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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2012
Around the World in a Land Rover or how to go traveling while running a firm effectively (9)
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Dreams of Adventures
August 29, 2012   
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Running a company from a distance is far from simple. Telephones and e-mails can never replace the physical presence of a boss. But with some organization and discipline, I was able to keep up with my team back in Poland, oversee them and manage their work. Even if some of them were taking their time and others kept pushing deadlines until the tomorrow that never seemed to come. My determination to carry through with the plan and use Skype to monitor my people’s progress on a weekly basis ensured that they did their jobs efficiently. As a young man, I learned from my own experience that I could only count on myself and needed to watch over the finest details, leaving nothing to chance. When I came to Poland, the company which hired me as their financial director was being run by a manager who lived in Italy. He told me: “You see, Igor, I have to come here every month to keep an eye on things myself. Whenever I’m not able to, everything just falls apart! People need us to watch them and give them new challenges. If you fail to do that, your employees will tend to get lazy.” He said what I already knew.

Having our car shipped from Cape Town to Buenos Aires was an adventure in its own right. We had to show up at the port twice to finalize the loading procedure, because someone at the port had forgotten to order the cargo container. As a result, everybody had to come to work again on Saturday when the port is normally closed. I should also mention that the port has a chief whose duty is to make sure everything is in place. Incompetence knows no limits! A few hours on a plane later, we arrived in Buenos Aires. The car was to be there in 12 days. We hurried to get to know the city, which seemed strangely familiar. The facades on the buildings reminded us of the architecture of Paris. Our white faces blended in with the crowd. That was something we had not experienced in a year. In the Middle East and Africa, the color of our skin would instantly make us stand out as strangers. Here in Buenos Aires, there was nothing that made us stand out, except our dreadful Spanish accents.

White people had come here from Europe five centuries ago. If you want to meet the continent’s indigenous population, you need to travel to Peru or Bolivia. The Aymara and the Quechua peoples living there call themselves natives, a designation that helps them if they lay a claim to land that was once taken away from their ancestors by the white man. Even though various laws entitle them to claim back these territories, the legal proceedings are so time-consuming and complicated that they discourage many claimants from seeking justice.

Buenos Aires is a delightful city. We rented an apartment in the Palermo-Hollywood district. What a glorious name! We succumbed to the charms of the Sunday antique fair in San Telmo, walked on the same floors which Evita Peron used to tread in the Casa Rosada presidential palace and we discovered rainbow houses in the Boca district, where the legendary soccer player Maradona was born. We met the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who for the past 30 years have been staging demonstrations every week, demanding compensation for their children who went missing during the military dictatorship of the 1970s. Almost 30,000 people died and went missing in those days… We stopped by the la Chacra restaurant to taste the famous Argentinean biffé de chorizo, which melts in the mouth like ice cream. And then we would make our day complete with a hot tango at the Cafe Tortoni. There is so much to do in Buenos Aires... You can’t possibly get bored!

Lucky star
Having spent a month and a half in the capital city of Argentina, we were back on the road. We were heading for Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world, as Argentinians like to call it. We traveled almost 3,000 kilometers south.

Halfway through our trip we made a longer stop on the Valdés Peninsula where whales are born, and killer whales, sea lions, elephant seals and penguins let people come close. We were now driving into Patagonia, something we had been dreaming of doing for long. Still, we felt tired of the endless distances, hundreds of kilometers of straight roads and monotonous landscapes. As far as the eye could see, fences guarded private prairies! There was no way we could drive away from that road. Gusting wind kept slowing us down and the weather was often rainy, the sky bowing to the earth as if trying to embrace it. Winter was about to begin. The temperature was going down the closer we were getting to Antarctica. Interestingly enough, when we finally pulled off the famous Ruta 3, we started missing it before we knew it. We were now crossing “estancias” driving down muddy dirt roads. The car could get stuck in the mud any minute and so I was driving fast, too fast given the extreme conditions. Then all of a sudden the rear of the Land Rover started skidding, as if fed up with always staying behind. I managed to keep control of the vehicle, maneuvered and finally got us back on track. But the next bend turned out to be that one too many. The car lost its balance, its two wheels went up and it seemed it was about to overturn. Those few seconds seemed like an eternity. We began to think of what was going to happen next. It was all happening so fast! There was nobody around to come to the rescue. We were overcome by fear, our faces frozen. But just as it had happened when we were in trouble before, our lucky star rose again to keep us safe. Instead of falling into the mud, the car was back on its four wheels and we could go on struggling against the wilderness.

One hostile territory was replaced by another and then we finally reached Tierra del Fuego. The landscape changed with forests, mountains, oceans, life. Firm ground ends on the Beagle Channel. A little farther south there is Cape Horn. God, wild nature is so beautiful! A surprise: the town of Ushuaia is not at all pretty. Hideous, that’s what it is. It looks like all the other places built during the conquests. What hits you is temporariness, cheap prefab houses and absolutely no esthetics or harmony to speak of. Still, the nature around the town took our breaths away. We camped out in the sunshine, in the rain or even in the snow. The temperature was low, dropping below the freezing point at night sometimes. The people we met later stirred powerful emotions in us. They kept us and our hearts warm...


Winter was approaching rapidly. We left the great South to try and find summer in the North. It was all upside down, twisted 180 degrees! We drove along and climbed the Cordillera mountain range in the Andes. One legendary road after another. The Ruta 40 in Argentina, the Carretera Austral in Chile, and then the Panamericana in Peru. They used to be stony paths where rivers had to be forded. Today, the thousands of kilometers get covered in asphalt one by one. Wherever civilization advances, adventure recedes.


Igor Jeliński, 41, businessman and traveler. After 15 years of working in senior posts for large multinational corporations, he swapped his career for a journey around the world with his family. Before departing, he set up two firms with two partners, Akcja Job and NelsonLamartine, which proved highly successful during the two years he was away traveling. While pursuing his dream and visiting the most distant and most beautiful corners of the world, he was able to manage his business effectively.
You can find out how he did it from his monthly accounts of his journey in the Voice.

Story by Igor Jeliński
Edited by Barbara Deręgowska
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