Lotus Elan

Road Trip non-Lotus

PostPost by: jimj » Sat May 27, 2017 3:09 pm

P.H.W.C.C.

?Add lightness? I said, regarding Carole`s luggage, but it wouldn`t matter, would it? Not with a 3 litre petrol Toyota Land Cruiser driving in the high Andes on the classiccarjourneys.co.uk trip to Peru. Well, no wonder Toyota had an advertising strap line stickered in their back window: ?The car in front is a Toyota.? Yeah, holding up the traffic. Big, spacious, ideal but I think the slushmatic gearbox absorbed most of the few BHP, and that was before the air began to thin even with a Lotus Badge on the front grille. Most of the time we were at seriously high altitude, 15879 feet one day, which is higher than aeroplanes should fly unpressurised. When Steve said we would see that number of feet I thought we were visiting a centipede farm. On one uphill stretch we were even overtaken by a huge pantechnicon despite our accelerator being flat to the floor, as usual. Bizarrely, our insurance covered us for everything but underbody damage. I was concerned that the hire company might charge us for the bulge in the floor pan, under the accelerator (oxymoron) pedal, where we pressed so hard struggling to coax an extra nano lb/ft.

Driving standards were surprisingly good and on the beaten track the road surfaces excellent. In traffic, in towns, there was much much good natured jousting for position. No-one gives way or takes notice of boring rules. We`ve overtaken more, crossing solid central lines, than you would in several lifetimes. One Perudicrous habit is that if a vehicle in front wants to let you past, they put their left hand indicators on, driving on the right, remember. Of course, sometimes they are turning left and mean the opposite. Tricky. As for the winding up hill sections, think Stelvio times 10 or more. Momentum was key in the bloomin` Land Cruiser. If you slowed too much, pressing the accelerator was just a volume control and cornering on those off road tyres was just like a Lotus only bad, not good.

I didn`t think the altitude would affect me much, being only 5`7? and having had no problems in the past walking the dog here in the Peak District. Well it doesn`t just affect internal combustion but more of that in a minute. Pretty much everyone felt hungover, headachey, and just, well, shattered, and that`s before climbing all those steps and terraces the Incas were so keen on. Did you know the Incas left no written information and it seems had not discovered writing. Who`d have thought the Incas didn`t use ink? To be indelicate for a moment (or as usual) the altitude and diet had a rather devastating effect on my digestive system. You might say one of mythical proportions as in Thor the mythical god of thunder. With the lack of oxygen and reduced haemoglobin I was worried that Carole might succumb to passive flatulence.

There was 10 of us, all pals, in the PHWCC and 14 others on the trip in a variety of 4 wheel drive cars doing a bit of a marathon 3,500+ kms. There was, as ever, one hilarious wag, so original and witty, who asked me if I knew what the letters L.O.T.U.S. stand for. My response is to ask them if their initials are the same as Austin Healey. 2 couples, in particular, we particularly warmed to; Jeff and Wendy (phwoar) and the ever immaculate Mark and Olfa. Steve remarked on how, following a serious trek up the old Inca Trail from Machu Pichu to the Sun Gate, Olfa returned in a white top apparently freshly starched. I reckon that inside their valet case they had an actual valet. The others were a motley crew, many not running classic cars and I think you can tell. There`s a different, less positive attitude. One bloke told everyone everything about himself but knew nothing about anyone else. There were 2 couples who normally went on cruises and were a bit shell-shocked. They shredded a tyre on a huge rock at the side of the road, as easy to see as a small child, worryingly. One of them thought it acceptable to shout and be rude to hotel staff, to make up for his lack of Spanish or manners. Shameful. Our group seemed popular and another couple took a shine to Judy and Tony dogging their footsteps everwhere. Perhaps they like dogging. At the final dinner they inveigled our places at our table for 10, not that we minded?.much? the gits.

