Posts Tagged ‘spanish’

Latin American Scams

May 13, 2014

The list of scams in Latin America is legendary.

If you go out drinking, never drink out of a beer bottle you didn’t open yourself, or else you will get roofied and chained to a toilet until all your money is successfully taken out of your bank account. Stay in a hostel and you will get hit up for money from other tourists who have “been robbed.” Go to an ATM at night and transvestites will grab your crouch as you are taking the money out of the ATM, when you push their hands away from your private parts they make off with the money. Go into a store and a man will walk up next to you saying, “Paloma, Paloma” (pidgin, pidgin). After that, he’ll pull some toilet paper out of his pants pocket and start wiping off the white stain (the supposed pidgin poop) on your backpack, as he’s doing this, he’ll slip his hand inside your backpack and take your camera. Get into a taxi to your hotel and the driver will supposedly get lost and drive around for 45 minutes looking for your hotel. By the time he finally gets there, your taxi fare has gone from $4USD to $50USD.

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For your next trip you decide to take the bus. While on the bus, never stand near the exit. If you do, two guys will stand behind you pretending to be about to get off. One of them will be carrying a large dry-cleaning bag with a hook on it which he drapes over your backpack. While you stand there clueless, his buddy will slip his hand into your backpack and take your camera, passport, jacket and whatever else is in there. But, not this time. Instead of playing the fool, you feel your bag being tugged at and you quickly grab your backpack and realize it has been opened. You stare at the two guys and then stare blankly into your empty backpack. “Are you sure your jacket didn’t fall out in the front of the bus?” asks the one with the dry cleaning bag. You subsequently make eye contact with the 45 other passengers in the bus like a wet cat, hoping someone else is going to throw you a towel. The rest of the passengers do nothing but stare out the window.

 

Take your clothes to be washed and you better make sure you count every sock and take a picture of it with the guy who you turned your dirty laundry in to. If not, when you get your clothes back anything worth anything will be gone.

 

Go out on a Friday night with your buddies from the hostel, this is the time when the least amount of people are in the hostel and therefore the most likely time for the lockers to be robbed. The whole second floor lockers of a hostel in Cali, Colombia got robbed by three hostel guests with fake passports on a Friday night at 11.30pm. They checked out of the hostel after robbing the entire second floor (rooms and lockers) and actually sent the passports back to the hostel via taxi.

 

Border crossings – By car of by bus? By bus you will be dropped off in front of immigration area. You will then stand in line until it’s time to get your passport stamped. You walk to the other side and you will be met by 15 different money changers who will show you the exchange rate on their digital calculators. “2.79 Peruvian Nuevo Soles for a dollar,” they tell you. Perfect, you hand the Money changer $50USD. What you don’t know is that right before he does the conversion, he uses an alternate exchange rate that is saved in the calculator’s memory. He uses this other exchange rate which is 18% lower. So, instead of getting 139.5 Nuevo Soles, you get 115. In Mexico they have taken this scam to the next level. The money exchanger will actually exchange your money into the old Mexican Peso (if you look stupid enough) which hasn’t circulated since 1994.

 

Speaking of Mexico, say you are crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana at 3am in a 2010 model Mazada 626 with California plates. These three miscalculations will get you pulled over to the side of the road within 6 minutes of crossing the border by a Tijuana Traffic cop. “Speeding? Are you sure officer? I wasn’t doing more than 15 miles an hour.”

 

You will be given two options as a foreigner – either have your car impounded until you pay the fine of $139USD, or “We can settle it right now for $100USD.” Thanking the officer for expediting the process, you pull a wad of bills out of your shoe and pass it over to the officer. Instead of counting it, he stuffs the bills into his front pocket like the money was about to explode. He then asks you where you are going and gives you directions on how to get onto the highway.

 

Then finally you visit the prison in Quito, Ecuador. There you wait in the visitation line. While in line, you dump a bag full of money on the sidewalk in front of the prison and nobody will even look twice. Why you ask? The reason nobody will touch it is because every thief over the age of 8-years old knows they don’t mess with people who have friends in prison.

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I Speak Colombian – The Book

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we automatically picture an overturned bus, being pillaged by men in ski masks. I think it is obvious, which country, a reasonable person like myself, would choose to go to in search of a beautiful Latin lover and a more fulfilling professional career.

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The 3-Hour Work Week: The Gringo Guide To Online Dating, Learning Spanish, Avoiding Deportation And Making Money In Colombia is designed to inspire people to maximize life experiences and escape an ordinary life. Inspired by the ideologies of the self-proclaimed “Internet Romeo/All-Star Budget Traveler/Worst English Teacher in Colombia,” it has been described as the holy grail for those who want to explore opportunities abroad and network with hot Latin singles.

This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to Colombia and become an English teacher/freelance writer/actor. This book illustrates the many advantages (affordable health insurance, the lack of tipping in restaurants and affordable plastic surgery) that the gringo visitor can expect to find in Colombia.

Funny, fact filled and always informative, The 3-Hour Work Week provides the knowledge you need to make the most out of the Colombia experience, and/or makes a great coffee table book you can enjoy during the commercial breaks of the Jersey Shore. Jam-packed with practical information, The 3-Hour Work Week addresses all the concerns and taboos a prospective ex-pat in Colombia needs to know, such as finding the right job to tips on which people to filter out while surfing online dating sites. While other books focus solely on the tourist experience, The 3-Hour Work Week discusses the life beyond the typical gringo trail, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Colombian internet culture, food, drinking, dating, health and relations with its socialist neighbor, Venezuela.

The 3-Hour Work Week is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with being refused a job at Barnes & Noble was to go online and look for a girlfriend in Colombia, and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s cagey capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

Brian sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue, and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, almost gets kidnapped during an eDate, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles, and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

 

I Speak Colombian – The Book

May 12, 2014

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we envision a post-apocalyptic city full of overturned buses, being pillaged by men in ski masks. It is obvious which country any rational person would seek to avoid while searching for an internet bride.

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“48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong” is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with a life sentence of microwavable burritos and 10-hour Facebook marathons was to look online for a girlfriend in Colombia and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

During his first month in Bogota, Brian falls in with two white, self-assured backpackers who the author describes as, “…not the kind of guys who pump the brakes before going through an uncontrolled intersection.” He is then nearly kidnapped during an encounter with a woman he met online, almost becomes business partners with a Korean man in the “diamond business” and is forced to sleep in the DVD room of his hostel due to lack of funds.

Brian quickly regroups after his first month and auditions for the part of “congressional aide” in a Colombian feature film called “Left To Die.” He then lands a job as a writer for an English-language newspaper where his first interview is with a “suspected undercover CIA agent.” Brian then gets thrown off a TV set for refusing to take off his shirt from under his police uniform. While Brian is not getting thrown off TV sets, he marvels at all the discarded construction materials Colombians throw into pot holes to lessen their depths. Because of this strategy, a bus going over one of these open trenches (full of construction materials) will occasionally sling a chest-high brick through a group of panic-stricken pedestrians.

Brian sincerely believed this trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

To view the complete book, go to …
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015VWCXME?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Jobs A Foreigner Can Do In Colombia While Drunk

October 24, 2013

In the last decade, many foreign companies have started to augment their filming operations here in Colombia. The reason for the increased presence of film projects in Colombia are many-fold; Colombia has many different shooting locations to offer in one country (jungle, the ocean, historic architecture and modern cities), Colombia’s weather allows for film companies to shoot during the whole year, the exchange rate to the US dollar makes filming in Colombia very accessible and the fact that security in Colombia has increased dramatically in the past decade (the US State Department has lifted warnings on Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena). The filmed productions in Colombia range from syndicated TV shows, to car commercials, to movies, such as the comedy El Paseo.

bogota zona rosa

If a foreign person is seriously thinking about making a career of working as an extra/actor in Colombian TV, then the first step this person should take is to register with as many casting agencies as possible. Probably the best agency in terms of prompt payment and the agency that is most enthusiastic about working in TV and movies is the Rudiger Kunze Casting Agency (send photos and contact information in Spanish or German to rudikunze@hotmail.com or call him at 301 662 0565). Once you get a relationship going with Rudi, you will likely be sent on casting calls for movies, commercials as well as have semi-consistent work as an extra.

The advantages of working in Colombia as a foreign extra are  numerous; #1) It is a job that is easily done (and probably preferably done) while drunk, #2) The foreign extra needs nothing in the way of work visas, a Colombian bank account or a RUT to work in Colombia, #3) Speaking Spanish is not necessary either and it is to the extra’s advantage the less Spanish he or she knows (the costume designer won’t insist that you try on the same size of pants that are two sizes too small fifty times if you can’t understand what he is saying).

Which foreigners will have the most success in movies and TV in Colombia?

“Foreign white guys who look like cops or ex-marines will always have a solid future in the movie and TV business in Colombia,” replied Irish actor Pádraig Victor Ciarán Sweeney.

Are there any foreigners who shouldn’t work as actors/extras in Colombia?

“Foreign white males with glasses, a concave chest and unable to grow a mustache have no business working as extras in Colombia,” replied the always candid Mr. Sweeney.

For those of you without a concave chest, once registered with Rudiger Kunze, you will receive calls that will be for anything from;

Extra roles in TV programs – The pay is $90,000 – $120,000 a day

Appearing in movies – The pay is anywhere from $300,000 – $600,000 a day

Recording commercials – The pay is $700,000 – $1,600,000 pesos for a day’s work

Modeling jobs – The pay can go up to $3,000,000 pesos per day

The typical casting call involves showing up at the location of the audition, trying to memorize lines and making as many false promises and embellishments to whoever is in charge of the audition as possible. This author can remember a time when he told the director’s assistant that he was friends with the guy who designed the Weinstein Company Logo.

“Oh really, I am trying to get work as an actress in the United States. Do you have any contacts in the movie business?” asked the director’s assistant, biting firmly onto the bait.

