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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.

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I'll Replace My Stolen Gear, Even if I Have to Make It Myself

Zak Erving

For better or worse, and wherever you go, hardware stores are full of employees waiting to build your project for you.

For better or worse, and wherever you go, hardware stores are full of employees waiting to build your project for you.

Last week's thievery wasn't my favorite moment of this trip to Central America, but it did set up one of my favorite ones just nicely. Among some clothes, a camera, a whiskey-filled hip flask (noooooooooo!), and my new Osprey Farpoint, the damn crook made off with my Forever Alone Camera Stick, a telescoping arm with a camera mount on the far end—an exceptionally useful tool for snorkeling excursions, bug's-eye-view perspective, and those ubiquitously annoying Myspace-style selfies. (It's also useful for intimidating other baddies in dark alleys, because it resembles a collapsible nightstick.)

Fortunately, the tripod mount to my GoPro was still attached, and I had brought it (along with my computer and all the chargers) to breakfast with me on that fateful morning (a seriously fortunate decision, mind you). The only thing I needed now was something to stick it on.

A local hardware store in Moyogalpa was the first to step up to the challenge. Despite my limited Spanish hardware store vocabulary and an impressively crude technical drawing, we managed to come to an agreement as to the supplies I was looking for and the labor I required: a wood or PVC stick, some washers and nuts, and a screw. I also needed two holes bored—one for the screw, and one for a safety line.

The one-man project quickly escalated into an all-out frenzy of assistance: the manager and I collaborated as he barked out orders to two of his workers (who mirrored each others' movements with little effectiveness), while one of the expat customers in the store lent his Hardware Store Spanish proficiency to the occasion.

The finished product, with mount

The finished product, with mount

In fifteen minutes, the five of us had fashioned a pretty good substitute to the original camera stick out of a bright blue broomstick. It may not have a telescoping arm, but maybe the cool paint job made up for it. It's also much more robust than the original, so baddies go a-runnin' when I come a-swingin'…

Total cost? 20 Córdobas.…about $.82US. Not bad at all.

Special thanks go out to my new crew at Ferreteria Moyogalpa and the wonderful people I've waved at, laughed with, or otherwise acknowledged pleasantly on Isla Ometepe.


Update #1: 

Having witnessed the rugged genius of my Forever Alone Camera Stick  (patent pending) , a fellow traveler named Eli fashioned one of his own using two shorter lengths of PVC, connected in the middle by a flange joint. His is collapsible! We've already made an upgrade from the original prototype! This is very exciting.

Update #2: 

Having not  witnessed the rugged genius of my Forever Alone Camera Stick v1.0 , the bus driver on the Rivas-Guanacaste route picked it up and threw it out of the window. While the bus was moving. Because he thought it was trash.

Back to the drawing board…