The chariot which whisked us from Tumbes, on the Ecuador/Peru border, to the beach town of Mancora was this fine American muscle car, which must have been 40 years old. I don't know enough about cars to know what type it is, I just know it made a sound like a tractor fuelled with bourbon whisky and it was very big and very fun.
Sat in the taxi, while we were waiting for more occupants to fill the ample leather back seat, I got talking, in my pigeon Spanish, to Hector, the driver's mate. He was extolling the virtues of his country and claimed that Peruvian beer was the best in South America. Then he nipped out of the car and came back with a couple of cans of beer for us, refusing to take any money for them – how is that for hospitality?
Anyway, in Peru, we'll tell the locals we're from 'near Newcastle' and, as with Hector, they generally smile, their eyes widen and they say “ah, Nolberto Solano”. Then, on some occasions you get beer bought for you. We call it the 'Solano manoeuvre'.
For those that don't know, Nolberto Solano was probably the best thing to leave Peruvian soil since Yale University made off with half of the treasures from Machu Picchu. His finest days were playing for Newcastle in the late 90s and early 00s. He didn't look so fine the last time I saw him - aged 37 and huffing and puffing up and down Hartlepool United's right wing. I tend to leave that bit out when speaking to locals though.