Archive for HDR

Little lessons make big differences

Posted in Makin' moves, Tiempo en el sur, Waxing Idiotic with tags , , on October 15, 2014 by robdc

How to blend in in a South American airport:

1. Erase any idea of urgency or the fact that anyone on earth has to be any place at any specific time. If you’ve ever had to be anywhere, forget what that felt like.

2. Make sudden erratic vector changes as you walk, constantly. Sometimes you may even want to stop and walk in the direction you just came from, almost like you forgot why you got out of bed that day.

3. Do you have kids? awesome, bring them, ALL OF THEM. Do you have nieces and nephews? Bring them along too! Hell, just pick some kids up off the street, it looks like that’s what everyone here does. Apparently they make great travel accessories.

4. Carry obscenely large luggage and plenty of it. Everyone here is carrying bags so large that they border on the ridiculous, 2 or three bodies could easily fit in each bag. It looks like the same effect as when a really large person picks up one of those tiny beers and it makes them look like even bigger giants but in this case the people are the tiny beers.

5. Let the larger your party and the more luggage you have both effect the speed at which you do anything inversely, so if you have 11 kids and 25 human sized bags, a snails pace is the accurate speed to shoot for.

OK, now that I got that out… We have landed in Rio! The beach is beautiful and the beach town feel is very much lingering in the air.

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We spent the first morning talking about different stuff we had read or heard about how to move through this city without problems. Places not to go, what not to wear and how not to get gotten.

Much to Dave’s delight, immediately after this long and drawn out conversation as we are walking down the beach something hits my foot, it’s a cartoony green goo. It looked like ectoplasm. Knowing that no earthly bird secretes anything like this and the perfectly clear and bird-less sky immediately above me, I kept walking but asked Dave “did you happen to see where that came from?” to which he replies “I did, just keep walking.” So I did and then through a combination of hand signals and quick looks we were both very much aware of the man who was tracking us. He had expertly squirted this gunk on my show then waited for me to flip out about it, at which point he would conveniently come out of the crowd, brush and gunk antidote in hand. Unfortunately for him, no flip out came. We just kept walking and he kept tracking. Then, thinking that I hadn’t seen it yet, he comes out of the crow and points at my foot saying “aw, look at what the birds did, need some help?” Brush and paper towels in hand. The idea is that I stop, he helps me get the crap off my shoe then the demands for money start. I kept going and he got nothing but anyone coming to Rio should be aware that this type of thing is lurking around every corner here.

While at a bar I left Dave alone for 2 minutes and in very Dave way, when I returned there was a new member to our party. The guy was nice enough and soon his wife joined us. Drinks were had and before too long we ended up making plans with them for the next day. Dinner and drinks with the Patels was a damn good time and we ran around Rio for the evening.

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The next day Dave and I headed up into the mountains to see Christ the redeemer overlooking the city. It had been pretty foggy but we took a chance anyway. After getting to the national park we paid for our tickets up to the top we were put on a bus, a girl in the back gets scolded for eating Doritos on the bus so she puts them away. half way up to the top, she has a mini rebellion about the food and chooses expulsion as her form of protest… She barfs all over the bus, not missing Dave or I’s legs… of course. Luckily everyone else manages to keep it together.

Finally we reach the top and it’s stunning… for a few seconds out of every minute when the clouds clear. We still managed to take in the whole scene and it was pretty breathtaking.

GOPR6059_tonemappedAll in all it has been an astonishing stay here in Rio and I can’t wait to run around here for the next few days.

Ceje lo,

Rob

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Cougar machine…

Posted in 'MURCA!, Makin' moves with tags , , , on July 2, 2014 by robdc

The plan was, go to Denver to see a show. Then I figured; “Why just go to Denver? If you’re already going to be hitting the road, might as well see some of the people you love on the way.” So I took off a bit early and headed to DC. Then I found out that the band playing in Denver was of no interest to me, so I canceled that part of the trip and decided to head back to NY, but first thing’s first… DC and the awesomeness that ensued there.

