Preview book 2/1
travelling, and we need to talk about sex
book 2/1, travelling, Brazil
______________________________________Fri, July 8
______________________________________Tue, July 12
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tuesday-Saturday, 12-16 July 2016
DAY 4 // Friday, Rio de Janeiro
‘Easy Town will be a place for the privileged, won’t it?’
‘Nanda,’ Alice said tiredly to the big woman, who was sitting next to her on the sofa. ‘We’ve been in Rio, what? Three or four days? And you are still asking me this question?’
Nanda shuffled in her seat and countered: ‘Alice, look around you. We are sitting in the lobby of a palace.’
‘It’s a five-star hotel, not a palace.’
‘Waiting for lunch to be SERVED in a private dining room.’
‘It’s a hotel—’
‘Eating and meeting with a view of Copacabana Beach.’
‘Look, I told you, THE insisted on this hotel for security reasons. Besides, these luxury hotels look the same everywhere. The only difference is the view.’
‘Complaining that the extreme luxury is monotonous if you HAVE TO travel around the world.’
‘Nanda, I get your point—’
‘I don’t think you do,’ Nanda interrupted again, pushing a red curl out of her face. ‘I don’t think you understand the first thing about corrupt politicians or brutal police officers. I mean our president is about to be impeached. Our police shoots as readily as the mafia. And then, the damage done to this country only to host the Olympic Games, the displacement of ten thousands of people from favelas, to say nothing about crime, racism, drug trade, the criminalisation of the young, the stark poverty in this city alone. People are suffering while you are lounging in a palace.’
Alice sat up.
She liked Nanda. A lot.
Nanda was a nurse at a local hospital. She lost her husband and her two children in a gang-related crossfire. From this tragedy, she emerged as a trusted visitor to the city’s favelas, helping the ill and the wounded. She never graduated from a university, but over the years, she acquired enough knowledge and expertise to do a doctor’s job. She felt deeply about the injustice in her city. According to her, even if she could, she would never stoop so low as to get rich. Now, she was the head of the International Easy Town Project Team Brazil, something of a protective mother dragon you didn’t want to cross — big and strong. Working with her and her team was fun, energising and productive, despite some persisting general chaos. But Nanda kept telling Alice that she needed to understand the extreme rift between the majority of people, living in this vast country, and the comparatively small group that was in power — at least if she ever wanted to understand anything about Brazil.
‘All right,’ Alice said. ‘I don’t understand. BUT.’ Alice paused to give the BUT more weight. ‘BUT, in our experiment, we are looking for a formula that prevents gaps, financial gaps and opportunity gaps. So we are doing something about these disparities. And while we are for freedom, no one will have the freedom to be an exploitative jerk or bastard or whatever you want to call them. Not in our town.’
Nanda smiled a little. ‘They are hard to get rid off. You met the bastards this morning. And you still haven’t told me about the meeting.’
‘A lot of macho in the room. Loved to hear themselves talk about the grand opening of the Olympic Games, next month.’
Nanda laughed wryly.
‘Other than that, hard to tell. Devery agrees with me that it went a bit too smoothly. Javiera couldn’t discover anything fishy. And Tom thinks, it’s all fine.’
‘They are government. They lie. They don’t care.’
‘They agreed to eight Hub Stations in Brazil.’
‘They want the money.’
‘They granted autonomy for the Hub Stations in return for businesses, education and healthcare. They don’t get money as such.’
‘I don’t trust them.’
‘Ah, here is the gong for our luxury meal. Let’s eat and put our replenished energies to good use.’
‘You are insufferable, Alice.’
‘Only because I like you. Honestly, what can I say? I believe that the town experiment can help, because it rethinks the way we do business and learn and work and heal and, and, and … And all we need to do is test theories until we hit gold.’
Nanda got up and offered her hand to Alice. ‘Did you know that we had a gold rush in Brazil?’
On entering the private dining room, Alice was intercepted by Leo and lost sight of Nanda. Towards the end of lunch, Nanda reappeared, her face unexpectedly grave.
