Thursday, 31 January 2013

A Silence More Musical...

‘A silence more musical than any song‘……CG Rossetti.
Pitched in the lee of a Black Acacia, the sole piece of vegetation that’s dared to raise it’s crown above donkey graze that’s offered any semblance of shelter all afternoon. We’ve been hammered and grit blasted by a Zonda, a southerly hairdryer wind, that has offered questionable assistance on some of the worst washboard ripio we have ever encountered. Now these acacias down on the pampa are an obnoxious weed, chain sawed mercilessly. Up on the Jujuy Puna they’re shelter and the sole indicator of habitation, as the adobe structures disappear into a background of dust and scrub. With the refuge comes a problem…..thorns. A lance that will pierce even the best of armoured tyres and they will gravitate relentlessly towards any inflatable mats. Yet battered cyclists aren’t the only souls hunting shelter, if the evidence of the churned up sand is to be believed. We might get company tonight.

This poses yet another conundrum. Do we leave the bikes in the ‘kissing’ position, propped together, only to have the wind play havoc and topple them into a tangle? Or to pre-empt the event and place them ‘missionary’, then have a donkey play gooseberry, and become entangled in the spokes?

Zondas usually die out a few hours after sunset, and then the contrast is sublime. Suddenly the landscape is friendly, an utter silence descends, a tangible quiet that’s solidified by a full moon. An altered  space that has no place for butt-battering ripio, no hidden pools of impenetrable sand, no salt-laced grit storms, no black thoughts for the integrity of our bikes. All these demons are held at bay, only waiting in a silent truth, waiting the return of sunrise.

Something disturbs my sleep, a slight footfall maybe or just a last shiver of Zonda rustling the leaves. Yet all is now quiet. Then a donkey starts his bray, a whinny that opens with an expectorant of sputum, a smoker’s cough and builds into an eeyore-eeyoring. A doleful, hard-done-to animal that seems to carry all the weight and woes of the world. The call is taken up by the next family group, and passes out and across the land, an echo that has no wall or cliff to bounce off, yet resounds and reverberates, accentuating the silent peace.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Of Proverbs and Acronyms

It could be the pedal, it could be the bottom bracket , it could be the frame. Alright, Bad, Disastrous. Or just something else. Only the creak comes with the hills. Effort or knee joints? So we blissfully ignored the issue all the way through flat Corrientes. It’s when the Missiones mumps encroach that we realise that we had better do something about the problem, ignoring the easy option of OSI…JCO is no longer an option. I’ve even stopped riding behind the Navigator, so distracting is the persistent intrusion. The saddle is suggested, yet the noise evidence suggests metal on metal, and low down. Yet it’s a well known fact that an ominous sound can travel the length of the frame, utterly confusing diagnosis. Yet there’s no play in any of the vital areas. Twist the saddle, vague creak. Maybe it’s catching at some point, maybe a wedge in there. Maybe we - OSI…JCO. Too many maybes, the Andes are sitting upon our horizon, we really have to do something, sometime soon.

The other bike decides to take a sicky in sympathy. Gear jumping, but only on hills, but as Corrientes is a single gear province it’s OSI…JCO…yet again.

Start with the simple things. Tighten the saddle bolt a half turn, a quarter turn on the gear adjuster. It took longer to find the tools in the bottom of my pannier than it did to effect a total cure for both sick cycles. A case of ‘a stitch in time saving nine’ out trumping Oh Sod It…Just Carry On.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Maths in the Plaza

Imagine a  mathematical set of Venn diagrammatical circles or a stream of soapy bubbles drifting through the gentle shade of the plaza. A square of tall, concrete Saints and plinthed heroes, knuckle-bolled pepper trees and incongruous date palms, resplendent at over 3,000 m altitude.  An iglesia on one side that’s toll belling in a gathering of the Sunday faithful, on the other, the dull whump of floor hammers and a squad who will have taken Mass last night; and this morning are laying the new gas main, entirely by hand. In the first bubbled circle is the convened ‘sewing bee’, the bangle pleaters in their Asian cottons and dusty feet, tie-dyes and tattoos, guitars and dreadlocks. Lotus sat, plaiting wire and composing songs.  A genre of youth that bemuses and amuses the two Bolivañas who sway through between them, the swinging layers of skirts, black plaited pigtails and short thick stockings, bowler hats and poly-prop bags.

