About Rick Politz and Sara Damergi

Rick Politz and Sara Damergi

Rick Politz was born in the East End of London, England where he carved out a career in television and media. A former television cameraman, studio director and ultimately producer Rick worked across various television formats for companies such as ITV, Channel 4, 5IVE, Virgin Media and SKY. The highlight of his young career coming in 2008 when he assumed the role of Assistant Director for the cult UK feature film City Rats. In August 2010 Rick married his fiancée, television presenter Sara Damergi, and took a position in her ever-expanding online web empire. They now travel the world together completely location independent writing about their adventures overseas. Rick is a keen amateur photographer and an avid snowboarder.

Sara Damergi is a TV presenter, entrepreneur and globetrotter. TV clients include, MTV ,5IVE, Bravo, Sky and Channel 4. Sara also presented international extreme sports show, ''The Crunch'' filmed across China which was a prime-time success worldwide. Sara is of Lebanese and English descent and has always had a passion for new cultures and travel having lived in Beirut, Cyprus, London and in her clubbing heyday Ibiza, she is now indefinitely travelling the world funded from her internet businesses and blogging about it with her husband at What Politz and Damage Did Next. Sara tweets at
@saradamergi
.


Latest Posts by Rick Politz and Sara Damergi

Japan 2011 Trouble in Snowy Paradise!

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‘As we sat to enjoy a coffee in the mountain top cafe the earth began to shake violently. I jumped up, ‘’Earthquake!’’ I said to my husband. The Japanese who are used to quakes looked on nonchalantly, but we decided to head down in the gondola in case of avalanches. We reached the bottom to find the locals checking the news reports and calling family members. The quake was a lot more serious than we thought.’

Read more about our experience in Hakuba written for women’s online travel magazine ‘Travel Belles’ here: http://travelbelles.com/2011/04/hakuba-ski-resort/

An Idiot Abroad

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[Actual time of events: February 2011]


“S… Sara… Help…”

I dragged myself out of the surf as the waves washed me ashore. I staggered to my feet. My nose and my head throbbing as I tried to reach up with my right arm. It wouldn’t move. I looked down to see my shoulder hanging, lifeless from its socket. Disorientated I turned to see another wave crashing in. Finally turning and looking up, my eyes locked with Sara’s. Her face a picture of concern as I shuffled zombie-like towards her. I stopped and with the assistance of my one remaining good limb crunched my right shoulder back into place.

“AAAARRRRRGGHHHHHHHFFFFUUUCK!”

I collapsed to my knees as blood poured from my nose. Sara rushed towards me to usher me to safety.

Woah! Woah! Woah! Hold on now dear reader. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let us rewind just a few short days so we can find out how we ended up in such a predicament on Mirissa Beach.

Now, one of the best things about getting a soul mate is that, despite all your flaws, despite all your little nuances, despite the fact that you spent the best part of a week moaning about staying in a hotel that they actually quite liked, despite all of that they still do everything they can to make sure you’re okay. Your happiness becomes their priority – and vice versa. If you haven’t yet got a soul-mate, a life-partner, they come strongly recommended. They come in all shapes and sizes so there really is no excuse. My soul mate (let’s call her Sara) has become a master at spotting a Politz Meltdown during our time together and unbeknownst to me, our stay at Helga’s Folly was the beginning of a meltdown. A really BIG meltdown.

As with all natural disasters we now have the technology to foresee danger before it happens. Certain measures can be taken so that once said disaster strikes casualties are minimal. As my mental state and patience wore increasingly thinner Sara hatched Plan B. Plan BEACH. After our stay in the hill country of Sri Lanka she knew exactly what we needed. Take one frustrated husband add some sun, sea and a dash of sand, cancel any plans for the immediate future and bake slowly until golden brown. We began our journey to Sri Lanka’s southern coast.

Our first stop was to Galle City, where the grass is green and the girls… well, they’re nothing to write home about. Galle is a lovely little town which is still riddled with the influence of its Dutch settlers from way back in 1663. The fort, which still remains today is the largest remaining fort in Asia and it is absolutely charming. Filled with cobbled streets, wooden shutter windows, cars with shiny bits on the side and people opting to take the bicycle as their preferred method of transport, at first glance you might think you had landed in a quaint little French village.