‘What is it, Nanda?’ Alice asked, wiping her mouth and getting up from the table.
‘We need to talk,’ Nanda replied in a low voice. ‘And you should bring Jazz. No one else. Maybe your room?’
Some ten minutes later, Alice sat down on an upholstered box, while Jazz and Nanda sat on the armchairs in front of the window. Alice’s suite had a stunning view of Copacabana Beach, but no one present was paying it any attention.
Both Alice and Jazz watched Nanda, waiting for her to begin. Earlier, on the way up to the fifth floor, she didn’t say a word, and she was still avoiding eye contact. Right now, her head was bowed, her hands folded in her lap.
When Nanda finally looked up, defiance flashed from her eyes.
And again Alice asked: ‘Nanda, what is it?’
Nanda inhaled, her chest extending. ‘There is someone you have to meet.’
‘And now, you are going to tell me that I have to meet some mafiosi lord?’ Alice teased in an attempt to lighten the heavy atmosphere.
To Alice’s surprise and dismay, Nanda didn’t laugh.
Alice shook her head in disbelieve. ‘No! You’re kidding.’
‘I’m not,’ Nanda replied, obviously annoyed by Alice’s reaction. ‘Alice, there is a lot you don’t understand about this country. A word from the Dono and there will be no Hub Station, no town, nor the team house you bought yesterday.’
‘But the negotiations with the government officials went fine this morning.’
‘You don’t understand. They are all corrupt. And you said it yourself, it went too smoothly.’
‘What are you saying?’
‘The Dono told them to agree to the Hub Stations.’
‘What? How do you know? And why?’
‘I was told he wanted to demonstrate what is possible.’
Alice frowned and asked doubtfully: ‘He told the officials to accept the Hub conditions so that I would see the extent of his influence?’
‘Yes. And he can reverse this morning’s outcome in a blink.’
‘But that’s … That sounds like a bad movie.’
‘We are living in a sickening movie.’
Alice looked at Nanda, frowning.
Her thoughts rebelled against the idea of playing along with a dono. There must be an alternative. But … ‘Does it make any sense to meet this guy if I am not prepared to bribe him?’
Nanda’s eyes flickered. ‘Would you bribe him?’
Nanda smiled a little. ‘I am glad. But then we will probably lose everything.’
‘How do you know about this meeting?’
‘I was given a message.’
‘That I am to take you to a street where someone will pick you up for the meeting. You are to come alone at three this afternoon.’
‘No,’ Jazz said.
Both Nanda and Alice looked at her.
‘No,’ Jazz simply repeated, her expression blank.
Alice stood up and went to the window.
She let her eyes wander across Copacabana Beach, which stretched far to the right. Her mind presented her with a blank, a bit like the blanket of white sand on the beach. After a while, she let her eyes wander back to the pedestrian entrance of the hotel, a square with palm trees left and right. A young couple left the hotel, arm in arm. They crossed the square, the road and the promenade. Then they strolled down the beach.
Alice turned around. ‘Nanda, can you send a message to the Dono?’
‘Do you trust him?’
Nanda gave a her half-smile. ‘No. And, yes. I can’t promise that you will be safe. But they owe me. And they respect me. It doesn’t get safer than that. If you can make a deal with the Dono, then you can trust that the Dono will honour the deal as long as you honour the deal.’
‘Jazz, do we have bulletproof vests?’
‘Alice, this is too dangerous.’
Alice looked at Nanda again. There was pride in Nanda’s eyes and sparkles of determination to fight on, with or without Alice.
Alice turned to Jazz. ‘Jazz, didn’t Tom say that we are on this trip to make allies? We have enough enemies as it is. And something tells me that the word of a criminal might be more trustworthy than that of a banker, manager or politician.’
Jazz shook her head in disapproval, but Alice’s mind was made up. ‘Jazz, I am going with Nanda. With or without protection.’
Jazz closed her eyes briefly, clearly unhappy with Alice’s choice. Then Jazz inhaled and asked Nanda: ‘Will they accept two guards with weapons?’
