they want.Piss and shit dry out in the arid land and turn to dust.Wind blows the dust……..On the other hand at an altitude of 2500 meters you should be glad that there isn’t a lot of air to breathe anyway. The air that greeted me stepping down from the plane however was far from being the refreshing light sea breeze I had expected, I was hit by a wet blanket and for a few moments I actually had problems filling my lungs with the heavy sea air. I walked very slowly to the baggage belt, gagging and coughing up thick mucus, my lungs getting shut of the airborne sewage I had so carefully collected from Mexico City. Outside the security zone in the airport I ran the gauntlet of the usual South American entrage of touts!“Taxi Sir,” “Money change,” “Ladies bar,” jostling and almost fighting each other in the hope of a commission. The atmosphere seemed a bit more pushy than I am normally used to in South America it was a sure sign that a lot of touries decant through this airport. Luckily I was to be picked by a car from IPP (our dealer) but after twenty minutes without so much of a squeak from my pickup I started to feel a little bit deserted, noticing that I was still there and wandering around with a blank look on my face the whispering of the touts became more and more directed.
One flash of insight later; a loud bellow of “IPP FerroStahl” and a guy looked in my direction, eyes wide.Got him!I had missed the pickup until now as his sign proclaimed to be looking for a Mr. Zlammmurr.The ride to the hotel revealed more of the city, dark wide roads with the usual potholes, south American potholes differ from their European cousins insofar that they are the ones where the iron lid of the manholes gets nicked for scrap. It makes driving around in the dark a bit like walking blindfolded in a minefield. A few garish lights proclaiming a “Chifa.” Other flashing lights illuminated the many casinos or other places of amusement.Apart from these few islands of light the city was dark and it was only around ten. I arrived at the hotel in Miraflores, or look at the flowers, my driver promised me that the district is a more cosmopolitan part of the city. The room I got was nice enough but it overlooked the busy main road and was therefore very loud from the traffic din of cars and trucks. As usual I had arrived after the kitchen had closed so I raided the minibar and after a quick shower I crashed out. In the morning I was picked up and driven to customer number one; now I love to sleep with the window open but the noise was just to much and around three I closed it, even with the window closed the din was more then I could stand, and I spent the night trying to wrap a pillow over my ears. I had had a rough night and was in no shape to take the horrors of Limanese traffic. Limanese drivers love their horns, a car here can have no doors, bodywork parts missing, no brakes, or lights but it needs a horn and believe me they are used extensively, not a gentle pip pip but a very aggressive HOOOOOONK!Personally I rate the one that goes Dudellu Dudellllllu Du Da as the most irritating! The very next day I almost dragged a driver out of his little Daewoo Tico, (think of a chest freezer on wheels) the idiot tore around the corner just as I was crossing the road (I had the green light, but nobody gives a hoot about traffic rules here) he honked at me and I gave him the finger he stuck his head out and shouted something nasty in Spanish. He got a lesson in German in return. His look of incomprehension and utter bafflement was a beauty to behold; I think not because I was talking nasty German and he was not able to understand a word I said, but that I could have any thing against a good honking and what the hell was I doing crossing the road when he wanted to drive there anyway. Meanwhile other cars behind us were honking and honking and honking the souls of their horns out. Customer number ones machine was a sad heap, dusty, rusty and dirty, passed over by generations of upgrades and a general lack of TLC she had been down for months.The problem was quickly found after a day or two of probing and poking I had our dealer order the spare parts the very same day.The spares although quickly sent from our factory would take at least four working days to arrive and maybe, maybe a week to two weeks to clear customs. Doing business in South America takes patience by the bucket and of course nerves like cannelloni. As no more was to be gained from staying here we moved on. Antonio my shadow from IPP is a pretty good driver so off we went, rattling and banging our way to the next customer.