“Yeah, I have a few friends,” lying through my teeth.

“They are actors?”

“My friends work mostly in special effects,” making the fluid transition from reality into acting. “I have one friend who designs the animation at the beginning of the movies when the film’s logo appears,” I claimed, slowly reeling her in.

“Maybe I could take down your information and contact you when I get to the United States?”

After we exchanged information and the audition was finished, I accentuated my embellishment by saying, “Diana, you should definitely write me an email so you can get in touch with my friend in L.A., he says that he has a big project coming up soon.”

Since casting calls are very competitive and very rarely lead to real money, it is more sustainable to focus on work for extras. Information about extra work is sent out the night before via text messages and email. The information is usually pretty limited. A typical message might read: “Recording for Capo 3, tomorrow 9am, CARRERA 50#17-77.”

The roles for this type of work are highly varied, some common roles include; bouncer, cop, ex-prisoner, stripper, luggage handler, foreign businessman, embassy employee or ex-military. A former Dutch actor in Colombia had some timely advice for succeeding as an extra, “My best advice is; if you really want to do it (extra work) forget about any sense of pride, dignity and western critical thinking.”

Some of these minor roles will even include dialogue, “I’ve had basic lines, but nothing terribly complicated, a few in English and one time in Spanish. The pay for being a standard extra rarely gets higher than $120,000,” commented an Irish actor named Brendan Corrigan.

“The opportunity for dialogue seems to go up proportionally, the less experience you have at acting,” says a 56-year old German extra named Andre Tille.

“The text I was given was four sentences long. My character was a parody on how American businessmen conduct negotiations in Colombia. I was dressed in a business suit and given a briefcase to complete my character. My lines were comical. My first line was supposed to convey my impatience with my co-star’s poor English. ‘I am very annoying, I cannot know anything about business until the manager Ambres Perriera attends us,’” recounted Mr. Tille.

He went on by adding, “During my 20-minute rehearsal before my maiden voyage into acting, I was introduced to the two Colombian actors who would be playing opposite me and they seemed like quiet and normal guys. The kind of guys who would make great landscapers or employees at a car wash. Once the cameras started rolling, I realized what great actors they were. Each line of my dialogue sent them into intense fits of anger and contorted facial expressions. After our dialogue was over, our team of American businessmen were supposed to walk through the scene and off the set.

As I was walking off camera, I missed the door and rammed my knee into wall, almost toppling the entire set. The director loved my exit and almost fell down, he was laughing so hard. During the next two hours of filming, he would come up to me on the set and ask if I was free of pain. After eating lunch with the other extras, the director, (still chuckling to himself) asked me how much longer I would be in Colombia. He took my phone number in case he had any work for me in the future.”

The difference between being a foreign extra in Colombia versus being a Colombian extra is that foreign extras get paid $100,000 a day (and paid the same day) to work as extras versus Colombians who get paid $30,000 per day (which is paid to them 30 days after filming). The schedule for each TV program varies but usually lasts at least 8 hours. Foreigners will also have access to a lot more exotic work just based on the fact that they are in shorter supply than local actors. “Some foreign people have managed to get roles in the likes of National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad, they seem to shoot in Colombia quite regularly. The pay and treatment in those is much better, but the opportunities are few and far between,” asserted Mr. Corrigan.

What is the typical day like on the set as an extra? Most of the day is spent standing in line waiting to be added to the time sheet, standing in line waiting for your wardrobe, standing in line for your food, standing in line to use the port-a-potty, you are then on camera for 20 seconds (opening a door for a Colombian actor playing a lawyer) and then finally waiting in line for your money at the end of filming. An inside tip for the more ambitious foreign actors; they should use the long hours of standing in line as a networking opportunity. It also wouldn’t even be a bad idea to print up some business cards with your photo, name and phone number to hand out to other actors as well as directors while you are on the set. The most stellar of extras have Blackberry phones which they can get the pins from other phones and receive the latest extra work info via their phone 24-hours a day.

The best way to start a conversation with another extra is, “Do you know the casting agent (insert name)? That guy owes me $180,000 pesos.” After chit-chatting with the other extras for a few minutes you can ask for their pin numbers and hand out your business cards.

Once you get a few key contacts of people sending you reliable work leads, you will have pretty consistent work in acting and extra work. Although there is no guarantee that this will lead to you being invited to pool parties with Colombian models, but you will most likely be able to cover most of your food and living expenses during your stay in Colombia.

…When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we envision a post-apocalyptic city full of overturned buses, being pillaged by men in ski masks. It is obvious which country any rational person would seek to avoid while searching for an internet bride.

“48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong” is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with a life sentence of microwavable burritos and 10-hour Facebook marathons was to look online for a girlfriend in Colombia and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

During his first month in Bogota, Brian falls in with two white, self-assured backpackers who the author describes as, “…not the kind of guys who pump the brakes before going through an uncontrolled intersection.” He is then nearly kidnapped during an encounter with a woman he met online, almost becomes business partners with a Korean man in the “diamond business” and is forced to sleep in the DVD room of his hostel due to lack of funds.

Brian quickly regroups after his first month and auditions for the part of “congressional aide” in a Colombian feature film called “Left To Die.” He then lands a job as a writer for an English-language newspaper where his first interview is with a “suspected undercover CIA agent.” Brian then gets thrown off a TV set for refusing to take off his shirt from under his police uniform. While Brian is not getting thrown off TV sets, he marvels at all the discarded construction materials Colombians throw into pot holes to lessen their depths. Because of this strategy, a bus going over one of these open trenches (full of construction materials) will occasionally sling a chest-high brick through a group of panic-stricken pedestrians.

Brian sincerely believed this trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

To view the complete book, “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” go to …
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015VWCXME?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Mexican Dentist

March 31, 2013

While taking a trip to Ixtapa, Mexico, I felt a sharp pain in my rear molar. At that point in my checkered life, I hadn’t been to a dentist for two years. I knew I could not afford a dentist in the United States so I asked a Mexican lady working in reception in a beach side hotel if she knew of a dentist in town. There was only one. She told me I couldn’t miss it. It was on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

Ixtapa

Going to see a dentist is usually a major hassle. You have to make an appointment two months in advance. When you get there you need to show three forms of ID, fill out paperwork and after the dentist has three proofs of payments, for his services, he will then show his face. On top of all this, you are paying this cheeky two-timing, lick spittle son of a gun $250 an hour to lurk around your mouth with a Popsicle stick and a mirror. Upon inspection, if there’s actually anything to fix, the dentist will tell you to come back in another month. If I ask the dentist why my halitosis and eroded gums haven’t improved since the last visit he’ll lecture me that I eat too much candy before bed, I don’t brush the back part of my mouth as well as the front, I should be brushing in circles rather than side-to-side and I am worthless and people like me don’t deserve to share the planet with the all-mighty dentists.

This is the reason I have stopped going to dentists in the United States. I am sick of the guilt, the paperwork and paying these guys thousands of dollars so they can lecture me for not flossing every day. When you go to see a Mexican dentist, you have the confidence of knowing your dental problem will be dealt with the same day of your visit. Another plus is that you don’t have to wait in line behind others and he doesn’t give you a huge speech about all the things you’re doing wrong. There’s no $400 bill for laughing gas or X-rays. The dentist cuts the price charged by using low-technology solutions to inspect your teeth. With Mexican dentists, all I had to do was bring $40USD with me if I wanted my teeth worked on, and, if there’s any extra charges, I could bring the rest of the money later.

The last Mexican dentist I saw was Dr. Vicenezio in Ixtapa. While seated in the dentist’s chair, Dr. Vicenezio didn’t give me a big lecture about going to the dentist every six months. He just checked my teeth and explained that I have really deep crevices in my teeth so sometimes food can get stuck in the crevices and cause cavities. He said he would need to drill seven teeth. He also asked me how I got a chipped front tooth. I explained to him that I had chipped it when I landed wrong onto the trapeze net at Club Med. My knee hit the bottom of my jaw and knocked my bottom teeth into the top row. This was no problem for Dr Vicenezio. He used a polisher to even out the first two teeth and assured me that the chipped backs of the bottom two teeth would grow back, which they did.

I was a little worried about the cost and he told me it would be $75USD and I could pay him the rest when I got my next pay check. He injected painkiller directly into my gums so I wouldn’t feel any pain from the drill. He was half right, I did feel a little pain but he quickly drilled out the seven teeth and put a sealant over the holes to prevent food from getting caught in there. The whole transaction took about 40 minutes and I was out the door. Five years later, my teeth are still cavity-free.

Traveling The World on a Shoestring Budget

January 22, 2013

Brian Ward, 36, got his first taste of living in a Spanish-speaking country after high school graduation. Since then, his life has consisted of traveling around the world, surviving on canned tuna at some points, pretending to be pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin and spying on his Russian Mafia neighbors.

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Ward decided to compile his journals of living in Mexico, Spain and other countries throughout Latin America and Europe, with travel tips on how to live rent-free for under $25 a day in his book titled “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man.”

His book, referred to as “a modern day version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ except with more whining” by Lulu.com, a self-publishing company, follows Ward’s adventures, both good and painful, from sharing pants in Costa Rica, to traveling the European rail system on canned tuna, to surviving Mexico’s 60-year-old buses.

“If you can’t already tell, I was a loser in high school,” Ward wrote in his book’s introduction. “The only reason I got through it was because most of my fellow students thought I was completely out of my mind. My senior quote for the high school yearbook was, ‘Is the ringing in my head bothering you?’”

While traveling, nobody knew who Ward used to be, and he said he used this opportunity to constantly reinvent himself, sometimes attempting to impress women by telling them he was pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

“They don’t know you don’t have a job, you did bad in high school and your car’s a piece of junk,” Ward said. “You can just invent your own identity.”

