Dear Advisor Partners,
You know I love numbers, even arbitrary numbers. So, how’s this, what do 72, 73, 15, 17, 35 and 36 have in common? All of these numbers tie together the heritage of my family and my wife’s family and why this blog is extra special to me. One of the reasons I love to tell stories, is that they can be powerful, inspiring, and illustrative.
In 1972, my wife’s family was forced out of Uganda. My father-in-law left long before that in 1964, to attend the prestigious India Institute of Technology and never came back as he never had the chance to go back, ending up instead in London and later in Canada. 1936 was when my grandparents on my father’s side left India, migrating to Kenya. This is where Big Five was born in 1973, and where I was born a few years later. My grandfather on my mother’s side left India in 1935, migrating to Sudan, where my mother was born and where I used to visit frequently as a child. All this heritage allowed for a rich story of struggle and perseverance to be shared, which I share time to time, however it also afforded me the ability to explore the other regions of Africa from a young age. I even had to ask my mother while writing this about the exodus from Sudan, which required help from my aunt so writing this blog gave me a chance to retrace steps back to the periods surrounding WWII, which make this blog even more important for me.
That’s where 17 comes in. It was in my late teens, that is when I first got the chance to visit Egypt, which at the time seemed like a mysterious country, too far for me to ever visit, but dreaming of it from a young age. I still remember that first visit, seeing the pyramids for the first time I thought two things. First, I couldn’t believe how huge the pyramids were and began imagining what they must look like from space (Google Earth didn’t exist back then). Second, I could not believe the symmetry at every site I saw. The sheer geometry of it just boggled my mind and I don’t mind sharing that I borrowed a protractor while there just to see the acute angle myself. I even remember in the temples, defining where the isosceles triangles existed!
You likely now understand my excitement when Big Five Tours & Expeditions team member Volker Altvater showed me this amazing Africa program, he had curated for guests that began in Egypt, carried on to Uganda, and ended in Kenya. As I read through it, I kept thinking back to my heritage, and the steps those that came before me took, so I could be here writing for you. We select our most creative programs to be part of our President’s Picks, and this was by far the easiest choice. Not only because of the unique combination, but rather because this program tells my origin story.
Dear Advisor Partners,
Have you ever been to a destination that felt like it was the next big thing? I had that feeling in Colombia in 2006, and my father likely felt the same in 1989 when he entered Peru, or in the early years when we opened operations in Egypt. Well, my colleague Gisela just came back from Bolivia and based on her excitement, has what I can only imagine would be the same feeling.
That’s the magic of travel you see. The emotional connection is powerful as we all know, however the only thing more powerful is the vision one has when they visit a region that has not yet fully emerged. It’s the ability to see the full potential of a country even when in many cases, the country cannot see that same potential for themselves. That is where we are with Bolivia. This is Peru 50 years ago, this is akin to going back to the origins of why we travel, and there is nothing more powerful than that. Those of you who watched our dispatch during her visit, saw the winery she found in Part II (visit this blog page to see that video) and the local communities.
Dispatch Part III does include a familiar location in Uyuni, however, this exploration went far beyond the known entity, to one of the untouched countries in Latin America. In fact, we were so enthusiastic when we heard about Gisela’s experience, we decided to create a new program, our new Presidents Pick, The Sleeping Giant.
Please enjoy this week’s video.