The truth about negotiating with the locals

I first wrote the story about tips to negotiating when I was traveling in Asia. I still believe in that article but since visiting Haiti my view has evolved. Yes, it’s important to bargain and no matter how hard you bargain, you will always pay more than the locals. I understand all that. There’s an art form and a skill that is necessary to effectively negotiate. Its how life operates and how businesses become successful. I get all of that. For some people it’s a rush, a feeling of success; it’s gratifying, and it’s __________. YOU CAN put any word in their to fill in the gap.

I never stopped to think about the other side of the story, until I met this wonderful person by the name of Maria. For over a month I was working at Hotel Florita in Jacmel, Haiti when Maria came in with an organization called New Waves -AYITI.  Somehow we got into the conversation about the art in Jacmel, the galleries, and the local vendors. She told me about a particular piece of art that she bought at FOSAJ (located behind the hotel). She explained to me how beautiful this piece of art was and how it really connected with her. “I asked what the price of this particular piece of art and she replied, “$100 usd.” She bought it without bargaining.  It wasn’t because she had the money to spend or anything like that. She states, “It’s because in Trinidad, Haitian art is highly respected.” Maria understood the value of the work. It wasn’t a duplicate; it was an original piece of artwork.

Questions to ask yourself next time you decide to use your TOP Negotiating Skills?

What does it mean to you when you negotiate?

Are you physically and financially beating down someone to get a lower price?

Are you discouraging/ devaluing their work, with your prices?

Are you uplifting or discouraging their spirit, hard work, and craft?

Could you pay an artist to paint you original artwork at that price where you are from?

Have you really accomplished something?

Can you go home and brag about how you got the price down?

Have you considered the other person, the artists, the vendor, the store owner who has to pay for their materials for your “souvenir” you bought?

What about their livelihood, their family, and the work that they put in?

Earlier that week, I helped two members of her team negotiate four pieces of art, which led me to think about Maria’s logic on negotiating prices for art, and the value of respecting artist work, and pricing.  It made me think twice negotiating. The conversation plays over and over in my head.  “What does it mean to you to negotiate someone down from the price, to beat them down, just to say you saved $15-$20? Could you have bought that back at home for that price? The price of the paint and other materials alone cost a lot of money. What do you get from discouraging someone and taking the meaning from something that they’ve worked so hard to put together? Could you ask artists back at your home to paint you an original piece? How much would you get charged back home?

I am not saying this to discourage people from negotiating, but for people to have that conversation with themselves and with friends and family and to realize how their actions affect the locals, local economy and the way that the locals view tourists. I know it has made me reflect on all my negations.

Disconnecting from a life of luxury

I’ve traveled to few countries. Some of which are first world and third world. Living in the United States you have access to 24hrs of internet, television, media, electricity, customer service, and social media to complain or express yourself, hot showers, doctors, clean streets, and great schooling. You might not realize how spoiled and privileged you are until you visit a third world country that doesn’t have all these things. Luxury living is not should not be determined by the access you have to 24hrs to exterior gadgets, the items you can afford, or by your education, or clothing that you wear.

This brings me to where I am now. I have become accustomed to the United States lifestyle where I get everything I want instantly for the most part. I was always online, trying to catch up on the latest shows, flipping through social media pages, watching the latest YouTube videos, or watching the news or lack of it. I started to realize that I was changing and so were the people around me. I didn’t like it. I slowly started cutting back on the amount of television I was watching and checking sports channels less frequently. U.S. is a consumer driven society and I was headfirst into it. Even when you try calling your friends, family, etc. they look at you like you’re from another planet because you didn’t send them a text message. Who wants to take the time to talk on the phone anymore right? Well I do.

