When we first met back in 1998 we realised we shared a sideways way of looking at things. We both gravitated towards one-a-kind things and places. We noticed that it was the quirks in life that kept us wide eyed and beaming.
Years later, in 2003, we hooked up again in Manhattan. We explored the city with awe and gusto, flying through traffic on our push bikes. We were playfully excited; the collectors of local secrets. Towards the end of that month, in an early hour of the morning, sitting on ledge of a third storey Greenwich Village apartment, legs dangling, speech slurred, and voices louder than they needed to be…. We declared that we could live a rich and splendid life together if we stayed “devoted to our inquisitiveness-ness”.
It was there and then that the seeds for Dufflebird, and a life together, were planted. We felt a commitment to feeling alive in daily life, to staying curious and to always keep looking for the secret door.
Years later, engaged and based in Melbourne, we happened across an unusual cabin on 5 acres: A country hideaway. There was something about the place that words couldn’t describe. It was something beyond than the unusual design, something other than the love and details that had gone into building it, something more than having zero neighbours within a mile radius. This was a feeling we both knew. An enchantment we’d felt before when travelling to foreign lands and far flung places.
It was in the slip-stream of our honeymoon that the pivotal news landed. We were officially the new owners of the cabin on 5 Acres. It was ours. We were the only guests of a jungle family in Costa Rica, in a thousand acres of National Park on an inlet with no road in. One of the most biodiverse places on earth, we were on a high from the hundreds of bug, bird and animal encounters. To this point in life we’d been searching for personal highs from an inner urban buzz and the wilderness. With the new property, we had an intense feeling that we were being taken in a new direction.
Over dinner we tried to make sense of how we felt with our jungle loving host.
Raymond explained that if you find a place you love, the greatest enjoyment is not from being there yourself. The greatest joy comes from sharing it. By entertaining guests at Dolphin Quest, Raymond got to relive his passion with each new arrival. His passion was unmistakable.
“To the Innkeepers!“ declared Raymond fairly swiftly into our evening. “Inn keepers?” we grimaced , “We don’t know the first thing about hospitality”. “An entrepreneur and a nurse with a lust for life, people and travel?” said Raymond. “You have the perfect skill set!”.
“Your cabin won’t be for everyone and that’s ok”, said Raymond. " You really want to work hard at trying to resonate with likeminded people. Everybody is nurtured and nourished by different things. Like my guests, your people will be curious types. You actually want to deter people who aren’t a good fit. Be really clear about who you want to serve. This is my my secret sauce to having fun and not getting dispirited." He tutored in a considered learned tone.
With a three way chink, we'd inadvertently decided to share Liptrap Loft and to work hard at trying to resonate with kindred spirits.
A pod of dolphins visited the next morning.
Liptrap Loft became a success, won a few awards and a lot of hearts. Some friends then asked us to manage their place near by and Dufflebird was on its way. For more about Dufflebird, see Why Dufflebird.
Now, when we get to any of our places, the first thing we do is to read the guestbook, curious to hear guests stories. They are invariably more passionate than reviews left online. Sometimes the creativity and effort that goes into it is astounding and heart-warming. Reading the guest book makes us feel like we have struck a harmonious chord, if just for a few moments.
We can feel guests looking sideways, giving us a salute or three way chink.