When I decided that I would be attending Hispanicize 2013… I made a decision to make it the best trip ever. I wanted to do something I have never done before and still focus on the “work” of attending a conference of this caliber. I was fortunate enough to have received an invitation by the General Motors Diversity team to cover the costs of my trip and to get to know them better, an invitation I gracefully accepted. Now in order to make this trip EPIC I needed a few things, these are the things I listed;
- A few extra days before and after the conference
- A car (my plans involve a lot of driving)
- Fully charged Galaxy 3, Blackberry and a new Looxcie Camera
- The willingness to just explore and connect.
I left JFK via JetBlue on April 4th (after long delays due to a mechanical issue…) and arrived at 2am in Orlando, Florida and was greeted by my cousin Andy and my Mom. They took me to Mama’s house and believe it or not, she offered me a full plate of food in the middle of the night (que linda) but due to my new dietary habits, I could not indulge even though I really wanted to. My plan was to spend a few days with family and start making my way down to Miami for Hispanicize.
On Friday morning the folks of GM Diversity had delivered a brand new Chevy Volt to my doorstep to help me get around. The Chevy Volt, whom my readers named Ruby Candela is an electric car, equipped with GPS, ONStar and SiriusXM Radio (I LOVE SIRIUS) and so it began. In the days prior to my departure, I started to get invites from FB friends I have never met in real life, a few from people I have met but never really hung out with and last but not least some really good friends from college.
I will be honest but when they told me that I would be getting a Chevy Volt, I was concerned about comfort. It is no secret that I am a big guy and with that said… I have been in other cars (Hybrids) that are not too comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised that not only was car bigger than I thought, it was very comfortable. The dashboard was a geek’s dream come true… car alerts, computer diagrams and the main screen that manages the GPS and Entertainment Hub was pretty cool (I felt like Michael Knight). I actually wanted to get the full experience of an electric car so I decided to charge it for the first night to see…. and just like the manual said, it took me about 38 miles without a single drop of gasoline. That made me think, my commute to work is only 14 miles. I can use this car daily and almost never have to refill (at least until my day off). The biggest surprise of all was how many people during my entire trip complimented the car and asked me questions about the logistics of the charging. People are starting to get curious, I know I am.
If you a curious about this vehicle, check out their website that will give you the full scoop.
Saturday was filled with family fun that included my baby cousins Anicia and Giselly making videos that ranged from Ani playing soccer to both the girls reviewing Ruby Candela and finally a family only version of the Harlem Shake.
So on Sunday, I leave Mama’s house to have Brunch with Wilson Camilo, one of my social media buddies doing amazing work in the state of Florida. He invited me to his beautiful Orlando home for a Colombian themed breakfast that included tortilla, pan de bono y arepas. While Wilson cooked breakfast for me… we had an incredible conversation about the Latino market and shared ideas about future projects. I even had the opportunity to meet his lovely wife who joined the conversation and shed some insight about her favorite social networks and parenting in this new social era.I then headed out to Lakeland, it turned out that one of my long time readers, Michelle Acevedo who had relocated to Florida from the Bronx, knowing I would be in Florida and invited me to the Florida 500 celebration in Lakeland. The Latino themed block party was to feature Tito Puente Jr later that evening so I made my way to Lakeland from Orlando for some face time with my reader Michelle and her husband Otto for some Bacalaitos and Alcapurrias.
After lunch and a sugar free Tiki Cone, it was time to make my way down to Port St. Lucie for a traditional Dominican dinner with my old college buddies (and Fraternity brothers) Felipe Lopez and Peter Morales. Dinner was full of dialogue about my trip to Hispanicize. Felipe and Peter both were curious about the theme of the conference but even more so about what Social engagement can do for the projects they already work on. Before you knew it we had a full blown workshop going as Felipe’s wife Rachel and sister in law joined the conversation about their entrepreneurial dreams. I venture that it is safe to say… that I need to follow up with them and give them access to some tools. Peter who had been driving down from Niagra falls had coordinated to meet me at Felipe’s house so that we can then drive down to his house in Pembroke Pines.
And the food???? OMG I cannot forget meeting up with my friend Pamela Harris (a Capicu supporter who recently moved to Miami) and Joey Olivo at Versailles for some real Cuban Cuisine. I also had a great conversation with Maria Rodriguez who had dinner with me at Puerto Sagua in South Beach as we discussed healthy initiatives and social media. I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness… (oh yeah and in both cases… the food was slammin)
I thank my friends (old and new) for rolling out the red carpet for me… it was a time to remember… pura familia time.
I am glad that I did not treat this trip the same any old business trip, and this was just the beginning… by the time this trip would be over I would have sung La Bamba with Lou Diamond Phillips (see video below), toured La Calle Ocho, reconnected with Emilio Estefan, Rick Najera, Susie Albin Najera & Pegine Echevarria, launched a memorial scholarship Fund, met hundreds of new contacts and received an award in memory of my buddy Louis Pagan. This trip has been an experience that truly humbles me and helps put everything that matters into perspective.
This is the life I want to live every day…
A very special thank you and warm abrazo to the whole GM Diversity Team – Gloria Tostado, Connie Burke, Stephanie Ruiz and Catherine Cuello for being amazing hosts and for doing the little things that are crucial in relationship building. Se te agradece.
and now for the video you have all been waiting for…. ( I come in at around 1:20, I was too busy talking to Gina Rodriguez, star of Philly Brown and I missed my cue)
Last but not least, PLEASE consider donating what you can to the two little girls that our friend Louis Pagan left behind. We are trying to ensure that they both get the education we know Louis would have worked hard to give them if he were still here.
George Torres The Urban JibaroCultivando Cultura since 1997…
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