Sunday afternoon was the kick-off meeting for the Virtuoso Travel Week. It was probably not that different from meetings many of you have attended, with a few pep talks on a variety of topics. At one point they started to play a film presenting the life achievements
of Francis Ford Coppola. That was interesting but I forget how it connected to what had gone on before. Then suddenly we had Mr. Coppola himself on the stage! He stood a while, talking, then sat in an upholstered chair and continued, talking about how he had grown up doing this interesting thing, then another interesting thing, ending up making films, then owning a winery, then three resorts in the rainforest of Belize. He made it sound as if it all just happened; he was just Uncle Francis talking with all 3500 of us, his nieces and nephews, about his fun times – all the while wearing a pale yellow necktie and bright red socks. He asked for a question from the audience, and ended up telling us about how he managed to get notoriously difficult Marlon Brando hired for “The Godfather.” It was clear that he is very interested in the world around him, and that he likes to see if he can “do that too.” It was a wonderful encounter, and a great life lesson for anyone to take home. How engaged in your world are you? And when was the last time you set out to see if you could pick up a new enthusiasm? You never know which of your new threads will turn into your life’s work!
That was the surprising start of the week. Here are a few tidbits of other news from rest of the week.
There is a music tradition in Mongolia called throat singing. I expect that is what I heard Saturday afternoon from a man wearing traditional Mongolian attire. His voice was quite low and throaty (reminiscent of that old song by the Crash Test Dummies) but quite eerie. Then it changed to a high whistling sound like a bird call. Everyone listening was enthralled and amazed. At the same time he accompanied himself on a two string ‘violin,’ strung with braided horsehair.
The Swiss department of tourism always hosts fun get-togethers for agents. This year they said we would have a chance to try playing an Alpenhorn. I was delighted just to see the traditional Swiss horn “in person” and even more tickled actually to get a chance at playing it. I managed a few sustained notes at various harmonic intervals. Sometimes they were even the notes I was imagining! The Swiss expert who so generously let us test our “lips” could play four octaves; most of us just made unimpressive blats. We did have a grand time pretending we were musicians. I doubt any of us will make new careers playing horns, but like Francis Ford Coppola, we have tried it out!
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.