It was the best year of my life. Learning about Ecuador, traveling around, meeting new people, exploring new places. It was a dream job that lasted a year but felt like a day. Today this agency is one of the biggest operations in Quito and I felt extremely privileged to be a part of such a wonderful team.
After my year contract expired, it was time to move on. I was hoping to travel around South America before flying home and looking for a cheap way to do it. So I applied to be a tour leader a G Adventures. Prior to heading to Ecuador I had sat in on a workshop hosted by the founder of G Adventures Bruce Poon Tip. I was fascinated as he spoke about building his Adventure Company on credit card debt and that Ecuador and Belize were the first countries that he started taking groups to. So I applied, hoping I'd get a chance to work for this great company whose philosophy I always admired. Small Group Travel, to unique places that provide authentic experiences and allow people to really push their personal boundaries and make this world a better place via travel.
I had passed the first round of phone interviews, the next was to go to Peru to interview in person. Due to conflict in scheduling I was unable to go to fly over so I had asked if it was possible to interview in Quito. The women who had interviewed me had said yes it was possible but I would have to wait some weeks as the hiring manager was in Galapagos Islands. So I decided to keep myself busy until his return and started teaching again.
One day I was preparing for my class, when I began to watch Dead Poets Society. It never occurred to start my own travel agency, but there were moments where I thought if I was to start my own I'd do it just a little bit differently. Robin Williams inspirational words on Carpe Diem, was the catalyst that helped launch the idea of a travel business that is still running 13 years later.
It's funny how an idea can develop into a full fledged business, once you put ambition, drive and compassion to see the idea through. I actually didn't have much of a business plan other than I was hoping to set-up online and hoping to get groups to come and visit Ecuador.
So I started by calling a lawyer, the same lawyer who helped me get my Ecuadorian Nationality. I asked him how long it would take to get a business up and running. He said about 2 or 3 weeks. Naively, I thought this is easier than I thought. 2 to 3 weeks, turned into 2 to 3 months, and after so much frustration of having to work through the beauracracy I was about to give up. But then I said to myself, before I leave, I have to say I had the persistance to at least say the business was officially set-up before packing it in and going back home to Canada. So I persisted for another 6 months. Thankfully I didn't give up.
One night, I was leaving a night club and in passing I saw a person I remembered who was managing one of the more popular hostals in historical Quito. Even though he didn't see me, and his name had slipped my memory, I decided to say "hello". We started talking and he had said that the owners of the hostel were looking to put a travel agency inside the hostel. I said, awesome, set up the meeting.
All went well, we shook hands and CarpeDM Adventures officially had a home. By that time, my papers were ready and I was in business.
My first customers were Oli & Sophie, I booked them a trip to Galapagos and the rest is history.
Looking back, I'm surprised how things worked out the way they did. But it's a reminder that no matter what, if you believe in your idea, with hard work, dedication and faith all mixed in together, anything is possible.