This summer I decided to take a trip to Peru in search of the worlds 7th favourite cartoon bear, Paddington. Paddington is a Peruvian bear awkwardly named after a British train station. It seems his mother preferred the Victoria Beckham method of naming children. Paddington’s childhood is rarely spoken of possibly because conception in a train station bathroom cannot be brought up in polite conversation.Thoughts of ferocious bear copulation in a busy train station aside, I took the long trip over to the city of Lima.
As I walked down to Larcomar (a rather picturesque shopping centre) I crossed paths with a skateboarder who was dressed like someone from the nineties. He was one of the first members of Peruvian society I talked to. 90’s-reject-man was very insistent that he become my designated weed dealer. He seemed disappointed that I didn’t take up on his offer but I’ve never been a fan of long term exclusivity contracts and I don’t want to be the second Irish person taking residence in a Peruvian jail.
Unlike most of the European countries, English is not a commonly spoken language. I tried my best to make the locals understand that I was searching for Paddington’s ancestry and wished to give his relatives a pat on the back. The Peruvian people not only failed to understand me but also seemed to find my bear mime act rather comical. When I found a local Peruvian, Francisco, who did speak English, he informed me that if I attempted to pet a wild bear, it would most likely rip off my arms. Whilst I wanted to ingratiate myself into Peruvian culture, I didn’t wish to lose two of my three favourite appendages in the attempt.
Francisco showed me where to find a Paddington statue. It was rather nice.
He asked me about the popularity of Paddington. I reasurred him that a well performing movie had saved this character from his waning popularity. Sadly an English politician recently had a pop at the character. Nick Griffin, former head of the British National Party had this to say on the topic:
Paddington Bear entered this country illegally. The only thing we know about his origins are that he comes from “Darkest Peru”. No doubt that means that this bear is a convict. Probably another terrorist from the middle-east sneaking over here to take our jobs and do lurid things to our women. I would also like to take this moment to state that I am not and never have been a racist.
Francisco suggested taking the Inca Trail instead of searching through the Amazon for bear faeces. Trusting his advice I joined a tour group in Cusco to do the trek. Cusco is a beautiful, bustling city filled to the brim with happy locals and hazardous road crossings. Little tip for those who don’t want to spend a night re-enacting the life of a double ended sprinkler, be careful where you get your chicken in Cusco.
I saw no signs of bear activity on the Inca Trail although I did come across a distant relative of Eeyore’s chilling in some bushes.
The trail itself is long and at times difficult. Locals seem at home with the high altitudes so when I struggled breathlessly up the hill with my fancy equipment, Peruvian children would skip past, merrily chuckling at the sunburnt gringo. Our ageless porters, carrying 25 kilos on their back, seemed completely impervious to weather, altitude and perfect selfie opportunities.
At the end of my trip I had to concede that I had failed to find any information on Paddington’s history. His heritage will have to remain an enigma.
Jokes aside, Peru was a fantastic country to go to. The scenery is mind blowing. The G Adventures team who took us on the Inca Trail were awesome and the porters were super impressive. Time to finish before I run out of superlatives.
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The quotes are not real. Please don’t sue me.