Dealing with Vendors and Beggars

Impressions of a Country, Interesting People, Uncategorized

In Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, formerly  called Rhodesia ( An interesting topic  that helps explain Africa my friend and I were walking alongside a flat, wide paved road to see Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

9. Vic Falls from air


The monkeys are not afraid of humans. They are faster and stronger than people. This one crossed my path,  choosing to ignore me. They do not make good pets. They change their mind quickly and may decide to snatch something from you. Monkeys are like greedy little children with no manners.

Africa 103

This main road was in good repair.  Everyone uses it: trucks, pedestrians, tourists, monkeys. You never know what might happen; sometimes elephants amble through town. The monkey on the left is licking a melted ice cream cone.

As we walked along the roadside, a young man strode up from behind us, quickly matching his strides to our pace of walking. He looked about 20 years old, young and energetic but with a quiet desperation. This thin, tall man wearing dusty, dirty flip-flops said in English to my friend, “I would like to exchange shoes with you”. She was wearing sturdy sneakers for the 9-day camping trip.

Laura had the perfect response and was totally non-committal. She stated the facts “But, I am wearing them” and continued walking.

He responded with the facts as well. He said “I know. Those are nice shoes. I would like shoes like that.”

“Then what would I wear?” Laura redirected with another question.

The young man replied “I will give you these shoes.” He points down to his feet, half covered with sandy and well-worn flip-flops. It is clearly not an even trade, his shoes are made of plastic and are probably the only shoes he owns.

Laura responds, not acknowledging the huge differences of economic disparity between us. “But I like my shoes. I don’t want to trade.”

He accepted that for an answer and veered away, going about his business of living another day, and potentially trading his flip-flops for something better to someone else.

His presence was immediately replaced with another person selling a small souvenir ,a fist-sized, wooden, hand-carved elephants.  When that person was finally convinced that we were not going to buy anything, he gave up made by his uncle, he stopped walking with us,, left our sides and went off to do whatever it was he was doing before we crossed paths, to be replaced by a new, different person trying to persuade that that he not only had elephant carvings, he also had wood carvings of rhinos and walked with us while showing us the beaded jewelry his wife has made, and after him, another vendor with other trinkets he was selling. They were not working together, they just hoped that one of us would buy something, anything. Each person walked along with us for a short while until they were replaced by another person selling something else, beads, ice cream, wood carvings.

This is a country where there was no respite from the onslaught of desperately poor people who live under a dictator. This is a country that used to be the bread-basket of Africa, feeding the nation. Now, they import food.

As I walked, another vendor replaced the one who had just left.

Local women carrying things on their heads

Local women balancing and carrying items on their heads.

My energy drained. The word that perfectly describes my feeling was one of being worn out. It was wearing that there was a continuous approach of someone wanting something from me (money). I felt like a walking ATM . Each person who approached me still had hope and a renewed sense of energy to make a sale.  Each was eager and excited when they saw a tourist.

I picked up the pace so it was difficult to carry a conversation with me.  Each person has a different way of dealing with the vendors and this is my tact.

The people didn’t want my time, they just needed resources. The people who approached us never ended.

It is not because these people want a handout. They had been working people, many were farmers. To make a long, complicated, interesting story short; A new government took over and changed the currency to American Dollars. The trillions (yes, there was lots of currency with that many zeros, because an earlier decision was made to print more money) were worthless, as was all the other money anyone had. All cash was worthless.  Oh, and the farms where many people worked were closed down and the tractors and equipment was sold so the elite class could live a lavish lifestyle.

As each vendor walked away, I felt a pang of guilt like leaving an animal shelter, knowing there was little hope for the ones left behind. Each spirit looking at you with hope that you would pick them out of the shelter and help them to have a better life, only asking for some food and shelter, or in this case, American dollars.

One vendor said / begged to another friend “Please buy something, anything. I haven’t had a sale in 3 days and I am supporting a family of 11 people” His items cost two or three dollars.

A hand-carved elephant cost $1. If a person bought more than one, that vendor would have an wonderful day. By selling one elephant trinket, he would have enough money to buy “Pac”.

Zimbabwe 080

A Typical meal, “Pac” is the staple (made from maize). No utensils are used to eat the food.

Pac is a fine, white, coarse powder that is made from maize. It looks like cornmeal. It is added to boiling water to thicken. This would feed the entire family. For a family of eleven, six who are children, that dollar could probably feed all of them for several meals. The family supplements Pac with what was grown in the garden. If a family owned a chicken and it laid an egg, they might add that too. Or trade the egg for some something else – maybe even a pair of flip-flops.


