My Influencers- The Men that Set the Bar for Jordan, Congo, and Myanmar

My sister and I were escaping the rain in Milos, Greece when we spotted two men with an anti-Trump tote.  This sparked conversation of politics and travel.  Brian and his partner regaled us with stories and advice of fabulous places I hadn’t considered and by the time the rain let up the seed was planted for me to travel Jordan.  He left me feeling inspired and at the time I had no idea how much Brian would influence my journey.  His recommendations would guide me through several countries on three continents. 

In July, I missed them by a week in Venice during Biennale and was gifted a healthy list of recommendations for bacaros with the best ciccettis, happy hours, viewpoints and exhibits to check out.  How perfect. 

By the beginning of August, I had made it to Jordan.  I chose the low season when the heat is intolerable, tourists are few and everything is negotiable.  What an experience and how right he was.  

My friend Max and I at Petra, Jordan

As soon as I left that magnificent country, I called Brian to thank him for the stellar recommendation, “Jordan was amazing!!!! Where should I go next?”  His response was simple “you MUST do a gorilla trek in Rwanda!”  “OMG! Yes, that is brilliant.  I am planning on going to Tanzania anyways, Rwanda is right next door.  I’ll do it!”

Duomo in Milan, Italy

August / September I was in Morocco, Spain and France and en route to Italy to fly to East Africa and reached out to Brian again.  “What are the chances you will be at Milan Fashion Week in September?”  He said, “We’ll be there, unfortunately we have a full house, but let’s do dinner and drinks.”  I arranged a Couchsurf, headed to the Duomo to meet Brian and his husband.

While waiting they called and asked if I could meet them at the Louis Vuitton Shop in the Galleria Vittoria instead.  “No problem, see you in a few minutes.” When I arrived his husband was disgruntled and determined to purchase the LV Luggage bag off the shelf and did not want to be on the waiting list for the coveted duffel – a few thousand dollar dilemma solved with a phone call to their personal rep. in Paris.   Obstacles I’ll most likely never face.

We headed out for an Aperol Spritz on the river followed by a classic dinner of Veal Milanese in a charming restaurant on the outskirts of town. I ate the leftovers for two days while preparing to leave for Tanzania – my first Africa experience. It brought me comfort, knowing that Brian and his husband had been there and done that.

I ate this particular Veal Milanese for 4 meals.

I fell in love with East Africa and could have stretched my time in both Tanzania and Zanzibar, but was driven to Rwanda for my Gorillas. And just as suspected, Rwanda has also become one of my favorite countries to visit.  Again, I ventured the land in the off-season, this country’s rainy season brought views of lush tea terraces and lower prices.  When it came time to budget the gorillas Rwanda charged three times that of Democratic Republic of Congo so I got my visa and walked through the border to spend an incredible afternoon with these fascinating cousins of ours.  

Mother nursing a baby Gorilla in DRC

Post-Rwanda, another call to my faithful and fabulous guide.  A hot-air balloon trip over the temples of Myanmar is a must.  I seriously love this guy.  While in Asia, Myanmar was suffering from ongoing conflict so I am putting it on the back burner, but still on the list.

Our paths have yet to cross again, narrowly missing each other in Vietnam, Spain, Zanzibar and Cape Town, but he has steered me into dazzling directions. I love travel because it can be molded to any lifestyle and a large range in budget. If the will is there, you’ll make your own way.

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