This summer (2014), I had the opportunity to live in Jacmel, Haiti. What an experience! I stayed in the heart of the cultural side of Jacmel. I had access to art galleries, street vendors, motor bikes, the beach, fresh air. I didn’t have all the luxuries that I was accustomed to in the United States like 24 hours of electricity and other items I listed above. It took a week or so to get adjusted to my new environment. But once I did, it felt great. It made me question my ideas of what it meant to live in luxury and what luxury really meant. The hotel didn’t have televisions in the rooms. Most of it was old school living by U.S. standards. I felt alive. I was connecting to people differently. I had to engage with the locals, had to communicate with girls that I found attractive face to face. It was a different world. Of course a lot of people had the basic cell phones and listened to music and everything like that but the conversations were different. I didn’t have to hear about Justin Bieber or the Kardashians or what happened next on Love and Hip Hop. Those meaningless conversations didn’t exist. Even when I did go on the Internet, I didn’t stay on long. I was to busy learning about my new environment and trying to make friends.

I found it easier to connect with people because they weren’t walking around with smart phones in their hands. You had to use your five senses to listen and focus your energy on the person you are talking to.

My lifestyle was different, when guests came into the hotel; the first thing they wanted to know was “what is the Wi-Fi password?” In those moments I kept thinking “why you don’t check into the hotel first?” But that’s how important the internet has become; enjoying your external environment has become secondary to the virtual environment. The internet can be seen as a connecting agent that brings the world closer together by allowing people to contact others from different parts of the world at any given time. It can also be viewed as a separator, since it brings us further apart from verbal to verbal communication, reading body language, writing skills, and out of touch with nature. I am not blaming or looking down on any of the guests for their behavior, few people stop and think about how disconnected they are to their external environment or even care. I got to the point where I didn’t care if I didn’t have power, internet, hot water, social media, and mindless conversations about reality TV. I became aware of my growth and how I became closer to my environment. I loved being disconnected or connected depending how you looked at it. The western world luxuries that I thought were important became less important and it felt great.

As my summer was coming to an end, I started thinking how do I continue this disconnect/connection when I get back to New York? Is it even possible? I will be the outsider in that environment. Of course some things like clean water, clean streets, and healthcare I will welcome back with open arms, but how do I get my friends to disconnect from social media and connect with me on a personal face to face connection? These are the things I struggle with. I will continue to decrease the amount of time I spend on the net and watching TV. Not having electricity in Haiti is not as a big deal to the locals because they are accustomed to it, but in the states, it’s a big problem if the power goes out for a few hours, days, the end result, people get fired. After this experience, I won’t be bothered as much. I have been reminded and temporarily life in the Haitian culture where electricity is not always working, and the internet is always goes in and out. The beauty of my experience resided within the human to human connection, and the luxury was embedded in the person to person conversations, and external environment.

 

 

 

Building a successful Hotel

I was fortunate enough to attend the New York University’s 20th annual Stephen W. Brener Distinguished Lecture Series in Hospitality Management. The topics to be discussed by our panelists were “Building of a Boutique/Lifestyle Hotel Chain and the challenges and opportunities.” Our panelists were Alex Calderwood who is the founder of Ace Hotel Group, Sean MacPherson who is a New York based hotelier and restaurateur, Ed Scheetz who is the Chief Executive Officer of King & Grove.

2013-10-30 13.49.23

 

Boutique hotels were defined as any hotel that’s not a chained hotel. There’s no real definition and the name no longer has any real meaning.

Topics discussed: Brand vs. Non Brand Hotels

Challenges of opening a business domestic and abroad

When a company is a brand its easier for investors and developers to conceptualize your vision of a new hotel

When it’s a non-brand its difficult to get people to understand and conceptualize your vision

When opening a hotel domestically or abroad it’s important to capture the culture of the location of your hotel.

