There’s a lot special about joining a YPT tour, our great guides, our local relationships, the crazy destinations obviously go without saying, but one of the truly unsung elements that makes a YPT tour slightly different from a cruise down the Mediterranean is the people that come on our tours. Our destinations are somewhat niche, often times I have told people my job, and the places we go only to have them at me as if I was mad and say “you couldn’t pay me to go to (insert destination)”. Luckily, I don’t need to pay anyone to go, because whilst we represent a small niche, there are enough weirdos like us out there who want the adventure we offer.
So, whilst not an exact science, this tends to mean that most of our customers are more interesting and open-minded than your average cat. In fact, many of our customers say it is the extremely varied people that you meet that make a tour. I really believe this to be true. Most of the friends, business partners, and even the guys who work for YPT started off as customers. I am used to meeting interesting people, and it’s rare for me to be taken aback, then I met Dan “Tito” Davis.
The trip in question was our yearly Extreme Philippines Tour, where we start with a crucifixion and then spend the week getting as weird as we can. During Tito’s booking process, he’d managed to lose his wallet whilst seemingly doing a fair bit of globetrotting as a 65-year-old man, older than our average Pioneer, but hardly abnormal by our standards. I asked John, who had done the sale, how Dan seemed. He said, “he seemed like a cool older guy who just really liked traveling”. I can concur with this statement, but after spending a week chatting with him, I now understand why he has the travel bug.
In the late 70’s Tito invented what he describes as the “Red Bull” of the day: a drug slightly close to speed, but legally one molecule off, and thus free to buy. Dan then became an almost overnight millionaire, but being only 24 decided to invest more of his time on women and Ferraris than filing tax returns. Next thing you know he’s doing 5 years in prison.
Going to prison tends to do two things, one stops you being able to get a job when you leave, and number two acts like a version of LinkedIn for the criminally minded. When Tito left prison and couldn’t get a job, he turned to the contacts he had made in prison and then started smuggling marijuana, which again made him rich.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and pretty soon he was on an Interpol list of wanted people. So what did he do? He went on the run, for 14 years using multiple passports and aliases, whilst building up successful businesses in Venezuela. All before as he puts it he “got sloppy’, and was kidnapped and taken back to the US of A to face justice. He later received 18 years, which he managed to get down to 10 years, serving just under 9. I met him in the Philippines less than a year after his release from the big house, with his plan being in his words to make the most of the “last quarter”, and to make up for lost time.
So why the story? Whilst I, in no way want to glamourize smuggling drugs, tax evasion, or doing 14 years behind bars, spending a week traveling on a bus with a guy with tales like this was, without doubt, one of the most fascinating weeks of my life. A recurring theme of the trip was Tito telling us a story, after which he’d say “that one didn’t make the book”, which led two of our group (including me) to go out and buy the book immediately.
The book itself I won’t go into great detail about, you need to read it yourself, but its contents and the many tales that didn’t make the final cut are an amazing story of the human’s will to survive, sexed up with the thrill of a drug dealer on the run.
He’s now booked a few more tours with us, so if you’re lucky you might run into him, if not you really should buy his book, mainly because its good, but if nothing else simply to help an old gangster in the last quarter trying to make up for lost time.