New Zealand


People who have visited New Zealand rave about it, and they talk about the topography, but no one has been able to explain to me why they like the country so much. So, I had to find out for myself. (Have I mentioned that I learn lots of the things the hard way?)

I spent a week on the North Island, and I feel the same way. New Zealand is unlike any other place that I have visited. I really like it, but can’t explain exactly why. The indigenous people are very proud of their Polynesian background, and the rest of the population was friendly as well. The inhabitants of the country were very welcoming to tourists. New Zealand is a country far away from other countries. Even Sydney, Australia is 1,300 miles away. (2,100 kilometers), a 3 hour plane ride. It is alone in the ocean, with only tiny islands sharing the saltwater.

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

The country’s landscape changes quickly and the scenery is very pretty.

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

The areas of the countryside I witnessed were through the windows of a bus. The rolling hills were green and grassy, and I felt like I was riding through the countryside of my Ohio home, with winding 2 lane roads, and no traffic, just passing a vehicle coming the other way every so often. The air was the cleanest I have ever breathed. Much cleaner than the USA. Someone told me that part of the reason Australia and New Zealand have such clean air is because there is very little industry in the Southern Hemisphere, so they don’t get contaminated air flowing from other countries.

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

New Zealand is nature at its finest, and has developed a tourism niche combining nature and adventure as a playground. After all, bungee jumping was invented here. The Hobbit series, “Lord of the Rings” was filmed here and Hobbiton is a big tourist draw. (Tours of Hobbiton tickets cost about $100).

Bay of Islands, north of Auckland

Kiwis seem like a content group of people.


Auckland is like many other cities in the USA.The beggars in the backpacker district looked clean, able-bodied and sober. They sat on the sidewalk, shaking a paper cup and asking for change from the tourists.

I asked the locals why there were so many beggars on the main street- there were on almost every corner block, and some along in between. I was told that they just didn’t want to get a job, they were lazy and found it easier to collect change from the tourists.The locals were very annoyed with these beggars.  It reminded me of a trip to San Francisco where beggars wrote signs that said, “we won’t lie, it is for beer.”

I did meet a group of people that did look homeless and they did not ask me for money.


Of course, I was carrying a backpack, was lost, away from the main tourist drag and may not have looked much more prosperous than they, although it was obvious that I had more dental work completed.

Same Same, but Different


“Same Same, but Different”

is one of the sayings I learned in Thailand, and it still cracks me up. What on earth can it mean?

It is now the last week of my Round The World trip, aka “Midlife Crisis” world tour before going home. I have been reflecting about my journey; the places I have seen,

Poling in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Poling in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Australia, near Byron Bay

Australia, near Byron Bay

the experiences,




Yep, that is me on the bottom and my aunt on the top.

Yep, that is me on the bottom and my aunt on the top.


Lex is sitting behind me feeding the elephants small fruits. The elephants are touching her all over with their trunks and caressing her.

Lex is sitting behind me feeding the elephants small fruits. The elephants are touching her all over with their trunks and caressing her.

the people I have met

I passed these guys while walking around the neighborhood. The boy wearing the Harley Davidson T-shirt has a dream to go to America

I passed these guys while walking around the neighborhood. The boy wearing the Harley Davidson T-shirt has a dream to go to America



and learned from, the journey of my soul and who I am, was and who I have become. Am I the same person that I was when I headed off to Iceland with a new backpack and no idea of where was my hostel?


And I ask myself, did I accomplish what I set out to do?

Goals I had when beginning this journey:

  • Meet interesting people. Done.
  • Try new things. Done.
  • Check things off my bucket list. Done. (And have added more stuff to it).
  • Volunteer. Partially done.
  • Get involved in a sex trafficking rescue organization. Not Done.
  • Get involved with an orphanage. Not Done.
  • Teach others that the world is not so scary. Not sure. Don’t have long term feedback yet.
  • Teach others about the world. Not sure. Again, don’t have long term feedback yet, however in the short term, I think yes.
  • Learn to use technology better. Still in process. I learned to upload photos to my blog, but I am not very good or quick at it. I am disappointed that I didn’t learn more, and I still get frustrated.

Extras accomplished:

Learned more about my country by being away from it. (Remember the saying of can’t see the forest because of the trees?)

Learned about myself, or perhaps, remembered myself, who I am.

  • I have been told that I am inspiring.
  • I am braver than I knew. When I look back and think about a woman who traveled around the world by herself for a year, I think “Wow, I wish I was that brave.” Then it occurs to me, that I AM that woman.