The Dutch Fort, Galle
Another good thing about Galle and indeed the entire south coast of Sri Lanka is the abundance of sea turtles which clamber to the shores to lay their eggs. The arduous journey these incredible, prehistoric creatures make is simply unfathomable. Once the turtles hatch they travel thousands of miles out to see before making the journey back to the very same beach they were born. No Google maps, no sat nav. Remarkable.

Turtle Hatchery, Galle
Being a country of poverty there is a huge market for exporting sea turtles on the black market. Numbers are rapidly depleting but thankfully there’s a handful of people looking to make a difference by setting up turtle hatcheries. This prevents thief’s from scouring the beach and grabbing the unborn eggs and ensures the little turtles can continue on their life cycle uninterrupted. The wily owners fund their organisation by charging an entrance fee to tourists and you can even pay to release your own hatchling back into the sea. Nice. Although I do wonder if nobody pays, how long the baby turtles are kept in captivity? There’s a huge conflict of interest here and not the first we have experienced on our travels. Most involve animals in captivity or good causes which aren’t as selfless as they seem on the surface.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a shining example of this. A well established orphanage with acres and acres of space for the seemingly free roaming elephants to enjoy. The place is teeming with tourists all rejoicing in the animals freedom. Look a little closer and what you might notice that none of the elephants have their tusks and they all flinch when the keepers raise their hands. Better to be here than be hunted? That’s something I’ll let you mull over.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
Finally we reached our beach paradise. Unawatuna, which might sound like a song from The Lion King but is in fact a rather lively beach town and of course Marissa. Of Latin origin meaning ‘of the sea’. My mind flooded with every cliché travel phrase that has ever been committed to paper. ‘Paradise’, ‘hidden gem’ I think at one point I even shoe-horned into conversation the term ‘best kept secret’. You know, all the big guns.

Mirissa Beach
Within hours my anxiety and mood immediately mellowed. You could tell because instead of sitting in the hotel room moaning, I was in the sea, splashing! Look at me go! If I didn’t know any better I’d think I was bi-polar. I mean, let’s hope I’m not but it would explain the next couple of weeks.


Mirissa Beach
Sara and I laughed and joked together. We had swim races. I swam up behind her and pushed her up out of the water. We splashed each other with water until I got carried away and got salt water in her eyes. It was like the best 80′s film montage you have ever seen. Then, it happened. In retrospect it was inevitable. We had rekindled our game of surfing without an actual surfboard which we pioneered in Vietnam when Sara decided to head back to the beach.

“Just one more wave, bubs!”

What a fucking idiot. It’s not like I don’t watch films. I know the consequences of muttering the words, “Just one more…”.

Just one more drink results in you throwing up. Just one more cake results in life long obesity. Just one more wave results in a dislocated shoulder, a bloody nose and a bruised head.

As the wave came rolling over it dragged the seabed back, breathing the remaining water into its ever-expanding mass and exposing the sand below. I was on top of, what felt like at the time, the skyscraper of a wave before it crashed me into the beach and rolled me over. Like all near-death experiences (car crashes, falling backwards off of your chair in Geography) this happened in slow-motion and despite being under-water I felt and indeed heard every crunch as my nose slammed into the sand and my arm wrenched, twisted and separated as the wave rolled me over.

Just when I had found my mojo again I had it swept away in an instant.

The quickest mode of transport to the hospital was an exceptionally bumpy ride via a tuk-tuk which Sara, clad in a rather apt ‘Baywatch red’ bikini bundled me in to. When I say bundled, she was in fact very careful that I didn’t knock my arm but I just want you to know there was definitely a sense of urgency in her actions. We arrived at the hospital in double quick time. It was empty. The nurses were quick to spot me, after all I didn’t have time to go back up to the hotel room and was wearing just my board shorts, still dripping from my encounter with the sea. Looking at myself, if I was one of those nurses I would have made the exact same assumption they made too. It wasn’t just the nurses that asked. In fact every single person who enquired as to why my arm was in a sling over the coming weeks all asked the same thing;

“Did you crash your moped?”