Quote of the night by Sean Macpherson “Wherever I go, I want to believe I’m in that place.” That quote to me embodies the difference between brands and non-brands. A brand is the same, follows the same model, the Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, are the same wherever you go. When people stay at one of those brands, they know what to expect because the experience is the same everywhere. For non-brands, they have to integrate themselves with the culture of the destination. When you stay at a non-brand, you have to believe you are part of the culture of your destination. For example, if you are staying in a non-brand hotel in New York City, the unique style of the non-brand has to make you feel that you are part of the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Hiring the right people

Alex Calderwood attributed his success of his hotels to the people that he hires. They embody his vision and the organization works well within themselves. He gave the example of opening a hotel in London where he hired a manager with less experience but shared the passion and vision he was looking for. This manager is doing a great job of making the hotel successful. Even though the operations are oversees, Alex is comfortable with the way its being managed. He went out to say that the people he hires might have a difference on objectives to execute but the objectives are all great ideas that fall within his vision. He gave another example of going to a place that is well built to the gold standard but the people who work there make it unpleasant, but then you go to a place that is not gold standard but the people are amazing and the employees working there make it a great experience. This example drives home his point of hiring the right people.

What I learned

What I learned or took away from our three panelists is that each of them are driven and are highly successful. Each panelist had their own unique style that they try to input into their hotels. I learned on a high level of thinking the difference between a brand and non-brand from people who are pioneers in the industry of hospitality. The panelists showed that they had a real passion for what they do which contributes to their success. They know the current and future trends of the industry hospitality industry and they use that to continue to create businesses based on those trends.

 

2013-10-30 19.35.13  2013-10-30 19.32.04

Three Stages of travel

Every year, you make plans to travel, and some how at the last-minute you have a deadline that you must meet or one parent has to work on that particular weekend. What good is it killing yourself for a job that can’t give you week of vacation to relax? Sounds like you need better work life balance. Well lets take a look at three ages of travel.

The first being traveling while you are young, wild, and free. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the days of your youth (14yrs -29yrs old) or whenever you decide to get married. This is assuming that you don’t have any kids and you are not married. You get to wake up late, party, and get a sense of who you are. This is the time you backpack around the world, go on crazy road trips with your friends, and study abroad. Just be young! You have the next 40-60yrs to work assuming your time is not cut short on this beautiful planet. If you are not enjoying your youth it’s about time you start!

The second part of traveling is family related. Some of you are fortunate enough to have family vacations. Maybe it’s just you and your dad camping somewhere or going on a road trip to see some historical sites. Family vacations are great aren’t they? At this point, you are married with kids, maybe both parents are working, and you just don’t have time to travel.  Depending on where you are career wise, family related vacations could be expensive? I’m guessing that’s what’s going on in your head. Well spend a little, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to experience the world. If you budget correctly, you can manage one big vacation a year. Open a separate account and take some money out of your paycheck and put it towards an account for vacation purposes. If you are the type of person that keeps waiting for your kids to get older to go on that special vacation, your kids could grow up not wanting to hang out with you because they have their own friends and plans. You know how teenagers are! Even worse, they might get into the cycle of all work and no play! Remember, these are the years, that you can have an impact on the way your child see’s the world. Instead of reading stories or watching reality TV of other families and their adventures, start your own. Experience another culture and see how other people live. It’s an experience that pays itself.

The third type of traveling is during that retirement age. For the last 40 to 60yrs, you’ve been working hard and putting money in your 401K. At this point you’ve done the young wild and free travel, the family trips, and now its just you and the spouse.  You spend this time exploring the Sistine Chapel, looking at fine art, playing golf in Indonesia. You are older and have a better appreciation of such things. You’ve worked hard your whole life, and now you want to slow down and watch the birds and the bees.

Is this seat taken?