In an effort to describe to you the finer points of Limanese traffic I would need to write a whole chapter by itself, for one most cars are in such a state of demise that any European auto recycling institute looks like a second car hand showroom. (Wasn’t Junkyard a much nicer term?)Tires and suspension seem very hard to get ones hands on; the tire of choice is a slick if you are lucky. Tread on tires is of course only for new imported cars; otherwise the tires used have wire sticking out or are down to whatever is under the wire! And as for springs: Well suspension is only for wussis anyway; real men drive without them. Customer number two was located in a building made from adding boxes onto the original structure, lots of little stairs and cubbyholes everywhere hallways that run into a brick wall, outside windows inside. I found the machine with the help from a native guide and found more or less the same situation as before, Jezus Christ do people not realize, that machines like that need care and maintenance especially big terribly delicate and expensive things like ours. The laser on this one was dead and had gone to stand before the great and terrible god of Tech, a replacement would cost around fifty grand; Euros that is, a plan was formed to have the laser sent to Denmark to test if it can be re-animated.Feeling adventurous and seeing that I hadn’t lost my lunch in ages, I took a bus back to the hotel…..A lot of the buses or microbuses run around on only four or five wheels even if the rear axle can take four. The other wheels are simply missing; a micro bus is a rattletrap vehicle of Japanese origin. All are garishly painted, the paint scheme reflecting the route.All have a crew of two or even three, one driving one collecting the money and the other touting for the bus. This fellow is an artist in his own right although bordering on the lunatic fringe.He will jump from the moving bus to anyone foolish enough to be standing at the curb if the bus slows down enough he will try to manhandle the person onto the bus, all the time touting for the route the bus will take, as people here generally ignore horns, he will often loudly slap its sides with a stenciled board also proclaiming their destination. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to get on the bus and just wanted to cross the road, if you are a man, woman or a little old lady you will be pushed or bullied onto the bus. To complicate matters if another bus sees the first one descending on a potential fare paying customer then the driver will not think twice to overtake and cut across the bows of the first bus.And if a third bus is there then they will stop as well. However woe betide if taxis are lurking, amazingly anyone with a car and more free time than sense can slap a taxi sign in the windscreen and become a hack, the taxis being more maneuverable than a bus will sometimes get between the buses hoping against hope that you will not get on the chocker, crammed to bursting bus and use a taxi instead, the other taxis will also try and get in first because maybe you will find the first taxi one or two Solis too expensive and use the next one, all this is accompanied with honking horns and the shouting of nasty things in Spanish. After a day or two crabbing sideways with my back to the wall, arms spread out, palms to the bricks as far from the curb as could get I found out that by making my very own traffic jam I could amuse myself for hours.I would stand at the curbside and wait for a second or two until traffic was gridlocked because of the taxis (one time I got to sixteen taxis) and then with a “Wazzup!” expression I would walk on. Although after a few times the fun did start to fade, it became all too predictable and I had the feeling that I was making myself enemies. One evening I took a micro back from the part of town known as La Punta. The bus was choker and as usual it was being thrown around by a driver thinking he was in a sport scar I was starting to feel queasy and wondering if a taxi would be a better option…..BANG! A tire burst not a “flubflubflub” of a deflated tire but a gunshot report and then “flubflubflub” a few passengers shouted at the driver to at least have a look. The bus was stopped and a grumbling crew went for a look, the three started arguing amongst themselves but in the end it was decided to carry on our flubbing way, as for me I got off after another stop deciding to put my life on the line in a taxi, as the bus pulled away I dimly noticed that not only was the bus now running with a flat tire but the other wheel on the back axle was missing altogether. Apart from the noise I was in a nice Hotel for a change, it had a rooftop restaurant complete with open-air swimming pool. Good food and a pretty waitress. It was here that I was introduced to the local top selling soft drink “Inca Kola” think of a liquid yellow, a neon liquid yellow drink; I think that if you exposed it to black light it would glow. Inca Kola is everywhere on signs on buses even painted on walls and the Peruvians are very proud of it I tried it and found it to taste just like it looks; neon yellow. Explain a neon yellow taste: Simple drink Inca Kola! It was served every day at the customer’s local cantina I got it ice cold and found it quite drinkable. As my spares where still hanging around in customs something, about a missing signature from the janitor in Denmark, I promised myself some beach time. The most of Lima is perched on the edge of a very high and very crumbly looking cliff. Huge rolling swells coming in from far out in the pacific, remnants of storms from far out maybe from around Fiji or somewhere else exotic, hurling their enormous energy in long sweeps up the pebble beach. Waves running up on pebbles give a very distinctive sound, the smaller stones rattle and swish the bigger the stones the more you hear a throaty clonkclonkclonk these stones are as big as baby heads and impossible to walk on without heavy duty hiking boots. The only options for me to get into the water would be to roll myself down the rather steep slope, or move like a albino walrus. Whatever way I chose it would be amusing for the locals. However I was spared at least that humiliation. I noticed that the limanese were having the same problems getting into the water as I was having. They solved the problem by waiting for the waves to reach their annex and then jumping in a shallow angle into the water. The waves would carry them out or bring them back, the kids would do this for ages. It looked simple and elegant..