Oh christ! I had become everything I despise, everything I loathe. I was a Brit, nay, I was an IDIOT abroad!

An Idiot Abroad
A couple of x-rays and a handful of some Matthew Perry endorsed Tramadol later and I was feeling rather droopy-eyed and euphoric in our hotel room. ‘Paradise’ just outside my window. Just out of reach. Just as soon as the painkillers wore off my mood returned. I was done with Sri Lanka. It was the first time since being away that I became frustrated. Travelling the world isn’t supposed to be hard work! I thought every country was a sure fire hit that I would unquestionably like and accept like the open-minded, free thinker that I am. Not to worry. I can put my problems with Sri Lanka aside because we were heading to India in a couple of days. Little did I know that the meltdown had not been averted… Just merely delayed.

Kicking Back in Kerala India

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‘’Rent a boat madam?’’ cried choruses of boat touts dotted along the canals. We were in Kerala, India. Famed for its stunning olive green backwaters, Ayurvedic medicine and treatments. I was enjoying myself. In fact I was loving Kerala. We had spent the previous three days in Fort Cochin getting reacquainted with some delicious Indian cuisine , being massaged into oblivion, soaking in the culture and seeing a fantastic martial arts show where I kid you not, the martial artists fight with daggers, swords and scary objects that could slice you in half. In fact two of them were bleeding by the end of the show and I moved six seats back after a stray sword came hurtling through the air towards me.
The portly narrator assured us the injured need not worry as they had some Ayurvedic medicine to sort them out and that they didn’t use modern medicine at all. Even if someone broke their arm it was herbs and a bit of Mr Miyagi hand rubbing. He also insisted the audience stop wearing deodorant and rub some leaves under their armpits.  Despite the questionable personal hygiene advice It was truly incredible and reminiscent of a Bruce Lee fight scene . These guys need to be in the movies.
We had shacked up in a quaint travellers home-stay called ’Amshanti’. There was a huge, bamboo communal area that was littered with books, playing cards and likeminded, dreadlocked comrades. Perfect. Well, perfect for me, at this point Rick was almost at ’The Meltdown’ Stage 2. Despite my now borderline psychotic husband we had an awesome night with a Canadian hockey player who regaled us with tales of his time spent in opium dens in Indonesia. It transpired that his girlfriend had left him in a den for what felt to him like a few hours but when she finally dragged him out of there it had been five days!
“FIVE DAYS?” I said.
He shrugged, “But maaaan, they just make it so comfortable.” Right, yes, of course, nothing to do with the narcotics you were sucking into your lungs like Henry the Hoover then?
We were also joined by a young English chap known to us only as ‘Methadrone Man’. A bit of a celebrity on the Isle of Man who was dubbed said nickname by the press after being the first person arrested and charged for intent to supply ‘meow meow’ when it became criminalised. Unfortunately for him he was training to be a teacher and he is now waiting for his criminal record to be scratched to continue his dream, filling his time from what I could tell by sketching turtles and travelling the world on a pittance.
I felt really quite sorry for him. He was only twenty two but had the air of a forty year old. I came up with a business idea for him capitalising on the name ‘Meth Man’ and his UNBELIEVABLE worldwide pharmaceutical knowledge to create a website that informed people about legal highs. Ironically he was just about to set off to a spiritual detox retreat in Hampi. I like to think perhaps by now his head is together and he is sketching up the ‘Meth Man’ cartoon character as we speak. Watch this space.
The next day, bleary-eyed, our guesthouse owners whizzed us off on mopeds to the boat we had booked for our trip around the famed backwaters. Now how amazing is this? For around 50 dollars you can get yourself a boat with a chef for an overnight stay and look how pretty the boat is…
Kerala really lived up to the hype, the backwaters were ridiculously beautiful and I enjoyed taking photos of the villagers that lived and worked on the river, especially watching the locals running for the local boat which ferried them around to different villages.
We spent the day meandering along gazing at the green waters, wildlife and lush fields that surrounded the rivers, reading books and ordering cool drinks.
After a decent meal the decision to party the night before became a bad one. My confuddled, tired brain forgot to bring the mosquito repellent. My god, if you go to the Keralan backwaters don’t forget the repellent! We were besieged by swarms of the little buggers. Mozzies IN YOUR EARS is not fun. The next morning all was forgiven as the sun rose over the backwaters of Kerala and the local fisherman began their daily trade. I felt truly grateful to have experienced it.
There is a reason it regularly is talked about as a must see travel destination. If Kerala isn’t yet on your list of things to do before you die I recommend you scratch out sky dive and replace it with Kerala it really is an oasis of calm a world away from the hustle (and hustlers) of Dehli. Dusty busy roads become rivers and the whole community works and thrives around them. A totally different way of life for your eyes and ears a definite bucket list destination.

