Origin Stories: The Magic Peru T-Shirt

The story of how a magic t-shirt got me to the top of Lima

Life works in ways we can’t fathom.  Over the years of traveling, doing business and undertaking adventures, I’ve found that the unexpected encounters in life often have the greatest impact and open hidden doors. We can develop the best laid plans and strategies, but when you venture off-plan that’s where you find the gems. I carry this approach wherever I go. I keep an open mind, and embrace rather than fear the unexpected, ready for any opportunity, knowing there’s always something to discover.

Looking back to where I started, and the journey I’ve taken, the Epic origin story is littered with examples of this.  My story has four distinct parts, which I’ll share in due course, but today I want to tell you about the beginning of the last of those, Chapter 4: Perspective in Peru.

It all started with a t-shirt.  There’s an annual event held in Toronto called the Outdoor Adventure Show.  I’ve been attending it for years, first just as a visitor, and later, as an exhibitor and guest speaker.  At the 2017 edition, I stopped by the Peru booth, lured in by the promise of their free t-shirt.  Who doesn’t like free stuff? All I had to do was like their Facebook page. 

I got chatting with their rep Eduardo at the booth, gave him my business card and carried on exploring the show.  A few weeks later their office contacted me out of the blue and offered to take me to Peru.

WHATTT??  That one little conversation with Eduardo with a little Spanish sprinkled in had yielded a rather unexpected opportunity.  Sidenote – the two quickest ways to forge a bond with anyone are to speak in their language or to feed them.  I didn’t have any food to give him other than the free granola bars I got from other booths (don’t judge, you know you would have taken them too 😄) so he got my amazing Spanish instead.  I only understood half of what he said, and he probably got a quarter of what I said, but hey, it did the job. 

I was invited to attend the Peru Travel Mart, an annual travel industry conference to connect Peruvian companies with international ones.  Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail had long been on my bucket list so I jumped at the opportunity.  Before long I was on a plane for my first visit to mainland South America. 

It felt like a different planet, distant and unconcerned with the turmoil in the rest of the world. I made incredible connections with local experts and experienced firsthand how amazing Peru was.  After the conference I asked my new buddies Joaquin and Diego what has become my standard question for a new place: “What’s the highest point here?” I got some weird looks before I got the answer.

In Lima it was up a mountain past a sketchy neighbourhood at the edge of the city.  Diego loaded a pair of mountain bikes in his pickup truck and we hit the road.  His buddy Fred came along to drive the truck back.  As the pickup crawled up the dusty path that snaked around the mountain we bounced around the seats like a dance-off between rubber chickens.  Insider tip: always carry Gravol.

We finally made it and the cell towers were a good sign that this was in fact the top.  It was totally worth it.  We were overlooking the Pacific on our left, a giant statue of Christ down below, and the urban sprawl of Lima as far as we could see.    We dressed up like Robocop and rode down the mountain.  And then we did it again.  A helluva ride and one I’ll never forget.  It was epic. These are the experiences that I like to create.

That was just one of many indelible memories from the trip, and it all started with the magic Peru t-shirt. It reinforced a mantra I live by – whenever there’s a window of opportunity, take it.  Leap into the unknown and see how doors open.   It’s the leap of faith we need to take.  Stop thinking, overanalyzing, worrying – just do it. Whatever your dream is, go for it.

Don’t just exist.  Start living.

We’re going back to Peru soon.  Put your name on the list.

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