‘They might allow you to come to the location and stay at the door. I doubt they would allow you inside. But Alice would be safer without you. Your guards would only draw attention.’
‘On the other hand,’ Alice remarked, ‘it’s never good to come running without a few conditions of your own.’
Nanda looked from Alice to Jazz and asked: ‘What are your conditions?’
‘Two of my people will accompany me to the location,’ Alice said. ‘And at the first sign of anything funny, they will call for reinforcement. How crazy is this guy?’
‘He isn’t crazy, but he can be ruthless.’
Jazz and Alice locked eyes. Alice determined. Jazz pursing her lips.
Relenting again, Jazz said to Nanda: ‘We need to know the approximate location beforehand. He will have heard of THE, so he will know that we won’t tell on him or his people, so long as he plays nice.’ Jazz looked at her watch. ‘It’s nearly two o’clock. We can leave the hotel at four o’clock earliest. And we insist on two guards outside the door.’
‘I will tell them,’ Nanda said and got up. ‘I will be back soon. There is a messenger, waiting outside the hotel.’
‘Could you also tell them that I don’t speak Portuguese?’ Alice said to the retreating figure.
‘The Dono speaks English,’ Nanda replied over her shoulder and left the room.
Jazz joined Alice at the window, and they both watched the entrance of the hotel. There was a group of tourists, assembling in the shadows of the palm trees. The tourists kept turning towards the entrance, apparently waiting for latecomers.
Then Alice saw Nanda. The tourists dismissed her as a stranger and continued their conversations. Opposite the tourists, a small boy appeared from behind a palm tree and ran to Nanda. Nanda and the boy exchanged a few words. Then the boy ran back behind the palm tree, a mobile phone in his hand. Nanda remained standing.
On the other side, the tourists welcomed a latecomer and got moving. Two or three of them eyed Nanda nervously, before they all crossed the street, turned right and walked along the promenade.
‘Any advice?’ Alice asked into the silence.
‘Trust your instincts. Remember our training. Don’t take your recklessness into the meeting. Also, don’t tell anyone about this.’
‘Deals with people like the Dono only work in secret. The Dono’s power lies in a net of manipulations, often playing several sides. If you want the Dono to be useful to the project, then no one can know about the meeting or about a deal. If you don’t want him to play you, be yourself: honest, direct. With criminals you usually get what you give. They have a code of honour, even if it’s a bit twisted.’
‘Next time you consider going on a kamikaze mission ask for time out, and allow me to give you a better idea of what you are getting yourself into.’
Alice swallowed. ‘But why didn’t you interrupt the meeting?’
Jazz exhaled. ‘Because you might be right. Having the Dono as an ally might not be the worst thing. And because Nanda and her team might need his protection. And because THE has had dealings with mafiosi. I hope, Any can call in a favour or two. If he can’t, I will personally lock you up in this room.’
Jazz and Alice exchanged a lopsided smile.
And Jazz added: ‘Don’t tell Tom or Leo either.’
‘Leo isn’t cut out for this. He is the best assistant I’ve ever met, but he doesn’t have the skin to deal with danger.’
‘Just trust me on this.’
book 2/1, travelling, and we need to talk about sex
book 2/1, travelling, and we (still) need to talk about sex
Travelling around the world, Alice and her team further an international network for the Easy Town Project. Travelling with them are the past, personal demons, prejudice and unwittingly the issue of sex.
Price: €7.77 (incl. VAT)
‘We can continue to whine about the state of the world, or we can employ our imagination and explore how to do better.’book 2/1, travelling, Happy Flying
Book 2/1 covers the team’s journey from New York to Sydney via Brazil, Argentina and South Africa. It is also possible to buy single country chapters.
Book 2/1 is also available in single country chapters
There are overlaps between the chapters, but each country chapter also has its own story.
Besides, each chapter includes a recap about what you need to know for this part of the story.
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Price: €1,24 (incl. VAT)
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(4) South Africa
Price: €2.46 (incl. VAT)
Price: €1.55 (incl. VAT)