Ward first experienced the art of identity crafting while living in Costa Rica. He jokingly asked his grandmother for a ticket to Colombia for graduation, and unexpectedly, she bought him a ticket to Costa Rica, where some of her friends lived.

He learned Spanish by while shopping for cigarettes for his host brother and spending the majority of his time listening to and learning about his family’s obsession with Levi’s Jeans.

“I brought this pair of Levi’s Jeans to Costa Rica that didn’t fit me, and gave them to the my host family. The whole family took turns wearing them. They were in constant circulation 24-hours a day,” Ward said. He explained that when one family member would take them off at bedtime, another person would put them on. “They’re probably still wearing those things,” he said.

Ward said this experience opened his eyes to how people live outside of the U.S.

“They really value any little token of gratitude there, and here, we don’t appreciate anything,” he said.

After a summer in Costa Rica, Ward began community college before working as a valet at a hotel in Monterey, Calif. He then traveled across the country with his father and entered a four-year university for a single semester before moving to Mexico.

Ward said while he liked the people of Mexico better than any other place he visited, its bus system has created some of his worst memories. He first discovered this while taking a three-day bus trip from Mexico City to Cancun on a “60-year-old piece of junk.”

“People were bringing 50-pound sacks of chips and blankets and bananas onto the bus; all these supplies like they’re leaving the country. I didn’t understand that you’re leaving civilization for the ride,” Ward said. “If you don’t bring water, you aren’t drinking.”

After returning to California and readjusting to American life, Ward turned down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos before fleeing to Spain, where he experienced an entirely new type of adjustment.

“In Spain, the biggest cultural difference is these people are party animals,” Ward said, remembering a time when some friends asked him to go for “a couple of beers,” which turned into 15 hours of nonstop drinking.

“I slept in the door(way) of some abandoned building,” he said, adding that when he woke up “I was just trying to think what country I was in.”

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com

Chapter 1

Modest Beginnings

The story starts in Mexico where the author, Brian, is camping with his Mexican love interest. After roasting marshmallows, Brian sneaks up to the cabin where his girlfriend will be sleeping. His plans go quickly array when his girlfriend enters the cabin and Brian loses his nerve. The book then flashes back seven years to just before Brian’s sophomore year in high school. It retraces Brian’s failed attempts with girls in high school. While outside of school, with his friends, Brian does a lot of inadvisable driving due to false confidence and inexperience.

 

This chapter outlines the challenges of dating girls in high school. This chapter spans fours years and shows why teenagers should not be given driver’s licenses. The end of this chapter uncovers a dilemma; although high school is torture, the outside world may even be worse.

Chapter 2

Adventures of Link: Costa Rica

Brian is persuaded by his grandmother to visit Costa Rica. When he gets down to Costa Rica, he realizes the family he is staying with speaks no English and spends the rest of the summer with his two host brothers who have one pair of pants between the both of them.

 

This chapter gives a brief introduction to on how to find practical uses for foreign languages. In order for someone to succeed in mastering a foreign language, they must find a worthwhile obstacle to be overcome; in this case it’s The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo video game).

Chapter 3

Marine Biology Will Ruin Your Life

Brian starts community college and realizes he is totally unprepared for his tests or the personalities of his teachers in college. He becomes a valet at a hotel in Monterey, California and realizes that people in real life are more like him than anyone he met in high school.

This chapter shows how a complicated situation like not having the perquisites for a class or any knowledge of a certain subject matter shouldn’t discourage a person from taking a class. The best way to have success is seeking out peers who can provide knowledge based on their experiences on how to succeed in community college. The later part of this chapter shows how community college a just a minor achievement and the true test comes when a person gets a job and is thrown in with a cast of co-workers straight out of the TV series 21 Jumpstreet.

Chapter 4

Superstud and Son: Vacations with My Old Man

Brian reunites with one of the oddest characters of the book, his father, and they travel across the country trying unsuccessfully to fit it with small-town Americans and some Canadian truck drivers.

 

This chapter exposes the superficiality of making professional athletes and actors our heroes. Sometimes we have only to look as far as own immediate family to find role-models.

Chapter 5

Korean Mafia, Line #1

Brian starts at a four year university and has to do some quick thinking to avoid being thrown out of school his first semester. He meets his first girlfriend but falls in love with her roommate and then tries to get his friend to help repair the situation.

 

This chapter teaches proper phone etiquette when dealing with new roommates. He also discussed are tips on how to get up for living in the dorms, a place where round the clock role-playing is common and the need for residents to bring a set of keys to the bathroom with them are a fact of life. This chapter gives the best strategy for students on the brink of being expelled from. This chapter reveals the people who secretly control academic life on college campuses; teacher’s aids. They are the experts on arranging classes, where to obtain economical furniture and trends in the housing market.

Chapter 6

50 Kilos of Bananas on a Bus Bound for Cancun

Brian moves down to Mexico to study business, while failing accounting he requests a tutor and meets the most beautiful girl in school. He experiences the worst three days of his life on a bus to Cancun, but finds out it was well worth the suffering when he finally arrives to Cancun.

This chapter shows reader how to use the skills obtained in American universities can also be used to survive in Mexico. This chapter also reveals the names of discothèques in smaller Mexican towns are very hospitable to gringos.. This chapter will show how best to deal with Mexican migration when they are threatening deportment.

Chapter 7

Broken Bottle of Rum in a Burning Dumpster

Brian goes on cross-country trip in an RV with his mother and her boyfriend. He discovers a land where animals are on the top of the food chain when he enters Yellowstone National Park.

 

This chapter will show why sometimes reconnecting with one’s host country an be painful. Several near-death experiences and a broken pair of Ray-Bans mark Brian’s reintroduction to the United States. This chapter shows how visitors to Yellowstone National Park have not only to choose between the rugged falls and the revealing leather biker chaps worn by the locals for inspiration. They will also be mesmerized by other campers’ willingness to put their lives in danger to get a closer look at the many animals in the park.

Chapter 8

After Hours Partying at City Hall

Brian returns to university after being in Mexico for a year. He has trouble readjusting to life in United States but is helped through it by a cast of friends who make the Sopranos look like the Brady Bunch.

In the year Brian spent in Mexico, his friends from university have become the pit bosses of a town on the verge of anarchy. Brian can no longer rely on his old routine of going to class, eating microwavable burritos and playing Nintendo. With his friend’s new-found street credentials, not only is Brian supposed to attend three hour long seminars on wrist preparation in racquetball, but he is also brought along to participate in his friends’ verbal bashings of the local minor league baseball umpires. This chapter will also offer a look at interesting costal camping trails in Northern California.

Chapter 9

Louie Armstrong is Out to Kill Me

Brian turns down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos and moves to the Costa Brava in Spain. Brian learns the ins and outs of living in close quarters with a group of Spanish Gypsies who are threatening to bring the entire east coast of Spain to its knees if it adopts the Euro as its national currency.

 

This chapter will illustrate why a college graduate should wait on paying off student loans and getting a job. If a person is going to poor and in a dead-end job, why not do it in Spain? Also discussed will be how Mexico and Spain really don’t have much in common besides a language. Also explained will be how a foreigner without much sense of direction or language skills, can navigate Spain’s 3rd largest city with relative ease. This chapter will also describe the difficulties of Spain’s proletariat in adopting the Euro as its official currency.

Chapter 10

“How ‘bout You Take a Picture of Me with Your Wife?”

Brian’s father resurfaces. He arrives to Spain just in time to board a train with his son Rome, Italy. While in Rome, they discover they have the entire city to themselves due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.

This chapter reveals the location of the most economical luxury hotel in Valencia. Also discussed is what will someday be known as the “golden age” of travel, the few months after 9/11. This was a time when hotels and airlines were practically giving away their services. This was also a time when travel by Americans to other countries was pretty rare, for those lucky ones who did travel, they enjoyed unmatched hospitality towards Americans abroad. In addition to the kindness experienced by tourists, world-famous attractions like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were at their most accessible levels in decades.

Chapter 11

Flying Pig Hostel

Brian meets up with his long-lost cousin in Amsterdam. Brian learns shortly after meeting his cousin Simon for the first time, that his cousin is planning on traveling Europe on a shoestring budget which has them surviving on canned tuna and sleeping on trains in between cities. 

This chapter will give a description of the months before the adoption of the Euro currency in Spain. It will also give a description of the Dutch language and how it can be very confusing because of its eerie similarities to English. This chapter gives the budget needed for a traveler beginning a two month tour of Europe. This chapter will reveal to the reader how to get a cheap bed and many friends in Amsterdam.

Chapter 12

Bonjour, Avec Linda, s’il vous plait

 

Brian falls in love with Moroccan girl living in Paris. He tries repeatedly to call her and is forced to learn basic French to get past the girl’s mother on the phone.

The chapter will make the reader aware of what makes Paris different from any other city. It will reveal a side of the city, which despite its size and bad publicity, can be a pleasurable if the traveler can put aide his/her inhibitions of making a fool of themselves. This chapter will also disclose some lesser-known museums in Paris that are astounding in their originality. This chapter will outline questions to anticipate while entering the UK via ferry.

Chapter 13

Irish Ferries Really Means Irish Transportation Services

Brian tours Ireland with his cousin Simon. They impress an Irish film crew in one of the hostels while show-cooking an omelet. They get separated for the first time in Europe and set about trying to track each other down while not missing their outgoing flight to Spain.

 

The best vacations are ones that are open to spontaneity. This chapter will uncover a method of air travel that is so cheap, the tax on the ticket is higher than the cost. This chapter gives the name of a hostel in Ireland that’s a guaranteed great way to meet college-aged singles. Also provided are details on how the reader can be the life of the party, even if they can’t drink or dance. This chapter will also profile an Irish hostel/mansion that only charges 8€ a night. This chapter ends by summing up the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the lives of people who were outside of the country when the war broke out.