Have you ever used public during rush hour? Or seen a movie on opening night? Went to the bar with a few friends? By now you’ve probably figured out where I am going with this. I find it odd when I’m riding the train to see people standing even though there are plenty of seats available. Why is it so awkward to ask someone to move over? The question is simple enough. Is this seat taken? May I sit down?
I’ve always wondered why people would rather stand than ask someone to move over so they can sit down. There are plenty of seats on the train. I look around and I see a lot of empty seats. You figure someone would be bold enough to ask a fellow citizen to slide over, but I’m going to guess that 7 out of 10 times that doesn’t happen. Even as I am riding the train to Huntington, the same people who were standing are still standing. But as soon as we stop at a major destination like Jamaica, seats clear and the people standing finally sit down. I for one am too tired to stand so I’ll ask someone to move over.
These days most people are too busy playing with their cell phone to even notice what other people are doing on the train. With that being said, I still wonder why people don’t ask fellow passengers to slide over. I don’t want to put the blame on technology because this is something that existed prior to cell phones and tablets. When I was an undergrad in college, I remember lots of people signing up to take public speaking classes and I remember reading that public speaking was one of the biggest fears for most people. Could this be a reason that people don’t ask strangers to slide over or ask if the seat is taken?
While riding the train, I decided to take a picture of what I am now calling “The Situation”. As I took the picture, the person sitting next to me said ,”this train can’t be that interesting.” I replied, “I am going to blog about why people don’t simply ask strangers to slide over  so they can sit.” We both laughed and he admitted that he was one of those people. He brought up an interesting point, the distance that someone has to travel can decide whether they will ask a passenger to sit down. Since I was going to Huntington, there was no way I was going to stand for over an hour, but if someone is traveling to Woodside from Penn Station, they might not mind standing for 5 minutes.
To all the people who would rather stand than ask someone to slide over, the trains are only going to get more crowded. The population is going to increase. More people will take the trains and other forms of public transportation. Don’t be afraid to ask if the seat is taken. You never know who you will meet and what conversation you can have with the person sitting next to you. Sit down, be courteous, introduce yourself, and enjoy the  ride. The person sitting next to you could one day save your life.
Long Island Railroad

10 common mistakes people make while on vacation

10 common mistakes people make while on vacation

Next time you plan on traveling, I hope you can avoid these 10 common mistakes people make while on vacation.

Only staying at the resort

Part of the fun of vacationing is of course relaxing and to some people that means sleeping. But remember that you are on vacation. You’re not in your home town or city. Take the time to explore the area. Go on trips that are not part of the resort package. A vacation should be an adventure.

Not having a local number

Having a local number gives you the opportunity to contact people who you meet during your vacation. It reduces  paying international rates for using your phone. Phones that are GSM can be jail broken and used in any country. All you have to do is purchase a sim card and you’re in business.

Not budgeting correctly

The fun part of being on vacation is being able to shop, do excursions, hop from hostel to hostel, or road trips to different parts of the country. Many people make the mistake of spending all their money in the first few days of their trip. The excitement of being somewhere new gets to them and they just purchase everything in sight. Resist the urge to do so. Set a daily spending budget and don’t over spend.

Not trying new stuff

Don’t go on vacation to do the same boring stuff that you would normally do at home. Try eating at local restaurants. Get a feel for the lifestyle at your vacation destination. Leave the fast food back at home and dine out or take cooking lessons. Go hiking, long bike rides, an excursion, deep sea diving, a local club. Don’t be that person that travels somewhere new just to do the same old stuff. Dare to have fun.

Bocas Del Toro

Not having copies of your passport

If you are visiting a foreign country it’s very important that you carry around photo identification. A great idea is to make multiple laminated copies of your passport to carry around. Leave a copy of your travel plan’s with someone back home and inform the U.S Embassy of your travels. Passports are very important so it’s unwise to walk around with the original copy in-case of theft or loss.

Not informing the bank that you will be on vacation

A few days before you actually go on your trip, make sure you contact your bank and let them know exactly the length of your trip and countries you will visit. This allows them the opportunity to monitor your activities for fraud.

Not printing directions to the hotel/hostel/resort

If you are going to a country where the main language is not your own and you are not familiar with the destination, print out directions in that foreign language. This way you won’t spend your time trying to figure out directions or trying to translate.

