Great routes PPD

Many years ago, when I used to attend international meetings and a journalist friend would ask me to explain what the peelable postal ball was about, I never knew how to begin. I ended up memorising an answer as a sort of catechism that would at least allow me to muddle through: ‘The peelable postal ball is a postal mail system using balls kicked by an entire chain of anonymous people who encounter said ball on their way. The person who kicks the ball will have previously read the address printed on its surface and direct the ball towards its destination. So, if the ball says ‘Africa’, they will kick it in Africa’s direction. Once in Africa, the first discoverer of the ball will peel the outer layer and expose the second address, which, for example, will say ‘Senegal’, and kick the ball towards Senegal. Once in Senegal, someone else will find it and peel the following layer, where it will say, for example, ‘Dakar’, and kick it towards Dakar. And so on, until it finds the street, the number, and the specific addressee displayed on the ball’s last message’.

Today, of course, there is no need for so many explanations. The invention is widely known. Thanks to this fact, I have been able to spend the last few years writing travel stories following the itineraries of some of the balls put into circulation from remote parts of the world. I want to briefly outline the route followed by a postal ball that has ended up becoming the protagonist of my last book, Grandes rutas PPD (Great Routes PPB).

(Those who wish can follow the ball’s route on the map that has been handed out at the entrance.)

In Mudgegonga, Australia, the friendly couple of Gordon and Joana Reece put a stamp on a PPB addressed to Marta, their dear friend who resides in Xàbia, Spain. They kick the Ball in Europe’s direction, the twenty times the Regulation (1) allows, and it ends up in a nearby field of cows.

Gary Blewitt, a local farmer, kicks it out of his field and it falls in a hole, where it remains hidden for several months.

Then, a passing jogger kicks it and makes it land on the back of a truck transporting trunks to the paper mill in Albury. The mill workers take turns kicking it until it rolls onto the runway at Albury airport.

A baggage handler kicks it aboard a small Flying Doctor plane on its way to carry out its medical aid service in unpopulated regions. Indigenous people, not understanding its significance, guard it as a fearsome object for years.

Finally, it is kicked again by a visiting doctor and it falls inside a kangaroo’s pouch, who transports it to the vicinity of Alice Springs (2), where the animal is shot by a merchant who works in the kangaroo meat trade, and who takes it back to Darwin (3).

From there, the ball is kicked aboard a luxury cruise ship that is touring South Asia.

A kick throws it out in Pattaya (4) and another makes it land in a brothel where, unaware of its postal mission, it is used as a disco ball for six months.

An American marine notices it and kicks it aboard a battleship, which finally sets sail for Umm Qasr, South Iraq (5). There, he sneaks it in a Humvee which is later on hit by a homemade explosive device.

Sunni rebels kick the ball all the way through the province of Anbar and take it to Jordan, where it falls into the Dead Sea and floats to Israel. The Israeli military police chase it in a tight game that delays it in their territory for more than a year. Finally, a group of journalists manage to propel it out of the country and it lands in a refugee camp (6).

Palestinian children kick it around the camp, but it cannot go further due to the gigantic wall the Israeli people have built around it. Until someone kicks it inside the luggage of Eulalia Paz, a Spanish aid worker who is about to return to Madrid. But the plane has to land in Naples due to a false bomb threat (7). Since the ball is in the territory indicated on its outer layer, the PPB is peeled.

From the airport it is kicked to the port, where it embarks for Sardinia and then for Marseille.

Now in a more favourable territory, it crosses the border at Port Bou (8), where it is once again peeled, and following the AP-7 motorway, it enters the Valencian Community (9) to be peeled for the second to last time, arriving to its destination, where it is peeled and kicked until it lands in Marta’s hands in Xàbia, who receives it after five years of travelling (10).

After being kicked a thousand times, the PPB has reached its destination!

Speech read by the journalist Arsenio Navarro, author of the book Grandes rutas PPD, during the First World Congress of the Society of Friends and Promoters of the Peelable Postal Ball, held at the Botanical Garden in Valencia on 19/09/2014.