Joss Stone, stone dead, dead sure / Jordan
Day 1,674 since October 10th 2013: 145 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
Work, work, work, work - repeat
I actually just looked up the definition of work and found this: 'activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result...' It can be defined in other ways as well.
“Hi there, are you still here?” That was what the hotel manager jokingly said to me yesterday here in Amman. And yes I am. Iraq will have it’s elections on May 12th, so I wouldn’t visit until after the elections are over. The elections in Iraq will then soon be followed by the Ramadan which is a beautiful thing although it won’t speed up the Saga. And before I forget: congratulations Lebanon on your recent historical elections! Saudi Arabia (KSA) remains a closed door to me. I have no idea what is going on on the other side of that door? Maybe someone is approaching the door and it will open any minute? I simply don’t know and it bugs me not being in control. However I do know that I am receiving a lot of help from the Kawar Group and from Maersk Line. Mr Kawar of the Kawar Group is a formidable businessman who has been appointed to act as Honorary Consul of Denmark on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Mr Kawar’s office has been very accommodating towards me and are trying to liaison with the Danish embassy in Riyadh, KSA. Through that we hope that the Danish embassy might contact the MOFA of KSA and request that they make an exception on my behalf regarding applying for a visa in Jordan. I made this short video for you which explains my current situation in the Middle East:
See the video by clicking HERE or directly on the photo.
Maersk is likewise helpful as they have been so often before. In fact I have a solid network of people I can draw on which seemingly can pick the lock on any door that blocks my way. Tell me exactly which obstacle we haven’t overcome so far? ;) It has been a long road to get the Saga this far and I feel the weight upon me. However the simplest way I can explain it for you is like this: nobody reaches 145 countries by accident. And certainly not without flying. As such I feel a mental tiredness which manifests as a physical fatigue as well. It’s generally just hard to stay motivated. The Saudi Red Crescent reached out to hear if there was anything they could do to assist? There possibly is a way they can help, however I always try to leave the Red Cross Red Crescent as a last resort for unlocking doors. The movement has enough on its plate as you might have noticed in the news, and I do not wish for the Saga to draw on the movements resources. A friend from the Danish Travelers Club (DBK) reached out to me not long ago. His name is Henrik and he’s an avid biker through Africa whenever he gets the chance. Henrik and I met in Saõ Tomé towards the end of 2015 and have stayed in touch ever since. When I reached Khartoum (in Sudan) towards the end of 2016, he wrote me a message saying that I absolutely shouldn’t miss out on Joss Stone’s performance, which happened to be in town while I was there. With my head full of problems back then, I couldn’t have cared less about a British performer and I didn’t go. Luckily I got a second chance here in Amman. Henrik wrote me again and told me to go. I was weighing the idea back and forth for a while and finally decided it would be good to clear my mind.
I had a vote on Twitter and those people appered to know what they wanted for me :)
As a bonus the concert would be held at the 1,800 year old Roman Odeon next to the equally old Roman Amphitheater. Amman is stocked with history and over the years I have grown more and more fond of it. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. That’s a famous quote from the well known Danish philosopher Soren Kirkegaard. Today I certainly wish I was more fond of history when it was a subject in school. Alas, Kirkegaard was right. I had already been to 54 countries before we had the idea for the Saga (the Saga however began at zero). Traveling extensively with your eyes open will teach you much no matter who you are. As an example I have firmly planted my feet amidst many Roman ruins around the world and at some point I began to connect the dots.
See the video by clicking HERE or by clicking directly on the photo.
Joss Stone did a great job. She is a charming performer and interacts a lot with the audience. We couldn’t have been much more than 400 people in the Odeon which made it a lot more personal than filling up a stadium. She’s young and beautiful. She made several references to smoking weed and delivered a night to remember as she danced around barefooted. I couldn’t help to analyze on her performance. She obviously has a lot more experience than I do however with my limited experience of having delivered 59 Saga presentations at schools, events and companies, I recognized some of her “tricks”. I too perform and react to my audience. Sometimes I feel a bit like a broken record when I respond in exactly the same way to a situation in Amman as I did in Algiers, Lisbon or Genoa. Joss had a few ideas which she played on the audience. At one point she wanted us to stand up and dance with her while she assured us that she “couldn’t dance to save her own life”. Nonsense! She’s a remarkable dancer and she knows it. She loves music and her body follows the rhythm. She also wanted us to hum along to the chorus of a song. Joss encouraged the shy ones by saying “the best thing about humming is that nobody can see you doing it”. I wonder how many times she has uttered exactly those lines?
This is the Roman Theather in Amman which was constructed durring the reign of Antonius Pius (138-161 CE). The Odeon is just next to it.
