We all have a travel story that’s almost too random to believe. For Magellan Travel’s Andrew Macfarlane, it was that one time he was personally escorted to a plane by a Narcotics Officer in Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s completely unbelievable,” the Magellan Travel General Manager told KARRYON before explaining that he’d simply befriended a man at the airport bar, who later walked him past queues, customs and immigration, and right onto the plane.

“We had a really great conversation and then my plane was called,” he remembered. “I sort of signalled to say farewell and then he motioned for me to follow him.”

“I became really uncomfortable because it’s not the sort of place that you want to muck about… but it was an amazing experience.”

Read on for the full story and for more on our chat with the Magellan boss:

 

WHEN WAS YOUR LAST HOLIDAY & WHERE DID YOU GO?

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My wife and I had a flop and drop in Bali in July but I’m not going to count that one. Flop and drop serves a purpose but it’s not my favourite way to travel.

Our last big trip was as a three-week family holiday through Mexico. It’s such a great destination and so interesting in terms of its cultural diversity both with its Prehispanic and Colonial history.

Mexico is also very diverse throughout, full of passionate wonderful people, and great food. It has varied topography and geography from the mountains to the sea.

My one piece of advice for anyone wanting to go to Mexico would be – during our three-week trip, we only spent three days at a beach resort in the end. Do the same and see real Mexico.

 

WHICH PARTS DID YOU VISIT?

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Image: Jorge Ramírez/Unsplash

It was mainly the interior of Mexico. Mexico City, Chiapas, Yucatan, Merida and more.

 

CAN YOU SPEAK SPANISH?

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No, but when we got down south to Chiapas I wish I had better language skills because there was less English spoken there. Most other parts were fine.

 

WHAT’S HIGH OR NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

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Image: trans-siberian-travel.com

I’ve never done a long train journey and I’d like to do the trans-Siberian. I don’t think that’ll be in the immediate future but I’d love to do it one day.

I think you need a lot of time on your hands for a long train journey.

 

WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST OR MOST AMAZING THING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED WHILE TRAVELLING?

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This is going to sound completely unbelievable. I was personally escorted to a plane in Rio de Janeiro by what I think was a Narco Cop.

I met him at the bar at the airport, I thought he was just a regular guy. I befriended him and we were drinking together and then he took me to the aircraft and saw me on the plane. I only realised he was a cop when he pulled out his gun at the X-ray machine, handed it to someone and got it back on the other side.

It’s funny because I had time to kill, so I sat at this bar and I don’t speak Portuguese so we had one of those conversations that was like ‘kangaroo’. Then my plane was called and I sort of signalled to say farewell and he motioned like ‘come with me’.

I became really uncomfortable because Brazil is not the sort of place that you want to muck about, but we were stepping around queues, customs and immigration and then got to the X-ray machine and he saw me onto the plane.

This was when I was in my early 30s and he was young too. It was an amazing experience.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST EYE-OPENING THING YOU’VE SEEN WHILE TRAVELLING?

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Two countries that really struck me in a really similar way were Cambodia and Rwanda. That’s in terms of the resilience and the positive attitude of people recovering from genocide.

You meet the average Cambodian and if they open up about their story they’ll have a father or an uncle that died but they’re so positive about the future.

They’ve endured such horror and yet they so much want to talk about the bright future of their country and it’s the same in Rwanda.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN INDUSTRY NEWBIE?

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I think to be satisfied in our work it’s so important to be aligned in what we believe in. If you believe that travel broadens horizons, builds tolerance and understanding of other cultures and religions, and builds an appreciation of the natural beauty of the world, then we can be really grateful that we work in an industry that can be a powerful agent for social change.

Also, put your own personal passion into what you do on a daily basis, make sure you are aligned with your work, work hard and be ambitious. The rest all falls into place.

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