Chapter 14

Spanish Men Dressed as Female Cops

Brian goes to his cousin’s house in Spain the night before Carnival starts. After living on the road in freezing temperatures for over three months, they have a chance to finally relax and get back to what they love most about Europe: Spain.

 

One of the most overlooked tourist destinations in Spain are the Canary Islands. Their festivals, affordability and vibrant Caribbean culture combine the best of Europe and South America. The chapter will show the precautions necessary to help readers avoid being robbed while traveling in Europe.

Chapter 15

Towel Boy for the Women’s Volleyball Team

Brian moves to San Diego, California where he is reunited with one of his best friends from high school. Brian does odd jobs around San Diego until he finds what he thinks is the secret to happiness: becoming the towel boy for the San Diego State Women’s Volleyball team.

 

This chapter will show readers how to get a free place to stay and a salary in the bustling city of San Diego. This chapter puts into plain words, how San Diego differs from any other California city on the coast. This chapter inspires readers by profiling a man who is able to live a full and rewarding life, despite his limitations. Enlightens readers as to where they can find the highest quality used clothing and best live concerts in San Diego. Chapter shows how, the low quantity but high quality of San Diego fans, can make an otherwise boring game come to life.

Chapter 16

Voodoo Crocodile Farm

Brian auditions for a job working for a hotel in Mexico, during the audition he has to do some quick thinking to impress the recruiter. While in Mexico, Brian becomes best friends with his roommate from Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. They attempt to visit every beach and cantina on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. On one of their excursions they meet a Shaman who owns a crocodile farm.

 

This is the chapter which reveals the secret of how to live in Latin America rent-free, also discussed is the rise of Club Med and trends for the future. The reader will learn the necessary skills to be successful in a Club Med audition. This chapter also gives insights on tried and true navigation techniques for Latin American airports. Readers will also be provided information on how best to get a job as an extra in a Spike Lee movie.

Chapter 17

Mexico Spring Break

Brian’s job at the hotel in Mexico quickly becomes more than he bargained for. Three months into his contract, his head is on the chopping block and his boss has to decide whether keeping Brian as an employee of the hotel is worth endangering the lives of the hotel guests.

 

This chapter explains the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization on the Philippines. This chapter shows readers how to decode Tagalog into Spanish and then English. This chapter gives readers estimates of real estate prices of  tropical islands in the Philippines. Explained in this chapter is the typical diet of a person who grows up on Rodrigues Island (Mauritius).  This chapter shows the value of sticking with a job, even if you are not the best at it. This chapter also shows the reader how to tell a Spanish-speaking person you like them in a non-platonic way.

Chapter 18

Stranded in a Flooded Taxi

Brian falls in love with a Mexican girl and is forced to face his biggest fear; traveling on the Mexican bus system. His fears and paranoia quickly become reality as Mexico is hit by the worst storm since 1926.

 

This chapter explains how to escape a Latin American bus terminal that is on the brink of inundation. Also explains the impacts of floods on Latin American towns and how the local people deal with natural disasters. This chapter shows readers the willingness of Mexican taxi drivers to risk their own lives in order to get international travelers to their destination in a timely manner. This chapter also discusses the cultural significance of the Feathered Serpent to the Meso-American peoples. Also discussed are how typical Latin American families spend their recreational time together.

Chapter 19

Conehead Skulls on Postcards

Brian takes another vacation with his father. This time they visit Machu Picchu. While down in Peru, his father quickly discovers the lucrative market of smuggling women’s cosmetics into the country.

 

This chapter gives an in-depth description of the impact of the Incan legacy on today’s world. This chapter also compares the scientific knowledge of Europe to that of the Incan. This chapter gives a thorough description of the final days of the Incan Empire as well as how various Incan fortresses got their names. This chapter divulges the true architectural genius behind the Incan dynasty as well as some unusual surgical techniques that were carried out by Incan priests. Readers will also be informed on exactly how to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Incan in Cusco.

Chapter 20

Mexican Dentists

Brian has to get emergency dental surgery in Mexico. He visits the first dental office he finds, one that is conveniently located on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

 

This chapter discusses exactly what separates U.S. dentists from their Mexican counterparts.

Chapter 21

Mexican Haunted Houses

Brian learns just how far $2 can take you while visiting the fair in Mexico.

 

The readers will be taken on a trip through the perils of a low-budget Mexican haunted house.

Chapter 22

Surfing in Mexico

In order to impress a girl, Brian pretends he is related to surf legend Kelly Slater. She calls his bluff and they end up in a dire predicament.

 

This chapter gives descriptions of two Mexican surfing destinations on the Pacific Coast. Readers will learn more about gear and precautions necessary before surfing in Mexico.

Chapter 23

Dead Pigeons Falling Out of the Sky

Brian takes his first overnight trip to Mexico City. While in Mexico City he tours an entire pizza franchise chain and meets the river dance king outside of the Northern Bus Terminal.

A thorough discussion is given on the geological conditions that are causing Mexico City to sink as well as the rising political tensions between Austria and Mexico due to pre-Columbian relics pillaged by the Spanish. Also discussed is one of Mexico City’s most priceless treasures that not even the National Guard can protect. A profile is done on one of Mexico City’s eccentrics who is living in one the most transient neighborhoods in the city. This chapter also gives a first hand account of what it is like to shop in the largest open-air market in the world as well as an ingenious method used to have a cheap and hot shower in the city.

Chapter 24

Gil and the Russian Mafia

Brian returns to Spain, this time as a student of International Hospitality. Brian’s studying competes with his urges to spy on his Russian neighbors, which he suspects are Mafia kingpins.

 

Chapter gives a profile of one of the most corrupt mayors in Spain and how the city of Marbella has been shaped by his legacy. This chapter explains the process needed for Americans to obtain a Spanish visa. Also included are rental prices on apartments in Marbella as well as the most affordable method to secure an apartment lease in Marbella. This chapter also gives tips on choosing clubs in Marbella based on preferred ambiance. The readers will also know how to get drinks at the best possible price in Marbella. The chapter also outlines the impact of the Russian Mafia in Marbella.

Chapter 25

Too Much Sangria = Food Fight

Brian quickly advances in the student ranks and is put in charge of event planning. The Hospitality School gets more than it bargained for when Brain turns a course on Event Planning into MTV Spring Break 2005.

This chapter describes the college life and curriculum of European students. This chapter also informs readers on how to prepare for living in Spain. Included in this chapter is a look at the difference between dating Spanish girls versus their American counterparts. Also explored are the traits of what make Spanish fiestas so popular. Tips are provided on how to get an mp3 player, digital camera and electric shaver working in Spain. This chapter also takes us to the concert of famous Spanish musician, Pedro Guerra and his thoughts on pop culture.

Chapter 26

Raisin Wine

Brian spends his Spring Break traveling through Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. While in Malaga, Brian visits Picasso’s childhood home and is fitted for a robe to take part in the Holy Week Procession of carrying around a 3,000 pound float with Jesus Christ strapped to the top.

 

This chapter gives an account of three of Spain’s most culturally diverse cities; Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. This chapter also shows how a foreigner can successfully navigate Spain’s public transportation system during the busiest week of the year. This chapter shows readers how they can get a behind-the-scenes depiction of Picasso’s early career. Also provided is a sample of the rivalry of the three major cites in Andalucia; Granada, Sevilla and Malaga. This chapter will show how the Moors shaped what now-a-days is known as Spanish culture. The reader will also learn how not all Spanish provinces grow up speaking Spanish and the current international trade obstacles faced by young Spanish professionals. This chapter will take readers on a tour of the last Christian outpost in existence during the Moorish occupation of Spain.

Chapter 27

Beer Tour in San Miguel

Brian is forced to learn an entire course load of work in under ten hours. His roommate stays up all night to try and prepare Brian for the upcoming week of finals.

 

This chapter will highlight the hospitality offered to bar patrons in Spain. Also revealed will be a look into the European personality and how Europeans are more in touch with the inner-feelings and are more inclined to offer them to others. This chapter will also describe the immaculate conception of a marketing project that seemed doomed after its initial success. This chapter also deals with the difficulty in leaving a place that one is very fond of.

Chapter 28

Indian Restaurant by Day, Club Camaleon by Night

Brian moves to Portugal to start his internship at a casino on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. While not touring the many discothèques owned by Brian’s co-workers at the hotel, Brian watches Venezuelan television stations to learn about current events happening around the world.

 

This chapter describes the a foreigner’s arrival to an island most people couldn’t locate on the map. This chapter describes the experience of a foreigner in a country in which he cannot speak the language. This chapter describes the hierarchy that exists in hotels as well as the tasks performed by a person who can’t even properly slice a tomato. Also provided is an overview of the most prominent night clubs on the island, as well as the women who inhabit them. This chapter describes what it’s like to get worked on by a Portuguese surgeon who cannot communicate to his patient in their native language as well as an overview of the difference between Portuguese and American doctors. Also discussed is the overly humane treatment of hooligans by Portuguese police.

Chapter 29

No Size Medium Underwear?

Brian gets a job offer in Dominican Republic, and upon arriving to the island, he is alarmed to learn the hotel is run by the French and can only marginally communicate with his co-workers. He becomes friends with the only two other people at the hotel who speak English, a Greek tennis instructor and his Israeli assistant.

 

The chapter describes the sharp contrasts that exist between Club Med Ixtapa and Club Med Punta Cana. The readers will learn about the best spots to snorkel in Punta Cana as well as a sample of village life in Club Med. Three Dominican cities will be described; Bavaro, La Romana and Higuey. The influence of Haiti on the Dominican Republic is also discussed in detail. Tips are given to the traveler when they face a life and death situation after falling asleep on an air mattress in the Caribbean Sea. This chapter describes two popular industries in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic; rotisserie chicken and pirated DVD’s. Also discussed is the struggle by a foreigner in obtaining the desired services and products.

