We've almost made it through the Fire Swamp, and have encountered some rodents of unusual size, but we're here. We stand on the precipice of a new time. Politically, practically, and generationally. With the election seemingly behind us, and more now than ever, our nails begin to pierce the armchair as we look towards the future. How fast, when, where, what and why? It's all going to happy in due time, and most of it is out of our control.
For the travel side of the equation, we are experiencing what it must be like for the runner waiting for the gun to go off in an Olympic race. When is the right time to release a trip? Will customers travel? When will the vaccine be enough to lower restrictions? It's tough for us but let me say there are so many professionals involved in this industry that have stuck it out. Changes have been made behind the scenes for the future of travel. Good ones. Changes that have needed to be made for a long time and this pause provided the room for it to happen. Changes that are permanent and I for one am for it.
I've had to reevaluate everything. Resizing trips, when to offer them, pricing, places, partnerships and most recently adding imports from the places I visit. Here's a few buns in the oven:
A.) Moving ahead, any new trips created will contain even more purpose. We'll be searching out ways to connect cultures and worlds.
B.) You can expect to see more of the arts involved in all regions we visit. Whether it be hands on, observationally, auditory or otherwise.
C.) By the time we leave there will be a positive impact on both the community we visit, and those involved on our trips.
This year has changed the way I see the world, and I believe the change is profoundly good. We're going to make a difference, and should you decide to come along, so will you. A not-for-profit is in the works to sponsor youth travel, promote cultural heritage, and education. A new Fair-Trade Import-Export business has begun, and is only at the very beginning stages, with the name and domain obtained. These things aren't in conflict, but in harmony, and it's my hope that through travel we make a meaningful difference. I'll be updating you throughout the process by live video and more blogs.
Between now and then, I wish you a Very Happy Holiday. If anything, this year has taught us how Important the bonds we have between us really are. I'm grateful for the ones I have with you. Let's bring in the new year with a sense of optimism, hope, healing and gratitude that we have survived! Until next time!
Update: As a result of the experiences I've had throughout Ecuador and Costa Rica, two trips have been born. The first is Expedition Ecuador. This is a culturally immersive experience, and the reflection of my experiences in and around Ecuador.
The second is Costa Rica Exotica, built from time spent in San Jose, Mount Arenal, Monteverde and Quepos. The Ticos are superb hosts, and the wildlife is like no other. It looks like a promising future ahead, and I'm just about to enter the season for Black Hills and Badlands Tours. See you soon!
As the incredible visit to Ecuador comes to an end, it's time to focus on what's ahead, and it's right around the corner. Earlier in the year, I had put out a few departure dates for Costa Rica Exotica, but I've decided to focus on one, February 11-21. I did this because it's a special time of year (Valentines), and because the vendors in Costa Rica were willing to sharpen their pencils, and I was too.
I know many of you out there are just waiting for the right moment to travel, and I can tell you this is it. Quite a bit of work goes into putting together an awesome Adventure, and this is one of them. The people, vendors, accommodations and tours are just part of a bigger picture. Right now is unique in many ways as you know, but for this trip it's a jump start in renewing travel and what I call Vacation Revenge.
It's beginning to happen, and I prefer to be ahead of the curve. Many Americans are making plans to get out and explore the world. Already, there have been exceptional deals out there, but this one stands out above the rest. I'll replicate it for next year, but likely at almost double the cost. It really is the last chance to take advantage of low pricing due to the lack of travel. In this package, every part is special. It includes extremely luxurious accommodations in El Castillo overlooking Mount Arenal, Treetop like housing in the Cloud Forest area of Monteverde and Ultra Luxurious accommodation in Quepos with Manuel Antonio National Park along the coast.
I've secured a private chef to travel with us, private transportation, all your tours, meals, welcome and farewell dinners prepared in our homes, thermal baths, beach days, time on your own, and visits to some of the most outstanding biodiverse places in the world. It's all online. This trip is not a money maker for me personally. It's designed to provide a safe visit to Costa Rica, an extreme value to you, an opportunity for me to meet new clients, and a way to help the people of Costa Rica. I assure you, its safe with many protocols in place , mostly outdoors and includes the special touches that guests have come to expect from My XO Adventures.
I encourage you to seriously consider this offering, with $500 off per person if booked before December 31st. It's the best way I know how to kick off the year with a big bang. Currently we are half full, and this will be a maximum of 10 guests. Check it out, and come along. You'll love living life again. Pura Vida!
Quito, Baños, Riobamba, Latacunga, Cotopaxi, Sangay, Chimborazo, the Amazon. For the last of the international journeys of the calendar year, this has been quite an eye-opener. It also has a real chance of charting the course for my future. Before we get started on that, let me say that I've found Ecuador to be full of beauty and surprises. Ecuador beyond just another vacation destination on the list of places to consider visiting. It is alive, breathing, mystifying, vibrant, rich, TASTY, ever-changing, and popular with ex-pats for good reason.
Take a second look at the picture above. I'm standing at the base of Chimborazo Volcano. Looking out over the sunrise I have "The Alter" to my left and Sangay to my right. The Alter is what remains of a great volcano that after7 years of activity finally collapsed. What remains are the four peaks that locals say are monks, thus the name. To the right is Sangay, one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is overdue for a major eruption. The setting is perfect. Rarely does it happen that you can see both sites on the same day with such clarity. I felt honored. On top of that, one of the most famous Volcanoes you cannot see but is directly to my left, fully lit by the sun, and called Chimborazo.
Most people hear Ecuador, and the first thought is the Galapagos Islands, but if you came here to see just that, you would be making a great mistake! Quito is a colonial city and drastically different from the Coast. Riobamba is at the heart of the country and just about every type of food or product passes through. In the Amazon, your thought of life and living is turned completely upside down. In between, you see geography like nowhere else.
As of this writing, it's almost 3 weeks of exploring here. Staying in modest accommodations, meeting friends along the way, eating some of the best fruits and veggies, and experiencing an ancient Shamanic Ceremony in the Amazon. I have 5 days remaining, and for these, I intend to make the most. I'll be visiting Otavalo, a market to the north of Quito. While there I'm going to visit an authentic family-owned textile operation where Alpaca blankets, scarves, hats, indigenous socks, leather products, and Tagua jewelry are made and sold. I'll be bringing back as many items as I can, and perhaps this is the beginning of an import/export business in Ecuador. I'll find out and will be taking photos and videos of the process. Once completed the products will go up on the website and Facebook for anyone to purchase.
As for a group visit, this one is more active for sure. I'll be putting together a visit for those of you that like the great outdoors, are in good physical shape, and the thought of climbing mountains flips your switch.
Last, I want to note that I have been following along with the current state of the vaccine, and all the politics that go along with the health of the Nation. With that said, I have been in discussions with my partners in Costa Rica and have negotiated better pricing for February of 2021. This is a Valentine's Getaway on Costa Rica Exotica Extraordinary. The normal rate is $2599, and I have been able to negotiate down to $2099 per person. You'll need to make the reservation by letting me know directly, so I can avoid unnecessary merchant fees. I've also worked with them to make this happen and have brought down my cost as well.
It's going to be a group of no more than 10, and include two locations of luxury accommodations, one of a more Treehouse feel in Monteverde, tours included, transportation while on the ground, meals, etc. Currently, there are no testing requirements to enter Costa Rica, however, it is something I must insist on in order to protect the group. I'll need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure and a verbal agreement to keep as isolated as possible before leaving.
I assure you, there will not be another opportunity like this in the future. Check it out and let me know!