Making the Sale.

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There are thousands of ways to sell a product in Latin America, but as my Dad used to say;

“It’s all about marketing”

You could market your product like the good folks at the shoe stores in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. You could dress voluptuous young woman in skimpy outfits and have them gyrate to the pulsating rhythms of high volume reggaeton in front of the shop. This would drag half of the male population out of their offices and homes and onto the dirty, crowded rain sodden streets so that they can willingly engage in ‘window shopping’,with total impunity, while thinking only about…shoes.

You could follow the direct marketing approach favoured by the vendors of snacks, drinks and other small items, who board buses and trains the length and breadth of the continent, offering tasty morsels and cool refreshments to customers in the comfort of their own seats.

You could also offer these and similar products through the bus and train windows every time, and everywhere, the bus or train comes to a halt.

With enough tenacity, and tough skin, you might also try laying some broken glass on the floor of a train carriage in Mexico City, before removing your shirt and turning a forward roll over the glass, in return for some shrapnel.

You’d have to be quick, though. Quick enough to evade the authorities and your competition, some of whom you can hear before you see them.

They’ll be traipsing the aisles with a heavy backpack containing a boom box and yelling;

“Damas y caballeros, todos los exitos de Juan Gabriel en un solo discooooooooooo. Mas de 200 cancioneeeeeees. Vale cien pesos, te cuesta diez pesooooooooooooossss!!!!” with a distinct Chilango inflection.

You’d be amazed how many passengers will part with 10 pesos for a fake CD containing Juan Gabriel’s greatest hits.

If you employ these tactics, you are assured of some success, assured of putting dinner on the table that night and surviving one more day in this cut throat business.

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You might also try your luck selling products to waiting motorists at traffic lights in busy cities, and with the right entrepreneurial spirit, you may succeed in selling the live guinea pig you are offering.

Perhaps head over to Xochimilco, near Mexico City. Acquire a gondola of your own and cruise the canals full of tourists in need of water borne food, drink, tequila, cerveza, or even a live Mariachi band.

Elsewhere in Mexico, offer a free shot of Tequila to entice your ‘friend’, ‘amigo’ or the love-struck ‘Honeymooners’, and offer them prices so low they are ‘almost free’ or ‘cheaper than Wal Mart’.

However, there is one method that is unlikely to succeed.

It is direct, yes, in fact very direct. It is accurate, yes. It is vocal and audible, just like the peddlers of fake CD’s in Mexico City, but it is not advisable.

If you notice two potential customers, both women, with hands intertwined, casually strolling past your souvenir shop in Playa del Carmen during a balmy early evening, don’t attempt to promote your wares by yelling;

“Oye, lesbianas!”

Lockout Laws Killing Frownlow Medal Hopes of Sydney Based Players.

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NSW Premier Mike Baird’s new Lockout Laws have been slammed in a joint statement from Sydney based footballers furious at the early closure of their favourite high performance centres in King’s Cross.

Players from across the four codes claim the law creates an unfair advantage for players based in other Australian states and across the Tasman, who are free to showcase the skills and dedication which earn nominations for the country’s most toughly contested inter-code award.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. The first medal was awarded to Sydney Roosters and New Zealand representative Shaun Kenny-Dowall in 2015. The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players who receive media attention for similarly scandalous behaviour and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Todd Carney.

Players blamed various motives for the introduction of the law.

NRL players are adamant it is another Queensland Rugby League conspiracy designed to prevent the NSW Origin players from properly bonding, while AFL fans cite the existence of a mole within the Baird ministry still angry at the relocation of his beloved South Melbourne Swans.

Another theory points the finger at deceitful backroom political deals forged in the halls of national parliament which are aimed at bolstering the chances of players from the ACT Brumbies.

Further sources claim Mr. Baird himself was discovered at Star City in a covert rendezvous with Hall of Fame inductee Ben Cousins discussing methods by which current players could be prevented from emulating the hedonistic performances of Perth’s favourite son.

The joint statement then outlined the players’ intention to fight the for law to be rescinded, or just wait for the opening of a new casino at Barrangaroo.