Chapter 30

Patience

Brian returns to Mexico to recapture the Mexican girl he originally tried to impress three years before by claiming to be Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

 

This chapter describes the author’s final run-in with his one true love. This chapter describes exactly what makes Latin girls different from any other girls the author has met. Chapter deals with the inconsistencies faced when comparing an actual woman to someone who he has been corresponding with via the internet.

 Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com

A Complete History Of My Mexican Sexual Failures

January 17, 2013

Faridy (not pronounced Friday, more like Fah-RAH-Dee), my Mexican love interest, was into doing what made her feel the most joy in any given moment.

Image

“Do you want to go out to eat?” I’d ask.

“No, but I’ll go with you if you want,” Faridy replied.

Once the tamales arrived, she decided that they smelled good and would eat mine. I didn’t mind, I loved watching her hands gently unfold the crumbly cake as she smelled the week-old boiled corn husks. She didn’t want any of her movements to seem the least bit arousing or forward. Her uninhibited greasy-handed eating put me even more over the top in love with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. As cars drove past us in the plaza men would honk their horns and yell, “Bon appetite, good-looking!”

During the course of his 235 page self help/travel memoir, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, author Brian Ward travels through Mexico, South America and Europe in an attempt to shed social awkwardness and anxiety. Ward also shares information on how others can do the same while transcending North American borders. Also covered in his book are hotel jobs in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, how to master a second language and how someone who can’t even properly slice a tomato can get a job overseas in a Portuguese restaurant.

Author Brian Ward is a freelance writer for “The Daily Emerald” (University of Oregon Student Newspaper), “KD Magazine” (Quarterly Student Magazine) as well as “The Student Insurgent” (A Student Run Newspaper).

Ward, 36, got his first taste of living in a foreign country after high school graduation. Since then, his life has consisted of traveling around the world, surviving on canned tuna at some points, pretending to be pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin and spying on his Russian Mafia neighbors.

Ward decided to compile his journals of living in Mexico, Spain and other countries throughout Latin America and Europe, with travel tips on how to live rent-free for under $25 a day in his book titled “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man”

His book, referred to as “a modern day version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries, except less revolution and more whining’” by Lulu.com, a self-publishing company, follows Ward’s adventures, both good and painful, from sharing his Levi’s jeans with his host brother in Costa Rica to traveling the European by the rail system and surviving on canned tuna.

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

Sample Overview

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is written for anyone who has ever been uncomfortable when trying to approach the opposite sex, learning about Pre-Colombian cultures, traveling Europe or interviewing with ivy-league colleges. Covered in my book are the cheapest and most social hostels in Europe, how to live in Latin America for $25 a year, how to make the most out of a Euro Rail Pass, mastering a second language, insider’s tips on navigating major Latin American airports and how someone who can’t even properly slice a tomato can get a job overseas in a Portuguese restaurant.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man also pauses and gives food for thought on many international topics. These topics include; gear and precautions needed before surfing on the Mexican Pacific Coast, tips in obtaining a Spanish visa, dating in Spain, the three features that make Mexico City unlike any other city in the world, the impact of the Russian Mafia in Southern Spain, how to get a digital camera, electric razor and mp3 player working in Spain, the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the last 20 days of the Incan dynasty, Spanish tourist destinations that offer vibrant Rio-style festivals as well as how a foreigner can win the approval of his/her love interest’s Latin American family.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is the result of over six years of field research in Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru, The Netherlands, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal. This guidebook was designed to be the essential companion for baby boomers and college students wanting to explore a Latin approach to working, dating and travel.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is approximately 118,000 words.

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

Chapter Outline:

Chapter 1

What in the Heck is Marianismo?

The story starts in Mexico where the author, Brian, is camping with his Mexican love interest. After roasting marshmallows, Brian sneaks up to the cabin where his love interest will be sleeping. His plans go quickly awry when she enters the cabin and Brian loses his nerve. The book then flashes back seven years to just before Brian’s sophomore year in high school. It retraces Brian’s failed attempts with girls in high school. While outside of school, with his friends, Brian does a lot of inadvisable driving due to false confidence and inexperience.

Did Faridy like the Brian better because he didn’t make many advances on her? Sometimes girls like guys better who continually stay inside the friendship zone, this chapter outlines the downside of staying inside the friendship zone. This chapter also summarizes the challenges of dating girls in high school. This chapter spans fours years and shows why teenagers should not be given driver’s licenses. The end of this chapter uncovers a dilemma; although high school is torture, the outside world may even be worse.

Chapter 2

Adventures of Link: Costa Rica

Brian is persuaded by his grandmother to visit Costa Rica. When he gets down to Costa Rica, he realizes the family he is staying with speaks no English and spends the rest of the summer with his two host brothers who have one pair of pants between the both of them.

 

This chapter gives a brief introduction to on how to find practical uses for foreign languages. In order for someone to succeed in mastering a foreign language, they must find a worthwhile obstacle to be overcome; in this case it’s The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo video game).

Chapter 3

Marine Biology Will Ruin Your Life

Brian starts community college and realizes he is totally unprepared for his tests or the personalities of his teachers in college. He becomes a valet at a hotel in Monterey, California and realizes that people in real life are more like him than anyone he met in high school.

This chapter shows how a complicated situation like not having the perquisites for a class or any knowledge of a certain subject matter shouldn’t discourage a person from enrolling in community college. Sometimes the best approach to succeeding in community college is to seek out peers who can provide knowledge based on their experiences on how to succeed in community college. The later part of this chapter shows how community college a just a minor achievement and the true test comes when a person gets a job and is thrown in with a cast of co-workers straight out of the TV series 21 Jumpstreet.

Chapter 4

Superstud and Son: Vacations with My Old Man

Brian reunites with one of the oddest characters of the book, his father, and they travel across the country trying unsuccessfully to fit it with small-town Americans and some Canadian truck drivers.

 

This chapter exposes the superficiality of making professional athletes and actors our heroes. Sometimes we have only to look as far as own immediate family to find role-models.

Chapter 5

Korean Mafia, Line #1

Brian starts at a four year university and has to do some quick thinking to avoid being thrown out of school his first semester. He meets his first girlfriend but falls in love with her roommate and then tries to get his friend to help repair the situation.

 

This chapter teaches proper phone etiquette when dealing with new roommates. Also discussed are tips on how to get up for living in the dorms, a place where round the clock role-playing is common and the need for residents to bring a set of keys to the bathroom with them are a fact of life. This chapter reveals the people who secretly control academic life on college campuses; teacher’s aids. They are the experts on arranging classes, where to obtain economical furniture and trends in the housing market.

Chapter 6

50 Kilos of Bananas on a Bus Bound for Cancun

Brian moves down to Mexico to study business, while failing accounting he requests a tutor and meets the most beautiful girl in school. He experiences the worst three days of his life on a bus to Cancun, but finds out it was well worth the suffering when he finally arrives to Cancun.

 To buy the book, , Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

This chapter shows reader how to use the skills obtained in American universities can also be used to survive in Mexico. This chapter also reveals the names of discothèques in smaller Mexican towns are very hospitable to gringos.. This chapter will show how best to deal with Mexican migration when they are threatening deportment.

Chapter 7

Broken Bottle of Rum in a Burning Dumpster

Moving back to the United States, Brian goes on cross-country trip in an RV with his mother and her boyfriend. He discovers a land where animals are on the top of the food chain when he enters Yellowstone National Park.

 

This chapter will show why sometimes reconnecting with one’s host country an be painful. Several near-death experiences and a broken pair of Ray-Bans mark Brian’s reintroduction to the United States. This chapter shows how visitors to Yellowstone National Park have not only to choose between the rugged falls and the revealing leather biker chaps worn by the locals for inspiration. They will also be mesmerized by other campers’ willingness to put their lives in danger to get a closer look at the many animals in the park.

Chapter 8

After Hours Partying at City Hall

Brian returns to university after being in Mexico for a year. He has trouble readjusting to life in United States but is helped through it by a cast of friends who make the Sopranos look like the Brady Bunch.

In the year Brian spent in Mexico, his friends from university have become the pit bosses of a town (Chico, California) on the verge of anarchy. Brian can no longer rely on his old routine of going to class, eating microwavable burritos and playing Nintendo. With his friend’s new-found street credentials, not only is Brian supposed to attend three hour long seminars on wrist preparation in racquetball, but he is also brought along to participate in his friends’ verbal bashings of the local minor league baseball umpires. This chapter will also offer a look at interesting costal camping trails in Northern California.

Chapter 9

Louie Armstrong is Out to Kill Me

In the Summer of 2001, Brian turns down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos and moves to the Costa Brava in Spain. Brian learns the ins and outs of living in close quarters with a group of Spanish Gypsies who are threatening to bring the entire east coast of Spain to its knees if it adopts the Euro as its national currency.

 

This chapter will illustrate why a college graduate should wait on paying off student loans and getting a job. If a person is going to be poor and in a dead-end job, why not do it in Spain? Also discussed will be how Mexico and Spain really don’t have much in common besides a language. Also explained will be how a foreigner without much sense of direction or language skills, can navigate Spain’s 3rd largest city with relative ease. This chapter will also describe the difficulties of Spain’s proletariat in adopting the Euro as its official currency.

Chapter 10

“How ‘bout You Take a Picture of Me with Your Wife?”

Brian’s father resurfaces. He arrives to Spain just in time to board a train with his son Rome, Italy. While in Rome, they discover they have the entire city to themselves due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.

This chapter reveals the location of the most economical luxury hotel in Valencia. Also discussed is what will someday be known as the “golden age” of travel, the few months after 9/11. This was a time when hotels and airlines were practically giving away their services. This was also a time when travel by Americans to other countries was pretty rare, for those lucky ones who did travel, they enjoyed unmatched hospitality towards Americans abroad. In addition to the kindness experienced by tourists, world-famous attractions like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were at their most accessible levels in decades.

