May 25, 2004 GMT
Miss Universe

There was no traffic and lots of police about. They had close the road. 'No wonder heís late' I thought 'the traffic must be a nightmare'.


Eventually he turned up full of apologies.

Nico is the owner of the townís newspaper so knows and is known by many people. He introduced me to a very attractive lady who ran another hotel. We chatted for a bit and I found her captivating. Why was I leaving Cuenca today? Nico went off to find out why the road was closed. He returned saying that several Miss Universes, including Miss Ecuador had arrived in town and were on their way to the hotel.

My hotel.

They were expected in a few minutes.

I rushed to get my cameras but was desperate for a pee. I went upstairs and returned as soon as I could. When I got back downside they were already walking into the hotelís central atrium. I didnít know who was who as they didnít have their sashes on.

I felt uncomfortable about just flashing away as I thought it was intrusive. So I took none. A few minutes later I remembered advice from a photographer friend at home, the truly mad Leslie Player, who told me to take the time to talk to people beforehand and then ask if it is ok to take their photograph.


Whilst I was still debating with myself one of their bodyguards came over to me and asked me not to take any photos when they were eating. I decided to be bold and I went over to them a few minutes later when they were sitting down at a table nearby.


I chatted a bit and asked if I could take their photos. This is their job, to smile have their photos taken a lot and win the title. I quickly took one of each of them and thanked them. I then talked to the bodyguard again for a while. He was an American, a former secret squirrel or similar seriously well trained type. His job would last a year, starting with protecting all the girls before the competition to protecting the winner for the duration of her reign.


Having got my shots it was time for yet another stressful decision.


What should I do?

Stay another night in a fabulous hotel, eat wonderful food, hang around and photograph beautiful women or just get on my bike and go?

I got on it and went.

Visit www.fowb.co.uk for more details on this and previous trips.


Posted by Jeremy Bullard at 10:00 PM GMT
 


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