I was born in Medellin, Colombia, but at an early age my family moved to Panama where I grew up. All my life I dreamed of traveling but my parents were rather sedentary so only as an adult did I start to enjoy my passion.
My career ambition was to become an architect, but the one university in the city that offered the degree was constantly closing due to strikes as it coincided with Noriega´s last year in power. Since my father would not allow me to study abroad, I had to settle for the next best option: Communications and Marketing. I did not have the faintest idea how I would apply it or where I would work. While in college, I opened with my mom the first chocolate store in Panama, but at the time, my uncle had a travel agency for him to enjoy the pleasures of travel. However, since he was not on top of it, as his main business was something else, the agency was riddled with financial and labor problems. One day he approached me and asked me if I would be interested in taking over the business or else he would close it down. So, without any knowledge of the industry, I jumped into it and started to run the show and thus started to enjoy my childhood passion.
Shortly thereafter, the industry started to undergo major changes: airlines cut commissions and 9/11 brought a big blow. It was my chance to put into action my marketing and communication skills learned in college. Since people were reluctant to travel then, I figured I would show them the world, especially my neck of the woods in Latin America where terrorism was not a major concern, and so, for the past 14 years I have been the proud host, producer and director of my own travel TV show, Bon Voyage, which aired in Latin American cable and now airs only on local Panamanian TV as it became too much of a commitment on my personal life to handle a regional show (YouTube: bonvoyagetvsandy, in Spanish). Eventually, I grew the company into what is arguably one of Panama´s biggest and most reputable, and opened wholesale and representation divisions, and bought out my uncle. Today, I handle for the local and Central American markets brands such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, various tour operators in Europe, and river cruises, among others.
I now realize everything in life has a reason: I was not meant to be an architect, but rather the owner of well-known agency, a master of social media, and host to the most seen travel TV show in my country.
Jack (From Chasing 193 vol. II) -
I was born in 1969 in Bogotá to a traditionalist and cultured family of Eastern European immigrant Jewish parents. As such, I was brought up under a heavy inﬂuence of World and Jewish history — a family tree where no two generations were born in the same place and with a very dramatic recent past. I lived sheltered within a small community and with a strong feeling of being part of a minority in an overwhelmingly Catholic, third world country, still backward, where FARC guerrillas and Pablo Escobar´s war on society were the norm and the mentality of people was not yet open to the wider world. But even so, life was great and happy.
The sense of being diﬀerent was always important. Since very young, I grew up with a strong inclination toward world aﬀairs, politics, cultures and with suﬃcient exposure to world travel. I distinctly remember sitting on my dad's lap and reading maps, skimming through the Encyclopedia Britannica, and learning from him about world history every night before going to bed. To him I owe a huge head start in life.
I had the fortune of entering the world of traveling at a very early age. Every summer I would visit my maternal grandparents in Budapest. We would spend two months together with the family and always, before the start of the school year, we would go to some other place in Europe. Maybe this marked me from an early age as diﬀerent; Hungarian, rather than English, was my second language. Life behind the Iron Curtain was the ﬁrst ‘other world’ that I knew, and not the beaches of Cartagena or the parks in Orlando. I got accustomed to watching the news of the Vietnam and Angola wars under the Soviet prism and not the American. Getting to Hungary over 40 years ago was a long journey, one that implied changing planes many times in diﬀerent countries — the weather, the way people dressed and the language would change at every stopover. In each destiny I learned one more history, heard a diﬀerent language; tasted new ﬂavors, learned about a new hero or anti-hero, about a new God. And everything, absolutely everything, would become a new adventure.
I was not yet 10 when I realized through the Guinness Book of World Records that there were people truly dedicated to seeing the entire world and that it was indeed achievable. I remember reading about a Bengali fellow who had been to about 154 countries. When I turned 15 and had been to 15 countries, I realized that life was not long enough to continue at such a slow pace. When I ﬁnished high school, I had already traveled around many European countries and some places in the Americas. For my high school graduation, my father allowed me to choose the destination I wanted to go on vacation. His surprise couldn’t have been greater when I told him we’d go to South Africa. It was with that whimsical moment followed by that trip that I opened a new page in my travels, now to remote and exotic destinations.