Monday, April 4, 2011

Endevour to make your world better

An ode to what the letter "E" means to me...

Photo Source
Long ago in a land far away...know as North Dallas...there was a young teacher who volunteered for everything and lost herself.  She decided that the only way to stay sane was to walk away from teaching completely.

Okay you got me.  The young teacher was me.  Walking away meant getting my MBA.  The later part of getting my degree I signed up to work for a travel company, Iantosca Travel.  It was a boutique travel company meant to cater to high end travel.  When I was brought on I was asked to create a niche division that specialized in accessibility travel.  Overwhelmed, the only thing that kept me going was my trip to Africa.  Honestly, I never believed he would send me until I took off on the big Delta jet.

Touching down in Johannesburg, SA I had no idea what was ahead of me.  Greeted at the airport with a chauffeur driven car I was whisked away to my five star amenities.  They didn't last, but weren't missed.  Another plane in the morning landed us gently into Botswana.  It was exactly like you see on the movies.  The plane parked in a slot in front of an over sized tin building. We unloaded and walked across the tarmac to the building to await our bags.  They were in the pickup truck behind us. The bags were unloaded and thrown onto a folding table/customs.  Welcome to Botswana!

Mike Hill, the owner, (on the left) his crew are the guides and cooks that met our every need.
It was small town Texas, with different wild animals.

Mike, the owner of Endevour Safari,  picked us up and took us straight to his home for lunch and to freshen up before heading out to the bush.  When I say "us," I was with two couples.  There was an older couple from England.  She had MS and was in a wheel chair, they were the sweetest of the crew.  The younger didn't click with me.  They were from Colorado, he was in a wheelchair after breaking his neck/back after a failed dive into the water from a boat.

Mike loaded us into his modified Land Ranger that had a power-lift on the side for the wheelchairs and seats that could be pulled to make room for wheel chairs and the straps to keep them safe.  Mike had the dreamiest accent, and knew everything there was to know about wilderness survival.  Very HOT!!  He didn't say much at first.  He did a lot of people watching, eager to learn about us.  He always stepped in to help and seemed to be right where he was needed.  I was suppose to present him with the partnership agreement.  I think he could tell that I was nervous and didn't know when to do business. The first day there, after an unbelievable journey to our camp site he escorted me to my tent.  He said then, "Don't worry.  We will meet there is no rush maybe Wednesday." That would be three days into the safari.
My chic adobe.
After three days of finding my rhythm in the wild I was comfortable with my personal scent, dirty nail beds and hair that could not be penetrated by any human made brush.  Mike told me, "Okay let's meet after lunch."  I dug through the reeking pile of dirty clothes and found the professional agreement and tried to think about what in the world I was going to say.  

Today, I have no idea what I said.  I do remember how he looked at me.  Not like that.  He saw a professional that wanted to take his business to the next level.  It was empowering.  In that moment I asked him to tell me about his business.  I asked him to tell me where he saw his business in the next five, ten and twenty years.  There was a moment of pause.  He asked how my boss at the travel company had found me.  He hinted at his need for someone with my experience to work for him.  (It would have been a dream job!) 

Then with a smile he laid his baby of a business in my lap.  He spoke of a dream to start his own adventure resort for everyone.  One that did not discriminate on ability level but allowed you to have adventure on your level where ever that was.  He spoke of encouraging training and education for local people and encouraging travel to areas of the world many overlooked. His vision for equality on a global scale for all people gave me goose bumps.  

He was living his love, his passion.  It was a family mission.  I loved every part of it but felt a stupid loyalty to my boss in the states.  Needless to say, I quit the travel job a few months after I returned home.  I wanted to feel that same passion for equality, and for a dream.  My boss at the travel company was more interested in money then any global mission.  I couldn't support it.  Instead I returned to my own path of creating equality through education.   

The only thing that kept me working for my short sited boss at the travel company for so long was my loyalty to Mike and his dream.  I didn't want to disappoint. So I beg of you, if you have never been to Africa and are thinking of going.  Give Mike a call and tell him Valerie sent you.  It will change your life and you will never regret it. It will feel like you are visiting family in Africa and they will walk you through everything.            

There are nights when I dream about what could have been if...

What motivates you more money or passion for what you do?


  1. Very tempting indeed...I have never been to Africa. Hope I will go one day!

  2. You are right Val. There are so many places and people that live a lot differently than one will ever see in a resort area. The rapes in Congo, the sex trade of underage girls in Asia, or the forced female mutilation of women in certain cultures. We might think we have come a long way in the last century, but there are so many ways that have not changed for so many people. I find the passion in my job for the ability to communicate, because if we couldn't share our experiences whether good or bad, then we would never know what needs to change or that it is possible as an option.

  3. @Jannet- I don't think the world is full of scary places. I think it is a balance of beauty and ugliness that is not just "out there" it is everywhere. I got a lot of resistance when I said I was going to Africa. I think it was fed by ignorance of "those" places. At the core we are all human and have more in common then different.

  4. You sound like you have had an adventurous life like I have. It's amazing when you have time to sit back and think about it. The perspective it gives you, the patience to put up with the little things because, in reality, they are all little things.