Kicking Back in Kerala India

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“Rent a boat madam?’’ cried choruses of boat touts dotted along the canals. We were in Kerala, India. Famed for its stunning olive green backwaters, Ayurvedic medicine and treatments. I was enjoying myself. In fact I was loving Kerala. We had spent the previous three days in Fort Cochin getting reacquainted with some delicious Indian cuisine , being massaged into oblivion, soaking in the culture and seeing a fantastic martial arts show where I kid you not, the martial artists fight with daggers, swords and scary objects that could slice you in half. In fact two of them were bleeding by the end of the show and I moved six seats back after a stray sword came hurtling through the air towards me.

The portly narrator assured us the injured need not worry as they had some Ayurvedic medicine to sort them out and that they didn’t use modern medicine at all. Even if someone broke their arm it was herbs and a bit of Mr Miyagi hand rubbing. He also insisted the audience stop wearing deodorant and rub some leaves under their armpits.  Despite the questionable personal hygiene advice It was truly incredible and reminiscent of a Bruce Lee fight scene . These guys need to be in the movies.

We had shacked up in a quaint travellers home-stay called ’Amshanti’. There was a huge, bamboo communal area that was littered with books, playing cards and likeminded, dreadlocked comrades. Perfect. Well, perfect for me, at this point Rick was almost at ’The Meltdown’ Stage 2. Despite my now borderline psychotic husband we had an awesome night with a Canadian hockey player who regaled us with tales of his time spent in opium dens in Indonesia. It transpired that his girlfriend had left him in a den for what felt to him like a few hours but when she finally dragged him out of there it had been five days! “FIVE DAYS?” I said.
He shrugged, “But maaaan, they just make it so comfortable.” Right, yes, of course, nothing to do with the narcotics you were sucking into your lungs like Henry the Hoover then? We were also joined  by a young English chap known to us only as ‘Methadrone Man’. A bit of a celebrity on the Isle of Man who was dubbed said nickname by the press after being the first person arrested and charged for intent to supply ‘meow meow’ when it became criminalised.
Unfortunately for him he was training to be a teacher and he is now waiting for his criminal record to be scratched to continue his dream, filling his time from what I could tell by sketching turtles and travelling the world on a pittance. I felt really quite sorry for him. He was only twenty two but had the air of a forty year old. I came up with a business idea for him capitalising on the name ‘Meth Man’ and his UNBELIEVABLE worldwide pharmaceutical knowledge to create a website that informed people about legal highs. Ironically he was just about to set off to a spiritual detox retreat in Hampi. I like to think perhaps by now his head is together and he is sketching up the ‘Meth Man’ cartoon character as we speak. Watch this space.
The next day, bleary-eyed, our guesthouse owners whizzed us off on mopeds to the boat we had booked for our trip around the famed backwaters. Now how amazing is this? For around 50 dollars you can get yourself a boat with a chef for an overnight stay and look how pretty the boat is…
Kerala really lived up to the hype, the backwaters were ridiculously beautiful and I enjoyed taking photos of the villagers that lived and worked on the river, especially watching the locals running for the local boat which ferried them around to different villages.
We spent the day meandering along gazing at the green waters, wildlife and lush fields that surrounded the rivers, reading books and ordering cool drinks.
After a decent meal the decision to party the night before became a bad one. My confuddled, tired brain forgot to bring the mosquito repellent.  My god, if you go to the Keralan backwaters don’t forget the repellent! We were besieged by swarms of the little buggers. Mozzies IN YOUR EARS is not fun.
The next morning all was forgiven as the sun rose over the backwaters of Kerala and the local fisherman began their daily trade. I felt truly grateful to have experienced it. There is a reason The Keralan Backwaters is regularly talked about as a must see travel destination. If Kerala is not yet on your list of things to do before you die, I recommend you scratch out sky dive and replace it with Kerala. It really is an oasis of calm. A world away from the hustle (and hustlers) of Dehli. Dusty busy roads become rivers and the whole community works and thrives around them. A totally different way of life for your eyes and ears a definite bucket list destination.