Brando had organized a tubing trip in Shenandoah and this was way more thorough than anything we ever did back in the Ville. There were busses and the organizers gave you different tubes to fit your needs. You got a cooler? They have cooler tubes for you. Need some string? They got you covered. It was very well done and Brando, Natalia, Claudia and I were pumped to hit the river. 

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The float down took about 3 hours and the water temperature was perfect. When we got to the bottom there was a bus waiting to take us back to our car. The drive from Shenandoah was pleasantly American, hills and farm houses and such, and on the way home we hit some local BBQ spot where I had the most heavenly biscuits with sausage gravy.

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The next day we had a 4 or 5 hour dim sum and bottomless cocktail brunch at Zengo in Chinatown then headed to the National Portrait Gallery.

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The portraits were great and there were some very interesting pop art and modern performer sections but the crown jewels (mostly because they were totally unexpected) were the Nam June Paik installations. Paik was introduced to me as a teenager by my Father and on one of my birthdays he gave me “the worlds of Nam June Paik” a book which I treasure to this very day.

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(as always, my watermark does not imply that I created or have any rights pertaining to these works of art, just the pictures of them)

The next day Brando and I set out to try and get some things accomplished, but those plans were dashed so we wound up at a quaint Irish pub called “Shenanigans” to watch the Germany world cup game. We tried to pace ourselves at the beginning, but considering that we were 2 of the 5 patrons in the bar, we quickly built a rapport with the bartenders. After several rounds of shots and swapping bar stories, one of the bartenders asked “Have you ever been Iced?” To which I replied “no” because in several years of bartending and skillful Icing nonsense, I had actually managed to evade being a victim of the foolish act… He responded by slamming a Smirnoff Ice on the bar………

IMG_4747He got me.

The next day Brando had arranged for us to get some behind the scenes access to the US Capitol building which I was pretty excited about. His cousin is an agent with the Capitol police department and was able to get us into some spots that transients aren’t usually allowed to see. It did not disappoint and I think we owe them a pretty big debt for allowing us to move around such an important space so freely.

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These are the old Congress chambers, notice the polite placement of the spittoons.

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These are the original Chambers of the Supreme Court Judges.

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Then we went out to the balcony outside of the present Congressional meeting room, they took our phones and cameras away in the actual room where the president gives the state of the union addresses and stuff, but it was pretty insane being in there. Apparently some Puerto Rican activists shot the place up a few years back and some of the furniture still has bullet holes which was interesting. But check out the view from where our laws get made:

IMG_0196_tonemappedNot too shabby.

Our last stop on the Capitol tour was the underground train system, there are several automated trains but what really astounded me was this archaic mode of transportation that required an attendant and moved all of 200 feet. A sidewalk would have been much better suited for the task.

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We got to ride the little guy to both of it’s destinations which took all of 2.7 minutes.

We then moved on to watch America’s first world cup match of the quarter finals vs. Belgium, there was a damn serious turn out and I was feeling the patriotism here in our nations Capitol.

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Unfortunately we lost but the Segermeisters and I did manage to pull a 2nd place finish at Wonderland trivia so I leave DC with a smile on my face.

Once again, another successful visit to DC, thanks entirely to Brando and Natalia. Thanks guys, can’t wait to party with you again in a couple of months for your “wedding.”

Cojelo!

Robo

Back into the swing of things

Posted in Makin' moves, Waxing Idiotic with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by robdc

It’s been a couple of months since I took the time to sit down and record anything that’s been going on so before getting into where I happen to be situated at the moment, lets have a quick recap.

After NY I had lots of stuff to do in Florida, family issues had accumulated and I had some reality to return to. The up side, of course, is that I got to spend some time with my friends and family all over the state. First Miami of course:

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Then Ft. Myers and Sanibel for Eric and Rachel’s wedding:

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Then, back to my half life home of Gainesville:

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Then, I finally organized the trip to spread my Dad’s ashes. After a long series of careful considerations I decided on St. Thomas. His instructions were that if Cuba was no longer communist to Spread his ashes there but since that’s not the case his instructions said the “Caribbean sea” was the next best location.