Now to this equation, add the gringo trail. A phalanx of the
Saxon fair and pale skinned, the girls in short shorts, the males no better screened against the glare rising off the part-broken open pavements, the Brits cooking from crustaceous blue to lobster pink. A troop of lost souls searching for a cambio to raise funds to pay for a horse ride up the ’quebrada’ today and a jeep ride to the ’salars’ tomorrow.  A company of young professionals, individuals who’ve only just met on the train down or the bus up, their sole common interest to find a quorum of four, for a five day tour of southern Bolivia. A salt lake and a stone tree, a rock salt hotel and a train graveyard, a smoking volcano and a Dali desert, a mantra of corrugated roads and endless driving.  Some here to tick off a set of natural superlatives, others at the behest of their ‘round the world’ ticket and an accident of happenstance.  Yet I envy and sympathise with these lost souls. I can still remember the bewilderment and chastisement by a severe Doña of Franco’s Spain, for the affront of wearing shorts and of eating a pear in public. I envy them their near-anonymity of numbers, the chance to hide within the herd, for today we are ‘sin bici’, for once below the radar, no longer a centre of attention.

Just four of many sub-sets, that can only merge and meld their spheres for a few moments in the close confines of the covered market place, or the stall-strewn pavements. Amongst the plethora of goods, and the exchange of Bolivars. The hardwares and the clothwares, the fruit and the vegetables, the bloodbath of llama and goat, the tiny dark alimentacions, the hot empanadas and the cold heladerias, the boiled humitas and the fried rellenos. Where we and all life are a floor show, for the dressed up baptismal party leaving the church, the triple generational family sitting, supping on a luminous confection from the ice cream shop and the wheelchair bound granny who’s determined to assist me with this entry.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Dress Code

When does ethnic attire or traditional dress become standard everyday wear? The lawyer in his western grey pin stripe, pink tie and patent glossy leather shoes, leaving the ‘palace de justice’, is as traditionally dressed as his blue jeaned, bomber jacketed client, who’s now handcuffed to a traditionally uniformed policeman. Both awaiting some transportation: the paddy wagon. Or is it his distraught, extended family who’re watching from across the street? She, red eyed, in her bright, multicoloured shawls, brown bowler hat and suckling son. 

The kilt is portrayed as quintessential Scot’s traditional, but there’s not many tramline layers in Edinburgh’s Princes Street wearing one. There the ethnic code is the butt cleft and hard hat, the sectarian clash of green and maroon, of steelies and hoodies. Yet do the overseas visitors stop to photograph them as piece of local colour, in much the same way that I want to capture each Bolivian image with a normally attired local? Maybe it’s because here they, and it’s the women in the main, have clung to their culture and dared to be different. Where we now pander to the boredom of a pan global clothing ethic that’s epitomised by football colours and the baseball cap.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

El Presidente - of what?

The troops are marching in time to the band’s snare drum roll, parading down from their barracks. Bayonets fixed, epaulettes bouncing, high knee stepping, their white dress gloves swinging from the elbow and waist.  Left turn, and a pass past a prancing, bronzed Simon Bolivar on top of his pedestal, counter marching in front of the stalls that have just provided my second breakfast. Something interesting might be happening, so we stop to watch. I’m tapped on the shoulder and a voice say it’s ‘el presidente’. Time to hang around. But which president?… of the miner’s co-operative, the Llama Herder’s Federation, the University Student‘s Union, or… Evo? 

There’s a mild degree of interest, delegations in their varied work uniforms, a yellow hard hat, a  bowler hat, a pinstripe suit, make their way up the steps of  the Casa de Gobierno. The upper echelons of the military  start to congregate, if the plates full of scrambled egg on their caps is an indication. A pair of stilt walkers parade a sail banner for the ‘child and adolescent workers of Potosí’, a feat the could become a circus act in the rising wind. Yet there seems no great anticipation in the general populace, the traders still trade saltiñas and deep fried buñuelos, salted banana chips and candy coated quinoa. The frantic spinning and clack-clacking of the table footballers and the kiss smooching students, are all oblivious to the flag waving and the precision counter marching. They stamp to a halt and a sabred officer struts along the platoons and dresses them of by the left. Along with their green uniforms, ancient muzzle loaders and bayonets polished, come their sergeants toting machine guns just in case.  Placards are handed round: protest or sycophant? Yet there’s no tear gas, no water-canon, no tyre burning, not  Argentina, so it can’t be a protest bust.

