Moving to new homes and traveling to destinations both near and far have been some of the most defining events in my life. Moving as a child meant learning foreign languages, hopping around from school to school, trying to fit in with my classmates, and accepting different cultural norms (You really have dinner at 5 pm? We never eat before 8!).
My personality, breadth of knowledge, and outlook on life have been shaped both by the different countries in which I have lived and the travels I have been fortunate enough to experience. I have learned not only to accept different lifestyles but also to embrace them. A few years ago, my husband and I were driving around southern Portugal trying to find a fleur de sel producer to whom we had been briefly introduced the previous year. We had met at a local fair but I hadn’t gotten a business card and didn’t even know his name. I vaguely recalled his company had a round logo. But I was adamant that I would track him down. And so I did.
“After the square with the main church, go through a little café, walk all the way through and go out the back and there you’ll find him,” someone told us. We did as we were told and there he was. He didn’t remember me, but I certainly remembered him. This was our guy. He spoke of his fleur de sel as if it were poetry. He was passionate, enthusiastic, enthralling! An hour went by, then two, then three… we tasted all kinds of sparkling salt crystals and suddenly he said, “Does this interest you?” When we said that it did, he just said, “Then meet me by the cemetery at 6 pm.” The cemetery? “Yeah, and wear flip-flops!,” he shouted as we were driving off.
The cemetery was just a geographical reference. We were there precisely at 6, he arrived shortly thereafter. “Come, I’ll show you how it’s done.” And off we went to learn how to collect the thin, delicate crust that forms as the seawater evaporates. It is magical, this caviar of salts. He showed us how to use the butterfly-shaped sieves (let me tell you, it is not easy!) and just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, I heard him yelling “No! No! No! Can’t you tell how it’s different from the fleur de sel you were just collecting? That one isn’t any good!” And for a couple of hours we just shared his love of nature, forgetting our busy city lives, laughing, learning and letting ourselves ease into something we had never imagined doing.
This wasn’t a one-time experience. We took our children there the following year and we had as much fun as they had, enjoying it all over again. From a vague recollection of a logo, a friendship has grown. Above and beyond, this first experience triggered many others and was the idea that led to the creation of Off Course Unique Travels. Thank you, Jorge, for inspiring us from that very first day!
Our stories, own experiences and how some “behind-the-scenes” on how we create new and different ideas for our travelers.