Failing to appreciate the hard work of the staff at the hotels/hostels/resorts

Remember that while you are on vacation or holiday, there are people working hard to keep you happy. Make sure you appreciate what they do for you. If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort or cruise you can order more food if the meal doesn’t taste right. Relax and have a good time.

Visiting the same place repeatedly

The world is too big to be visiting the same place over and over again. Try someplace new. Life is an adventure. Dare to explore. Instead of taking the same trips to the same resort, go on a safari adventure in a new country. Try not to repeat traveling to the same place, after a while, it becomes boring because you’ve discovered everything.

Failing to bargain

Whether it’s with a food vendor or souvenir shops, don’t be afraid to bargain for the best deals. If it’s the off-season, the vendors are usually trying to make money. It will be to your advantage to get the lowest price possible. Most things are negotiable, don’t be afraid and most of all don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal is not what you expected.

Bocas del Toro

First cruise experience on Carnival Splendor

Before we get into this article. I just want everyone to know that I was against cruises. Never saw the point of doing one and I always thought that the cruise ship would sink. Call it the product of seeing the movie Titanic too many times. However, my cousin presented me with the opportunity to go on an eight-day cruise with him for a great price so I jumped on the chance.

The great thing about Carnival Splendor is that it departed from Manhattan. This meant no flying to Florida and spending extra cash on logistics.  The ship went to Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and the Bahamas. I’ve never been to any of the three. I was excited.

Remember when you go on a cruise, the whole point is to keep you on the cruise ship so you can spend your money.  Drinking age on the Carnival Splendor is 21 and up and the drinks are not inclusive of your package. However, they do offer great drinking packages that you could take advantage of.

2013-05-23-23-17-54

Layout of the ship

  • The ship had 13 floors
  • A Gym with spa and steam room
  • Every room had its own bathroom and a different layout depending on how many people were staying in a room
  • Mini Golf
  • Several pools and hot tubs
  • Two main formal restaurants and one steakhouse
  • One buffet style restaurant
  • Sports bar
  • Game rooms
  • A huge theater
  • Comedy club
  • Two dance clubs 18+ and under 18
  • 3 other bars with specialized events
  • Gift shops
  • Photo studios
  • Track on the upper deck
  • Basketball court
  • Library
  • Internet Café – satellite Internet, real expensive and slow
  • Casino

What to pack

  • Since this was an eight-day cruise, I packed for 2 weeks.
  • Three Formal outfits for the formal nights
  • One all white outfit for the all white party
  • Jeans and shorts
  • Workout clothes
  • Plenty of sunblock
  • Dress and casual shoes
  • Make up
  • Cameras
  • Swim suit/shorts
  • Sandals
  • Wallet
  • Sea Sickness pills or bracelet

Some people like to dress up every night for dinner. If you are one of those people, pack accordingly. If you plan on going to the club or one of the many evening show’s dress to impress.

My Experience on Carnival Splendor

Staff

The staffs on Carnival Splendor were very polite. The ship and staff lived up to its name of being the party cruise. Each day, the staff would deliver the programs, which let us know what shows or events were taking place that day. These included but not limited to comedy, dance, karaoke, poker tournaments, wine and whiskey tasting, jewelry sales, stage performances, hairy chest contest, and dodge ball tournaments. The rooms were cleaned several times a day. The staff of Carnival Splendor was from all parts of the world. However, I didn’t notice staff members from the United States.

Dinner

Our dinnertime was set for us at 8:15pm. Sometimes that conflicted with some of the shows that took place in the Spectacular theater of Carnival Splendor. But if there was a show that you really wanted to watch, room service was twenty-four hours. During the many dinner nights, the staff would entertain us by doing a dance and they would let us get involved in the performance. Since dinner was inclusive, you can order as many entrees or desserts until you were full. I ordered and ate several entrees and appetizers every night. I think we had the best waiter and shipmates on our table. By the end of the cruise we all got to know each other very well.

