A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Category — Kindness

Cold Town, Warm People


Dani wasn’t herself on the five-hour bus trip from Cusco to Puno.

In the fifteen years we’ve been married, she’s always been a hearty traveler.  But on this trip she was queasy from the moment we left Cusco, as we made our way across the high Andean plains towards Lake Titicaca.

We had ascended nearly 2,000 feet on the journey, and were adapting to the thin air at 13,000 feet.  We also had to contend with temperatures dipping into the thirties, by far the coldest we’d experienced since leaving home.

After checking in to our hotel we found Edgar Adventures and booked a day long tour of Lake Titicaca for the next day.  Then we had a quick dinner and returned to the Plaza Mayor to turn in early – we knew we had an early start the next day.

A few hours later, I heard an awful noise coming from the bathroom.  When I went to investigate, I found Dani in terrible shape, battling a horrific case of food poisoning.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so sick.

And of course, like a fool, I’d left the first aid kit with our antibiotics back in Cusco.

Dani suffered through the night.  Every time it seemed the stomach cramps had eased, they would return stronger than ever.  By the time the sun rose, it was obvious we weren’t going on a Lake Titicaca tour that day.

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September 10, 2008   4 Comments


Some days it feels as though the world is working against you; other days the breaks seem to fall your way. And sometimes, if you can both quiet and open your mind, providence appears.

Just as I had begun fretting about the trip again (obsessing, really), an email from Dan Clements arrived in my inbox. I didn’t know Dan, but he had found this web site and decided to send me a note of encouragement.

Dan also shared with me a copy of his book, Escape 101: Sabbaticals Made Simple.

I have to admit that when it arrived in my inbox, I was skeptical. Few things in life feel simple these days, least of all sabbaticals.

But I set aside my skepticism and read the book’s prologue. I was hooked. In his book, Dan organized and articulated many of the fleeting thoughts I’d had over the past year as I had tried to prepare mentally for this trip.

When his book arrived, I had been caught in a vicious cycle of plan-worry- plan-worry and was digging myself a pretty deep rut. I found myself trying to plan for every contingency – in some cases for things that would happen more than a year from now.

I was beginning to question my own sanity for thinking we could do this.

Then I read this passage:

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March 18, 2008   4 Comments

The Kindness of Strangers

I spent the decade from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s working in politics, a business where information is considered a weapon.

I learned to guard what I knew, to not share it with anyone, not even my co-workers or clients, because you never knew what piece of information might one day enable your success – or hasten your failure.

In the mid 1990s I moved into the corporate world, working primarily as a consultant to mid- to large companies. I had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the workings of companies in dozens of different industries, from aging industrial conglomerates to high-tech businesses.

Perhaps I was naïve, but I was surprised to find how closely corporate America guarded the most basic information – not just from people outside their companies, but from people within their companies, from colleagues, bosses and employees.

The thinking in politics and business, I suppose, was the same: Information is the coin of the realm – be careful how you spend it. Never share it willingly. Because you never know when you may need it to gain advantage.

What a breath of fresh air it has been to talk to travelers.

Since I started planning this trip, I have reached out to complete strangers. I have solicited advice with nothing to offer in return. I have asked stupid, naïve questions.

And I have been greeted all around with openness, honesty and a generosity of spirit. Every person I have contacted has responded thoughtfully, in detail and with a sincere desire to help.

Let me share two examples.

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January 28, 2008   Comments Off on The Kindness of Strangers

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