..like something even I could do with ease. Forgetting that the average Limanese is a third of my bulk and that it would take a tsunami to make me move elegantly with the water.
I dived in and buoyancy became an early issue, the wave moved out faster than it could carry me and I crunched into the gravel burying my head and shoulders and flinging my feet upwards. One instant nosebleed later and I managed to slide down the rest of the way on my bum into the sea. Climbing out was another matter; it really is impossible to stand and walk on these stones and my towel was about 10 meters away and at least a three Meter climb, I managed by worming my way up the rise, crawling wouldn’t work as my arms and feet sank into the gravel. It wasn’t TOOOO embarrassing because other people were having the same problems. I decided there and then that in future I was going to swim somewhere where there are less people.Later on, as I was working on my “tan,” some of the children came to me comparing the maggoty white of my skin with there own dark olive completion. Soon I had a group of kids surrounding me and poking my arms for attention until red faced mothers, embarrassed by their prodigy’s lack of shyness, shooed them away. The air was warm the sun nice and the sound of the waves mesmeric. I fell asleep.Some hours later I woke and gave a groan, I know what you are thinking but I HAD applied sunscreen and one with a factor of lead foundation paint plus to boot! But I hadn’t been able to give an equal coating everywhere. I was a multi-colored person, ranging from my slightly pinky Anglo Saxon white (well covered easy to reach parts) over shades of red to an angry red that was already forming blisters; I could even make out where my fingers had been. The looks I got from the others on the beach ranged from acute sympathy to a smirking “mad dogs and Englishmen dum dum de die dum dum dum!”Later on in the hotel in front of the mirror I gave myself a damage report: Sun burnt in five shades of pink topped with an angry red caused by semi lethal solar radiation poisoning, black and blue from playing pinball with rocks.NOT to mention the pasty white dangly bit normally covered 365 days by underpants. And we call them colored!
All in all I thought myself lucky to receive only small second degree burns, lucky until later on that very night. Some time at oh no hundred in the morning I woke feeling a sting in my gut. Of all things that can ruin your sleep!
Travelers often talk about the various “bellies” one can get; I for one have reamed my guts out with the best of them: Bali belly, Singapore loosebutt, Bombay bumburner, Moctezumas revenge; that dodgy club sandwich in Damascus. All afflicted travelers think that they have suffered most but hey! I had sunburn to boot, so there!
Boasting aside, I spent the rest of the night on my knees before the porcelain god, giving testament to Huey! After about a year of living in Mexico I had hoped to be immune to the various “bellies”! By now Montezuma’s will give me a somewhat rich flatulence at the most but nothing more. By much later in the morning it wasn’t a case of the bottom dropping off my world but the world flushing out of my bottom. I was suffering.
This was the Peruvian bowelbasher!(I hear everybody go”OOOOOOhhhhhhhhh!”) Known and feared throughout the traveling community. This one is actually a killer. Most Pharmacies stock a electrolytic rehydrating fluid normally found in IV drips in hospital, they sell it in two liter bottles with a choice of strawberry or lemon taste. The reaction of the hotel (By the way Hotel El Doral, Miraflores, if you are ever in that neck of the woods) was fantastic and a credit, I had the sheets changed every few hours I was checked on every hour and they made sure that I was drinking, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance with kidney failure can put a radical full stop on any journey. I felt ashamed of myself and was quite humbled when the uncomplaining smiling maid cleaned up my vomit and shit the times that I didn’t make it to the loo in time. Three days later I tried eating again. Another two days on and I could fart freely with out fear. After six days I was able to get a Weizen or two in the pub down, after drinking three of them I declared myself again fit.
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Old 01.12.2011, 14:52
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Part two:

