HOW WE BECAME STARS OF BOLIVIAN TV !!!
After spending the best part of yesterday sitting in an empty tourist office researching our trip through the rest of Bolivia an into Argentina we decided to treat ourselves to a meal at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, where the 15th floor has spectacular views of La Paz by night (the only time it looks half decent). Dinner (with wine) itself was cheap, but when it came to paying the hotel had problems with our cards. There's no Chip and Pin system in Bolivia so we had to go to reception to get them manually processed. Milling around in the lobby were lots of giant black men in red and blue tracksuits; at first I thought Crystal Palace were pre-season training in Bolivia and had found a formula for producing giant players. I stop panicking when I recognised them as none other than the HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS - I think that being written in huge letters on their tops was what gave it away. I proceeded to excitedly explain to Victoria who they were, pretty famous and had starred in loads of films and cartoons in the States. Meanwhile reception were still faffing around with the cash cards. All Barnes could say to all of this was that she liked one of the players mohicans and wished she'd done my hair like it. Sitting in the bar amongst this sea of basketballing heroes, we were approached by one player who was 7ft tall and once we had managed to see to the top of his head we realised he was the one with the mohican. Asking us where we were from we got into a conversation about Brighton, where the Globetrotters had played a month or so earlier apparently against the Bears. He then handed us two tickets to the game, told us his name was Herb (who I just Googled and found out to be Herb Evans Jr), shook our hands and went off to join the team coach waiting outside.
Suddenly, as per the Maracana, Victoria became the 'Grasshoppers' biggest fan and decided that we needed to record the occasion...problem was I had the camera in my pocket but the battery was dead from trying to upload photos of crappy La Paz earlier. In fear of his life, one of the Hotel bellhops became very useful and bunged us in a cab to a photo shop. After a rush against the traffic and the purchase of one Kodak (Tom you didn't get one with f***ing flash!) Fun Camera later we were outside the stadium. In true Bolivian style the Stadium had decided to oversell the tickets, leaving hundreds of people locked out on the streets looking pretty fed up and getting increasingly boisterous. For whatever reason, Victoria's celebrity status perhaps, people let us through to the front of the queues to the entrance gates. Demands of 'we're English - this just isn't cricket' and 'look mate...we're Herb's best friends' still didn't get us through the tight security. Then the Television cameras rolled up, and all of a sudden a camera crew and reporter (complete with sponge covered microphone with square bit on it) were in our faces:
TRANSCRIPT OF CONVERSATION WITH BOLIVIAN NEWS CHANNEL - Well, you're not likely to see it are you?
BOLIVIAN TV REPORTER: Said something very quickly in Spanish, which I interpreted as - 'Good evening. Tell us how you feel about being locked out the stadium...handsome English people'
TOM: (In best British accent) Habla Ingles?...erm, can I speak English.
REPORTER: Yes, go ahead.
TOM: We got tickets from one of the players...
VICTORIA: Herb got us tickets
TOM: ...and we still cant get in!
VICTORIA: Herb got us tickets (Slaps Tom on the shoulder) Tell them the name of the Hotel.
TOM: At the Radisson Hotel, a player gave us tickets (Gets tickets out of pockets in case they are missing the point).
VICTORIA: Herb got us tickets.
REPORTER: (Backing away slightly) Sure. Thankyou.
TOM: (Waving into camera) Hola Bolivia.
VICTORIA: England rocks!!
Shortly after that, another crew jumped us, but rejected us as suitable interviewees on the grounds that we didn't speak Spanish; asking for a beer and where the nearest shop is wasn't a detailed enough description of events.
Determined to get some photos to prove to everyone that we brushed shoulders with the Globetrotters, we bought some popcorn and headed back to the hotel bar; there we lay in wait like old women camping out for Cliff Richard tickets. Hours passed, in which time we drank and took photos of Victoria with popcorn up nose, Tom with popcorn up nose and Tom and Victoria with seat covers on heads. At about Midnight, fans started congregating in the lobby and were ejected by security and forced to stand outside holding their banners and posters. With just us in the bar the players walked past, each clutching a Burger King bag. By now we were calling them the Hackney Spacehoppers. We decided to pounce on a couple of random players heading to bed and got a few snapshots in. They were all polite and willing (perhaps they'd seen us on TV and thought we were celebrities) but none of them told us where we could find Burger King.
And so ends another chapter,
Victoria and Tom xxx (Bolivian Minor Celebrities, available for Weddings and After Dinner Speaking).