 

Brutal Bus Ride: 4, Pucon to Santiago, Chile.

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“Senor, senor”

“Huh?”

“Senor, ya llegamos”

He was right. It was 7am and we had arrived in Santiago after an all-night trip from Chile’s adventure sports capital, Pucon

Wow, I’d been out cold.

Actually I’d been wrapped up nice and warm in the blanket provided by our amiable attendant, Carlos, who was now politely attempting to shake me from my slumber.

I’d never slept that well on a bus.

I’d never slept at all on a bus.

The extra price of the ticket for the full cama (bed) bus was definitely justified and gave me the chance to sleep off nine months of equally brutal bus rides on my round-the-world backpacking odyssey.

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I think I’d nodded off before the end of the movie and after bingo. All I remember is sinking blissfully into the comfy chair as it reclined further and further and fuuurrr…..

All that was left to do upon arriving in Santiago was to rub the sleep from my eyes, track down a taxi and pop over to the hotel before enjoying the last day of my adventure.

So how, do you ask, was this bus ride brutal?

I lost bingo.

I lost by one number. One lousy number.

There I was. In my comfy seat, beverage in one hand, pen in the other, bingo card on the tray table as Carlos called out the numbers.

“siete” yes

“trienta y dos” yes

“sesenta” no

“cuarenta y tres” yes… and so it continued.

With each number my heart beat faster, my hand shook and I fought back a wide, churlish grin; lest I reveal my impending success to my neighbour.

Winning is Everything!

I could feel it in my soul, I was just moments from victory which would serve as a befitting culmination to nine months on the road.

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Victory would easily surpass the wonders of the Serengeti and Victoria Falls, the majesty of Machu Picchu and the arduous splendour of the Inca Trail.

There could be no greater prize than victory in Bus Bingo!

“dieciseis” yes

“Ochenta y ocho” (dos gorditas?) yes

“trece” yes

Nueve, say nueve, screamed the only blank space remaining on my card, its nakedness teasing and taunting me.

Please say nueve, I silently pleaded, I begged, I implored, I demanded…say nueve and victory will be mine.

“dos”

“BINGO!”  cried the man in row three.

Nooooooo!!! I wept internally.

Nooooooo, it can’t be. Victory was mine. It was destined to be. The stars and the cosmos had aligned to place me at that very spot, at that very time, for the sole purpose of winning bus bingo. Now it had been snatched from my grasp, as had the prize of a bus company t-shirt and a pouch containing…I’ll never know.

Following the heart crushing defeat, I’d searched for some kind of explanation, some meaning to this cruel twist of fate.

Why did this happen?

What does it mean?

What are the wider implications?

I’d kept staring into the darkness outside, searching for answers, until I reclined the seat further and further and fuuuurrrr…

Brutal.

Brazil Fights Zika with DEET Infused Olympic Torches.

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The Brazilian Government has promised to stamp out the Zika virus with unique DEET infused torches in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The torches will emit DEET which acts as a repellant to insects and will be distributed to citizens throughout the country in an attempt to wipe out the destructive virus before the beginning of the games on August 5.

“There will be no Zika in Brazil” declared embattled President Dilma Rousseff.

“These specially designed Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torches (trademarked and patented) will destroy every Zika carrying Aedes mosquito and ensure that every athlete, resident, spectator, official and visitor will be safe during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”

The announcement of the special Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torches follows the release of the official Brazilian team uniform which is a full length, hi-tech, permethrin treated skin suit designed for optimal performance.

The thousands of torches will also form the centre-piece of extraordinary daytime Carnival events throughout the country.

Carnival normally occurs in Rio de Janeiro during February, but local governments have been instructed to organise Carnivals every day and to force every resident to parade and dance through the streets of their neighbourhood, while holding aloft their Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torches (trademarked and patented).

“Participation is mandatory, but G-Strings are not” explained Rouseff.

“Infact, it is advisable to wear long sleeves in order to prevent bites from Aedes mosquitos.”