My Mom and Cousin Lolo came with me to handle my Dad’s last wishes. The trip came together better than anything I could have imagined and all the aspects of the trip were perfect. I found a very nice spot to spend our time in the American Virgin Islands and I really felt like if my Dad had been able to see it we would have really made him proud. We lucked out and found a charter even at the end of the season. Lolo had a Pandora station he had made just for when he hung out with my Dad which played Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck as we said our last goodbyes to Roberto de Cespedes into the sunset.

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When I got back to Miami my buddy Ralph suggested that we take his boat out. I, stupidly, thought he would have his boat kept in the city he lived in but we found ourselves in key largo where I was pleasantly surprised to be swimming in John Pennekamp national park, a place I hadn’t been since my childhood.

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I think that catches everything up, next time I write anything down I should be in DC visiting the Segermeisters.

Cojelo,

Rob

Bed Stuyvesant, the livest one, my borough is thorough

Posted in Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , , , on March 20, 2014 by robdc

After a reflective few months on the road, it was time to return to the states. As luck would have it some of my oldest and best friends happen to have migrated to New York in the past few years, so I could think of no better gateway home than that.

Serge met up with me in Bed Stuy and we headed to the Brooklyn bridge. I had never crossed any of NYs bridges by foot and this seemed to be the most picturesque (and close) one, so why not.

The walk over is rather pleasant, even if the wind over the river was sub arctic. The views of the sunset over Manhattan to the west and the Williamsburg bridge to the east were awe inspiring. 

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Brandon and Natalia headed up from DC and of course we had to get our grub on at some serious places. GO GO Curry, as always, was a must but we added a new badass eatery to the list called Traif.

Although NY provided a fantastic backdrop, the highlight of this trip was the people. Life being the way it is, I normally only get to see Rich and Marcella on holidays back home but being able to go to dinner with everyone was a damn treat. After Dave headed out to meet us and we did our usual at ‘No Name’ among other places.

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Brando, Dave and I headed out the next day for the St. Paddies day parade in Manhattan which is the oldest, and LONGEST on earth. You read that right, the oldest. Meaning that this was being done here before it was in Ireland, not sure what that means but I found it interesting.

IMG_4126 On one of the days where all the locals had to work, Brando, Natalia and I headed out to Coney Island. It was still very cold here but none of us had ever been so we decided to head out. Due to the weather almost everything was closed on the boardwalk but we did manage to find a bar. We must have a gift or something. Also, the original Nathans!!

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A very forward French fellow who introduced himself as Arno, then Andrew started chatting us up about all sorts of nonsense. Including but not limited to:

  • His wife cheating on him with tall good looking men.
  • His hatred of tall good looking men.
  • Am I Brandon’s father?
  • He’s lived in Brooklyn for 6 years.
  • American beer is the best (he was drinking a Budweiser).
  • Would we look after his beer while he went to the bathroom?
  • Don’t piss in his beer while he’s in the bathroom.

We continued talking to Arno and awkwardly laughing at the batshit insane stuff that he yelled with a smile, then hastily got the hell out of there. It did feel good telling a Frenchman that I didn’t like Paris though, I feel like it usually falls on deaf ears and I wanted to see his reaction. His reaction, much to my surprise was: “fuck Paris, Parisians are dicks.” His words, not mine.

NY continues to be speckled with some of the most entertaining places and people per capita and I could come back every week for the rest of my life and never see, do and taste all that there is to be had here which makes it one of my favorite destinations on earth. Today I head back to Miami for a bit but I’ll come knocking again soon NY.

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Cojelo,

Robo

Lisbon layover, a couple of days in Portugal for good measure.

Posted in Makin' moves, Ostia Tio! with tags , , , , on March 12, 2014 by robdc

IMG_6983_tonemappedWhen I was booking the flights for the tail end of my trip, I noticed that several of the more frugal flights from London to Madrid ran through places like Lisbon and had me sitting in the airport for too long to be comfortable but not long enough to see the capital. The obvious solution: Fly to Lisbon, hang out for a bit then head to Madrid. The flight from Lisbon to Madrid is a puddle jumper that’s just $40 if you time it right.

