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Alberghi diffusi, the truest luxury is dictated by finely crafted authenticity

The recent Travel & Leisure article entitled Reviving the Italian Village takes a note of vanity efforts afforded by the enormously wealthy. That might seem a judgmental statement, it isn’t. I am grateful for anyone, for whatever reason, choosing to take on the arduous process of heritage preservation.

When Dr. Giancarlo Dall’Ara originated the concept of alberghi diffusi thirty years ago, long before futurists started speaking of circular economies, I believe he aspired to create a noble legacy which would positively impact rural Italian economies by driving tourism, ensuring the preservation of cultural heritage and providing a path to the continuation of a more connected way of living. As urban life has become more complicated and messy, much like the value proposition offered by Product of Designated Origin (PDO) assignation, the alberghi diffusi now has the potential to fulfill a demand for an authenticity remarkably devoid from most contemporary life. I don’t see alberghi diffusi as a Utopian fantasy but a model of socio-cultural, economic and environmental sustainability, scalable and practical in perfect harmony, and logical extension of what I set out to create with Thistle & Broom back in 2003.

The haemorrhaging of rural communities, and the diaspora of countries alike, is not new. Natural disasters and economic hardships have driven great migrations of people to cities nearer, and very far away from agrarian lifestyles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The currently running ‘Anno dei borghi’, organised by Italy’s MIBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism) is designed to entice visitors to explore 18 regions and help manage the impact of the tourism sector growth on Italy’s urban areas – as well as spread the economic impact around.

Creating an alberghi diffusi from a near ruined village without services takes time. Italy’s unemployment hovers around 11%, and is more than three times higher among those under the age of 25. Housing, following the 2016 earthquake, remains at a premium. At the end of a rather long and dark tunnel two emerging trends of isolation as luxury and experiential travel provide a much welcome light. Mind you this isolation is not a minimalistic, silence-only spiritual retreat but one replete with simple but exquisite accommodations, agro-tourism / slow food / gourmet dining, extraordinary privacy and ultra-high speed internet connections – all of which create jobs, and provide economic stability.

It is here that a sweet spot of sustainable development exists, a convergence of yet-to-be alberghi diffusi with a tremendous opportunity to prove systems destined for adoption in Smart Cities. I am not referencing autonomous cars but rather reinvigorating, and making contemporary circular economies which have always existed in communities bound by the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’. The alberghi diffusi model is a solution to any number of pressing contemporary issues worthy of both investment monies and public policies support.

Clean-tech incubated in alberghi diffusi would pull villages off the easily hacked central grid while providing self-sufficiency. What’s more, this model allows those individuals not lured to the bright city lights to continue practicing (or develop) arts, crafts and traditional hand-skills of a region with the market (quite literally) coming to the mountain. Imagine bathing with organic botanical goats’ milk soap and sleeping on crisp linen sheets hand-woven from blue flowered flax grown in the meadows surrounding these villages which a year before was wafting in the breeze and growing tall in the sunlight. That the village is masterfully IoT connected and a set (or two) of those linens can be ordered and paid for with a voice command based upon block-chain technology generates real efficiencies and quality of life for all parties.

The truest luxury is dictated not by fashion, but finely crafted authenticity and the improved efficiencies offered by technology.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

ROI and Working with Social Media Influencers

amirandes-crete-minI have just read Skift’s latest which includes the use by tourism boards of social media influencers and my head is about to explode. In the piece the Tempe, Arizona tourism board is referenced as viewing the 2m social media impressions generated as a successful return on their investment for inviting 4 bloggers to be their guests. Let me express that I have more than a little experience, and many documented analytics to prove, that Tempe set the bar way too low.

As a first let’s understand that in 2016 tourism accounted for 10.2% of GDP and one of every eleven jobs globally, and despite our geo-political circumstances these figures are growing, not shrinking. In some markets, by example Croatia, tourism represents approximately 20% of their GDP. What’s more, because of globalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence employment for the average person will increasingly be found in the travel vertical; which makes customer care and attention-to-detail skills so important in your hiring decisions. A less than perfect cup of coffee in our social media connected world becomes an immediate, and widespread, negative review (Yvonne also shared her post on LinkedIn). So, before inviting anyone who is an influencer to visit, get your house in order (“Is your destination Instagram-worthy?”).