The fight against Zika will also be carried out in homes throughout the South American nation. Residents have been instructed to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene, and to use their Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torches correctly.

“The local government told us we must use the Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torch every day” said Rio resident Rodrigo Alves de Costa, before elaborating on the instructions from compliance officers,

“We are not allowed to let the flame go out until the final moment of the closing ceremony and we were told to only use the official Rio 2016 Olympic Games DEET Torch, with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games insignia, to control pests. If we use other methods or other brands, we will be fined”

Rousseff would not comment on claims that the torches will be taken back from residents the day after the closing ceremony and returned to the IOC.

Image: Igor Lepilin

 

 

 

38 Players, One Club and Grant Hackett Nominated for Frownlow Medal Honours.

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A total of 38 players, one club and Grant Hackett have received nominations for the prestigious Frownlow Medal, even before the winter football codes reach the halfway point of their seasons.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. The first medal was awarded to Sydney Roosters and New Zealand representative Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

The West Coast Eagles AFL club joined the list for a racist tweet while Grant Hackett was nominated after being recruited by Collingwood in the hope that the club will win something in 2016.

A mysterious penis from the Wests Tigers is in the running as are the eleven unkown Collingwood players who tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.

The judges are yet to decide whether Parramatta Eels player Kieran Foran will be nominated for misuse of prescription medication.

A full list of nominees is provided below.

Name Code Club Action
1 Mitchell Pearce NRL Sydney Roosters Filmed simulating sex with a dog, while intoxicated, on Australia Day. Video posted on social media.
2 Ben Hunt NRL Brisbane Broncos Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
3 Anthony Milford NRL Brisbane Broncos Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
4 Jarrod Wallace NRL Brisbane Broncos Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
5 Dylan Napa NRL Sydney Roosters Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
6 Edrick Lee NRL Canberra Raiders Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
7 Chris Grevsmuhl NRL South Sydney Rabbitohs Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
8 Valentine Holmes NRL Cronulla Sharks Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
9 Cameron Munster NRL Melbourne Storm Breaking curfew at QLD emerging Origin camp
10 Jack Bird NRL Cronulla Sharks Involved in an incident at a bar, supporting Shaun  Kenny-Dowall
11 Dustin Martin AFL Richmond Tigers Accused of threatening to stab woman in the eye with chopsticks at a Japanese restaurant while intoxicated.
12 Jobe Watson AFL Essendon Bombers Involved in controversy which could see him lose his 2012 Brownlow Medal. Possibly first player to win Brownlow and Frownlow Medals.
13 Matthew Lodge NRL West Tigers, former. Involved in crimes in The USA while intoxicated. Spent time in US Prison. Frownlow nomination dependent on eligibility.
14 Kurt Mann NRL St George Dragons Filmed his mate throwing a goanna, posted the video on social media which included a racist remark.
15 Brad Hill AFL Hawthorn Hawks Involved in a police investigation into violence at a nightclub in Victoria.
1 West Coast Eagles AFL West Coast Eagles Staff member posted the words ‘yellow peril’ on the club’s official twitter account.
16 Mystery penis NRL Wests Tigers Unknown rookie photographed his own penis while representing the club then posted it on social media.
17 Liam Knight NRL Manly Sea Eagles Arrested for speeding and drink driving while on his P Plates.
18 Manu Vatuvei NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
19 Ben Matulino NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
20 Bodene Thompson NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
21 Konrad Hurrell NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
22 Albert Vete NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
23 Sam Lisone NRL New Zealand Warriors Stood down from New Zealand Warriors first grade team due to ‘attitude’.
24 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
25 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
26 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
27 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
28 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
29 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
30 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
31 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
32 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
33 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
34 Unknown AFL Collingwood As yet unnamed players tested positive to illicit drug use during the off season.
35 Daniel Georgievski A-League Melbourne Victory Fighting with a fan after his side’s loss.
36 Aaron Gray NRL South Sydney Misuse of Prescription medicine.
37 Dylan Walker NRL South Sydney Misuse of Prescription medicine.
38 Sam Burgess NRL South Sydney Using phone while driving. Posting the video on social media.