 

Dinner table
Dinner table

Shipmates on Carnival Splendor

I had a great time on the cruise. I met a lot of people. You are going to be on the cruise with the same people for eight-days so make sure you say hello to everyone that you see. I met a lot of new friends at the dance club and from dinner. Each day that passed I made more and more friends till we became a huge group. The pizza station was open twenty four hours, so each night after the club we would go up there to eat and chat. The people I met were from all over the northeast of the United States and Canada.

Events

I thought the program directors of Carnival Splendor did a great job of planning out events that applied to everyone. They held several tournaments, had several shows, and communicated the events via TV, the program book, and the intercom system. They had an event for everyone and the staff of Carnival Splendor made it easy for everyone to participate or cheer on the participants. My favorite shows were the comedy ones. They had a great selection of mainstream and non-mainstream comedians for the family and adult show’s.

Spectacular Theatre

What I learned

Most of my fears of cruise ships sinking went out the window. I learned to relax and enjoy my fellow shipmates and myself.  Going forward I will know to pack formal wear and several different dress to impress outfits. Being out going and befriending people on the cruise heightens your experience and will make it more enjoyable. Unless you were staring outside your window, you wouldn’t know that you were on a cruise ship. The captain did a great job of keeping the boat from being rocky. I don’t get seasick and I eat more than I thought. Based on this first great experience, I would love to go on more cruises to different parts of the world.

2013-05-24-02-34-06

Tips to traveling alone

A lot of my traveling is done on my own whether it be international or domestic. People always ask me how do I it and I tell them it’s easy. Here are a few steps that you can take to be comfortable with traveling by yourself.

If you are traveling in a country where the primary language is not fluent to you, take a few weeks or a month to familiarize yourself with the basics, like hello, direction, ordering food or room accommodation. Think about the conversations you have everyday.

If you are using a program or dictionary to learn a foreign language and you can’t find someone to practice with, practice with yourself. Talk to yourself, everyone does it anyway. Whether it’s mentally thinking the words or verbally saying them.

To get comfortable with the idea of traveling alone, start out by going to see a movie by yourself. This will help you start to lose the feeling of insecurity. Don’t worry about what people are saying about you. Once you’ve seen a few movies, the next step is going to dinner by yourself a few times and enjoying your own company. This will add a whole new level of self-identity and self-worth to your life. If you can handle that, go to a bar, club, or lounge. Ask people to dance, talk to strangers, see how that makes you feel. At this point you should be very secure with yourself.

The first two or three nights of my trips I always stay in hostels. They are cheap and usually as good as some hotels. If it’s your first time using a hostel, make sure you book one that’s highly rated. The benefit of staying at a hostel is you will meet lots of people traveling alone or with a group. If you notice them speaking the same language as you, just chat with them. The fact that you both are travelers gives you something in common. Hostels are a great way to make friends. I’ve had some of my greatest travel experiences with people who I’ve met staying at hostels.

Get a GSM phone that’s unlocked and buy a sim-card  so you can have a local number. This is great because it makes you more accessible and you can contact people who you meet without worrying about overseas charges.

Don’t walk around with large sums of money. It’s always good to carry just enough money to do what it is you came to do. Have an international debit or credit card that doesn’t have foreign exchange fee’s. There are plenty of them. Always keep a separate bank account with small dollar amounts just in case.

Go to tourist markets and observe what’s going on. Look at the interactions between the foreigners and locals. Don’t buy anything. Get an idea of the environment. Let your senses take over and enjoy where you are. Take mental notes of the prices. Learn to bargain and learn to walk away from a deal.

Talk to strangers but use common sense. Talk to people who you notice speaks the same language as you.

Bring a camera, notepad, computer, extra batteries, and external hard drive to save all your pictures. A great app and software to download is Dropbox because you can save your files and share them with anyone who uses it anywhere in the world. If your computer crashes and you’ve already saved your files on Dropbox, you will be able to reach them.