Next, there is an enormous disconnect between the possibilities which could be realised and the results generated largely because the right questions aren’t asked, nor have parameters been established around a visit from a journalist, blogger or social media influencer in advance. If you are the person responsible for coordinating ‘press visits’ allow me to suggest you embrace at least the following points before you decide to host anyone:

  1. The average global rate of engagement (on Twitter) is 1.6%. As influencers anyone you invite should be able to generate at least triple that (4.8%) and since they are in the very top tier of people on social media globally 6% is a very realistic objective. While previous performance does not guarantee future results you are engaging them, and their portfolio, on your behalf. It is entirely reasonable to ask to see examples of their previous work and the supporting 3rd party analytics (get as granular as you feel is necessary).
  2. Ask for references. No one has time for prima donnas (of either gender) no matter how large their following might be. It’s in your very best interest (mitigate stress levels for your organisation and those venues you will visit) to know how easy, or difficult, an influencer might be to work with as well as the satisfaction your peers had with their delivery of top quality content in real time and the subsequent results (again documented by analytics).
  3. The total number of impressions generated is a fragment of what should be part of your evaluation cycle. Unlike any other vertical, hospitality realises close to an 11% conversion rate on social media engagement (see point #1 above) making the quality of their content extremely important to your future revenues. Establish specific requirements about the content for the posts, what they need to post and how many times per day before, during and after their stay in exchange for your hospitality.
  4. Once you decide upon contracting a social media influencer to help you with your marketing efforts, it is entirely reasonable to me as I have done this for clients, to ask that they pre-market their trip to visit you. This can vary depending upon the scope of the package you have put together for the guest but a single Instagram and Twitter post each day for two weeks leading up to their visit is about right.

Transportation, accommodations, feeding (and providing beverages), spa treatments, and activities for a week can run into the tens of thousands per person and providing that hospitality needs to come with business objectives and metrics as part of your invitation. When I worked doing public relations in tech we used to use a CPI (columns per inch) metric to calculate the value of earned media against monies spent, anything above a 4:1 ROI was deemed a success. If you are spending 100,000 of whatever your local currency is (I think) at minimum you should realise a demonstrable 5:1 ROI (and yes, there are ways to measure this).

Finally, an entire portfolio of dreamy backlit views of your influencers pool or ocean-side are not going to fill your restaurants to eat your glorious gourmet food and drink the world-class wines in your cellar.  Whatever your budget might be for hosting please remember this point – their visit is not positioning them to expand their personal brands at your expense, it is about driving your incremental revenues by heightening the awareness of everything about your destination.

Post script. While the trade laws in every country will vary please be hyper-diligent about compliance issues related to in-kind and monetary payments to social media influencers. In the United States the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules in place requiring that “influencers” who share promotional materials “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands”.”

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

Caveat Emptor – Social Media Influence, the Frye Fest and Reputation Management

This is not an echo of these words of P. T. Barnum – “As a general thing, I have not ‘duped thePT-barnum world’ nor attempted to do so… I have generally given people the worth of their money twice told.”, but rather these “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

Every generation has a Bernie Madoff, a Kenneth Lay, a Donald Trump who beguile the seekers of vast wealth, inclusion, distraction or any combination thereof to part with their money.

For Millennials, at least for this end of April 2017 weekend, it seems that person is Ja Rule, née Jeffrey Atkins, rapper, and creator of Bahamian Ponzi Scheme also known as the Frye Music Festival*** 2 May update – Federal Trade Commission violations cited and lawsuit filed.

Like so many before him Ja Rule was successful in his scam (or “not a scam” as he claims) for two reasons, he understood the raw vulnerability of the masses (even privileged ones willing to spend upwards of $250,000) and created a compelling campaign leveraging LOTS of young beautiful women (gaining more than 800k views) whose only claim to fame is to have built very successful personal brands making them social media influencers as a means of monetizing that vulnerability for personal gain.

frye

The influencers (I think the term shills is more appropriate) among them Kendall Jenner (nearly 22m Twitter followers),  Bella Hadid (more than 750k Twitter followers), Em Rata (more than 1m Twitter followers) made out like bandits with paychecks reported to being $250,000 to stand around, or lounge in bathing suits adorning the eye with a promise of ‘come play with me’. Using Instagram they promoted, and promoted, and promoted and in doing so the money poured in. Sex, as ever, sells.