Slowly an accumulation of locals congregate, so it might be soon. Further delegations of civilian uniforms muster and enter. Everybody is facing the assumed direction of arrival - he’s going to come up the hill. The police link batons, whistles and sirens announce the arrival of the official car and it’s attendant flunkies, from the opposite direction. Out springs the black leather bomber jacketed Evo. He addresses his honour guard, accepts the plaudits of a few citizens and then enters the hall, leaving an ecstatic and disappointed newsman who’s been dancing up and down the town hall stairway, waiting for a few words with el Presidente.
Show over and the world reverts to normal. The traffic jam disentangles itself in a cloud of horns and fumes, and I’m left with a classic image. A heavily armed, khaki clad policeman slowly leads a grey headed Bolivina, no higher than his gun belt, a bowler hatted, bent-double, osteoporotic grandmother, shuffling through the melée.

The Navigator’s delighted, she can now add another serendipitous encounter, another world leader to her collections of minor royalty and pontiffs.

Monday, 21 January 2013


At the outset we were asked if we expected to meet many other cycle travellers. We surmised that Uruguay and Paraguay would be highly unlikely places as our route would be off ‘gringo trail’. That it would be in and around Salta and northern Argentina that there was an increased likelihood of an encounter. So it has proved.

The league table of nationalities is interesting, as much for the fact that the Germanics have yet to register. It’s the French that lead, in part due to the family of five, two daughters and a son, all under ten years, on a one year tour. I see riding a tandem on an Americas’ wet season ripio road, as an amazing feat, the Navigator considers keeping the demons of entertainment and clean knickers at bay more remarkable. They had entered Argentina moments before we met them and had just got their first quote for a room and were wondering if it was extortionate. Unfortunately for them it was on the cheap side.

The table contains one ‘no show’, an abandoned entry and a most unusual encounter. On a road that was boasting a mere handful of vehicles per hour, two fully laden tourers are coming towards us. In these situations you start to speculate on nationality. Time was, you could tell by the panniers, but now all the Europeans use German Ortliebs, their gloss an indicator of time on the road.  So you resort to stereotype; tall blonds are the cloggy Dutch, drop bars and helmets are the ‘feert of-sky-collapsing’ Brits, the Argentines will have cut-down chemical cans for bags, carry an axe and a machete.  We slow for our advancing couple, who don’t; they ride right past and she can’t even acknowledge our presence. Most unusual, downright rude. If the Irish bless you with the hope that your road will be ever downhill and the wind at your back, then I offer our ignorant anti-social bici-ists my Bolivian blessing, a curse borne of experience: ‘May you be caught in a Zonda with no water, ten leagues from hope and home’.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Labios Rajados

Labios rajados; it’s the topic of conversation  that has been the concluding item for each meeting with each group of travelling cyclists. Are you suffering and what is your solution? It’s a  comparison  and exchange of information on food availability, of road conditions, Argentine inflation and finally, chapped lips.

One French couple, who have shunned air travel and are on an Americas end to end, are fellow sufferers, two months of affliction in her instance. She’s found a tin of menthol impregnated unguent, and we now have a shape and colour to help us in the hunt.

I’ve been here before.  Last time it was black blisters, possibly ignited by green chillies, that refused to heal. This time we’ve taken all the preventative precautions, used the high octane sun blocks, the badger barrier crème, the bandit mask, yet all to no avail. Time and ‘Nivea’ was the cure last time. Only we’re now in Argentina’s northern and most impoverished province, Jujuy, and the farmacias are all behind us, back down on the low ground, away to the south. Time has run us hard up against  the Andean Puna, the altiplano, the high plain, where high altitude, low humidity and strong cold winds are a far more effective inoculators than any caffeinated stimulant or fiery vegetable. Try to eat a crusted bread that’s desiccating instantly from hard tack to shard glass, or an empanada that the Forager had understood to be meat but transpired to be potato curry.  It’s a dispiriting experience, one that makes me realise how much of food mastication involves the lower lip.