Chapter 11

Flying Pig Hostel

Brian meets up with his long-lost cousin in Amsterdam. Brian learns shortly after meeting his cousin Simon for the first time, that his cousin is planning on traveling Europe on a shoestring budget which has them surviving on canned tuna and sleeping on trains in between cities. 

 

This chapter will give a description of the months before the adoption of the Euro currency in Spain. It will also give a description of the Dutch language and how it can be very confusing because of its eerie similarities to English. This chapter gives the budget needed for a traveler beginning a two month tour of Europe. This chapter will reveal to the reader how to get a cheap bed and many friends in Amsterdam.

Chapter 12

Bonjour, Avec Linda, s’il vous plait

 

Brian falls in love with Moroccan girl living in Paris. He tries repeatedly to call her and is forced to learn basic French to get past the girl’s mother on the phone.

The chapter will make the reader aware of what makes Paris different from any other city. It will reveal a side of the city, which despite its size and bad publicity, can be a pleasurable if the traveler can put aide his/her inhibitions of making a fool of themselves. This chapter will also disclose some lesser-known museums in Paris that are astounding in their originality. This chapter will outline questions to anticipate while entering the UK via ferry.

Chapter 13

Irish Ferries Really Means Irish Transportation Services

Brian tours Ireland with his cousin Simon. They impress an Irish film crew in one of the hostels while show-cooking an omelet. They get separated for the first time in Europe and set about trying to track each other down while not missing their outgoing flight to Spain.

 

The best vacations are ones that are open to spontaneity. This chapter will uncover a method of air travel that is so cheap, the tax on the ticket is higher than the cost. This chapter gives the name of a hostel in Ireland that’s a guaranteed great way to meet college-aged singles. Also provided are details on how the reader can be the life of the party, even if the readers can’t drink or dance. This chapter will also profile an Irish hostel/mansion that only charges 8€ a night. This chapter ends by summing up the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the lives of people who were outside of the country when the war broke out.

Chapter 14

Spanish Men Dressed as Female Cops

Brian goes to his cousin’s house in Spain the night before Carnival starts. After living on the road in freezing temperatures for over three months, they have a chance to finally relax and get back to what they love most about Europe: Spain.

 

One of the most overlooked tourist destinations in Spain are the Canary Islands. Their festivals, affordability and vibrant Caribbean culture combine the best of Europe and South America. The chapter will show the precautions necessary to help readers avoid being robbed while traveling in Europe.

Chapter 15

Towel Boy for the Women’s Volleyball Team

Brian moves to San Diego, California where he is reunited with one of his best friends from high school. Brian does odd jobs around San Diego until he finds what he thinks is the secret to happiness: becoming the towel boy for the San Diego State Women’s Volleyball team.

 

This chapter will show readers how to get a free place to stay and a salary in the bustling city of San Diego. This chapter puts into plain words, how San Diego differs from any other California city on the coast. This chapter inspires readers by profiling a man who is able to live a full and rewarding life, despite his limitations. Enlightens readers as to where they can find the highest quality used clothing and best live concerts in San Diego. Chapter shows how, the low quantity but high quality of San Diego fans, can make an otherwise boring game come to life.

Chapter 16

Voodoo Crocodile Farm

Brian auditions for a job working for a hotel in Mexico, during the audition he has to do some quick thinking to impress the recruiter. While in Mexico, Brian becomes best friends with his roommate from Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. They attempt to visit every beach and cantina on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. On one of their excursions they meet a Shaman who owns a crocodile farm.

 

This is the chapter which reveals the secret of how to live in Latin America rent-free, also discussed is the rise of Club Adriatic and trends for the future. The reader will learn the necessary skills to be successful in a Club Adriatic audition. This chapter also gives insights on tried and true navigation techniques for Latin American airports. Readers will also be provided information on how best to get a job as an extra in a Spike Lee movie.

To buy the book, , Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

Chapter 17

Mexico Spring Break

Brian’s job at the hotel in Mexico quickly becomes more than he bargained for. Three months into his contract, his head is on the chopping block and his boss has to decide whether keeping Brian as an employee of the hotel is worth endangering the lives of the hotel guests.

 

This chapter explains the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization on the Philippines. This chapter shows readers how to decode Tagalog into Spanish and then English. This chapter gives readers estimates of real estate prices of  tropical islands in the Philippines. Explained in this chapter is the typical diet of a person who grows up on Rodrigues Island (Mauritius).  This chapter shows the value of sticking with a job, even if you are not the best at it. This chapter also shows the reader how to tell a Spanish-speaking person you like them in a non-platonic way.

Chapter 18

Stranded in a Flooded Taxi

Brian falls in love with a Mexican girl and is forced to face his biggest fear; traveling on the Mexican bus system. His fears and paranoia quickly become reality as Mexico is hit by the worst storm since 1926.

 

This chapter explains how to escape a Latin American bus terminal that is on the brink of inundation. It also renders the impacts of floods on Latin American towns and how the local people deal with natural disasters. This chapter shows readers the willingness of Mexican taxi drivers to risk their own lives in order to get international travelers to their destination in a timely manner. This chapter also discusses the cultural significance of the Feathered Serpent to the Meso-American peoples. Also examined are the ways typical Latin American families spend their recreational time together.

Chapter 19

Conehead Skulls on Postcards

Brian takes another vacation with his father. This time they visit Machu Picchu. While down in Peru, his father quickly discovers the lucrative market of smuggling women’s cosmetics into the country.

 

This chapter gives an in-depth description of the impact of the Incan legacy on today’s world. This chapter also compares the scientific knowledge of Europe to that of the Incan. This chapter gives a thorough description of the final days of the Incan Empire as well as how various Incan fortresses got their names. This chapter divulges the true architectural genius behind the Incan dynasty as well as some unusual surgical techniques that were carried out by Incan priests. Readers will also be informed on exactly how to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Incan in Cusco.

Chapter 20

Mexican Dentists

Brian has to get emergency dental surgery in Mexico. He visits the first dental office he finds, one that is conveniently located on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

 

This chapter discusses exactly what separates U.S. dentists from their Mexican counterparts.

Chapter 21

Mexican Haunted Houses

Brian learns just how far $2 can take you while visiting the fair in Mexico.

 

The readers will be taken on a trip through the perils of a low-budget Mexican haunted house.

Chapter 22

Surfing in Mexico

In order to impress a girl, Brian pretends he is related to surf legend Kelly Slater. She calls his bluff and they end up in a dire predicament.

 

This chapter gives descriptions of two Mexican surfing destinations on the Pacific Coast. Readers will learn more about gear and precautions necessary before surfing in Mexico.

Chapter 23

Dead Pigeons Falling Out of the Sky

Brian takes his first overnight trip to Mexico City. While in Mexico City he tours an entire pizza franchise chain and meets the river dance king outside of the Northern Bus Terminal.

A thorough discussion is given on the geological conditions that are causing Mexico City to sink as well as the rising political tensions between Austria and Mexico due to pre-Columbian relics pillaged by the Spanish. Also discussed is one of Mexico City’s most priceless treasures that not even the National Guard can protect. A profile is done on one of Mexico City’s eccentrics who is living in one the most transient neighborhoods in the city. This chapter also gives a first hand account of what it is like to shop in the largest open-air market in the world as well as an ingenious method used to have a cheap and hot shower in the city. While in Mexico City, Brian visits the part of the city that is so smoggy, dead pigeons actually die in mid air and fall to the ground.

Chapter 24

Gil and the Russian Mafia

Brian returns to Spain, this time as a student of International Hospitality. Brian’s studying competes with his urges to spy on his Russian neighbors, which he suspects are Mafia kingpins.

 

Chapter gives a profile of one of the most corrupt mayors in Spain and how the city of Marbella has been shaped by his legacy. This chapter explains the process needed for Americans to obtain a Spanish visa. Also included are rental prices on apartments in Marbella as well as the most affordable method to secure an apartment lease in Marbella. This chapter also gives tips on choosing clubs in Marbella based on preferred ambiance. The readers will also know how to get drinks at the best possible price in Marbella. The chapter also outlines the impact of the Russian Mafia in Marbella.

Chapter 25

Too Much Sangria = Food Fight

In Spain, Brian quickly advances in the student ranks and is put in charge of event planning. The Hospitality School gets more than it bargained for when Brain turns a course on Event Planning into MTV Spring Break 2005.

This chapter describes the college life and curriculum of European students. This chapter also informs readers on how to prepare for living in Spain. Included in this chapter is a look at the difference between dating Spanish girls versus their American counterparts. Also explored are the traits of what make Spanish fiestas so popular. Tips are provided on how to get an mp3 player, digital camera and electric shaver working in Spain. This chapter also takes us to the concert of famous Spanish musician, Pedro Guerra and his thoughts on pop culture.

Chapter 26

Raisin Wine

Brian spends his Spring Break traveling through Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. While in Malaga, Brian visits Picasso’s childhood home and is fitted for a robe to take part in the Holy Week Procession of carrying around a 3,000 pound float with Jesus Christ strapped to the top.

 

This chapter gives an account of three of Spain’s most culturally diverse cities; Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. This chapter also shows how a foreigner can successfully navigate Spain’s public transportation system during the busiest week of the year. This chapter shows readers how they can get a behind-the-scenes depiction of Picasso’s early career. Also provided is a sample of the rivalry of the three major cites in Andalucia; Granada, Sevilla and Malaga. This chapter will show how the Moors shaped what now-a-days is known as Spanish culture. The reader will also learn how not all Spanish provinces grow up speaking Spanish and the current international trade obstacles faced by young Spanish professionals. This chapter will take readers on a tour of the last Christian outpost in existence during the Moorish occupation of Spain.

Chapter 27

Beer Tour in San Miguel

Brian is forced to learn an entire course load of work in under ten hours. His roommate stays up all night to try and prepare Brian for the upcoming week of finals.