I am no different from anyone else. Who knew I could do this? Not me. It did not mean that I was not scared, I was. But, I did it step by step, country by country, experience by experience. Am I braver than I was a year ago? I don’t think so. Am I more comfortable being out of my comfort zone? Yes, definitely.

Camping in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Camping in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

I have been lost in every country. I have lost things along the way. I have grown as a person. I think I am more patient (note to self: keep practicing this), I can admit some of my flaws more readily.

OK, I finally admit it, I cannot read a map. I hate admitting it, I feel like there is something wrong with me. I mean really, who cannot read a map? Especially someone who is traveling around the world. I can look at a map on paper and know what to do, but put me on the street with a map, and I will still go the wrong way. I don’t know why, there must be a lack of activity in that part of my brain. That must be where the 3D stuff and mechanical logic happens too, because I still am mechanically disinclined. Fortunately, I compensate by not being afraid to ask for help now. At the beginning it was a struggle to ask for help (another flaw), but thinking back, it has been a long time since I rode the bus for a 2 hour complete loop until I got to my stop again. (I must say though, that it was a good way to see the city.) I have learned that it is not a weakness to ask for help.

Spleunking in Badapest, Hungary.

Spelunking in Budapest, Hungary.

My experience is that people all over the world crave human interaction, and want to be helpful to others. A couple of days ago I asked a group of homeless beggars in New Zealand, where was “Cross Street”? Treating them as human beings who knew something I didn’t know probably gave them a good feeling of importance, and they did not ask me for money, a bonus! I was wearing my backpack and I may have had more money than them, but at least they were not walking in the wrong direction.

Ready to go exploring a cave!

Ready to go exploring a cave!

Our Earth is vast. Many people are so far advanced when it comes to taking care of our environment, why aren’t we American’s doing the same? We can learn from places like Sydney, Australia and the way they take care of their waterways, or Iceland and their recycling. Other countries are advanced with public transportation- take a look at Serbia, a former communist country.

Building that was bombed by NATO 10+ years ago.

Building that was bombed by NATO 10+ years ago.

They do not have money to repair buildings, but they have a fantastic public transportation system. Many Americans think we are at the forefront of modernization, but there are many good or better ideas in other places.

This shows where to stand. It is a great idea because the people are able to get off the train quickly, then we are able to board. This keeps people standing on the side. Much more efficient.

This shows where to stand. It is a great idea because the people are able to get off the train quickly, then we are able to board. This keeps people standing on the side. Much more efficient.

I have also been thinking a lot about my experience in Nepal (before the earthquake). I may be broke, but I am not living in the middle of the road, like one of my acquaintances. I do not trust that the money I am sending would actually get to the people that need it due to the corruption and administrative costs of some official fundraisers, but that does not mean that I should not donate and help those people. Since I know several people there, the money that I send directly to them will definitely get to the people who are desperate.

Sewing machine without using electricity.

Sewing machine without using electricity.

Scrubbing jeans to wash them on the sidewalk

I recall a person asking me, “A dollar to you is nothing is it?” At the time, I replied that everything adds up. But when I look back to that comment, I know that I really didn’t give much thought to drinking a soda, or ordering a meal. Buying a soda could literally cost half a day’s pay to someone in Nepal. And now, with the earthquake, many jobs are non-existent. When I look at that same dollar now, I can say yes, that dollar really means very little to me when I compare it to time it will take to clear space for a home by digging rocks and rubble by hand, while surviving without drinking water and electricity. $5 buys a pair of shoes and a blanket. When I look at it from this perspective, a dollar really doesn’t have as much meaning to me as it does to someone in Nepal – and plenty of other countries as well. The pictures below are from BEFORE the earthquake.

A Porter Old buildings and new stand beside each other

Washing clothes

Washing clothes

Nepal was my least favorite country to visit- it is such a hard life for so many people, and where I had the most culture shock. The people were friendly, and the children were loved. I cannot imagine what daily life is like for the citizens now.

Better than a playpen

I use my imagination, but know it is incomplete. How does one sleep in the rain, on the street, when there is no tent, or roof overhead? It could be the littlest things that would be the most frustrating- like where to use a toilet? How to get drinking water when there is no drinking water? What about people who are getting sick? Can you imagine someone who is vomiting and has diarrhea, and there is no toilet paper? The misery just keeps adding up. And I imagine these thoughts are small worries compared to wondering when the next aftershock will be and what else will be destroyed? And wondering about the family, friends and acquaintances when there is no word yet. Not if they are dead or alive, but rather, Who is dead, and Who is alive?