First day in Bolivia, and there’s all this surfeit of street food, humitas, boiled beans, rellenos, pan casero and knackered lips. But relief is at hand, for everything is available in Bolivia. A stall selling  gin traps and nail clippers, leather insoles and woollen hose, has sprawled out across the pavement beside the fruit stand that we’re re-supplying from. There, hidden amongst the effluvia of the miscellaneous is a thin khaki green tin, our unguento mentolado. Instant relief, blessed redress, even if the symptoms are merely masked, the condition anesthetised. Still not a cure, but a return to the deep fried, grease dripping, calorie engorged street food. The relief so pure that we return to buy another tin. The natural assumption being, that we might not find it again. The conclusion is, of course, that we will spot that thin cammo-green tin, along with all it’s cousins, (in particular, lettuce balm) in every other store the length and breadth of this country.

Hopefully no more waking in the night, lips gummed closed, the pain as another layer of skin that appears to be ripped off. A return to puckered lips, hot cups and a passionate kiss. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

In the Liquor Desert

Two straight months without wine and I start to wonder if The Navigator hasn’t broken one of her own constitutional tenets and so doing negated her right to a healthy existence. She hangs tenaciously to any medical research that extols the positive virtues of coffee, chocolate and red, red wine.  Again it’s not been a conscious decision, but one brought about by the paucity of selection. Is there an Uruguayan wine? Didn’t find any. Does anybody drink Paraguayan wine?  It’s pink, just like the soil, and the writing is on the box: ‘made from grape extract‘: Think skins. Think Lambrusco. Think student sophistication and 1970s plonk. There is some excellent Argentine wine, it's just not for sale in the Jujuy kioskos. There, it’s boxes of ’Vino Viejo’, - ancient wine. Where last year’s is considered old and the year previous - antiquarian.

To break the drought and to celebrate our arrival in a new state, it’s a Bolivian that gets a first tasting. A pleasant state of induced mild inebriation; we really are cheap drunks. One that will need to be repeated, which is more credence than we ever gave that Paraguayan box of pink skins. Frankly I hadn’t realised that there was a Bolivian wine industry. Another reason to travel, another piece of travel enlightenment..

This bottle comes with overtones of blackcurrant and raspberry, aniseed and anaesthesia. Excellent with llama and wind-burnt lips, for it enhances one and nullifies the other.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What Does Llama Taste Like?

Three straight days as vegetarians and I start to wonder if we might have transgressed, broken one of this nation’s constitutional tenets. In doing so, invalidated our three month pass. For many Argentines consider vegetarianism to be an affliction, that’s best cured by hanging bloody, dripping carcasses at every turn. For our part, it hasn’t been a deliberate policy, just one of happenstance and the vagaries of the ‘nada-Mercado‘. An executive decision, based on ending up with a bag of buns that disintegrated to crumb instantly. It was the sole representative of a primary food product that was available in town. Instead of spending a disproportionate amount of travelling time foraging for comestibles, we’ll try to find a comedor around the middle of the day.

Which is how we end up breaking the veggie pledge in place
that has a pen of extremely superior camelids outside. Inside we’re asked to decide between cheese, beef, goat or llama empanadas. ’I’ll have a slice of the big white one outside’, and just to make sure ’I’ll follow with a llama milanesa’, but only because it comes with fries.

The answer to the title question is, of course……Chicken.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Moments in Paraguayan Time

The traffic cones are lined up down the centre of the carriageway, the standard indication that somebody in a uniform is about to emerge from the verge to carry out an official duty. There’s a roped-off area with a set of mobile weight balances set up. So it’s not the Gendarmeria National, the Caminera Policial nor the Policial National for a change, but the National Vialidad. It’s the roads people, and they’re after the overweight timber trucks. Only there’s no trucks and they’re bored. An ox cart is pulling across the junction, he’s loaded with wet sand, so for a bit of amusement and monotony relief they decide to pull him in. The driver’s up for the challenge, so all five officials draw their camera ‘phones to take some pictures. Only the oxen aren’t so stupid and they execute a sharp right turn. We do the same before they decide to weigh us.

Moments in sporting time...

‘esta muy tranquilo’…must have a different connotation in the minds of the locals, from what I might consider as tranquil. It’s Saturday evening and there’s a football match that has attracted more players than spectators. Yet the firecrackers are flying. These aren’t your ‘wee squibs’ but howitzer shells. I know, I can see the smoking cardboard casing bouncing past my wheel as the reek clears and the percussion fades from my ears. It’s rowdy Saturday on the peaceable municipal camp ground……sorry, not tonight.