Kendall Jenner made 250K off of promoting #fryefest ,

Yesterday, April 28th, Ja Rule (allegedly) tweeted and someone posted a screen grab to Instagram that the Frye Festival was all a big ‘social experiment’ to test the mettle of participants in a Hunger Games like scenario of adversity. (Some of the related posts include drinking their own urine to survive.)

#fryefestival • Instagram

Time will tell how short the memory of the public is, and whether by association these women have negatively impacted their credibility and their future earnings, and whether Ja Rule will be the subject of both a Class Action lawsuit and criminal charges for fraud.

This goes back to my last post, less than a week old, about ethics and reputation management. The nature of social media is that everything good or bad plays out in real-time. In our Wild, Wild West of social platforms there is broader issue for Twitter and Instagram and Facebook to consider – if ‘sponsored content’ results in an abuse of the public trust by hosting the influence peddling content are you complicit?, and if so, are you culpable?, should you distance your business further from such content and somehow shift the juncture of revenue generation? If a post subsequently results in bullying, terrorism, human trafficking, stalking, domestic violence, fraud, wrongful death, or murder have your policies enabled such to take place? Will any of these potential tragic events subsequently amplified to audiences approaching 600 million people globally result in lawsuits for ‘pain and suffering’? Corporate communications professionals should be involved in risk assessment, and not simply for the sake of reputation management or avoiding crisis management. I hope that this weekend legal, executive and communications teams at various social companies are meeting to develop (or expand) policies and legal protections.

The public clamors for social influencers to more carefully examine their choices of endorsement deals, a fairy tale ending which will never happen. It is the idolization of the rich and infamous which brought these individuals to Exuma and they need to take personal responsibility for their choices.

In closing, Caveat Emptor

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

Reputation Management and Appropriation, Lessons in Ethics from Edmond Dantès

My study of communications and public relations was taught by passionate adherents to Ivy Lee’s Declaration of Principles – that it is the ethical responsibility of a public relations practitioner to offer uncompromising truth to the public on behalf of one’s clients. Perhaps because of this, and despite working in high tech for 16 years, it should be un-surprising that I view the use of technology in the form of bots exponentially deployed during the United States 2016 presidential elections, let alone anywhere else, as abhorrent.

My various social media accounts address the complexities of my person; Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram serve as outlets for my professional existence while Pinterest and Facebook are more intimate expressions – at the intersection of these social platforms is my blog. While I have a blog I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself ‘a blogger’ (it is not a commercial venture). Yet my writing on this platform, having gone viral, has had impact – in part responsible for shifting public policy and the proposed exploitation of the pristine waters of the Adriatic in 2015/2016.  While building my own Instagram presence I admit to being thoroughly perplexed as to how (with the quality of photos and nominal content offered) fellow travel specific accounts could possibly have earned followers approaching 100,000 in less than a month. Thus, the clarity offered in reading Jess Gibson’s Dear PRs post referencing ‘bot-gate’ was genuinely appreciated, and it’s also why I take a particular delight at the failure of Instagress.

The truth has always found a way to be revealed, in our connected world discovery of appropriation, fraud or illicit behavior comes down to days, minutes or even seconds with a few keystrokes and keen intelligence. Throughout history there have been individuals whose jealousy, ruthlessness, greed and sloth have risked fortunes and reputations for (perceived) gain or retribution – Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo anyone? Just as Edmond Dantès took full advantage of his time falsely imprisoned to learn every skill imaginable in developing a faultless reputation and re-branding himself, every effort in thought leadership and in garnering a dedicated follower base, and fostering epic levels of engagement takes considerable patience, skill and acuity.

Beyond the Instagram bloggers’ ‘bot-gate’ other more widely known unveilings of deceit relate to appropriation of the resistance movement by Pepsi and State Street of New York City’s iconic bronze sculpture created by Arturo Di Modica.

The Tate Modern offers this essay on appropriation,

[…] to create a new situation, and therefore a new meaning or set of meanings, for a familiar image. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship…

All great art is subversive, a commentary manifest with physicality. Co-opting the passion found in resistance to injustice in its many forms, feminism, racism, environmental stewardship, and its related arts for commercial gain by the advertising industry has a vast history in the United States.