She is currently doing something very unique with her “Total World Tour”. She aims to perform in every country in the world and she is well on her way to reaching that goal. I wonder what it must be like to visit every country when money is no object? Joss likely has a team, which arranged for visas and tickets. I reached out in order to meet her and boost her profile, boost the Saga and perhaps also boost the Red Cross if she was willing? You could argue that she doesn’t need my help to boost her own profile. Her social media accounts are astronomical compared to mine. Unfortunately I never heard back from her or her team and she was already performing in Doha (Qatar) the next day. A friend of mine once gave me a dvd with Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor as they ventured once around the globe within their project: “the long way round”. That’s a great documentary but likewise they had a team to arrange most things on their behalf. I wish the Saga was easier but I suppose you’d argue that it’s more of an achievement this way.
The rain comes and goes these days...
Like most other people I have my pet peeves and among them are people having a conversation in a doorway, thus blocking my passage. For some odd reason that annoys me so much more than what appears reasonable. I guess it’s the logistics coordinator within me that seeks efficiency. Another pet peeve of mine is slow internet. If I know that a task usually takes less than 30 seconds but I’m spending 30 minutes uploading or downloading something then you don’t want to be anywhere near me. A third and last pet peeve of mine, and the one I’ve been working towards elaborating on, is lost opportunities! Most of the world looses an unfathomable amount of opportunities each day. The Saga being my little baby is my key example. The only tourism ministry which took the opportunity upon itself to use the Saga in order to promote its activities was the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency (MTPA). I blog about each country in a positive way and share positive updates on all social media. That should be a no brainer for most tourism ministries to get involved with. Shouldn’t it? Every so often a hotel or a company reaches out to me and offers something against promotion. However most do not seek this opportunity which puzzles me? There are now 38,000 accounts attached to the Sagas social media and they are spread across more than 150 nations. I recently worked out that the three largest audiences of the Sagas blog are USA, Denmark and the UK in that order. Imagine that? More US Americans will read this blog than Danes from my home nation? I can actually make sense of it as Denmark only has 5.8 million Vikings while the USA boasts 330 million revolutionary settlers. So the sheer math makes sense. Also I do all social media in English which could easily also be a factor ;)
Another month has come and gone.
More than 900 people have now signed up to receive an email notification when the blog is ready. That is no small number. Lately Instagram and twitter have been gaining more followers while Facebook has lost around 20 in the past few weeks. Not much compared to an account of 23k but it’s still the wrong direction. Regarding Facebook it has me wondering? Am I doing something wrong or is it a general mistrust in Facebook due to the companies latest scandal regarding private information? Who knows? Generally I don’t think I’m supposed to give people what they want but rather what I think they need. So you may not agree with me and in modern society we have managed to build up a culture, where we can chose to unfollow the second we don’t agree with someone. I’ve also been busy uploading videos to YouTube lately which has received some good response. I must be doing something right? :)
These are the most viewed videos on the Saga's YouTube channel.
My sincere apologies for being behind on delivering what you were promised regarding the crowdfunding campaign we ran last year. Some of the things you ordered have been delivered. I have sent postcards to everyone, the Saga tree looks GREAT and the sponsors are all visible on the website along with links to their accounts. So far so good. I’m still working on delivering regarding “a good nights sleep” and “a great meal”. I’ll have something ready for you soon. I haven’t delivered on “your personal Saga photo” which 13 people claimed. I’m trying to work out how I’ll do it? Also the 68 of you who preordered a book will need to stay patient as I won’t start writing until I get home. However I gather that you all knew that? The competition for the LifeSaver water bottle has ended and the winner was HP SUPERTRAMP!! Congratulations! The name hiding behind that is Hayden from Texas in the USA. I didn’t really know how to draw between all the great stories people sent so I turned to google. Apparently you can ask google to chose randomly between numbers so that’s how Hayden won :) The bottle along with the spare parts have reached Denmark and will soon be forwarded to Texas, compliments of DB Schenker in Denmark. Schenker is along with Ross Offshore, Berghaus Norway, Skabertrang, the Danish Red Cross and Red Sand Solutions a partner of Once Upon A Saga. Forward thinking companies and organizations which all deliver various support to the project! ;)
I miss my fiancée, my friends and my home country. We’ve got 58 more countries left and I wouldn’t have gotten us this far on my own. I may not have the luxury of Joss or Charlie and Ewan’s projects...but I do have you. Nobody reaches every country completely on their own - and certainly not without flying. Let’s do this!
Amman: "the city of stairs".
Thank you one and all!! Keep calm and Saga on ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - tired
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga