What I Learned from 3 Islands and the Tango
In late February I traveled to Auckland where I fulfilled a speaking engagement before embarking on a cruise through the south Pacific. Now that I’m back, here are a few lessons I learned.
New Zealand: There’s no substitute for the personal touch.
While in New Zealand, my wife and I stayed for a few days with our friends Alan & Michele Watson. We’ve traveled extensively and stayed in hotels and Airbnb lodging, but there’s no better way to experience the world than in the company of friends. Wherever you go, if you don’t have some, make some.
For the record, Alan Watson – a recipient of the Queen’s Service Medal, by the way – may be the hardest working, most dependable, highest attention-to-detail man in show business. He has unbelievable dedication to the art, to his own work, and to his friends.
We had lunch at Oholei Beach Resort and the owner described the rebuilding they’ve done after many cyclones and life challenges. Faith, family, and personal determination have kept them going.
If you visit Tonga, make sure to see their show in the beautiful Hina Cave, right on the beach. Dancing, music, fire-eating, and a beautiful island legend make for an unforgettable experience.
While having a drink at Aitutaki Village resort overlooking arguably the planet’s most beautiful lagoon, I met a couple who had bicycled to the lagoon from another resort several miles away. They were hot and exhausted, and wanted a drink. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough Cook Island currency to buy more than one, and the credit card machine was down. They assumed they had no other options, so they were beyond surprised when I told them that the bar accepted U.S. dollars. The exchange rate was not ideal, but it was an option they didn’t know they had.
By the way, I had paid with U.S. dollars and asked for my change in the local currency. Among other things, Cook Island has a $1 coin, a $2 shaped like a triangle, and a $3 bill!
While on the ship, my wife and I resumed the ballroom dance classes we started on our last cruise. It takes courage to learn something in class one afternoon and then attempt it on the floor that evening, especially when you are surrounded by people with vastly more experience than you have. Sometimes it would take us a while to work up the nerve. But once we were out there, it was worth the effort even with my clumsy missteps.
Lesson? Don’t let fear or limited tools stop you from starting. Use the words, tools, and steps that you have and take action. You can keep watching and learning, but don’t deprive yourself of the joy of using what you know. The least experienced dancers on the floor are learning much more than any who are judging them from a chair.