Fearless-girl-vs-arturo-di-modica

I don’t like what Fearless Girl ‘is’ specifically because she is contrived by Mad Men to gender-wash their clients’ bottom line. The $2.5 trillion (under management) State Street Global Advisors opted for a publicity stunt on International Women’s Day of instead of doing the long overdue ‘hard work’ of creating a work environment of equality and gender partity or proactively investing in education for girls on a global basis. For the unaware allow me to point out that advertising (in which both Pepsi and State Street engaged) is only related to public relations as it is a part of the greater communication functions in general. It seems to me if you are retained to represent the interests of a seven or eight figure client your responsibilities should include candid risk assessment to any proposal you present. Ultimately this all comes down to proactive reputation management versus putting your client in the rather costly position of damage control through crisis management.

With so much to lose why take a chance in the first place?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

 

The Social Media (non) Crisis Management of Maison Goyard

This is a story of new (money, culture, technology) smashing into old (quiet, refined, luxury) and what happens when the latter doesn’t understand the former. Those brands whose communications teams are not savvy to the nuances of social media court disaster and entrusting the reputation management of your brand to a junior staff member without critical thinking and strategic depth in their portfolio of skills can lead to a public relations nightmare.  Equally so this about how businesses need to be agile in our always on, 24/7, 365 digital world; your five year plan demands flexibility and responsiveness to what happens on social platforms. This is the paradigm shift, social media now drives the success of your business – in real time.

I watched just an epic fail in the clash of cultures represented by the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards and the 163 year old French luxury brand Goyard. Perhaps it is their storied history, or the fact that Goyard’s own head of communications is not on Twitter, or their (perceived) niche market does not rest with the Wild West of pop music or all three in combination with their Frenchness but when, (quite literally), handed the market expansion opportunity of the century Goyard blew it.

Back Story:

It started with a scarf, le carre en français, and the globally famous hip-hop artist and entrepreneur DJ Khaled (a major social media influencer with nearly 3m followers on Twitter alone) who loves the Goyard brand (whose Twitter account is less than 10K).

Goyard doesn’t make clothes so Khaled purchased several of their logoed silk scarves and had a bespoke, one-of-a-kind jacket made to wear while he hosted the (globally televised) VMAs, you can’t buy this kind of exposure. Mind you we are talking about dropping at least four and possibly six figures on this jacket, and if you recall Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point DJ Khaled is precisely the type of person that every brand covets to maintain their relevancy with changing market segmentations and to drive their brand and in particular revenue forward.

Unprepared, Goyard’s social media account manager started receiving tweets enquiring about the jacket (and other clothing items such as caps) during the VMA.  Sadly the Goyard replies were rude and frankly insulting (amongst these claiming that the scarf jacket was a fake – now all deleted from their feed).  Despite Goyard’s various tweets (it’s the internet so these live forever), DJ Khaled takes the high road and still promotes Goyard and makes nice publicly.

The PR crisis started on social media but it is still playing out in traditional and web-based media two days later. This ‘live forever’ storyboard has redefined the brand’s reputation with publications as wide ranging as Melty Style, New York Magazine, Luxury Daily, W Magazine, HipHopDx and the #SoSoShow covering the story. Maison Goyard just learned the hard reality that Twitter’s 313 million active users serve as a powerful force to be reckoned with; ignoring their immediate enquiries or, what’s worse, insulting them they will never forget and absolutely will find somewhere else to spend their money.

Goyard has been building its brand reputation for 163 years but because they failed to keep pace with societal shifts and the use of social platforms they have undone those efforts in mere seconds.  As the creator of a luxury brand, a connoisseur of beautiful things and as a communications professional the Goyard social media fail was painful for me to witness, inexcusable and avoidable. Goyard can take a ‘lessons learned’ and revamp their business with an agility that its heritage precludes and we, as a global audience, are not witnessing and they should be talking to Commarglo about how to rise like a phoenix from this episode.

