vila ors

‘melbourne cup’, or, ‘how i became a bookie in port vila’

i have this feeling of not knowing what to do. i know where i am on the map of port vila, but i still feel lost. maybe ‘aimless’ is a better word. i ate a sandwich. i went to numbawan cafe and watched the harbor. i looked for sailboats to take me to new zealand. i checked my email. i went to the anchor inn to plow through my new book and down a couple beers.

a tall aussie approaching 50 with that ‘approaching 50′ mustache invited me to his table of similarly aged blokes. he ran a newly bought and renovated hotel, while the others were local bookies*. when i lived in london, i would walk by ladbrokes* with mixed feelings about bookies. i will generalize my instinctual opinions here: i had always thought them to be sleazy, shady, fast-talking, male.

so when these fellas i was now sitting with asked me to work with them for the melbourne cup the following day, i said sure. i live for weird opportunities like this. this is how i found myself picking snails off the isle of skye, or slinging burgers at glastonbury festival, or acting in a james bond-equivalent movie in cairo, or hawking bongs and bondage gear on ozzfest, or driving a pickle in antarctica. me, a bookie in vanuatu? bring it on.

"you’ve heard of the melbourne cup, then?"

"yeah sure, i’ve heard of it…" then i thought about the Cups i knew. the stanley cup is hockey, the america’s cup is about sailboats or something, the melbourne cup…. is something i saw advertised on chalkboards outside local pubs that day. i whispered to the mustache, "what спорт is it again?"

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"horse racing."

and that’s how i became a bookie for the melbourne cup in port vila, vanuatu.

*bookies – loud offices with bits of paper on the floor where you can place bets on various sports and yell at TV’s.

*ladbrokes – bookies. everywhere in london.

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