I booked the hotel I ended up staying at because all the reviews raved a bout the amazing view from their “Sky Bar” so I started by heading up there and checking it out. It did not disappoint.

photo (2)I mapped out a path that took me through some highlights but immediately noticed something odd. I’ve been relying on Google maps pretty heavily and have become pretty familiar with it’s usual distance/time calculations but these were all wrong. What should have been 10 minutes away was showing up as half an hours walk. Once I hit the road, it became pretty obvious… Lisbon has some very highly varying elevation, enough that you might find yourself walking at 45 degree angles much of the time. I just hit the road walking, as I’m known to do and found myself “pausing” at scenic spots more often than usual out of sheer exhaustion. Keep that in mind and pack some good hiking sneakers if you head here.

I headed towards Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Like I said, the hills caught me by surprise, I knew I was headed towards a lookout point but the city I was walking through gave no evidence of such a spot to perch on. For every block that I walked uphill I’d walk two downhill, or so I thought. I finally round a corner and go up one last hill thinking “great this will be the vantage point of 3 whole stories…” I was wrong:

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Off to the left you can see Castelo de Sao Jorge:

IMG_6947_tonemappedThis was my goal for the day, get to that spot.

On the way I added a shot to my collection “whiskeys in pleasant situations”

IMG_6951_tonemapped  Then I regrouped and got back on the road for the castle. To my surprise I didn’t encounter many tourists other than at the vantage points. At the Miradouro there were just 2 people, other than myself, and here there was just a scattering of 6-10 other people, half of which were locals and quite pleasant. I marched on for another hour or so then found the service entrance to the mountain. There was a gaggle of tourists there asking the guard how to get to the actual entrance and he was taking his damn time conveying the information. I tried to listen from a distance but when the guard politely asked to see one of their maps then took, literally, 4 minutes folding it into a fashion he enjoyed the aesthetics of before even beginning his instructions, I headed out on my own. How tough could it be? It’s a mountain, go right until you find an entrance. Which is what I did. I walked through a very quiet neighborhood then I found this place:

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I was awestruck and had a walk around these ruins for a bit. Lisbon is huge on street art, but I’ll get back to that later.

Two more rights and I was bombarded with busses and fanny packs. ‘I heart Lisbon’ shirts and the tackiest of neon colors. I had found the tourists.

Why the hell didn’t that guard just point down the road and say “stay right until you run into a bunch of people that look like you”?

Whatever, either way, I got to the castle and it was stunning. Completely open to exploration and perched high on a hill above the river Tagus.  the toughest part about getting any of these shots was making it look like I was the only one there. The place was teeming with people, every single tower had at least 10 lurkers atop it.

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The next day I was on a mission to find some of the better art scattered around the city. Lisbon has embraced some of their more talented artists and has designated some parts of town as OK for spraying, the results are pretty impressive:

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IMG_6990_tonemappedI love when cities accept this as a form of art and let the artists get as creative as they like. The mix of some centuries old architecture and  Molotov paint really struck me. Many of the effects achieved are impressive.

I continued my trek across the city snapping when I happened upon something I like. The usual, fountains and such:

IMG_6976_tonemappedThen I found el Parque Eduardo VII. From the base you could tell it was massive but I couldn’t grasp it’s vastness until I hiked up the hill to it’s zenith. Once I got there I was not disappointed as it resulted in my two favorite shots from Lisbon. 

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Now I’m back in Madrid and my friend Meg sent me a link to this picture and a remark about how Madrid was calling her name:

SpaceInvadersMadrid Since I hadn’t seen this installation myself I did a little hunting and before too long managed to find it. The installation is not doing much during the day but I managed to snap this picture to send back to Meg:

photo (3) When I lowered my camera I was asked why I was taking the picture. When I answered, the dude told me that he was a student here at Media Prado and was on the team responsible for putting projects up on the screen. We talked a bit but he and his friends had to get to class so I’m meeting them later at a bar for a few and to pick their brains about these awesome programming projects they’re working on Thanks Meg!

Well, I think that’s plenty for today, I need a drink.

Cojelo!

Rob

Qui, Quo, Qua…

Posted in Makin' moves, My word is Bond like James with tags , , , on March 10, 2014 by robdc

When I left in January, I had very little idea of what was ahead. I had a one way ticket and absolutely no clue about when I would be coming back to the states. The one promise I made myself was that, no matter what, I would celebrate my 30th birthday on the road. Today I sit on a plane en rout to Lisbon, 3 decades into a life that I am very much enjoying living.

The city of choice for the celebration was London and I’m very thankful that two of my favorite people were able to come out from Florence to join me. The three of us (or Qui, Quo, Qua {Huey Dewey and Louie in Italian}) ran around London for a few days eating, drinking and laughing our way through all the highlights we could possibly fit in.

We had the good fortune of staying near the meat market so there were several delectable steak houses right near our flat. I partook in an insane wagyu filet on our second day out, from the grill on the market, that was second only to “El Botin” in my book. Diana had lived here in the past and had some affairs she needed to attend to, so Kerry and I hit the town. The funny thing is that Kerry had been here before but had never just gone for a long walk around in some of the spots that I thought were a must on my first visit to the land of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who.

I found a nice spot called Skylounge to start our walk with a couple of cocktails and a nice view.

IMG_6878_tonemappedNow here’s something that angers me for two reasons: Firstly because it means I was wrong and ignorant about something pretty huge and, secondly because movies and TV have led me astray…

I always thought that this:

IMG_6888_tonemappedwas London Bridge… Well, it’s not. It’s tower bridge, in London. London bridge is a quite functional looking thing with no real style or design quirks of note. In fact, if you google image search ‘london bridge’ only 4 of the first 15 images are actually of London bridge, the other 11… you guessed it, tower bridge.

We headed west along the river Thames and I snapped a few shots along the way.

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Night fell quickly but I managed to get some decent shots of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Even managed to get one or two of the girls.

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Then I proceeded to do something that has become a bit of a loose tradition for me; a freeze in foreign places. To date I have pictures doing this on our beach in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, in front of the Eifel tower, in Tokyo station and now in front of Big Ben. I’m going to make a folder containing all of these pictures and label it “look here whenever you start to take yourself too seriously” and plan on continuing the tradition in front of many other monuments all over the planet.

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The next day we were market bound. We started at Portobello road which held many gems for Kerry but where we ended up was more my speed. Camden Town is where all the grimier elements of London rock have chosen to congeal and eat street food and sell trinkets. It’s fun as hell. There is any and everything for sale in the stalls and stores and the style is all it’s own.

IMG_6933_tonemappedWe stopped at Proud’s terrace bar to plan our dinner for the night which ended up being a very hearty and delicious ramen selection at Sato. Then we headed to Grand Union to wait till midnight and take shots for my dirty thirty.

In all London did not disappoint and I had a fantastic time with some fantastic people. But it is with a great deal of sadness that I said goodbye to Kerry and Diana. These two redheads have been some of the best hosts and even better company so to them I say goodbye for now and, above all else, thank you.

IMG_6936For the next few days I’ll be running around Lisbon and I look forward to what Portugal has to offer, but for now I’m going to take a nap and think about what it feels like to be considered old school by a generation that was born with cell phones in hand and twitter being a thing that matters.

IMG_6896_tonemappedRCojelo,

Robo

Ostia Tio, Joder!

Posted in Makin' moves with tags , , , , on February 24, 2014 by robdc

Madrid has brought on an interesting set of feelings. I’ve been here before for long periods of time and have always just enjoyed the general demeanor of this city and Spain in general, so arriving here felt less like a new foreign place and more, the feeling when I merge onto I-95 on the final leg of the drive into Miami. Accept without the “ugh” feeling of having to activate the turret guns on my car. I spent the first couple of days wandering around and taking care of some of the things I came here for. Finding my grandmother’s birth records is proving more difficult than I had imagined. Other than that, things have been going very well and this city has succeeded in making me feel very much at home.

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I finally linked up with my cousin Adolfo on Friday. We had a couple of drinks and caught up in Sol then we went out to where he lives outside of Madrid proper. He’s in dental school and it’s pretty clear that all the students live in this town around the college. They had this racket going at this one club where everyone pays to get in and your ticket in gets you one drink and a very convenient bus ride to another bar across town. Apparently everyone does it because the bar cleared out after, what I imagine is the time it takes to consume one free drink. But it was pretty clear to me that this guy (or lady, or some consortium) owns 2 bars and happened to own a bus to conveniently milk the students of any spare cash they may have, so we refrained from the bus ride. We went to a couple of house parties where it quickly became clear that wearing camo pants and having the pretty advanced beard that I’m rocking these days, made the first assumption anyone had about me pretty clear: I’m an aspiring dictator. Thank god I speak the language and am able to explain to people that I am merely a humble traveler who happens to have a large beard and have on this particular pair of pants. We got along just great after that. I honestly don’t blame them, exhibit A:

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There was a political demonstration of some sort going on which is not exactly rare, especially with the situations in Venezuela and Kiev right now, but I decided to get in close and see what all the commotion was about. The person on the bullhorn was being less than, well, politically correct. Then he passed the mic to a nice looking old lady who promptly shouted into the thing that she shits on the mother’s head of Coca Cola’s CEO. Accept that it obviously doesn’t translate right, she used a far worse word than ‘shit’, it’s a Spanish word that I can only approximate as “shit violently and vulgarly.” Apparently they’re closing the Coke factory here.

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I spend some time clocking a Traveler (Gypsy, Romani, Tinker, whatever the moniker is where you are. Traveler is the accepted term in Ireland, the land where I’ve dealt the most with them, so that’s what I’ll stick to) in the park to really see what was going on. Begging and panhandling is either not against the law in Europe or no one cares. People will come into restaurants and try to sell you flowers or trinkets and the restaurant or bar owners don’t seem to have any problem with it. So I’m watching this woman, whom I avoided, expertly, on my way into the park and saw that she was “giving” some plant to passers by. You learn quickly not to accept anything like that while over here but I wanted to see what went down if someone did, not that I was too surprised. I passed her by and took off down the park, found a nice spot and ordered a scotch. 15 minutes later guess who takes up shop right in the walk way in front of my sitting spot? Yup, this lady was all over the park.

So now I have a vantage point and am not in a hurry. I’ve always wondered how much there really is to be made doing this sort of thing, especially while in Europe since so many people are spending their days and nights participating in similar endeavors. Let the science begin!

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So here’s the game: This lady offers you some rosemary (my cousin solved that mystery) and if you’re dumb enough to accept, you are now in her web. She does a quick assessment of how much of a boob you are then chooses her tactic. I couldn’t get my camera up for the first couple of guys that got hit. They were proper marks, rolling bags in tow, on their way to or from the airport. She didn’t even bother with a dance. She shoved the fig in the dudes hand then immediately holds hers out. He reaches in his pocket and grabs a coin which she snatches out of his hand then she grabbed his wrist and jammed his hand back in his own pocket while still extending the other hand in the international sign of “pay the fuck up.” He gave her another coin… The next marks were less obvious so after the first payment she read the woman’s palm and said some Traveler blessing then kindly asked for more money while calling the woman pretty and the man handsome. I had the pleasure of this live sitcom for approximately half an hour, in which time this woman got at least 6 coins and 2 bills. Making her take by the hour at very least €26 and a practical high of €54 an hour!!!!! What?! €54 euro an hour?! That is a serious amount of cash! I guess I know now that it can be a pretty profitable occupation, more so than working at any fast food place (or doing IT for UF…{sorry boss, but it’s true, that’s $148,000 a year with two weeks unpaid vacation})

A couple more shots of Madrid for good measure…

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Ok, that’s enough for now. I gotta grab some dinner.

Cojelo!

Robo

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