I`ve done a bit of dry stone walling here in Derbyshire but, bloomin` ` eck, those Incas must have had a lot of spare time on their hands. Spare time but no steel or even iron tools, just chipping and scraping with other rocks. There are endless theories of why they built what they did so beautifully, carefully, and enormously over engineered. Perhaps the minority ruling classes just loved vanity projects exactly like in Victorian times. I was entertained but unconvinced by all these evidence-free intellectual theories. If you align our bathroom window with the door handle it points direcltly at the Barrel Inn at Bretton a mile away. Did the builders in 1900 worship Guiness? Probably. As for the Nasca lines that`s just flabbergasting if there is such an adjective. Was it just a recreational activity carried out by a variety of different cultures in over 1,000 years? OK, some of the lines point towards water but out of all those hundreds of lines some must point towards our house. Did they worship Jim young Jim? It`s got a nice ring to it. And why is Nascar racing done in ovals?

The cars (slowly) and Steve took us to so many amazing places seeing amazing things leaving us gasping, but apart from that it was all incredible. Splendour and squalor, gorgeous girls in the cities and rough, surprisingly fat crones given their lack of teeth, in the countryside. Highlights? Too many: When we returned to sea level a boat trip to see dolphins, sea lions and penguins in the wild and a Barbara Windsor moment as my wife struggled to fasten a too small lifejacket and her 34Cs ballooned under her chin, Carry on Carole. Trekking up from Machu Picchu, following Carole up all those uneven rocky steps for 4 kms. even after 43 years marriage, I still find it leaves me breathless. ?Did you know Machu Picchu means Old Mountain?? I said to Machu Carole.

We went sand buggying in the desert which was hilarious, sand boarding down a steep dune and stuff. We saw the Condors rising on the thermals in the Colca Canyon and at an animal rescue centre we were inside a huge cage with Condors flying directly over our heads. It was like standing on the runway at Heathrow. If one had dropped a whoopsie we could have been hospitalised with concussion. It was all all just Incacredible.

At the final dinner Steve thanked our excellent full time guide; Danny, the Peru fixit person; Diana, Dick, Harry and Uncle Tom Cobley too, plus everyone else. Sadly, we should have suggested that David Westaway, the patriarch of the PHWCC ask everyone to raise a cheer for Steve and his seamless, excellent, trip. So, thanks Steve, marvellous.

Our group were great company and even if David can`t walk on water you would think he could book a taxi from Manchester airport to arrive for the same day as our arrival. Oh! The PHWCC? The Peru Here We Come Club, of course.

Jim
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PostPost by: Chancer » Sat May 27, 2017 3:59 pm

Thanks for that, you have brought back a lot of happy memories.

Re the altitude sickness acclimatisation at altitude is everything driving to places like that as opposed to trekking and then going up the Inca trail without acclimatisation is not without risk, that said all the proper guides are aware of it and you only need to descend 500m to recover.

I took 7 days IIRC to get to Macchu Piccu by the circuitous "alternative Inca trail" as you need to reserve well in advance for the proper one, a French guy joined his Peruvian girlfriend on day 3 he had flown in the night before, no acclimatisation and we were already at altitude, he was very very sick the next day and i was extremely concerned for him, worse still our guide was anything but, no training, no experience, first group and could not even read a map, he didnt understand the gravity of the situation, we carried on climbing that afternoon and I though we were going to lose the guy, once over the next peak we descended and he recovered completely and was acclimatised before the subsequent ascents.

I remember getting off the coach at Cusco and walking up a moderately steep hill to my hostel carrying my backpack and my daypack, maybe 20kg in total, the 100m took me 30 minutes with several stops, I could not believe how hard it was, within a week I could run up.
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PostPost by: SENC » Sat May 27, 2017 9:35 pm

Excellent! Thanks for sharing, Jim!
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun May 28, 2017 6:17 am

What used to upset me was the way the locals would march off, then have a smoke whilst waiting for me to catch up...they were just showing off.
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PostPost by: Chancer » Sun May 28, 2017 7:48 am

Their secret was what was puffing out their cheeks like a hamster!
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