More On Madame Helga’s Folly

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It seems only right to pick up where Mrs PD left off with her last post. You see, Helga’s Folly has been the subject of much debate between us both since our stay there a couple of months ago. By debate, I mean every time something bad happens on our little voyage, like a true gentleman, I play the, ‘I can’t believe you made us go to Helga’s Folly’ card which Sara counters with an equally valid, ‘Well, you wanted to go there too, idiot.’

You see that’s the problem – I did want to go there too! On paper, and by paper I mean the internet, this place looks incredible. Like a drunken jaunt through a twisted wonderland occupied by some mad, old, enigmatic Madame. I had visions of meeting Helga and being bewitched and intimidated by her mere presence. I wanted to regale her with news that (Welsh) rock royalty had forever etched her memory in time by penning a song about her. Fortunately, I didn’t have to, because the first thing you see when you make your way up the drive is a rather tasteful (sic) mural of the ‘STEREOPHONICS’ logo emblazoned on the upper floor directly over-looking the entrance. That smug old house. The house was showing off! If this was a cocktail party, the house would be telling stories about how it used to go drinking with Jude Law, how it once woke up on the couch of Guy Ritchie and didn’t have any money for cab fare or how one time Trevor McDonald stole its kebab on the night bus.

If there’s nothing in this world I despise more it’s a name-dropper. This house wasn’t just a name-dropper – it had branded itself with the insignia of it’s past brushes with celebrity.

When I was a child I met Danny Baker at a pantomime in Barking Town Hall on my birthday. He gave me lots of presents on stage in front of everyone and made the audience sing happy birthday to me. Not too dissimilar to Helga’s encounter with The ‘Phonics I would imagine. If I then went and got ‘Danny Baker’ tattooed on my forehead I have no doubt that had his career not faded by the time the early nineties rolled around I would have been thought of as a bit of smug git and a little bit mental. A bit like the house I was now forced to stay in for the next week.

Despite a shaky start I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the décor of the house. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for someone to externalise the grief of going through a divorce and channelling it through interior design then it really is quite the sight. Think Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen on acid.

That, for me, was where my appreciation with The Folly ended. We arrived to our room, a throwback to 70′s horror complete with ‘cobwebbed four-post bed’, ‘rickety, glass patio doors’ and ‘sinister wire baby cradle’ in the corner. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and check on our invisible baby – check that it was all in my head and that it was indeed safe to go back to sleep.

The house was full of quirks, decaying corridors and inept staff but my main gripe was that we had sacrificed lots to budget for our week in boutique heaven – what we got was a stay in Sri Lanka’s own Bates Motel, taxidermy included if you’re in to hanging stuffed animal carcasses from your wall.

When our enigmatic host did grace us with her presence gone was the high-class aristocrat and social butterfly I have no doubt she once was and what I was presented with was a dithering, old-lady, wearing a neck-brace and rather unflattering kimono who could barely string an apology together to sooth my disappointment.

If we were paying half the price we were then all of these little nuances would have been perfectly acceptable. I understand what Helga is trying to achieve. Her vision is commendable and on some levels it succeeds. Just not on a level which charges $6 for four Jacobs Crackers and three slices of cheddar cheese. I kid you not reader.