Lima has another, for me as a English man a spooky and unnatural trait; it doesn’t rain! The city is an artificial oasis with a bits of green strewn around, the trees, flowers and palms in the many parks must be watered by tankers every few days and although the air is somewhat damp it will not give up its moisture I was told that it hadn’t rained in Lima for over five years, a situation not unheard of even by reports dating from the Inca. It also means that wooden buildings are beautifully conserved the wood is almost fossilized, buildings from the eighteen hundreds with only the fifth or sixth coat of paint, beautiful wood carvings adorning entrances and windows, painted in the bright colors that you can only dare use if you are living in Latin American.Sadly some of the most impressive and beautiful buildings with their decorations are in the poorer parts of town and open to decay and neglect through lack of money and interest. On the Saturday I decided on a walk along the coastal path under the cliff face, the city of Lima lines a huge bay with mountains to the south and north.I walked for a few miles until I found the fish market I was immediately surrounded by people trying to sell me a fish or a crab or two I told them that I lived in a Hotel and couldn’t cook the fish they where offering, some of the woman started to cry and grind their teeth, one of the men asked me in Spanglish what I was doing here if I didn’t want to buy a fish. I was not able to make him comprehend that I wanted to look, explore and understand. He pointed to a gated compound, protected by high walls and armed guards on the head of the cove “go to the other personas rico”! He shouted. Poverty has caused a huge split between the haves and the have nothings. I walked on a little saddened. Outside of the market an old woman whined at me “compremende mi Senior” (buy from me sir) she was holding a fish and a few long dead shrimps in her open hand. I walked past the marina compound and up the hill, at the top I could look down into the area, sleek bodies by the pool expensive cars in the lot, sailboats and motorboats on the pontoons, restaurants and tennis courts. No wonder the animosity between the rico and the poor is so large. One of my worst fears would be to be poor in south America, people in Europe complain how bad their lives are and how things are getting worse, but people I can tell you It can get far, far worse than you can ever imagine, even the poorest of the poor in CH is the envy of the people here, one night in a bar I was called a Gringo sinking rico, I tried the usual explanations that a loaf of bread costs as much as he would earn in a day and to fill his car would take him two weeks, all to no avail as long as I had shoes or food or water I couldn’t complain I told him that I wasn’t complaining but the high wages in Switzerland are paid because everything in CH is so expensive, a few minutes later and I realized that I had lost the moral high ground long ago, my voice sounding hollow even to my ears.
I walked around the headland and along the road, gaining height every few meters or so until the road reached the highest point, from this vantage I could see the entire coast way past Lima until far in the north where I could just about see a plane landing at the airport. The view was staggering, it is the place you would bring your girlfriend on a date, a place of beauty but also a place for the beggars to haunt, small children trying to sell me Chiclas, pulling on my trouser leg looking at me with doe eyes and whining “chiclas” compremende mi senior.”
I fled.
The west coast here around Peru is a desert, dry, brown, reddish and sepia tones are the prime colors, mountains and steep cliffs and cone shaped hills seemingly made out of the same monochrome dusty rocks and stones give the landscape a alien touch, nothing grows here, nothing has ever grown here and nothing ever will, not even lichen.All the more power and respect for the peoples and civilizations that rose and fell some of them predating the Incas by thousands and thousands of years. As naked and stark as the landscape is the contrast of the deep blue of the ocean and brilliant white wave tops is striking.Standing at the edge of this continent I realized, that if I was to start swimming the next bit of land I would hit would be New Zealand, all seven thousand kilometers away and if I missed it as very much possible, I mean, one bit of ocean looks much like another, then I would be lucky to hit the far east to the north or Australia to the south and if I missed Australia then I could try paddling on to Africa. This place feels so indifferent to life; and doesn’t look as if would forgive a mistake. How many tribes, how many lives have been lost, how many civilizations have disappeared with out leaving a bone a piece of pottery or a single memory, totally swallowed by this dry, so dry landscape.A slight wind had come up from the sea bringing a fog; I shivered but not only from the cold, I turned away and went to look for somewhere to eat.
Chifa!Chifa!Chifa!Every second restaurant seemed to be a Chifa, or a Peruvian/Chinese restaurant, Ranging from “Mandarin Palace” to Wu Lee, Chifa and all shades in between however after the recent grand purge of my digestive tract I bypassed Messrs. Lee after seeing his five year old sprog picking his nose in the open and grubby “kitchen” looking with the eye of a connoisseur at the bogey and licking his finger. As of late I have been disappointed by the Chinese/Szechuan "world" cooking, these days it seems to involve a few scraps of gray meat sloshing around in a thin tasteless sauce and a handful of cold soja beans, rice extra. But like TexMex, Chifa is a mix of styles bringing out the best of both worlds. Further along the road another restaurant offered the Peruvian specialty “Cebiche.”That was more like it I gave the restaurant the “eye” first before sitting down. A good way to get the Peruvian bowelbasher is to eat at a restaurant where the dishes are stacked and rinsed under the same tap that people use to wash their hands after using the toilet. The “eye” is a useful tool in South America. This place had a loo separate from the kitchen and looked clean, if you had suffered from the trots as I had then you would also be well aware of things like this. Now Cebiche is specialty from fish, but fish that has been well “cooked” in lime juice. The Limes here are the same as in Mexico bite one and your lips will pucker like a cats arse, they are just sooooooo acid. The fish will actually start to boil when you dribble the juice onto it, served with onions, tomatoes and parsley, fresh white bread and a glass of wine! Hmmmmm! Variations are with shrimps, or clams, crab or shredded fish.The lime juice or Lemon juice as the locals call it can be fortified with herbs or pickles.The Peruvians are also proud that they have over fifteen hundred potato sorts, ranging from the well known “spuds” to something that looked like the Andean chili pepper at the Springfield Chili cook out, you know the one where Chief Wiggum tries to trick Homer Simpson into eating the hottest chili in town. These potatoes are orangey yellow with reddish spots on them and look as if they are actively shifting into other dimensions. LSD chips; I wonder. The first time I saw them at the market I wondered if they where to be eaten or stuffed into a bong.
A lot of things that you can get at the market look like that though, strange looking weeds and herbs, big bags of nuts that look like they are moving. Multi colored spices intoxicating to smell.Weird was the Coca-tea, I regularly freaked the Hotel staff out by drinking my Coca-tea with milk. Must be a Brit thing. Peru has also literally thousands of different kinds of Maize; they come in all colors, yellow, green, white, black, blue, red and in all shapes and sizes, little ones like birdseed up to maize with kernels as big as a thumbnail.I like the ones, salty fried, large, eaten by the handful.Munch! Munch! Munch!Almost popped maize served with your beer.