Existing nominees and their footballing colleagues have until October to impress the judges of Australia’s most fiercely contested inter-code award.

NRL Conference Based Representative Match.

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A proposal for a new representative fixture for Rugby League in Australia.

What is it?

A representative fixture played between two conferences (North and South) involving the best players in the NRL who represent the conference which corresponds to their current club team – similar to the conference system used by the NBA for their All Star fixture.

Conferences

Conference division = Sydney Harbour.

North: Cowboys, Broncos, Titans, Knights, Sea Eagles, Tigers, Eels, Panthers

South: Storm, Dragons, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Raiders, Bulldogs, (Warriors, geographically south of Sydney ?)

This could be changed according to exact geographical locations (eg. Western Sydney teams).

Players

Any player currently playing in the NRL. Players from any country or state.

This would include players from any Australian state as well as from New Zealand, The UK, Fiji and other countries which are represented in the NRL.

This would allow the selection of players who are not eligible for State of Origin.

Players would represent the conference of their current NRL team, and could play for different conferences in different seasons if they change clubs.

To avoid complications, perhaps the fixture would not be open to players who switch clubs during a season.

Why?

To showcase the highest possible standard of NRL in the world.

This used to be State of Origin, because Australia used to dominate League, but now that New Zealand often beat Australia in Tests, Origin cannot claim to be the best in the world – even though it’s still a fantastic competition.

Currently, Australia v New Zealand Tests are the highest standard of game in the world but if other countries (eg England) continue to improve then this fixture could not claim that title.

To bring together the world’s best players in one match.

As the game expands, top players will emerge from regions other than NSW and Queensland. Especially with the success of the Melbourne Storm, players born and bred in Victoria may reach the top level but be ineligible for Origin. This fixture would give them a chance to play at the top level.

To increase exposure.

The game could be played in emerging areas, such as Victoria, rural Australia, New Zealand or even PNG or Pacific Islands, depending on logistics.

It would undoubtedly attract strong TV audiences in those regions, and The UK , if players from around the world featured in the match.

Less potential for arguments over eligibility.

Why not?

Too many fixtures.

This would compete for scheduling with State of Origin, Tests, City v Country, Indigenous All Stars, Auckland Nines, World Club Champs…and other representative fixtures.

It would have to be done in such a way that it does not clash with or dilute State of Origin.

The game could be played every second or third season.

Too much stress on players and increased chance of injury or burnout. A possible solution to this issue is that one player from each club must be selected. That creates a core group of eight players, and the rest of the squad can be chosen from any club.

Concern from clubs who may already be losing players to other representative fixtures. The game would only work if it truly showcased the very best players in the NRL.

There would obviously be a lot of logistical and practical problems to be solved to make this idea a reality, but it could potentially become a successful series.

Image: http://www.pilagroup.com.au

Sam Burgess Nominated for Frownlow Medal.

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South Sydney’s English wrecking ball Sam Burgess has been nominated for the 2016 Frownlow Medal after allegedly using a mobile phone to film his partner while driving.

The 2014 grand final hero and England Rugby Union World Cup player posted the video on social media then deleted it once his error was brought to his attention.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. The first medal was awarded to Sydney Roosters and New Zealand representative Shaun Kenny-Dowall in 2015. The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players who receive media attention for similarly scandalous behaviour and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Todd Carney.

Burgess faces tough opposition for the award after weeks of outstanding off field performances from players across the various codes, including many of his NRL colleagues.

Image:www.smh.com.au

Brutal Bus Rides 3: Harare, Zimbabwe to Lusaka, Zambia.

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Never take the same bus through an international border in Africa.

Never.

Take one bus to the border then pick up a different bus on the other side. If not, you’ll learn the hard way.

You’ll be forced out of bed long before dawn to take an overpriced taxi through the dark, dirty streets of Harare to the bus terminal. Bus terminals are always in the dirtiest parts town so you can savour the sights and smells until the bus fills up sufficiently for the driver to depart.