Once you are done with the tourists locations, visit non tourist places to get a feel for the real culture. Get a feel for the people who live there and who are not in the resort areas. See what day-to-day life is. This is all part of investing yourself in the culture. You will see that it makes you a better traveler because you are strengthening skills you already have.

Invest yourself in the culture. Don’t eat or go to places that you would normally go to at home. Locals love it when you make an effort to try their food and speak the language. Remember you are on vacation but more importantly a cultural experience to find out more about yourself. So eat what the locals eat. A fellow traveler by name of Shaahidah also said that traveling alone also gives you a sense of inner peace and good time to meditate.

Be grateful that you have the opportunity to travel. Some people never get that chance. Your experiences are your own, no one will ever appreciate them as much as you. Once you’ve down enough traveling and investing yourself in the culture, traveling will become addicting and you won’t even care that you are traveling alone. At this point, you will have met some incredible people who made your experience worthwhile.

 

Traveling alone tips  traveling alone tips traveling alone tips

 

Addicted to passport stamps

I remember getting my first passport stamp from my first international experience. It was my first trip to Singapore. I stared at the book for a few minutes taking it all in. Excited that I arrived. Since then, I’ve been excited to get stamps in my passport. I remember being so disappointed when I drove to Canada and they wouldn’t stamp the passport. I begged and pleaded but they wouldn’t do it. If you’ve received stamps in your passport, you know the feeling. But for those of you don’t know the feeling, let me try to explain the addiction. Passport stamps are great because it proves that you’ve been somewhere. The passport and the stamps is the history of your travel life. Each stamp has its own unique story. It’s a conversation piece. Stamps are cool to look at. After you get your first stamp, you get a strong urge to want more. Sometimes I open up my book and I stare at it and reminisce about what I did on that trip and the people that I’ve met along the way. The stamps are tangible histories that you cherish for life and always keep with you. It’s my personal goal to collect a new stamp every year.

 

 

okvaca.com
okvaca.com

No Hustle, No Money

One thing that I’ve learned from traveling is that everyone has a hustle (making money). If you are a farmer, you better be a great seller, and negotiator in order to get your produce to the masses. All the streets are packed with people trying to sell goods to local citizens or foreigners. It’s a way of living. If you’ve ever seen the movie “slum dog millionaire” you will get a good understanding of the hustle that I am referring to. If you are a seasoned traveler, you will understand what I am referring to.

Streets are filled with moms displaying their kids to foreigners in order to get pocket change, hoping that the kids make the foreigners feel guilty about what they are seeing. Meat is being sold on every corner on a grill, or meat on a stick. As you walk up random streets to Kabwa you will notice, people on the side of the road with ice boxes, selling beer and other drinks. Fruit stands are everywhere, people are balancing water, meat, soda, cell phones, on their head. It’s a balancing skill that they’ve developed and mastered since being a kid. Passed down from family member to family member.

Kids on motorbikes are providing rides to locals and foreigners alike for a few US dollars. One thing I’ve learned is at night, in busy areas, it better to take a motorbike than it is to get in a taxi. Of course this changes by location but from what I’ve seen, you travel faster through motorbikes because they can escape the traffic.

When your stopped at the traffic light some old man or young person is trying to clean your car window or knocking at the door hoping to get some loose change to help them make it through the day.

But one of the downfalls of that hustle to maintain is prostitution, young females/males, either by choice or by threats, are thrown into this dangerous world. Giving up their body to make a few dollars. Money either goes to a pimp or to serve their family. By the time they are in their late thirties, they’ve been with hundreds and sometimes thousands of customers. Its a never ending cycle, you will find prostitution, especially the illegal ones, in almost every corner of the globe. Because its a huge money maker, I seriously doubt it will ever end.

One thing I implore you is to recognize when you are being hustled yourself. Take precautions to protect yourself and enjoy your next trip.