 

Le Carre Jacket.png@djkhaled bought a bunch of@goyard

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(Just) 10 reasons your brand can no longer “opt-out” of social media

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Image sourced from http://www.http:ownernation.us by VistaPrint

  1. The long lead times of traditional corporate communications and marketing no longer work in our always-on dynamic world. Real-time conversation now fuels new and existing B2C and B2B customers.
  2. An active, brand-relevant online presence enables customers to trust you.
  3. “Marketing today is not about what a company says about itself. It’s about what its customers say about the company” – and customers are now saying this on social media.
  4. Customer service is now social. Happy customers become brand evangelists who drive revenues. Want an example? See KLM.
  5. Your audience works, lives, and plays on their smartphones, fish where the fish are! One-fifth of leisure travellers worldwide use social platforms in their travel planning, and the hospitality vertical realises an average of an 11% conversion rate. The Economist made a studied investment last year in social media, and enjoyed a 31% increase in its subscription rate year-over-year.
  6. Social media as an SEO ranking signal is increasing in importance. 93% of online experiences begin through a search engine and SEO-based inbound leads (generated from online management) have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
  7. Use social media to educate about new properties, rebranding efforts, and renovations and in doing so, hotels are selling out months before re-opening.
  8. Content marketing and executive branding objectives offered through social media establish thought leadership in months rather than the years required by traditional public relations efforts.
  9. Brand storytelling is now a necessity, not a luxury. Social media presence boosts brand recognition, marketing, and recruiting, while creating a richer customer experience. Treating employees as valued stakeholders aids in retention, cuts down on hiring and training costs and also creates a huge pool of brand ambassadors.
  10. If 90 year-old Queen Elizabeth II recognises the value of proactively managing her online reputation why haven’t you? Every CEO needs to get serious about the management of their professional reputation and that of their company to ensure that s/he controls the content. Managing your reputation online is a critical part of any integrated global marketing strategy and social media provides you with a fast, effective way to do this.

 

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Without intention, here in Jerusalem

So much about our personal journeys are about revealing truth, to understand, to find light, to connect to ‘source’ – so too in walking a labyrinth.

I was alone at mid-morning in 1995 in San Francisco’s breathtakingly chartres from abovebeautiful Grace Cathedral the first time I walked a labyrinth. In 2001 I traveled to Chartres (1220 AD) to visit the cathedral and walk its original 13th century labyrinth. 15 years later I can still feel the scope of mysticism, the pure intentions, meditations and powerful energy of tens of thousands who have come before me resonating through my own footfalls from the smoothly worn stones and soaring up to the buttresses and the heavens to the Almighty like a silent, but mighty choir.

As a result of the Crusades in the Levant a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages was an extremely dangerous undertaking so the Roman Catholic Church designated that seven European cathedrals, mainly in France, become “Jerusalem” for pilgrims.  Both the layout and architecture of Chartres and its labyrinth were made to fit the demands of sacred geometry which include representations for the length of time, essence and substance of creation, the wholeness of God represented through the Trinity and the cycle of a week representing the completeness of God’s creation. At the time of its construction people believed they were creating the most Divine thing on earth to the glory of God.

“God made the world in measure, number and weight: and ignorance of number prevents us from understanding things that are set down in Scripture in a figurative and mystical way.” ~ St. Augustine

So I find myself, quite without intention, here in Jerusalem. Consciously, I am not making a pilgrimage but experiencing. I follow no guidebook or map, what unfolds is (mostly) magical and sometimes mildly corrosive but with everything there is darkness and light – a delicate balance of all that our universe represents. Yesterday, against a post Sirocco-driven rain storm a perfect blue sky day filled with light and kindnesses in Jerusalem, and yes, three ‘darknesses’.

I did not (intellectually) know that the labyrinths I have walked previously 20160109_150835-2were created with the intention of mirroring Jerusalem until this morning. For those who have visited, busy with their guidebooks and itineraries, if you had started at New Gate and walked to the right passing through the Armenian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and the Christian Quarter eventually you will circuit the entire walled Old City. My total footsteps ultimately equaled 4.55 kilometers of ascents, stairs, flat walks and descents – a meditation on all things held holy and how (if we let it) the secular collides with (our) quietude.

