Why do we do what we do? This is a question I get asked all the time about starting Kendi World Adventures.
It is true the travel industry is heavily saturated with “the big boys,” who can do things a small company like ours cannot. Things like, block out dozens of units at all-inclusive resorts for rock bottom prices, or get huge commissions from excursion companies for advertising on their web page. Still, we love doing what we do.
The truth is, we’re not trying to compete with those large travel companies. They work with a high volume of customers. Herd as many people as possible onto the tour buses, hire guides who walk ahead and wave flags with the company logo on them, so people can keep track of their group, and feed their customers, cafeteria style, bland meals that taste more like American food than cuisine from the country they are touring. That is NOT what we do.
Allow me to tell you what we do, then I will tell you, why. We are Kendi World Adventures for a reason. A Kendi is an ancient pot that looks a bit like a pot-bellied tea pot with a long snout and no handle. The Kendi pot was used communally and was most often filled with one of three things; water, during droughts the water that was gathered was shared among the community to refresh the entire tribe; tea, to bring the community together to relax, converse and bond as one; or, medicinal tonics, to revive the health of the entire community when illnesses broke out. That is how we approach our group travel. As one community. As travel partners, not customers.
We partner with our guests and come alongside, to experience the wonders of Costa Rica. We experience the culture and people of the country and we teach those who are new travelers to spread their wings and embrace this big beautiful world we live in.
But the bigger question is, WHY do we do it? Kevin and I have been happily traveling the world for over thirty years together. Why cramp our style taking strangers along with us?
Let me tell you about Karine. I first met Karine in our dorm room at a hostel in Beijing, China. A young girl, fresh out of high school from Quebec, Canada. Karine had been part of (or so she thought) a group of high school kids on a tour. Never having been out of Canada before, Karine arrived at the Jean Lesage airport only to discover a paperwork mix up meant she could not join the group. In a moment of panic, and with a round trip ticket to China in hand, Karine boarded the flight anyway.
She arrived in China, took a taxi to the hostel, and several days into her month-long stay, that was where we found her. Too afraid to leave the hostel, she had been to the restaurant next door and back again and had resigned herself to that routine for the duration of her stay.
We encouraged Karine to join us on some local outings, and three days later when we bought our bus tickets to Xian, we invited her to come along. For two weeks we traveled together. Karine became our travel partner through three cities and many excursions and outings. I watched her grow from a frightened child condemned to a month in one room in a big city, to a confident, competent traveler.
When we told Karine our next destination was Chongqing, she said she wouldn’t be going with us. Instead, she pulled out a map and a bus schedule and showed us all the places and adventures she intended to experience—on her own. We are still in touch with Karine and proudly keep up with her world travels as a solo traveler.
And THAT is why we do what we do.