Dear Advisor Partners,
Well, I’m back from Colombia, I think this is visit #1,546,485 for me, or it feels like it at this point. I fell in love with this country back in 2006 during my first visit and keep going back every year, sometimes multiple times. You know what drew me in? The fact that this country was willing to work harder, tell their story better and improve faster in order to show you that their past, while still a part of their identity, doesn’t define their future. The fact that this country is where it is today, is a modern miracle, one I am grateful to have a special bond with.
What made this visit extra special, was that I got to share it with an amazing travel advisor, Landa Mauriello Vernon of Largay Travel, and her son Andrew. They were exploring Bogota and Medellin on a custom Big Five journey she called Mommy and me. You see her son Andrew, who is one of the smartest 18 year-olds I have met, is about to head off to college, so this trip was a last hurrah before he begins this next chapter in his life. Their adventure started with graffiti and history in Bogota with our masterful guide, and modern day Indiana Jones, Leon. It elevated to paragliding and ATV explorations in Medellin, with our expert story teller guide, Juan. The story became really special in Communa 13 as this dynamic duo of mother and son met our guide Kabala, local celebrity in his own right, and someone I have the honor of calling a friend. Now, I met up with Landa and Andrew on their last few days while in Cartagena, where they were exploring the old city with Vicky, our resident guide, and real life energizer bunny! We met up for a farewell rum tasting and dinner with one of my closest friends, Abraham Dau of El Arsenal. (You will see Abe mentioned in a lot of our blogs, as he and Angie opened their hearts to help those in need around Cartagena, with their cause becoming an adopted Spirit of Big Five Foundation project). Picture this moment, Landa, Andrew, Abe, me, my wife, and my 2 young kids – all at a rum tasting, all having way too much fun together! We shared stories of Landa’s adventure in Bogota, which included a story involving her passport you will just have to ask her about. We laughed proudly at the courage she found to go paragliding in Medellin in order to impress Andrew. I was really proud that my children got to hear from someone else what their father really does for a living and about how real our commitment to sustainability is.
I have been in this business officially since 2002, and unofficially my whole life. In that time, this is the first time my family got to interact with travelers enjoying a Big Five journey while in country. It made me so happy to show my family, what I couldn’t property explain for 20 years when asked what the best part of my work was. It was made extra special by Landa sharing her experience out on the ocean helping us replant red mangroves as part of an on sustainability initiative we started in 2019, because my family got to do the same thing the next day. I remember seeing the posts on Landa’s Facebook page when she shared she was going to Colombia. The comments ranged from is it safe, to are you nuts and everything in between. Then I read her comments on her final post before flying home. and it ranged from “this trip looked amazing” to “wow what an incredible experience.” That is the transformation we see whenever anyone says they are going to Colombia because that is the power this country has in transforming one’s emotions. It is the same transformation that occurred to me in 2006, and the same that we now see on a regular basis.
I give special thanks to Landa and Andrew for letting me share their story in brief. If anyone wants to learn about her journey, you can find her contact information here.