A final note from me to you…

Home now barely 48-hours. Reality hard to digest as jet-lag and place-lag take their toll. That surreal feeling as the mind spins, yet the body is numb. What time is it? 

For the 15th time, we have successfully managed to play host to some great international travelers who circled the globe from Vancouver, Canada to New York City–the long way. Truth be told, our now annual event, The Global Scavenger Hunt, is an anthropological enterprise of sorts–all about people and culture–with the actual traveling but a means to that end. It is–if I can coin a phrase that may have already been uttered somewhere else because it seems so damn perfect a portmanteau–our event is a geodrama of sorts. A geodrama that combines actors with a stage. And since we all know that “all the world’s a stage” as Shakespeare so cuttingly put it, our planet is the stage in this case and we travelers the mere actors playing on it. And over the last 25-days we saw hundreds of exotic backdrops and thousands of interesting supporting characters join in the production. In its simplicity it was an epic madventure–another portmanteau. (But I think two in one paragraph is going too far. So, no more.)

I remember the faces I saw, because…

We’re all the same...

How do you recap that last three weeks? Our (the Road Officials) passive experience is so much different than our competitive travelers active site-doing experience is. We set it all up–hoops, quick sand, red hearings, fool’s errands, challenges, coffee runs, grand adventures, and all–but don’t actually indulge in many of the scavenges though. But here’s a quantifiable taste of what took place: we personally required 18 separate flights* (the teams only 9 or 10); we stayed in 11 different hotels/Airbnb apartments (the teams a few more no doubt); we ate in over 50 wildly differing establishments in 10 countries (the teams way more); and had to chair 17 informal sit-where-you-can (hopefully) brief event related meetings–but who’s counting!? Oh yeah, and 36,737 kilometers (22,827 miles) visiting 25 unique locals, from: the Mekong Delta to Inle Lake, West Vancouver to Mandalay, Abu Dhabi to Petra, Bangkok to the Greek Isles, Fes to Porto, and Marrakesh to Brooklyn. Whew…not to mention the 300+ scavenges that a few teams experienced along the way! Hmm, seems that it was more than just a little trip.

Our 2019 theme was: Chasing Life…you have to go out and get it. And we think they did. Sure, there was drama. Sure, there were new friendships to be made. Sure, there was anxiety, uncertainty, suspense, apprehension and stress…but there was also: eagerness, fulfillment, accomplishment, wonder, awe, bravery, contentment and happiness. That is what makes our little international geodrama, at some point you will laugh and at some point you may cry. It is impossible to be neutral about some of things they have seen and done. Impossible. That is in fact, chasing life

It was a time for our travelers to get out of their comfort zones for a while, to get away from their autopilot routines where they see without seeing, taste without tasting, and listen without listening. It was a time they could be challenged, to participate, to enjoy freedom of movement, and to live in the moment. To accept the serendipity of time and space. To live fully. To me, that is what travel, when done right, makes you feel–truly alive! Questioning every assumption. So, our hope over the past three weeks was that our participants became both liberated from their daily routines and passionately empowered to engage in the world. It sounds like a paradox, and maybe it is? The duality of their normal obsessing about yesterday’s and tomorrow’s, versus the actually being in their here and now. We saw a transformation take place in all our travelers…front and center we saw emotions rage and thoughts reel…we saw the usual three stages of traveling around the world on our event evolve from fear, to doubt, and to utter confidence…as they faced down their fears with confidence and intelligence to ward off jet-lag, language difficulties, inter-team dynamics, intra-team competition, cultural faux pas, exotic fevers, logistic snafus, time-zone fatigue, bouts of nostalgia (aka homesickness), place lag, contagious diseases, aggressive touts, and cultural shock. They did it all. Lived each moment…participation here is a full-contact sporting activity in The Global Scavenger HuntAnd you know what? I think for the most part we accomplished our goal again–and no one died achieving it! Of course, you can’t please everybody…some chose not to play the game, not to embrace the spirit of the event; their loss.

I remember the sights…

…and site-doing:

We also hope we answered the burning question once again, or more to the point, prove our thesis: that authentic travel is still possible in the age of reality TV and smartphones. Travel shows today have moved toward an over-the-top, unattainable type of travel; raising expectations beyond attainment…with the reality being that everything you see and do traveling can’t always be followed by exclamation points. But in our case, it was!!!! We surpassed expectations because you can’t have expectations when you are taking A Blind Date with the World and don’t know where the hell you are going or when. The ultimate magical mystery tour sans the tour part. Convenience today is all destination and no journey…we wanted to take them on a journey. Sometimes struggling is not a problem…we wanted them to be challenged. Happily, by design these are event features, not bugs.

And so now it is over. I firmly maintain that traveling around the world remains the last grand gesture…circa orbem “around the world” is extraordinary…yet obviously possible….the Great Circle..for travelers still curious about what’s beyond the next bend. Like a kid, I still believe that–now 17 laps later! I know that human nature is all about going beyond the horizon; and that hopefully going there broadens our horizons both literally and figuratively. So, the newbies are now veterans; the old salts more in love with travel still. We have gloriously crowned the winners–The World’s Greatest Travelers who won the 2019 edition of the world travel championship–and the losers have mentally imagined all their woulda, coulda, shoulda’s a thousand times by now in their heads. Next year. Yes, we will see some of you again; but for some it is a fond farewell, bon voyage in life. But our hope for all of you is that each of you take a few moments out of the coming days to be still for a while and digest your unquantifiable numerous experiences…to feel them, expand on them…and turn them into lasting lifelong memories. Smile…you did it!

The graduating class of 2019’s The Global Scavenger Hunt! Congrats…
Thank you all. Travel safe and far.

Flight Nerd alert…our 18 aircraft included:
Embraer E175 (2x)
Embraer E195 (2x)
Bombardier Q400 (2x)
Boeing 777 (3x)
Airbus A321 (2x)
Airbus A320 (2x)
Airbus A319
Airbus A330
ATR 72
Boeing 737-800 (2x)
PS> We just want to categorically state that the positive interactions that occurred over our recent four-day visit to Myanmar had absolutely nothing to do with the negotiations that finally induced the Myanmar government to release the two Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters reporters who were freed from prison today after more than a year in detention for covering the country’s deadly crackdown on the Rohingya minority group. It was of course, just mere coincidence, again.