Buses in Africa work on the adage ‘There’s always room for more’, so you could wait 30 minutes or, in this case, three hours, in the bustling, dirty, smelly terminal.

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Fight your way to the ticket counter, pack on your back and day pack firmly clutched. Keep fighting and jostling until you finally make it to the counter, only to be told you must buy your ticket on the bus.

At least you’ll be in no doubt as to which bus is yours, as the touts scream;

“Lusaka standing, Lusaka standing, Lusaka, Lusaka, Lusakaaaaaaa!!!” until they have attracted the requisite number of passengers.

If you do arrive 3 hours before eventual departure, you can choose your seat – window or aisle, but don’t expect in-flight entertainment, at least not with a screen.

When the decrepit old bus finally lurches away from the terminal, you’ll get to know the locals as you’re squeezed between them and their bags, sacks of maize, live animals and live children, one of whom may even end up on your lap for some or all of the journey.

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African kids are amazing to watch on arduous, long distance bus trips. They do nothing. They don’t squirm, they don’t complain, they don’t beg for entertainment or lollies or drinks. They sit dead still, staring out the window or staring at the white man whose seat, or lap, they now occupy. After staring for a while they may overcome their fear and start to stroke the hair on your limbs; because it’s hair and because it’s white.

After overcoming the novelty of nursing a bemused child, boredom and discomfort set in.

Boredom for an over-stimulated western mind.

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Discomfort from riding a vehicle built for functionality. Not speed. Not comfort, not efficiency or luxury. Function. Designed to arrive at a destination ‘soon’ or ‘anytime from now’, because everywhere in Africa is ‘not far’.

Wait for your gluts to go numb, then your legs, then you lower back, upper back, neck…

Sit back and endure being squashed into an old, uncomfortable, dirty, smelly, stiflingly hot bus crawling along what remains of a once paved highway.

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Don’t dare open a window. For locals, stifling heat is preferable to a mouthful of dust. Windows are only opened to dispose of rubbish.

Stay hydrated but don’t expect a bathroom on board or designated comfort stops. Just praise any deity you know when the bus finally stops at the behest of the annoying young local guy who has spent the entire journey so far drinking a cheap local brew and telling everyone how he read that eating bananas would suppress his urge to pee during the entire trip.

“But it’s not working!” he bellows.

When the driver eventually tires of his aggressive entreaties, follow him. Politely throw the kid from your lap, leap over bags and people and livestock and anything else between you and the door.

When you find a tree, or nothing, to hide behind, thank profusely said deity and enjoy the momentary relief.

Also thank the fact that you’re the only white man on the bus and that the driver will notice if you’re missing when he is forced to depart by the insistent, impatient locals. Then resume your seat, take back the child and endure the bumps and bruises on the corrugated, pot-holed, dirt road on the way to the border.

You’re not even halfway there.

When you arrive at the Chirundu border post, stay seated while your bus inches its way through the long convoy of vehicles hooting and fighting like dodgem cars for the last few patches of dirt masquerading as a car park.

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Haul your creaking limbs from the bus.

Find your pack. A helpful local has already hauled or thrown it from the roof, in return for a fee. Bargain for the fee and be assertive; it’s Africa.

Find a bathroom to wash off the coke your neighbour spilt on you hours ago. Actually don’t, the toilet’s disgusting. Find a tap.

Fend off more helpful locals offering to exchange money for a “…special price for you my friend”, but don’t ignore them. You need the cash. Bargain for a good rate. You won’t get it, just get close. Check your notes. Find the 1000 Zambian Kwacha note, or notes, slipped in among the 10000 notes before you cross the border, although by now the transgressor has made his exit.

All the while, watch your belongings. The sheer chaos of a border post is a haven for opportunistic thieves with no genuine job prospects who thrive on chances to separate a privileged white man from his belongings. Hopefully, the preceding two months in Africa have taught you how to retain your possessions.

Now walk. Head down. Determined but not desperate. Ignore everyone. No one is your ‘special friend’. Ignore your new title, ‘Smith’, ‘Johnson’, ‘George Bush’.

Fight your way to another counter and wait at immigration.

And wait.

And wait.

Ignore the money changers, the touts, the food sellers, the heat, the dust, the filth, the stench, the aching limbs and headache.

Wear enclosed shoes.

Bring a pen. You won’t find one at the counter. Fill out the forms.

Then wait.

Greet the immigration official. Present your passport. Stamp. Easy.

Then wait.

Wait for the remaining 80 or so passengers to re-board the bus to continue into Zambia.

This is when you’ll learn why you never take the same bus through an international border in Africa.

Avoid asking the bleedingly obvious question;

‘How can it take a bus so long to travel one kilometre?’

Hop off again, and remember that it’s even harder to enter a country than it is to leave one.

Stand in one line with your fellow passengers.

Wait

Stand in one line with your fellow passengers, on the other side of the road. Obey.

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Arrive at immigration. Greet the immigration official.

Present your passport then remind the fat official that at that moment in time you don’t need a visa to enter Zambia. Remind him again and again, no matter how many times he requests a ‘special fee’. You know you don’t need one. Stay calm and be assertive, enjoying the death stares you can feel boring into your back from the impatient locals who also want to pass through the border some time today.

Wait for the fat official to give in and stamp your passport. The most corrupt ones are always fat.

Refrain from telling him what you really think when he says;

“Ah, yes sir. I think maybe you are correct. It is not necessary to have a visa. But, next time, please clearly explain your purpose for visiting Zambia and please behave with respect and manners. This is very important in Zambia.”

Wait for the locals to declare their belongings at customs, including the 50 chairs that shared the roof space with your pack and can only enter Zambia upon the receipt of a fax and more paperwork and the obligatory heated negotiations between the owner of the chairs and the official.

Be prepared to empty your pack for a customs inspection and try to avoid despoiling the clothes you painstakingly hand washed just days ago. If you can’t, bad luck. It’s Africa.

Welcome to Zambia.

Now you wait. You wait for the chairs and bags and maize and live animals and live kids to all pass through immigration and customs and to re-board the bus.

Your bag must go back on top. But don’t worry. Edwin is here to help.

In one swift move he’ll relieve you of your bag and secure it on the roof. For a fee.

Don’t look for a price list; a summary of charges or accepted rates. There’s no app to help you here. Negotiate.

Edwin will. While he chats to you, finds out where you’re from, what you do and that you follow Liverpool and Not ManU, because Edwin knows something you don’t.

Your bus is not going anywhere for a long, long time. Long enough for you to become ‘besties’, for him to invite you to dine with him and the family he works so hard to support , next time you’re in Chirundu.

Long enough to demand an exorbitant amount of Kwacha for the simple act of securing your backpack.

(Despite all appearances, all items stowed in the overhead compartments rarely move during the journey).

See, Edwin’s familiar with this currency but you, on your first visit to the country, are not. To you, the notes are just a series of endless zeros.

So Edwin will patiently chat to you while you sit and wait. He will join you on the seat and make it clear that you would not be too forward if you were to purchase for him a morsel of food that is being conveniently offered through the bus window. No, not too forward at all.

Finally, Edwin will leave once he is satisfied with the amount of kwacha he has managed to extract from you. You will feel cheated, but 15 minutes later very relieved when you see Edwin bash someone to a bloodied mess during an argument.

Pray you gave him enough.

Thank your favourite deity when the bus finally departs for Lusaka, then curse it again when you stop 30 minutes later as a result of a major road blockage. Panic and dread the thought when your fellow passengers start muttering;

“…sleep here tonight…”

No, no, no, no, please. Just get this journey over with.

Once the road is finally cleared and darkness descends you can relax in the comfort of a now ice cold bus whose windows won’t close properly and which lacks functioning head lights.

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Relax in the knowledge that only two hours remain to Lusaka. Well, two hours without the compulsory police checks which seem to serve no other purpose than to extract bribes or slow motorists.

Finally, finally you will pull into the bus terminal in Lusaka – so many hours later you don’t bother counting.