Love this picture of the woman laughing. She was flattered and embarrassed when I asked to take her photo.

Love this picture of the woman laughing. She was flattered and embarrassed when I asked to take her photo.

I have been reminded that money is a thing. It is something that makes life more comfortable, and in the end, it does not go with me. It is not for me to hoard. The more I give something away, the better I feel about myself, although it is hard to remember that when feeling broke.

A woman in Zimbabwe reminded me of the lesson “it is better to share”. I had given my paints and paintbrushes to her teenage son, and when I suggested they were for him to use, not necessarily for him to take to school and share, she told me that if he kept them for himself, others would steal them, so better to share. What a great reminder. It IS better to share. EVERYONE feels good when something is shared. It is more fun for me to share and to see the smile that lit up his face when he received the paints. I can’t believe I forgot that lesson and am so grateful to be reminded.

I was invited to her home. On the way, she showed me the local market, a beer hall, the hospital, her church, and an old folks home.

I was invited to her home. On the way, she showed me the local market, a beer hall, the hospital, her church, and an old folks home.

The people of Earth- these are our brothers and sisters, even though they may look different, have different beliefs, and act differently- they are still our brothers and sisters. I need to be kinder to other people and more forgiving, myself included. So many people are afraid of others who seem different, yet we are more alike than different.

Playing Uno on the side of the road when our truck broke down.

Playing Uno on the side of the road when our truck broke down.

I have learned to be more patient with myself. Instead of getting mad at myself for being lost and confused as I did many times early in my travels, I need to remember that that part of my brain is underdeveloped. I am still learning to accept that I will go the wrong way, more than 50% of the time. It doesn’t make sense, but it is true.

The most important thing I have learned… I AM brave. I AM competent. I can make it on my own if I choose to. Life is choices. The only requirement we have in this life is to die. The choices we make are the journey.

At the optical illusion museum!

Next steps- Unsure. I still believe in daring to dream big. My wildest dream is to have a movie made about the trip and to go on the talk show circuit. I would love to inspire others to dream big and to actually take the risk of doing it. Perhaps I could to host a talk show, meet interesting people and introduce them to the world like the poor black woman in Zimbabwe who invited me to her home, and the two children who had never seen a white person before,or the Indian man who protected me and invited me to his home to meet his wife and 4 kids,

Bhim and his family.

Bhim and his family.

and the helpful, trustworthy man in Nepal, who now is living in the road because his home was destroyed in the earthquake.

The world is an amazing place. People are kind, and generous. Most are looking for an opportunity to be kind, and to interact with other people. Yes, of course there are bad people in the world. But they are the exception. I am happy to report that the scariest person I met, was back home.

Each of these individuals impacted me, and I am now “Same Same but different.”

Television Show


Last week the farm I am working at was invited to be on a local television show.  This was their fourth time as a guest. The host is a comedian and the show has had over 1000 episodes. It is broadcast twice a week and has been on the air for over 27 years.

Lucky me! I got to go too.


The host spoke in a local dialect, and the audience was laughing a lot.  The audience was a mature audience, and many of the jokes were words that had double meanings. It looked to me like the ladies would laugh but blush at the same time.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I got special treatment, and was moved to sit up front. The director seemed to like that I was so interested in everything, and the host enjoyed making fun of me at my expense – since I didn’t understand much Italian.  He brought me up on the set and asked me why I chose to come to Italy, and when I replied because of the pasta, he slyly said something about I really came for the salami, and mentioned how big the salami was in Italy.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Most weatherman in Italy learn the job in the military, so this guy who is in military uniform was the one talking about the weather.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I really enjoyed seeing how a television show was made, especially with the different cameras, and the singers who were on stage etc.  It was a short variety show, and we taped 2 episodes.

Something funny that stands out in my mind, was the fact that Setti didn’t want to speak on camera, so we picked up a cousin of Nevio’s (the owner of the farm). She is an older woman who would talk about the history of the family recipes.  We drove about 1.5 hours the night before to pick her and a friend up so they could speak on tv.  When the time came and the director asked her to come up on the set, she said no, she did not want to talk, but after being asked again, quickly said ok, and jumped up to do it.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We also brought another friend along for a small business that is working in cooperation with the farm. It is called “Soft Air”, and people get to shoot plastic pellets at each other – like paintball, but with small little plastic bbs. It is fun.  The boy dressed in cammo plays most weekends and did a great job talking about it on the tv- great publicity.

The show is called Atreb and should be available to stream from You Tube in the near future.