My my! How time flies, all the papers had been signed and were now approved and stamped, in a fast breathtaking spurt of action I had gotten my parts out past the customs.Yes! Yes Yes! Let’s grab ‘em and leg it, “muy rapido” before another customs official wakes up and wants another paper. It was so good to go to the customers with the boxes decorated with the stenciled Esko-Graphics logo and the stuck on freight papers. It makes you look so professional when you carefully remove the parts and look them over like a man appreciating a expensive bottle of vintage wine.The parts were installed with ease and the grace of years of experience, the machine fired up and…. Failure!“Damn!”Try again!Failure!Shit!Re-seat everything and start again.Failure!The customer looks at me with a sneer and I get the gut wrench applied. Ah well! Back to the drawing board” The next two days saw me ripping all the wiring out of the machine franticly searching for as I much later found out a breach in the cabling.It was time to move on I had been given another assignment in nearby Colombia; evidently my boss had again forgotten that I was due for a big long holiday.
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Old 01.12.2011, 14:54
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

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Old 01.12.2011, 14:58
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

I've gone cross-eyed
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Old 01.12.2011, 14:59
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Quote:
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WHAT! I even edited it for you.
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Old 01.12.2011, 20:14
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Slammer are you on something?
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Old 01.12.2011, 20:32
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Even though the line breaks were obviously stolen in a hit and run somewhere in Peru, the OP's two posts are well worth the read.
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Old 01.12.2011, 20:58
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

From the title I thought it was a love letter addressed to Adriana Lima. Obviously, not.
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Old 01.12.2011, 21:11
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Maybe you should look into this thread...National Novel Writing Month
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Old 01.12.2011, 21:39
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Phew, have just got to the end of it. A great read. Totally worth it! I'd ditch the stream of consciousness mode, though.
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Old 01.12.2011, 21:57
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

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Old 01.12.2011, 22:08
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

tl;dr
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Old 01.12.2011, 23:36
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

As I am doing nothing tomorrow I promised Ill read it then...
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Old 02.12.2011, 00:15
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Slams, please make some paragraphs with spacing, and perhaps cut the
text to sort of half-page width columns like this (newspapers are done with
narrow columns to make them easier to read)-I love reading your tales but no way
am I going to navigate that!
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Old 02.12.2011, 00:29
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Some additional news about Peru in this thread:

Winner of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die: Your Most Desired Vacation Destination
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Old 02.12.2011, 06:04
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

Hey slam, I'd like to read it, but for the life of me, I'm getting lost in the ideas.
Could you please edit and air it out a little ?
..make it breathe
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Old 02.12.2011, 08:44
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

I tried to read your posts, honestly I did, but all I can see is...
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Old 02.12.2011, 08:48
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

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Old 02.12.2011, 15:47
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

I know, I know I had actually formatted the text in readable bits and was quite astonished that it got placed as the great wall of text, even the breaks after the "." have vanished.
Ah well struggle through as best as can, I promise to look into my cross media formating.
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Old 02.12.2011, 16:05
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Re: For Angela74, Lima but a bit looooong

A great read, Slammer!

I dig this stream of consciousness thing. Tonight I'll read it again after a few shots of Tequila, see what it does.
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