Watch our brand manifesto to learn about what OhThePeopleYouMeet stands for and why you should join the movement of journey seekers heading out into the world to meet inspiring people, doing inspiring things and help share those stories with this community of global citizens.
We are a global collaborative of contributors who create content for travelers, foodies and philanthropists seeking authentic local connection.
A Letter from the Founder & Chief Content Creator
In the spring of 2011, I joined the Adventure Travel Trade Association, a global membership organization to more than 700 responsible businesses, destinations and media who advocate for sustainability and justice worldwide, on an advisory meeting in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. When we touched down in a helicopter in La Palma, Chiapas we were greeted by the children of the town. Since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how to marry the world of luxury travel in which I work and helping the local people who make each destination so special.
In an interesting turn of events, a corporate reorganization left me with the time, means and passion to make it happen. I contacted Africa specialist, Askari Travel to help me, a solo female traveler, plan my epic journey across Africa. I spent three months exploring the lodging, food, wine and beaches, locate the BIG Five on safari, but most importantly the people who make each place unique. Whenever I return from a trip, it’s always the human connection that serves as my favorite memory. Tourism is the world’s largest industry and has the power to help people in need through sustainable initiatives. Luxury can have a conscience. And who isn’t interested in knowing how these safari lodges create such gourmet meals without running water?
On April 6, 2012, I departed for my three-month journey across southern and eastern Africa. In advance of my trip, I launched this content site, OhThePeopleYouMeet.com, so you can learn about the interesting folks in each place, the FAB hotels & lodges I am staying in, and use OTPYM as a resource for planning your dream trip to Africa…and if Africa wasn’t on your bucket list, hopefully inspire you to reconsider. In June 2012, when I returned from my life-changing journey across Africa, I came to two revelations:
1) there are so many other destinations in the world to explore where travelers can have a relaxing and culturally immersive vacation, but still work with travel companies who are sustainable
2) there was no possible way that I could cover the globe in a timely fashion myself. I’ve enlisted the help of our Traveling Team, to share their insider knowledge, in order to provide travelers with unconventional service-oriented travel tips
OTPYM strives to provide relevant and edgy information, whether it’s eating out in Portland, Oregon, or Giving Back while traveling through Peru. Please enjoy our stories, photos and videos from destinations all across the world. We would love to hear your favorites too.
A Humorous Letter from Our Founder
Michaela Guzy, Founder of OhThePeopleYouMeet, has had the pleasure of trekking across this fabulous planet for the past decade and she is totally addicted. Perhaps the most enlightening part of travel for her, is the more places you go, you realize there is so much more to see and so many great adventures awaiting you. In creating this site, Michaela came across an email dated November 15, 2009, addressed to her close friends and family…let’s just say it continues to circulate. It’s one of Michaela’s funniest memories from abroad, that required a large glass wine (or perhaps several) afterwards. Hoping you enjoy and looking forward to hearing about your stories from the road.
Subject Line: “Oh sweet Jeezus”:
I just had the most hilarious and mortifying experience of my entire life. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so hard. To set the stage: I’m in Marrakech, Morocco for a conference with my very formal, prestigious and well-respected senior colleague. She’s about 60. Can I re-emphasize very formal? So I’m honored when she tells me that she has arranged for a spa treatment for me with her at this private palace. We arrive and there is the standard Moroccan chaos taking place and let’s remember no one speaks English. I follow her into the changing room. They instruct us to get naked via hand gestures. Ok, so you think, this is the worst of it. Hell I’m in Northern Africa- why not?
Ever heard of a hammam treatment? Well this was even more outrageous. I say goodbye to my colleague and am lead into a room by a fully clothed Moroccan – MAN. Right…I’m instructed to sit in a room with nothing more than a drain on the floor, a faucet and a bucket. He disappears. About 5 minutes later he reenters in what we in America would refer to as see through boxers and escorts my colleague in (she was wrapped in a towel by the way- I was not given the honor). My heart is in my stomach. He gestures for one of us to come up and of course she nudges me. He then gesticulates that I am to lay on the floor face up! He proceeds to rub every (and I really mean every) square inch of my body for 20 odd minutes. He spread my legs, put my right leg over his shoulder…it’s really just making me blush even typing this. He then takes out the equivalent of a loofah and scrubs me down. Then it’s her turn and she decides she would prefer a massage and leaves!
So I think, ok, I’m done. But no! Back on the floor I go all slimy with soap. He literally grabs me by the feet and pulls my wet body over the floor until he has me just where he wants me. I thought it couldn’t possibly get any more insane. Ha! Let’s just say it was yoga, naked and slimy with a non-English speaking Arab man throwing my legs over my head, apart, and three times in a row he lifted me over him (envision the game “airplane” you used to play as a kid). Did I mention he made little kissy noises each time he spread my legs? I mean I was seriously crying I was laughing so hard. I couldn’t breath. Then he threw a bucket of steaming hot water at me. A sign I took as the completion of the treatment, but once again, my cultural barometer was off…
He proceeds to peel an orange and squeeze above my head. Rubs oil in my hair. Pushes me into a pool of freezing water and then gave me a shower. The best part is, I paid to be man handled and was even expected to leave a tip. Oh well…I’ll chalk it up to one of my most memorable life experiences. Hope you are all well.
Xxoo from Marrakech,
It should be noted that this email was sent to a few close friends of Michaela’s, her parents and sisters. By that evening when she walked into an official event at the trade conference in Morocco, Michaela was fairly famous. People were coming up to her laughing as she stared in horror at strangers’ blackberry screens. Apparently, Michaela’s email went viral. Even as late as November 2010 in London no less, she had a client who wasn’t even there, come up and say, “I saw the email”…considering she receives 300+ emails a day for work, this wasn’t a telling clue. Being a natural blonde, it took him leaning in and to say that one of his employees who is no less than six-degrees of separation (and was also not at the conference as he lives in Dubai) shared her “story from Marrakech” with him. It was then that Michaela realized, it may take her some time to live this one down. Her dad also asked to be removed from future “culturally enlightening” emails. He prefers “how they do it in Missouri”.