Volcanoes, Scorpions and the Glamour of Public Speaking in Guatemala

So there I was, 300 feet above the Guatemalan jungle, in my socks, talking to some very smart people about my newest book, “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  

Take a look at this picture. None of it is doctored:

Me speaking at the Remote Work Summit at the Eagles Nest Retreat in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala

All my life I’ve dreamed of traveling to exotic places, seeing the world, and speaking about my passion; helping people communicate more effectively and making work suck less. This is a moment few people will ever experience (or even believe me when I tell them about it.)

I was miles from home and civilization, speaking at the Remote Work Summit, overlooking the jungle and talking about The Long-Distance Leader. Yes, the attendance was less than expected and disappointing, and yes, I was staying in a place with no air conditioning, a bathroom down the trail that I shared with 5 other cabins (and a passive-aggressive scorpion,) it was the rainy season, and when I wasn’t walking through the rain to the banos, my roof leaked. Travel logistics were a nightmare, but I got to see sights like this:

Lake Atitlan from San Marcos la Laguna

Because of my schedule, I couldn’t stay for the whole conference so I was up at 4:30 Saturday morning for a sometimes-terrifying 6-hour journey to the airport. Passing back through Antigua, I saw Monte Fuego at the end of an alley and took this picture:

Monte Fuego the day before the eruption

Sunday afternoon, my phone blew up with messages, asking if I was safe. Turns out that lovely mountain now looked like this:

The volcano erupted on Sunday, June 3

Basically the paradoxes of life were encapsulated in this trip:

  • I got to travel to an exotic place to speak about my work and met some amazing people, but it wasn’t the financial success I had hoped for. The story of my life.
  • It was a frustrating, crazy trip with a lot to whine about, but I saw and experienced things I would never have seen otherwise, and despite the mental and physical exhaustion, I’m grateful to have gone.  Also a recurring theme.
  • I was bitching about some of the logistics and accommodations, and having to be up at 430 in the morning, and leaving the conference early. Yet I got out before a horrible disaster that has left dozens dead and many people unable to get home. I am one lucky sonofabitch.

If you’d like to see all the pictures from my trip and read some of the commentaries, I have made the flickr page public. Check it out

As a writer, these experiences are priceless. Like the late, great, Steve Goodman once said, “we do it for the stories we can tell.”

 

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Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a writer, speaker and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. Originally from Canada, he now lives and writes in Chicago. He lives with The Duchess, Her Serene Highness, and Byron, the world's crankiest cockatiel.

One thought on “Volcanoes, Scorpions and the Glamour of Public Speaking in Guatemala”

  1. Wow! What an adventure! I bet your experiences can be great fodder for your next novel. I thought about you when I heard about the volcano. So glad you’re safe. Wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing.

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