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October 2, 2006

A Peaceful Stay in Stoliv Montenegro

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KENAX
Translation Agency and Outsourcing

Well, I did end up getting a lot of work, so it was nice to settle down for a while, pay to stay in a camp so that I could sleep with the back door open, and generally relax the more than a month that I stayed here.

Around Stoliv and Kotor, Montenegro Went for hike once through nearby Kotor and up above it to the old castle, which seem to be above much of these towns in Montenegro.
Travels Picture gallery here.

My basketball friends who came down from the Czech Republic decided they didnít like the place I picked out for them and moved on. I asked around for some property for my friend, but it seems that the recent upgrade in the main highway along the coast of Croatia brought with it a manifold increase in the tourist traffic to Montenegro, as such shooting the property prices (in this one of the poorest parts of Europe) through the roof. I tried driving the truck into the country, but the roads were generally so narrow that it was overall a traumatic experience, so I quickly gave up that idea.

And I guess this chapter will generally be short and less interesting, since I spent most of it working, so I will try to compensate that with lots of nice pictures. But it could be interesting in the overall picture due to the nature of its turning point. I started to get a lot of translation work, but one by one those translating agencies stopped sending me work. It reminded me why I so disliked working for them in the past. One said they had to spend a lot of time working on my translation before they could hand it to their customer, but refused to show me the final so that I could study the changes. Another sent me work for Skoda Auto, proofreading some text translated by a "native speaker" from a previous French colony. But the quality was so horrible I told them Iíd really rather translate than proofread. The agency said they never had complaints about the translator in the past. In any case, I was convinced I was dealing with morons who are not capable of judging what a quality English translation is, and who prefer exact translations which sound retarded but which their customers can compare against their created original and be satisfied with the literal and exact translation, which must be good because it so closely reflects their fantastic literal creation.

Right: went for another walk once, this time up the hill to the local monastery near where the autocamp was. Gallery here.

Around Stoliv and Kotor, Montenegro

So I gave up on the idea of working for translating agencies and wrote a long email, in my bad Czech, which I was going to send to every company in the Czech Republic explaining to them that this is how they are representing themselves abroad. But even my marketing text for Skoda ran into problems, as the agency said the conservative elements at that company would unlikely allow my expression "roll off the assembly line". I consider this an absolutely normal means how to express the completed production of a vehicle. Are they supposed to carry it off the assembly line? So I was beginning to doubt my strategy to approach Czech companies directly, and was told that most Czechs wouldnít even bother reading my bad Czech. So Iíll let them continue presenting themselves like gumbies in the world, and fortunately I started receiving more agency work, which I prefer.

Around Stoliv and Kotor, Montenegro

But before this started flowing in, I was waiting for a credit card to come in, and for one reason and another my cash flow trickled down to such a point where for almost a week I could not afford to buy myself my beloved two beers with my meal every day, and had to survive with peanut butter and pasta left over from previous travelers. I cashed in my two empty bottles of beer, added to that the ten cents which remained in my pocket to get the Euro needed to get to town to try the bank once again, if the transfer from my Czech bank account to my US one finally made it through. So my belly scraped the bottom, as sometimes happens during my business survival, getting desperately low on cash and using the time to frequently spend on my knees praying in all earnestness to our great creator, until the magic miracle would come again. The first miracle was my property seeking friend who was sending me short of 200$ to cover for gas and some meager wage to make it down to Montenegro. Being old school and not used to computers so much, seemed he accidentally added a zero to the amount he was sending while logged into his bank account, so that loan basically totally saved my ass.

Rest of the pics here basically around the camp along the water.
Autocamp/fastfood Margarita, Donji Stoliv (half way between Kotor and Tivat) - these nice owners not to be confused with the snotty grumpy old fart in the neighbouring autocamp.
email: tbvanja AT cg.yu, (+381) 82-336-570 or 67-457-442

Then there was the occasional Euro or 5 that I accidentally stumbled on in my search for something in the truck, hence carrying me through when I was scraping the bottom. And then there was the healthy flow of agency work which started to come in. It was for that translation agency in Austin Texas for whom I did the first super mega project four years ago which first made this entire travel dream possible. I wrote them another email explaining to them how my system is set up now and that it would not be a problem at all to do work for them while traveling. It seems they did not trust me, considering things did not run so smoothly the last time I was traveling.

But this time my new virtual office was set up and I had my worker in Bulgaria who would log in remotely to the server running in Prague and do all that was necessary to keep things running. I would log in with my pocket pc to forward attached files, and he would do the rest, sending the completed files back to me, which I would forward back to the customer. Everything was running like clockwork and it was truly a pleasure to watch the virtual office in action, requiring only minimal work on my part. A masterplan I have been devising and working on for the past half decade, finally in action and working like a dream. So after I stopped translating, I spent the next half month here forwarding emails and spending about four hours a day in the internet cafť doing internet heavy work tweaking the server and studying about search engine ranking. My plan now is to continue tweaking the server so everything runs smoothly, look for more remote workers so I can have people on different time zones and as back up, and spend the rest of my time learning how to place in the top page or two on the search engines, to drive traffic to my site and get more customers. And hence finally enter stage two of my business: when all work will be performed by others and my work will be limited to upper management, communication with the customer and looking for more customers. Stage three is the last stage, when I create a team of board of directors who have a percentage in the company and I can hopefully finally walk away from it and focus on philanthropy only.

Around Stoliv and Kotor, Montenegro

So learning how to set up a server, getting php and mysql and all that working is quite interesting, as well as learning how the search engines now work. Things have changed greatly since I did this work seven years ago. I was very successful then, but things have changed substantially and the competition is tough now. It will take a lot of work but I feel confident I will succeed again, and once I do, I might add it to my list of services and which could become quite lucrative indeed.

Around Stoliv and Kotor, Montenegro

During my stay here I was putting up the usual advertisements looking for travellers to pay for my gas to Turkey. Got some interesting nibbles, one of which was from people who wanted to film a serious documentary about some girl who wanted to travel to Croatia to rediscover her roots, staying at peopleís home which she would arrange through couchsurfing.com, where I advertised that I had a couch in Dubrovnik (popular destination, and I did actually have my couch there at one point, ya know). But they werenít responding to my emails well, it was the opposite direction from where I want to go, and I have been emailing with this guy who said heíd pay for my gas to Macedonia, about one quarter the way to Turkey. Meanwhile the owner of the autocamp said I could stay here until the first of the month, which was yesterday. The internet guy said he would call me today. If not, I will head out tomorrow on my own. Made enough this month to pay for the gas, it is getting cold here, and I am looking forward to the change, warmer weather, and some decent food. Feel like Iíve been turning into a sardine considering what Iíve been eating every day for the past month, and looking forward to a culture where it shouldnít be a problem to find decent spices in the grocery store. Or eat some good food in the restaurant and discover a rich new culture.

Gallery of the rest of the camp pictures, all taken within about a hundred metres of the camp. You can imagine why I appreciated the peace and quite, and an opportunity to get some decent work done. So far my favourite place along the Croatian and Montenegran coast. Pictures taken different times of the day, usually when I went to get my daily intake of beer and lunch from the local grocery store.

I learned I can stay in Turkey for six months and decided I will offer free group lessons in English, to help me meet people and hopefully find a good parking spot for the winter. Get a good internet connection, shack up and clamp down for the winter, and hopefully by spring the work and money will be flowing in full force.

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