Then, you can deal with big city touts and hustlers with even more street smarts than Edwin, who will work in tandem with the few taxi drivers at the terminal to lower your bag, for a fee, protect you from touts, for a fee, find you a taxi, for a fee and place your bag, with utmost care into the taxi – for a fee.

By now you probably don’t care how many zeros appear on the notes you hand to them, nor to the taxi driver who seems most content when he finally drops you at your hostel.

Finally.

Finally a place with a shower and a welcome bed, right under some snoring backpacker with really bad foot odour.

Images: Simon Blake

Tamarama Beach declared Australia’s Surf Life Saving Capital.

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Sydney’s Tamarama Beach has been chosen as Australia’s Surf Life Saving capital in an effort to end the long standing feud between Bronte and Bondi Surf Life Saving Clubs.

Both Bondi and Bronte claim the title of ‘first surf club in the world’ based on evidence from local newspapers and council minutes at the time, and even a time capsule dug up at Bronte Surf Club.

“Years of research, debate and conjecture have failed to resolve the issue of which club is truly Australia’s first Surf Life Saving Club”, read a statement from Surf Life Saving Australia.

“Thus, it was recently agreed by the board to appoint Tamarama as the official capital.”

The small, beautiful bay provides an ideal location, lying between its famous, brash and hedonistic northern neighbour and the more demure and subdued ‘Ville Bronte’ to the south.

Both Bondi and Bronte Surf Clubs are believed to be in agreement with the announcement. Neither club issued an official statement as the representatives from Bronte were busy reviewing the current value of their beachside properties, while bronzed Bondi members were sunbathing in anticipation of a cameo role on Bondi Rescue.

A tasteful, boutique, sophisticated, yet avant garde monument will be erected in front of Tama Surf Club. This will mark the club’s new status and form the centerpiece for every subsequent Sculpture By The Sea.

Tama’s status will be largely symbolic as the national body will continue to coordinate the thousands of volunteer “clubbies” and associated activities from the current headquarters in Rosebery.

“The national headquarters is already established and performs its role with great efficacy” continued the statement.

“Furthermore, there was concern from Tamarama residents that the suburb would be inundated with public servants, which is not glamorous, and that they would be occupied primarily in mundane administrative duties, which is also not glamorous. Plus, have you ever seen a public servant in speedos?”

Image: http://www.happynessphotography.com.au

Published in The Beast, May 2016.

 

 

The Pitch.

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Advertising gurus will tell you that a great salesperson can sell things to people that people know they don’t need.

So young advertising executives could certainly have learned a lot from the man selling pens on a bus in Guatemala.

He boarded the bus at the terminal like so many other vendors and soon after began his pitch, like so many others, to a busy, uncomfortable bus full of impatient and uninterested locals and a few equally uninterested ‘viajeros’.

We three already had pens. They worked. We didn’t need another.

Then he began.

He regaled the audience with promises of grandeur, should anyone buy his pen. He extolled the virtues of his writing implements ‘hasta el cielo’.

He paraded the aisle, clicking his pens. Yes, they clicked, a sign of quality, superior to that of other vendors. He handed out his pens, his sacred quills, that we might be blessed while they graced our hands.

He guaranteed literary brilliance should anyone buys his pens. He anointed the next Miguel de Cervantes, Ruben Dario, Gabriella Mistral and Isabel Allende, with but the mere surrender of a few Quetzal.

He swooned the audience. Roused their attention and held it. The disgruntled, bored, impatient locals and weary, jaded travellers hung on his every word.

He laughed, he joked, he performed. He displayed his pens as the glamorous models display the prizes on a game show. He touched our emotions, he set our hearts aloft, he enriched our souls.

Well, I think he did. I didn’t completely understand his Spanish.

The locals did, however. They fixed their gaze upon him, they were transfixed with his pitch, his words, his performance and the hypnotic clicking of his pens.

He was magnificent.

I knew I didn’t need a pen. I had many and they all worked.

I bought three.

Image: Rachelle Blake.