 

This chapter will highlight the hospitality offered to bar patrons in Spain. Also revealed will be a look into the European personality and how Europeans are more in touch with the inner-feelings and are more inclined to offer them to others. This chapter will also describe the immaculate conception of a marketing project that seemed doomed after its initial success. This chapter also deals with the difficulty in leaving a place that one is very fond of.

Chapter 28

Indian Restaurant by Day, Club Camaleon by Night

Brian moves to Portugal to start his internship at a casino on the island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic. While not touring the many discothèques owned by Brian’s co-workers at the hotel, Brian watches Venezuelan television stations to learn about current events happening around the world.

 

This chapter depicts a foreigner’s arrival to an island most people couldn’t locate on the map. This chapter describes the experience of a foreigner in a country in which he cannot speak the language. This chapter describes the hierarchy that exists in hotels as well as the tasks performed by a person who can’t even properly slice a tomato. Also provided is an overview of the most prominent night clubs on the island, as well as the women who inhabit them. This chapter describes what it’s like to get worked on by a Portuguese surgeon who cannot communicate to his patient in their native language as well as an overview of the difference between Portuguese and American doctors. Also discussed is the overly humane treatment of hooligans by Portuguese police.

Chapter 29

No Size Medium Underwear?

Brian gets a job offer in Dominican Republic, and upon arriving to the island, he is alarmed to learn the hotel is run by the French and can only marginally communicate with his co-workers. He becomes friends with the only two other people at the hotel who speak English, a Greek tennis instructor and his Israeli assistant.

 

The chapter describes the sharp contrasts that exist between the two different hotels (Club Adriatic) in Mexico and Dominican Republic, I worked in. The readers will learn about the best spots to snorkel in Punta Cana as well as a sample of village life in Club Adriatic. Three Dominican cities will be described; Bavaro, La Romana and Higuey. The influence of Haiti on the Dominican Republic is also discussed in detail. Tips are given to the traveler when they face a life and death situation after falling asleep on an air mattress in the Caribbean Sea. This chapter describes two popular industries in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic; rotisserie chicken and pirated DVD’s. Also discussed is the struggle by a foreigner in obtaining the desired services and products.

Chapter 30

Patience

Brian returns to Mexico to recapture the Mexican girl he originally tried to impress three years before by claiming to be Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

 

This chapter describes the author’s final run-in with his one true love. This chapter describes exactly what makes Latin girls different from any other girls the author has met. Chapter deals with the inconsistencies faced when comparing an actual woman to someone who he has been corresponding with via the internet.

 

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

           

Goodwill Hunting in The Candelaria, Bogota

January 13, 2013

The Candelaria is the place where the “Tomato Bait Trick” first got its roots in Bogota. The usual price of a tomato in Colombia is 200 pesos or $.10USD. But when a tourist goes into a grocery store owned by gutter snipes the tourist is charged 1,500 pesos ($.80USD) for a tomato. Most tourists are happy to pay this amount and actually shake the grocer’s hand after the sale. The problem occurs when the same tourist goes into the same grocery store a week later and buys the same tomato and is charged 200 pesos the second time. This has the effect of making the tourist so enraged with anger that he runs through the store opening all the cans of tuna and throwing them in the grocer’s face.Image

The heart of the Old Town (also known as the Candelaria) is on 11th Street. This is pretty much ground zero in Bogota in terms of universities, government buildings, The Presidential Palace (La Casa de Nariño) and cathedrals. I have a friend named Dennis in Candelaria who is renting a room one block from the President’s house for $15OUSD a month. There are armed guards that sit out in front of his house at all hours of the day and the street in front of his house gets blockaded against traffic every day after 6pm. Where else can you live and get Presidential armed guards sitting out in front of your house for $150USD a month?  Dennis says the only design flaw is the fact the Presidential Palace is located right in the heart of the downtown. For security purposes it would be better served to be twenty minutes outside of Bogota. On the other hand, if this was the case he would lose his armed guards so he’s not sweating it too much.

Kudos to the police force and private security in Bogota. In no other place in the world can you run into 50 cops standing in the middle of every main square, 3 at every bus stop, 1 in front of every ATM and 1 or 2 on every bridge.  The police force in Bogota’s best attribute is just to be present everywhere. They are always ready to give directions or assist you in any way possible. Who says they are paid just to stand around? The best way to prevent crime is just to have police everywhere even if they aren’t actually doing anything besides helping old ladies cross the street. Who says they have to do anything at all? I say they are doing a great deed just by getting up in the morning, putting on their reflective jackets and standing next to me while I am waiting for a bus. People in Bogota should be required to tip the cops 5% of their salaries.

On 22nd Street is the US Embassy. As you walk up to the Embassy 40 or 50 guys on the other side of the street will start yelling at you, “Fotocopias, LLamadas, Forumularias!” (Photocopies, phone calls, official forms). After you show the doorman your passport and appointment password number, you will be allowed to enter the compound. The US Embassy is one of the few places where chickens are allowed to roam freely in the city. In this respect the USA really took their job seriously of researching local customs and doing their best to merge with the landscape. Once you get past the chickens the Embassy is all business. Many of the light have rotating lampshades on them that film everything which is going on in the compound. All the security gates are guarded by men with shotguns and behind the gates are safety ramps that look like open drawbridges you to thwart would be assailants that ram their way past the gate. Any vehicle wanting to get past the gate is pulled over first, the trunk of the car is opened, the back doors opened and the rear seats are  thoroughly checked, a mirror on wheels is slid underneath the car and the hood is popped and the engine is examined. After the car is parked, the person then needs to go through two sets of metal detectors. Each of the metal detector areas have massive doors that weigh at least 1,000 pounds. When swinging these doors open and shut you feel as if you are entering a nuclear submarine. Once yo get passed the metal detectors you are in the waiting area. There are two lines in this area, one for American citizens which usually has at most 20 people in line. Then there is the line for everyone else that  looks like the will call window for Rolling Stones tickets.Image

On 34th Street is located the main Planned Parenthood Clinic of Bogota (or “Profamilia” in Spanish). With 34 clinics nationwide, Profamilia is a major provider of family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services in Colombia. Its services, which make up 70% of the country’s family planning capacity, includes contraceptives, fertility treatment, breast exams and mammograms, Pap smears, pregnancy test, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and HIV prevention and testing, gender-based violence screening and referral, abortion, HPV vaccination, and cervical, uterine, and breast cancer prevention programs.

Profamilia offers subsidized, youth-friendly services in centers specifically dedicated to young people. They have over 1,500 active peer educators who have received intensive training in order to provide sexual health information to other young people in schools and youth centers. Profamilia’s youth programs encourage young people’s involvement at all stages of program planning and implementation. It also has two youth members on its Board of Directors.

Profamilia has an extremely high profile in the country. The government frequently asks for its opinions on sexual and reproductive health issues in Colombia, and Profamilia is a frequent source of information for nationwide media. In 2009, Profamilia was part of a coalition that opened the first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community center in Bogotá. Their advocacy efforts convinced the Mayor of Bogotá to open and fund three other LGBT centers in the capital city.

On 50th Street there is a business that seems to be from the “Wally and the Beaver” generation. Who would have thought that in this day and age there would be a need for a vacuum cleaner clinic? But true to the spirit of Latin America and their love for using items log ago deemed outdated in other societies (i.e. Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Polaroid cameras, cassette players, floppy discs) in Bogota there is a Vacuum Cleaner Clinic (Casa de las Aspiradoras in Spanish). Having one of these businesses in Bogota is a testament to Colombia’s loyalty to obsolete technology. I myself enjoy partaking in the same behavior, I still make my own mix tapes and play them in my 1993 Ford Ranger.

So, luckily for you, if you are the kind of person who enjoys actually fixing things instead of throwing them away and buying a new one. Be sure to bring your broken vacuum cleaner with you on your next trip to Bogota.

As you travel towards the North of Bogota the street numbers increase. Located on 54th Street is El Campin Stadium where the most famous football team in Colombia plays “Los Millionarios.” When the team was formed in 1946 a million pesos was probably a good amount of money. Now-a-days to be a millionaire in Colombian pesos isn’t quite as prestigious as in past years. 1,000,000 Colombian pesos now-a-days is only worth $552USD currently. Maybe a better option in terms of long term value would be to name the team the “Owners of Beachfront Property.” By the time you are North of 76th Street the condition of the roads improves, there are less Goodwill Hunting types walking the streets and hardly are stray animals. The famous Red Light District starts around 82nd Street and this part of the city is full of high end tattoo parlors, Hooters Restaurants, Dominos Pizzas and as well as the headquarters of the Discovery Channel for Colombia.

On 97th Street you come to the Americo Vespucio statute. If you are traveling by bus past this statute you will want to get a good look. Vespucio’s greatest accomplishment would probably to have ridden on the coattails of Christopher Columbus to the new world and have been the only person with enough common sense out of all the explorers to realize that the extent of South America was actually longer than they originally thought instead of the prevailing belief that there were two unconnected continents below North America. Even to this day, the number of his actual expeditions is sometimes disputed and shrouded in mystery.

Thus, if you take a close look at Vespucio’s statue, as you pass by bus, you will notice that the statue’s head is missing and full of graffiti. This is no doubt Bogota’s response to his lackluster career and a stern refusal to celebrate Europe’s pillaging of the new world.

“Just because you may have been the least dim-witted in a group of scurvy-ridden sailors, that still doesn’t win you a star on the walk of fame in the capital city,” the graffiti seems to retort. On the other hand it could just be random vandalism with no deeper meaning.

After staying in the Candelaria for a few weeks it was quite a shock to me to get in the Transmilenio to 145th Street and see nice buildings, well-maintained streets and new apartment buildings. In terms of US cities, I would say Candelaria is similar to Coney Island while Suba in Northern Bogota is similar to Westchester County (an affluent suburban area to the North of New York City).

