I feel as if I know you only because of the many conversations you have had with my Auntie Barbara, and how your guides have shared your story and the development of your most successful company. I had every intention of writing to you after our first Fresco tour, 5 years ago, but like so many other people, a customer satisfaction letter fell further down in the priority queue. But not this time.
Over a year ago Auntie decided that the only way to celebrate her upcoming 85th birthday was to expand upon the incredible adventure she and I shared for her then almost 80th, but this time the trip would include her daughter and grandson. While delighted by the prospect of returning, I admit I had concerns. How would this woman with nothing but fond memories of Jason and Raul, ever be satisfied with different guides? These two men knocked it out of the ball park and gave us both the experience of a lifetime. She is fairly traditional in her gender role expectations, and she had often mentioned their strength and knowledge, and ability to plan and care for us. As we flew over the Atlantic Ocean, I reminded her, “Auntie- keep an open mind. This is a whole different trip. A whole new wonderful. So it’s probably better if we keep comparisons to a minimum, ok?”
Then came our first day of walking the Kinder Camino early this July. The steep climb left her winded, sweaty, and thirsty. She admitted that it was too much. It was time for Dora and Irene to work their magic. Immediately they created a plan that would enable her to be picked up by the ever dependable Manuel and get a lift to the check point stage, where she would get a cold drink, rest in the shade and greet us as we all made our way to gather.
From that first day on the trail, both Irene and Dora treated my Auntie with such respect and dignity, never making her guilty or burdensome. Their emphasis was 100% about finding a way she could participate, in accentuating her abilities, not her disabilities. They conferred together, using their wisdom of the trail and crafted an individual Barbara Plan daily. Their in-depth knowledge of the path enabled them to choose the spots that worked best for us.
This dynamic duo teamed up to exceed our expectations. Their chemistry is beyond positive, and they clearly enjoy each other’s company and respect each other’s abilities. Irene and Dora won us all over instantly with their wealth of knowledge, infinite patience, spectacular picnics, and personal touches. Irene anticipated that maybe the boys would play tennis at the manor home and acquired paddles for them, Dora heard me say I wanted to try local yogurt and secured some at an indoor luncheon. Several of us left items behind and they were magically returned. Vegetarian meals were never regarded as a nuisance or second thought. Our glasses were filled literally and figuratively. It’s the intuitive and empathic work of the guides in the field, in this case Dora and Irene, who helped make someone’s dream come true, even though the trip turned out much differently than she had expected. All of you made this woman’s dream a reality, despite the limits. Thank you so very much for that. We made memories that I will treasure always.