My first ‘stop’ was at Couvent Armenien St. Jacques. Old stones speak a language all their own. Your touch joins 1300 years of the same, the oils found on our hands making the stone feel as soft as silk velvet. 20160109_132410-2.jpgKhatchkars (Armenian carved crosses) adorn the wall above your hand. Your head bows in supplication, a silent Our Father recited, a prayer for peace, protection and Divine intervention for our planet. The attendant returns and hands me a Host cradled in a white napkin, 9 January being the Saint’s Day of Polyeuctus, martyred in 259 AD. He tells me that I may take pictures, despite the sign indicating otherwise, he ushers me further into the complex to stand beneath 1300 year old stone arches, the orange, red and blue of the Armenian flag snaps in the wind against that crystalline blue sky. Rolls a poster documenting the Genocide and gifts it to me. As I take my leave he blesses me and then kisses me on both cheeks, outside the midday sun glints through ancient trees standing sentinel over the cemetery. I continue on my labyrinth walk. The next ‘sign’ (in both 20160109_134044senses) are old tiles pointing the way to the Western Wall but first I must pass Zion Gate and navigate the walkways around the Greek Orthodox Church, then the Jewish Quarter. The panoramic view of the Wall nestled at the base of one of Jerusalem’s natural amphitheatres, at this distance I take a 20 second video.

It would be apex of arrogance to visit the Western Wall and not be respectful of the sacredness of this place to Judaism, so before entering I pulled my shawl up over my hair (my clothing already very conservative). Despite having a Rabbi for an uncle and all of my 1st cousins being Jewish their religious practices never brushed up against my life; I  only understood the general rule of ‘no use of machinery or of working’ for the Shabbat. I had forgotten to write a prayer to place in the crevices of the Wall prior to coming, so before approaching via gender segregated ramp I found a flat surface, took out my fountain pen and tore a small piece of paper off of a folded sheet in my purse to write to God. It took no time at all for an Orthodox Jewish woman to yell at me for my violations, perhaps I could be forgiven actually writing to God and not being a Jew? I feigned ignorance of her English language. Mea culpa. Do I reconcile myself in the Divine presence of the Wall by walking backwards away?

The Muslim Quarter was a thrum of everyday life. The Muezzins voices ring out, at the fountain built by the order of Sultan Suleiman the 20160109_143948~2Magnificent a man does his ablutions, while a short distance away two men play backgammon. Spice and confectionary shops spill out into the streets filling the air with heady scents of Turkish delight, dried figs, pineapple, papaya and kiwi, mountains of rich Halvah.  I purchase a mixture of fruit tea and spices for making Bedouin and Moroccan rice, Jordan and regular almonds, the total takes my breath away – my second darkness. When I question it I know that I am being sucker-punched for being an American. It’s my own fault for not speaking Arabic (despite his English) or understanding the nuances of this culture related to negotiation because despite our lengthy conversation (and making his eyes fill with tears) I don’t feel like saying “put it all back” and haggling. The day has been too perfect, I bury my resentment; this is somehow the admittance price of being here so I give it over to God. I know that I have let this man feel he won a victory. Further along a spice pyramid crowned 20160109_171951~2by a crystal and gilt miniature Dome of the Rock, and then  God makes me an instrument of His will again. I duck into a small jewelry shop asking that two small silver links be added to my pearl bracelet so that the Roman glass charm can safely be held. I am poorer but wiser – when the price starts at 80 shekls I explain that I can wait until my Buddhist jeweler in the States can do this small thing for me for less than $5. Ultimately the work done for (the last) 25 shekls I possess. He needs to share his life story and in being kind I discover that his son nearby is (very) hungry but there is no money. A mere twenty minutes before I walked in he had told his son, God will answer. My purchase feeds the boy. An antique rose gold, handmade 19” chain is thrust upon me. No bill of sale, no expected date of payment or even a price. “When you can, pay me what you think it is worth.”

A text tells me that I need to get going to meet my friend for a ride back to her home, six hours have passed in the blink of my tear filled eyes.  I walk out of the Old City through the Damascus Gate, head up hill to the New Gate, too early by 45 minutes I sit on a park bench and am immediately accosted by a twenty-something man pan-handling. The only money that remains in my wallet are a handful of Croatian, American and Israeli coins – in total about $3 USD in value. He wants whatever I have and I find it’s easy to give up the coin than to stay exposed to his dark energy.

All day, “…yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the “price of a cup of tea” in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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