Moments in Educational Time...

It’s graduation Day in Oviedo. The final year students have hired a cattle float so they can perch on the roof trusses and blast the local population with rap, as they paseo around the streets. They will this evening take over the hotel that we’ve established ourselves in, to celebrate through the night.

In the morning as we leave at first light, long before sunrise, in the utter silence of a post prandial party night, a piece of paper flutters in the gutter. Somebody has scrawled a note: ‘No Molestar….Sexo en Proceso’

Friday, 11 January 2013

Paraguay Pink

It’s happening already. We and our clothes are acquiring that Paraguayan Pantile Pink tinge. It’s the iron rich soil, a laterite ochre that comes with ‘new, enhanced staining power’, that with the addition of a night’s rain, makes a paste that reduces the use of sun beds and fake-bake sprays to a state of redundancy. Yet the kids all walk or moto to school in spotless, pinkless, pristine white knee length socks everyday.

The trick, I’m assured is to cover your whites in ‘Omo’, and leave to bake for half a day and only then start the wash cycle. The trouble is, the only whites that I have are the unexposed parts of a farmers tan. I’ve no intentions of exposing them to washing powder and then baking in a Chaco sun. I’ll just need to carry on using the ’Lux’ and the loofah.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Some days are just like that

From here down to Clorinda looks like a comfortable two day run.  There is the small issue of the Paraguayan capital city and an international border to circumvent.  Even so, it’s a neat, two days work. So how come we’re checking-in to an hotel in Clorinda at the end of siesta on day one?

Sometimes the travelling travails conspire to bring all their troubles into one row. The first hour is downhill and I’m warned not to create an artificial head wind, cycling in a silent bubble that devours the kilometre posts like they were soft candy. The chipas that are warm fresh and the asphalt that is tyre-singing smooth. It’s a day when the bikes ride themselves.  Weightless. Effortless. Painless.

Planned to stop in…somewhere, but didn’t immediately find a place, so rather than turn back and make an effort down it‘s only other street, we’ll try the next town down the road, it’s only an hour away. Through another somewhere, ’Did you see anything?’…’No’…‘No problem’ ….‘There’s bound to be something at the long bridge’, ‘the big junction‘, ‘the international frontier‘…nada, nada, nada. 

Another two stamps in the passport, force-fed on contraband bananas, only to pass through customs unsearched, and into another small Argentine town. Found a place to sleep and scored a good mile ton on the odometer. Some days are just like that.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Hunting the Solution

Something is missing, a simple answer is out there somewhere, it’s just got to be found. Last time it was 311, the magic number that reconfigured the Kindles and reconnected us back to the local  etheric world. This time it’s a national mobile network that’s of the opinion that we shouldn’t be able to send an international text message. The Navigator has scoured the net and the instructional manual all to no avail and has decided to confront the beast, entering the den of an ‘expert’. Only we’re in a ‘two heads town’, where the staff of the ’nada Mercado’ follow you up and down the empty aisles, so it should be no surprise that the neighbouring shop owner is intrigued by this grey headed gringo, and comes around to find out her age. Slightly disconcerting as she runs the local ‘funeria’ and has a nice selection of coffins arranged around the wall of her shop. I hope that she’s a little premature with her implied  assumption. As for the expert, she assumes that International and España are synonymous, that The Philippines is a port beyond experience.

The problem didn’t require my favoured solution: The Threat: A composed but failed posting of a ‘techno rant’. The answer is as predicted: simple, and I suspect most of you have already solved it; drop the international access code and substitute the ’+’ icon….voila, connectivity.  It’s the difference between Bakelite and Blackberry, between those of us who were raised with an human telephonist and in the ‘Push Button B Now’ world. Where an overseas call necessitated  re-mortgaging, was short lived and high speed. Now it’s a ’mobi-phone’ instant globe, of monthly contracts and a billion minutes of free texts. Yet there is no such thing as a ‘free dinner’, so the Navigator donates for the ‘expert’s’ time if not the expertise, and declines a view of a distant future through the neighbour’s window. 

The pity is for today: we’ll be out of range tomorrow, with a paid up ‘carga’ of pesos on account, that will be automatically cancelled at the end of the month. Time for another rant; a gripe on the evils of  money grabbing, beggarly serving telephonic companies.

