Welcome to the Casa Oficina. That is the house that is an office, or the office that is a house. Not technically – we don’t actually live here (although during the busy season, many of us feel like that!). We affectionately call it the Casa Oficina because it’s an old Minneapolis house that we remodeled into the new Knowmad Adventures office, and although filled with desks and computers and coffee makers and such, its underlying texture is that of a light-filled home.
Here at Knowmad Adventures we plan custom, authentic trips only to South America and our work environment reflects that unique, regional niche in the travel industry. Not only do souvenirs from our travels double as decor – ceramic Peruvian bulls meant to bring luck, a worn map torn from an atlas, mate cups, and sheepskin – but the Latin concept of familia carries through as well, especially when we all gather around the “conference table” for a meeting, video Skype in the remote members of the team, and share a good laugh. We keep it pretty casual too, stashing actual shoes for the in-office meetings with travelers, but largely wearing slippers and cozy, oversized sweaters.
We’re experiencing a late spring this year, which means that instead of the typical feelings of rebirth or fresh starts, we’re more in a blending type of mood at Knowmad – as in with some new, but really holding on to a lot of old. We’ve made some resolutions this year as a company: simplify, improve our resources, streamline our processes – all in an effort to not only “work smarter, not harder” as the old adage goes, but to actually work less too.
Our busy season (summer in Patagonia and lots of travel planning for all of South America simultaneously) coincides with long, dark days in Minnesota and it’s easy to justify an extra hour spent in the office. We love what we do, and there is for sure a comradery formed during this season, but every yin needs its yang and now begins the season of our own exploratory trips to South America. As we embark on these trips where we discover new terrain, maybe wander through a different market, sleep in a lodge nestled in an Andean valley, or just have a conversation with a guide over a cortado – we bring home stories from our journeys and a certain energy pervades the office. We get to share in the thrill of the late night packing, the herd of guanacos that delayed the jeep, or the mouth-watering pachamanca feast.
The more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve realized that we’re really into compartmentalizing things here in the U.S. You have your family, your friends, and your colleagues. But what about your mom that’s also your friend? Or your colleague that’s also family? Here we have work, and then we have life. Maybe what we need is a little bit more life breathed into our work?
The lines have always been a bit more blurred for me: I am lucky enough to work in travel, my absolute passion, with my life partner and husband. Our team is small and we care well beyond “how was your weekend?” small talk. We’re here for each other for the small triumphs or let downs and the larger, meaningful things – like the birth of a baby or the passing of a parent.
So, when I mention that we’re doing less ushering in the new this spring and more keeping with the old, it’s because we’ve realized we’re doing a lot of things right. This beautiful environment we’ve created, and not just referring to the walls that surround us, but the group effort put forth to value each other, to be a steward to our passion for travel in its most authentic state, and to be grateful for the travelers that come to us for our insight into the far away land they’re about to explore for themselves; this was the foundation of Knowmad Adventures at its conception and still is today.
Un Beso, Tara
Tara is the Co-Founder, Marketing and Operations Manager at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She first traveled to South America in college and is endlessly inspired by the cultures, food, colors and idiosyncrasies she discovers there. Read Tara’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.