The Thrill of International Travel

Tonight I watched one of my favorite movies, Lost in Translation. While I am not a fan of the ‘taking a break from my wife’ part of the movie, I relate very well to this movie. In a prior job, I had had many assignments that required extensive travel. My job in Grand Rapids had me travelling all over the US as well as to Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada and other parts.

In the movie, I relate to the character Bill Murray (Bob Harris) to a certain extent. During my job with the large supply chain logistics company, I had felt an emptiness associated with a life on the road. Yet, I made peace with it – and more. When I was struggling to find peace and comfort whilst on the road internationally, I would not look far but to enjoy the moment. I was lucky in that my customers would accommodate me in almost every regard.

One particular example was in Venezuela. There, I had a had a project to modernize a critical system for the largest parcel/freight company local in Venezuela. I was very busy at the time, but knew that I needed to deliver a quality project to this client. The year was 2006. When I first reviewed the project materials, I was overwhelmed. Luckily, the project budget accommodated some additional trips in the project.

On Monday, July 3, 2006 I flew to Caracas to start the project. Due to safety advisories at the time, it was advisable for Americans not to arrive at night. In order to do this for my situation (Flying from Grand Rapids), I needed to organize a complex itinerary. I flew  Grand Rapids –> Atlanta –> Mexico City on Delta, then changed to Mexicana to fly Mexico City –> Caracas to ensure a daytime arrival. This was an overnight flight, but was worth it given the paranoia I had pre-arrival. Once I arrived, the client met  me at the airport with signage and a designated driver. We then started our business meetings and project without incident. I will never forget one point of that first day, July 4, 2006 in Caracas; however. The client took my visit very seriously. No client thus far in my consulting career had taken such an event so seriously. That was very much appreciated by me. We had snacks, a line up of the managers from the client, and a PowerPoint presentation that said “Welcome Rick Vanover from USA.”

A side note, in Caracas, there is a restaurant called “VistaRollio” or something. It was very good. Smoky, savory meats served tableside with an array of side items. I can’t find a link to the restaurant, but wow was it good. (I may have just been really hungry).

While my current professional responsibilities do not have me jetting off to exotic international destinations, I will never forget this particular event. Hopefully those of you with international travel requirements will some day have a client with as rich an experience as this.

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