Hold on, don’t you remember the General Post Office, the coin in the slot, ‘Push button A’, the dead clonk of a failed connection, your lost, your last, thru'penny bit, punching and cussing an unresponsive coin return. Hold the rant. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

So You Want to be a Millionaire?

Forget Tarrant and ‘phoning a friend. Just go to the banco’s hole in the wall and draw out a few dollar’s worth of Guaranies, check the docket and count the zeros. Now you’re a millionaire. They’ll even lay on an armed guard for you, if he can be bothered to lay down his tereré and lift his rusting muzzle from the ground.

10 Nov 2012 Cash Hsbc Bank /Caball 37 ASUNCION PY 1,500,000.00PYG at 7,068.136 £212.22

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Yet More Gizmos

Simplify, simplify, simplify….to paraphrase Henry Thoreau, which leads to the mantra for life de-cluttering: ‘one in, one out’, add to the kit list only if you’re prepared to ditch something else, to which we’ve added the further filter: it should ‘have a dual use’.

Even on the road, gizmos have their magnetic fascination, and like all gizmos they arrive from that planet that trades-in Bic pens for traffic cones and coat hangers. Arriving with their own individual machinations, of unique plugs, indivisible chargers or a cordage of cables. A cabal of conspiracies designed to antagonise, frustrate and breed a further requirement for yet another adaptor or chip after crossing the next international frontier.

To this collection we’ve now added the best that the Mercado plastico has to offer: a Boili and a Fuji. One is an manglification for a single cup heater coil, the other the generic for a plug-in bug zapper. A hotplate that disperses a chemical warfare of pollutants that downs mosquitoes with satisfying satisfaction.

We seem to have given up on cooking in hotel bathrooms, not because they’ve started to install smoke detectors, but more to do with weather and substituting dehydrated carbs with canned corn and tinned lentils. Gone back to what one appalled observer called ’funky salads’. Fruits, carbs and cold carne all in one bowl. It saves on washing up, but leaves a problem: a cup of coffee. Hence the boili. On the road, there’s never a problem, all the gas stations have hot water for flasks, just like all the rooms have mosquitoes for annoyance. Hence the Fuji.

The problem now is to find two ditchable items and a couple of secondary uses for our acquisitions, so as to be able to comply with our own rules. Start by dumping all the brochures from the town three before last and use the Boili as a substitute cattle branding iron. As for the Fuji, in
extremis it probably could be used to fry a single slice of chorizo, but it is so small, so useful.  Just think Dengue, then it falls outwith the simplification commandments.  

The net result is that we now carry a bigger volume of techno hardware than we do clothes. It would appear that simplify just isn’t so simple.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Roadside Shopping

Cattle Crush,anyone?

You purchase the headboard in Roque Gonzales, the slatted base in Oviedo and the mattress from the travelling salesman who operates out of Carapegua.  The first choice is an optional artistic one, the second is between wood or wooden, the third is the crucial decision, between ‘colchon and sommier’. Between a flaccid, unorthopedic foam block or a firmer, cooler, sprung mattress. Between a warm, squishy broken night’s sleep and a decent night’s rest.
Paraguayan towns with an apparent single industry are a feature of travel here. An historical aberration of the dictatorship decades. Go to Ita for kama-sutra themed ceramics, to Areguia for clay piggy-banks, to San Miguel for woollen ponchos, to Itagua for ‘ñanduti’ spider lace, to Quindi for plastic footballs, to Lucki for silver craft work, to Oviedo for wooden toys, to Colonel Bogado for chipas, to Atyra for leather, to Caapucu for cattle crushes. What makes, to our western eyes, this so surreal is that there will be multiple stands, metres apart, all along the road side, all selling the same, identical items. It’s not unusual to be on a long, slow pull out of town, ascending the climber lane and passing shack after shack offering only oranges and watermelons.  On occasions, for a bit of variety, there will be a shelf of
Chipas - definitely more useful!
reused  plastic bottles. All unlabelled, one a glutinous brown that might be home produced honey or decanted engine lubricant, the next a questionable pink that might be soap or juice, or another, an unnatural blue that could be juice or soap. Your problem being which stand to patronise and which to offend, our problem being the ten kilo bags of fruit and the melon’s girth.