Round The World Trip, Uncategorized

Several people have asked me to post pictures of the “Pamisms” I have made. Pamisms are hand painted cards I made with my blog address on the back. I have been giving them to people who have had an impact on me and as a thank you. Many of them were painted before I left for the trip, they have affirmations that helped me when I was afraid or having a problem. Before I left on the trip, some were purchased as well. (Thanks again- you know who you are).

Most Important Life Skill


After reflecting about the trip and some of the things I have learned, I have decided that the most important life skill we can master as humans, is the ability to read.

Reading changes lives; especially today with common and inexpensive technology. If a person can read, that person can gather information and make wise decisions. Almost all of the world’s information is on the internet. Access to the internet is everywhere. People read everywhere; on the “EL” in Chicago, texting on the tram in Berlin, checking FaceBook while waiting for the bus in Prague, checking e mail from a campsite in Botswana. Pretty much wherever there is a city, there is access to the internet. [Except for North Korea- but that is a different topic].

A photo of North Korea from space.  credit

It is in our own best interest, as a human species that we care what is happening in other countries. A current example is the Ebola Virus. If we [meaning each of us] don’t help these developing countries get this virus and others like it under control, eventually, we will have a pandemic that probably no one alive today has ever remembered.

History repeats itself; the influenza pandemic in 1918 which killed 3-5 % of the population. 500 million people died and every one of them had a circle of friends and family. So let’s think of our circle of friends and acquaintances.

If we have an average of 150 friends and family in our circle, that means that 5-8 of our loved ones would be dead. But no one knows which ones, we don’t get to choose. It could be family, or friends. And each one of the survivors of our circle would have lost 4-8 people as well. There would be so much sorrow amongst our whole circle of friends and acquaintances.

sorrow.jpg (1024×683)

credit to

I sit here imagining how disease spreads its tentacles to effect each and every one of us. And of course, these are not just statistics.There are plenty of tragic stories of whole families being wiped out, of children who are left without parents and relatives, of bad people who prey on the weak, etc. And I think of the current sorrow individuals are experiencing as the Ebola epidemic rages on, far from our shores.

The current numbers of death from this strain of virus much higher.

using a bad case scenario like above, in an average circle of 150 family and friends, 105 would be gone. Only 45 of that entire circle would be left. Whom would still be alive?

If the local people have not been taught to wash their hands after touching someone who is sick, they can be taught. If they do not know how to read, how can they read “Wash your hands to prevent disease”?

This is just one current example. You can substitute another situation like terrorism, or ISIS as well. If people can read, they can learn how to gather accurate information and protect themselves.

I am curious, what do you think? I would love your comments.

For Those Who are Reading This Post – Really, I mean YOU


As I am expanding my horizons and learning to blog, I am trying some different styles, both in the type of writing and learning the technical side of the ******* software. [Feel free to use any word there] I am technology challenged. I am interested in the reader’s perspective. So, since you are reading this, you are just the person whose opinion I value. If you don’t have much time, stop reading here, and come back to it another time. I value your opinion and want your perspective.

Click below. There are 4 questions, then submit.

[ I had to relearn this lesson in another area of my life] the hard way.

Hard to Stay Positive Sometimes

Round The World Trip, Things I have learned, Uncategorized

I recently spent a difficult weekend out-of-town. Several people were very upset with me for pursuing a dream of traveling around the world.  A good friend of mine reminded me that:

Trust gets you killed.

Love gets you hurt.

Being real gets you hated.

I don’t like to spread negativity, so I won’t post details (and will protect the guilty), but it will definitely go into the book

Thank you to those of you helped picked me up and dust me off and continue to encourage me.

A Step Back in Time

Impressions of a Country, Uncategorized

Cappadocia, Turkey is a city about 7 hours by car from Istanbul, Turkey. We drove on an expressway much like the ones in the USA; the roads were paved and well maintained. We spent several days in this region; we being me, my husband who came to visit, my Turkish daughter “Ece” and her husband “Metin”.

Ece is a former exchange student who lived with us in the USA for a year while she was a senior in high school. She is married and has a 2 year old son. The son stayed with his grandparents while Ece and Metin showed us another part of their country.


It was an interesting drive and one of my favorite sights was seeing shepherds with their flock of sheep, or a herd of cattle. The animals were not fenced in so, they needed someone to keep an eye on them.

Cappadokya is an ancient area. This was inhabited 1000 years before Christ was born, in the bronze age. The land is made up of soft rock so people were able to dig out rooms and tunnels, and even whole underground cities where the estimate is about 5,000 people lived.