Tuesday, 30 October 2012

22 Pairs of Flip-flops

A friend of mine once told me that a man travelled from Europe to China without carrying extra money on his pocket or, even less, any credit or debit card.

During the voyage he simply lived on trading the goods he could find along his track: the distance covered to the following place would have been enough to add value to the items purchased. To give an example, some wooden spoons were to be exchanged for, let’s say wool, after miles of walk, providing a margin to get rice or noodles. In this way he managed to cross the Eurasia continent.

Some decades ago, when former Yugoslavia was a solid country, crowds of people got weekly to the first Italian town, Trieste, to buy items they cannot find in their land such as clothes and toys, particularly tights and dollies. Now, with Slovenia in the Schengen Treaty, Italians cross the border regularly to fill up the tank of their cars with cheaper gasoline.

When my ship reached Manaus, a cement-grey town right in the heart of Amazonas, a motorman of the crew bought in the local market 22 pairs of flip-flops at 7 US dollars each. He said that in Manila you cannot find a pair of flip-flops for less than 13 $.

He saved 132 $.