Unfortunately Miss Blow has been in her surroundings far too long and much like my dear old Mother who is yet to notice that the ceiling in her living room is yellow due to fifteen years of constant smoking, Helga is yet to wake up to the realization that much like herself, The Folly is well past its sell-by date.

Actual Date of Events: Mid-January 2011. You can check out my photo profile of Helga Blow here: http://www.rickpolitzdamergiphotography.com/People/Madame-Helga-Blow/15395547_KqjB6#1155398558_c2Yxf.

Videos Post Sanctuary of Papa Damergi’s Moest Ol’ Gaff in Beirut

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We are in the sanctuary of Papa Damergi’s modest ol’ gaff in Beirut, Lebanon and like a fame hungry, Jezebel fresh out of the sheets of a Premier League footballers bed we’re ready to kiss and tell. It’s been an interesting couple of months and for your patience you will be rewarded. But before we assault your senses with amusing anecdotes and pretty pictures please enjoy a little video I made entirely on my iPhone 3GS using the built in camera and various apps. It’s not going to win any awards – unless the category is “Videos Rick Made in Faraya Last Weekend.’ – Then it’s got a pretty good chance. In the mean time, enjoy!

Madame Helga: Her Folly Hotel in Sri Lanka

February 25, 2011 by  

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‘’Helga darling, I tried to commit suicide again , I jumped off a bridge and broke both my ankles, I’m just so depressed I may never be able to wear my Manolo Blahniks again’’
In disbelief at Helga the owner of the legendary artists haven ‘’Helgas Folly Hotel’’ in Sri Lanka she was talking about a telephone conversation with her late daughter in law Fashion Icon and magazine editor Isabella Blow after one of her  7 suicide attempts.  She had suffered from Bi Polar disorder and tragically finally succeeded in ending her life after swallowing poison at the age of 48.
The Effusive Madame Helga.

The hotel is a fading majestic butterfly and her old dalmation with his dull greying coat and wracked with arthritis once sleek, proud and beautiful is a living metaphor for the bizarre retreat in Kandy’s hills. Yes, there are cobwebs, and yes it is over-priced and yes the decor is decaying but the essence of Helgas Folly. Referred to by Helga as ‘’she’’ and ‘’her’’ still very much remains, and that for me is why it was worth every penny. The building itself is a labyrinth of different emotions from inside the owners mind. Helga explained when she was going through her first divorce she went ‘’slightly mad’’ and began painting in a crazed frenzy as therapy, the result is an eccentric Alice in Wonderland on LSD effect.

There are 100’s of monkeys that hang out in the trees next to the hotel and quite often run into the buildingnd try and steal your breakfast as the old school butler style waiters run around flapping teacloths to get rid of them. I called this one Boris Johnson due to his hairstyle.

London’s Photo Exhibit for Hipstamatics

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I’m a keen amateur photographer and rarely go anywhere without my camera to hand. Despite a deep-seeded love for my Canon 550d, there are times when it fights for attention with my humble little iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, the camera on the iPhone itself is terrible – however there are many apps available on iTunes which turn the decidedly average features of an iPhone 3Gs camera into an all singing, all dancing wonder camera that a high-spec DSLR could only dream of becoming.

One of those apps and by far my most used and favorite is Hipstamatic. A clever little application which lets you choose different lens and film combinations in order to recreate a retro ‘digital-analogue’ feel. The app itself is hugely popular with professional photographers and amateur snappers embracing the movement.
What has this got to do with you, I hear you cry?! Well – the folks over at www.Hipstamtics.com have got together with The Orange Dot Gallery in London to put together an exhibition of some of the best Hipstamatic shots they have gathered from various photographers the world over and three of my prints will be included.
Suffice to say this is the first time I’ve exhibited anything to the public – save for a few rather questionable evenings in my youth – so if you find yourself in and around London from the 13th to the 31st January please do pop along and have a little look. For those of you that won’t be able to make due to other international commitments the prints that will be on exhibition are:
‘BlaKeys Sunday’
‘Damage, Done’
‘Sand-Liner’

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