4th October 2004. Monchique, the Algarve.
I've done 2 days off the drinksh after a week of debauchery in Lisbon. It's 6pm and the sun has got an extremely fetching hat on. I think it might be Super Bock o'clock.
At precisely mid-day today, the dreaded oh-please-don't-let-it-be-true event... a puncture. 90 degree heat, no shade to fix it under, and I'd run out of water. Had I, as the book of how to do this properly suggests, practised puncture-fixing before leaving home? No I had not. I couldn't be arsed.
There are worse things that can happen. Your engine can explode; the frame can snap in two. But a puncture (the first time at least) is certainly in the top 5 of motorcycling bummers.
So - to work. Unload all the luggage. Spend a while levering machine onto mini-jack. (No centrestand). Then try to work out how to get the front wheel off. If you've ever fixed a bicycle puncture, it's very much the same except everything's 5 times heavier and there are disc brakes to contend with.
Eventually it's off and I get to work with the tyre levers. 30 minutes of grunting and sweating and cavalier use of the F-, C-, S-, W- and B-words follows. My shirt is soaked and filthy and my mouth is parched and even filthier. A number of absolute bastards on fully-functioning mopeds buzz by.
Then an angel of mercy - a German angel, St. Gunther of Bavaria - pulls up in a jeep to tell me that not only is there a bike fixing shop just up the road, but that he will take me and the wheel up there. The tyre is one third off the rim and so is my sanity, so off we go.
The little Portuguese fella in the shop has the job done in minutes, and another, different angel of mercy drops me and the wheel back at the bike. Now all I've got to do is get it back on. Oh look - I can't. Just as I'm about to start swearing again, a young chappie on a sportsbike stops to assist. Thanks pal! Between the two of us it's on in 10 minutes, and I manage to shear off only one of the four retaining bolts. The front brake doesn't work, but that sorts itself out after a mile, and my lower back seems to have some sort of issue with the tasks I've set it today, but I'm back on the road...
My brother Rob, a committed Portuphile, and not, unhappily for alliteration's sake a convicted paedophile, has recommended Monchique as a place that is both lovely and nice in more or less equal measure. I check into the Residencia Miradouro, have a chat with bro, eat lunch (octopus and pears) on the balcony and grab a slice of siesta.
I'm 38 years old and I have to shave my ears. Where will it end?
Lariam (mefloquine) is an anti-malarial drug. Like all anti-malarials it has two downsides -
1. It doesn't necessarily stop you getting malaria.
2. It has a variety of possible side-effects.
What makes Lariam so controversial is that, in some people, it produces depression and vivid nightmares.
In a smaller sub-section of people, these can become psychotic episodes - tearing your own guts out and so forth.
1 week ago I took the first of 3 test doses, and I'm fine. GRRAAAGGHH! Only jokin'. No side effects of any kind so far.
5th October 2004.
*BURRRP*! Oh Mary what a beautiful everything. Up at dawn to see the sun rise over the mountains (not as early as you might think, given that there are some mountains in front of the sun). A great breakfast served by a fat man in pants. A strenuous walk around the Hanging Gardens of Monchique. A thrill-packed morning ride to the highest point of the Algarve, with a stop-off for lubricants (for the bike). Coffee in, er, a cafe. Then pork chops and vinho de casa for lunch, halfway up a mountain. Ain't life absolutely terrific? It's 80 degrees here and grey and wet in the UK. Je ne regrette rien, baby.
Second Lariam test pill last night, a day late. Still haven't gored anyone to death with a pencil. But I did have a dream about Sonia's (imaginary) sister who had 3 foot long nasal hair. I somehow borrowed her nose and set to work with the scissors; the end result looked like a second set of eyelashes growing from the nostrils. Could have been the Lariam - could have been last night's Tagus lager, which is very good indeed.
Stir the pot of destiny!
Tousle the hair of Dame Fortune!
Interfere with the tail-feathers of Arch-Duke Happenstance!
Er... perhaps one more Super Bock and then bed.
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