Bogota’s history of mayors has been memorable. The current mayor, Gustavo Petro, most famous move has been to uphold the long-standing “Pico y Placa” (Peak and License Plate) law. This is an law that forbids cars with a license plate that ends with an odd number to drive on odd days of the month between 6.00am-8.30am and from 3.00pm-7.30pm. If the car’s license plate ends with an even number the same rule applies on even days. This law only applies from Monday through Friday.

Bogota even experimented with another law that banned drivers with less than two people in the car from circulating in the downtown part of Bogota (40th Street to 10th Street) between 6.30am-8am and from 5.30pm-7pm. Any solo driver caught driving in the downtown during this time was given a fine.  The law was a little ahead of its time and a lot of angry people made the government repeal this law.

The way to tell how well this law has worked is to get on the highways during the weekends. The traffic is easily twice as slow as during the week. Therefore making Bogota one of the few cities in the world where drivers actually save time getting on the highways during rush hour.

The second biggest issue in Bogota is the cell phone theft. The government has green lighted some high impact TV adds to combat the problem. The most famous one takes place in a woman’s apartment at 1am. Earlier that day she bought a 2nd hand phone from a street dealer at a price too good to be true. Later that night she gets a phone call at 1am. When she looks at the caller ID it is blank. When she answers the call, the receiver reverberates a shriek in a creepy high-pitched alien voice which knocks her back in bed and sends some shock waves through her bedroom.

Of all the mayors in the modern history of Bogota the most ahead of the curve was a mayor named Antannas Mockus. Just to have been elected mayor in the first place with a last name that sounds like “mocos” (boogers in Spanish) is a pretty impressive feat. Mockus not only has a strange Lithuanian name but he is also bearded and looks like an Amish Unabomber.

Despite of all the obstacles he served two non-consecutive terms as the mayor of Bogota from January 1st, 2001 – December 31st, 2003 and from January 1st, 1995 – December 31st, 1997.  During his time as mayor he was a stern proponent of highway safety.

Mockus’ first order of business when he was elected was to reduce the number of people getting run over by cars. In order to reduce the number of fatalities of pedestrians run over and killed by motorists he decided to place a star on the road in every place a pedestrian was killed by a motorist. After doing this many people were surprised to find out that the highest amount of fatalities occurred on the streets underneath pedestrian bridges. Muckus also hired thousands of mimes to simulate getting run over and killed at the busiest traffic lights in Bogota. I am not sure if the mimes threw themselves on top of stopped cars at the intersection and then died right there on the side of the road but would really be interested in seeing this project first hand. Muckus’ initiate had a dramatic effect in terms of making the public aware of the places they were most likely to get killed if they tried to make a mad dash across the highway. This initiative was also highly entertaining for people waiting at the red light on their way to work.

Muckus also wanted to increase the number of people wearing seatbelts in cars. In order to do this he approved the airing of a TV commercial showing the effects in slow motion of having a crash where 4 of the 5 passengers have their seatbelts on and the one person who doesn’t ends up bouncing around the car and killing the other passengers during a crash. He didn’t stop there. He was also very concerned about the number of DUI’s that were happening around the city. To try and reduce this number he placed crush cars (from drunk driving accidents) on the sides of all the major highways with mannequins inside. This initiative had the effect of outraging pretty much everyone in the city a severely cut down on the number of DUI deaths in Bogota.

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we envision a post-apocalyptic city full of overturned buses, being pillaged by men in ski masks. It is obvious which country any rational person would seek to avoid while searching for an internet bride.

“48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong” is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with a life sentence of microwavable burritos and 10-hour Facebook marathons was to look online for a girlfriend in Colombia and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

During his first month in Bogota, Brian falls in with two white, self-assured backpackers who the author describes as, “…not the kind of guys who pump the brakes before going through an uncontrolled intersection.” He is then nearly kidnapped during an encounter with a woman he met online, almost becomes business partners with a Korean man in the “diamond business” and is forced to sleep in the DVD room of his hostel due to lack of funds.

Brian quickly regroups after his first month and auditions for the part of “congressional aide” in a Colombian feature film called “Left To Die.” He then lands a job as a writer for an English-language newspaper where his first interview is with a “suspected undercover CIA agent.” Brian then gets thrown off a TV set for refusing to take off his shirt from under his police uniform. While Brian is not getting thrown off TV sets, he marvels at all the discarded construction materials Colombians throw into pot holes to lessen their depths. Because of this strategy, a bus going over one of these open trenches (full of construction materials) will occasionally sling a chest-high brick through a group of panic-stricken pedestrians.

Brian sincerely believed this trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

To view the complete book, “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” go to …
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015VWCXME?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Getting Dumped in Mexico

December 28, 2012

Faridy, my Mexican love interest, was into doing what made her feel the most joy in any given moment.

“Do you want to go out to eat?” I’d ask.

“No, but I’ll go with you if you want,” Faridy replied.Image

Once the tamales arrived, we decided to go to the plaza to eat them. Once we got to the plaza Faridy decided the tamales smelled good and would eat mine. I didn’t mind, I loved watching her hands gently unfold the crumbly cake as she smelled the week-old boiled corn husks. She didn’t want any of her movements to seem the least bit arousing or forward. Her uninhibited greasy-handed eating put me even more over the top in love with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. As cars drove past us in the plaza men would honk their horns and yell, “Bon appetite, good-looking!”

During my visits to see Faridy, I’d ride Mexican buses (the thing I hate most in life) halfway across the country to be with her for one night. These visits were certain to arouse drama. In some instances she’d push my hand away from hers in the movie theater for fear of who could be watching. Other times, like my last visit to her summer camp, she was the polar opposite.

I unpacked my clothes next to the bed where I planned on sleeping (the floor below her). As I unpacked, she walked down to the base of the stairs and gazed at me cross-eyed for ten seconds. I struggled to read her mind. Sensing my bewilderment, she volunteered her source of unease verbally, “Is that where you are planning to sleep?” Before I could respond, she stormed back up the stairs. I quickly threw my stuff back into my backpack and followed her up the stairs. I didn’t have a pillow or blanket, so how did she expect me to sleep on a bare mattress next to her?

I didn’t push the matter because it was barely afternoon and we’d have plenty of other things to fight about before bedtime. The day passed like old men in bathrooms. My mind flickered in and out of the activities we did with Mexican youth. I was in charge of 15 Mexican middle-schoolers. Our team competed in everything from obstacle courses to sandwich-making. Nightfall finally came. I was very apprehensive about sleeping with Faridy. During the barbeque, I didn’t even bother heating my hot dog over the fire, I ate it raw. I threw my trash away and ducked into the shadows on my way to the second floor of the cabin where I knew Faridy would be sleeping. Before going inside the cabin, I took a look at the second floor windows, no evidence of anyone lurking upstairs. I let myself in and crept up the stairs. I had no idea of who would be in the room with Faridy, or even if she’d be in there. When I opened the door, I saw three mattresses. Faridy had made me a bed on the far right of the three. I quickly parted the two beds and put my mattress in between the other two, guaranteeing a ringside seat with Faridy, no matter which mattress she slept on.

My blanket was little more than a flannel sheet and the cabin had no insulation to keep out the cold. I stripped down to my underwear and hid under the sheet, waiting for Faridy. What happened next may have been 20 seconds but felt like two hours. The cabin light came on and I peered out from under my sheet to see who was coming inside the room. It was Faridy and her male camp counselor companion, Mogly. I pretended to be asleep as Faridy verbally objected once again to the sleeping arrangements. She shuffled the beds yet again and I hid powerlessly under the flannel sheet like an abducted foreigner in a game of Russian roulette. The lights went out again. This time I was once again on the outside. I looked over at the swelling under the blanket in the bed next to mine. Something was thrashing under the covers. I feared the worst. I rolled over and faced away from my sexless bed mate. Just then a voice in Spanish echoed out from underneath the covers, “Are you going sleep with your back towards me?” I had no idea what to do next, I was a 26-year old shivering under a paper thin blanket with a beautiful Mexican girl inches away from me.

I finally got the nerve to turn in her direction. By that time she had rolled to the other side of her mattress. I had to do something, I put my hand underneath her covers. I felt my hand run into her back. I started to pull up her sweatshirt. After getting through that layer, my hand still didn’t feel her bare skin, there was yet another sweatshirt to penetrate. After peeling off two more could I still feel another sweatshirt. I asked her in a low voice as to not arouse Mogly, “Faridy, can you take off a sweatshirt and loan it to me, I’m cold.”

“Get your own sweatshirt,” She replied. I immediately hit the brakes and abandoned my pursuit.

I lacked the fundamentals when it came to relationships with women. Applying my skills from high school didn’t improve the situation.

The two most beautiful girls in my high school were Michelle Salinas and Sara Pemberton. Michelle Salinas was considered one of the coolest girls in the school because she went to Raves in the Bay Area on weekends. Most of her male friends had facial hair and various parole violations. I knew there would be no chance for me to be popular her clique of friends. I had one group project with her for English class. It was a five person group and we met at Ethan Robert’s house and tried to put together a documentary about an eastern European family coming to America. Michelle would usually show up late if she came at all and we spent the entire time together watching Ethan Roberts practice guitar with his band in the garage. Although Ethan was barely over 80 lbs, he was in a band and therefore squeezed me out in terms of winning Michelle’s attention.

Sara Pemberton on the other hand was a little more accessible for me because I sat next to her in biology class. We sat behind huge lab tables designed for science experiments. The nice part about these tables was that they covered the teacher’s view of each student from the chest down. I spent the entire period vandalizing Sara’s biology book under the table. Her revenge was writing a bunch of perverse sayings on my hands. One day she wrote her phone number on my hand. After that period I wrapped my hand in heavy plastic and vowed not to sweat or wash my hands before I got back home, so as I could carve her number into my bedroom wall.

By the time I got home, the only digits visible were 633, the prefix of everyone in my high school. I never got the nerve to ask her for her number again.

I graduated high school with no clue on how to get to first base.