The Art of Selling Mangoes! (A Note on How to Travel Well)

May 17, 2017

One of the many reasons why I love selling travel is to use the lessons I learned while sailing around the world for 11 1/2 years when helping clients create a travel itinerary.

I love local markets AND I love mangoes! We had the boat in Galle, Sri Lanka and I would walk to the main, outdoor market every two or three days. We did not have a refrigerator on the boat, so we only used ice. This would last about one to two weeks and then we would have to load up again on ice, which is why I shopped more often to keep the food I bought fresh. But I digress. When shopping in the market, I would always look for the best stall that stood out and shop with them over time to build loyalty.

There was a mango seller that just stood out when I first arrived at the main market of Galle, Sri Lanka. Mangoes were all he sold, but, boy, were they great mangoes! He would sell small piles of 4 mangoes, each lovingly placed in a pile. None with a blemish or a bruise. The third time I arrived at his stall, he was ready for me with my own carefully chosen pile. It would not do to just buy the small pile of mangoes, he would ceremoniously take out a beautiful knife that was very sharp and he would peel and slice one mango in the pile for his client to taste. This was a ritual that he created to give the client the feeling of being the most important person in the world. His focus was on the client. The mangoes tasted even better after this ritual of tasting. Once I agreed to purchase this group of mangoes, he would wrap each one, carefully, in newspaper to protect them for the walk home.

The mango salesman was always there, always ready with my special group of mangoes during the two months of living in Sri Lanka. And then…it was time to depart for my next sailing adventure. I notified the mango seller through an interpreter of my impending departure. The mango salesman understood, and wanted to know if I would have tea with him and his family before I departed. I happily agreed. So, on the appointed day, I arrived at his home. The small house sat in the middle of an amazingly well tended mango orchard. Large trees, ten deep in all directions around the house,  draped full of mangoes. In front of the house stood the mango seller, his wife, and his two children waiting for me. The home was well built with a hard packed dirt floor, and the whole home, inside and out, was clean and well tended. Each family member was wearing their best clothes. The two girls were home from school. I was ushered into the home where we sat and chatted as the two girls were learning English in their school. The tea had been harvested and dried by relatives in the central part of Sri Lanka that had a small tea farm and it was so good. We had a lovely afternoon of chatting, learning of their lives and they learned of my sailing trip and my home of San Diego and the US. When it came time to go, I was given twelve mangoes to keep me fed and taken care of on my next adventure. Twelve! That was three piles he would not be paid for the next day at the market. My loyalty to him, in his view, was to be returned by those twelve mangoes to make sure my onward journey would go well. The art of giving.

I do not sell mangoes. Instead of selling, I create travel experiences that transcend regular travel. I love puzzles and I see  each trip as a puzzle, with the traveler’s desires and interests as the pieces and his broad knowledge of the region as the blueprint to fit them together.

So go ahead, buy those mangoes and meet the seller! You are in for an experience!To read more of Kleon’s background and how he works with his clients – Check out Kleon’s profile at Wendy Perrin!

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