Trip to Branson…a Rough Start


Well, our great family expedition to beautiful Branson, MO got off to a horrible start.  Luckily, we were able to get things back on track, but oh what a mess!  Our trip started out as most family trips do.  The kids were whining about having to spend an entire 5 hours in our Land Rover…these kids have it so rough.  Teenagers are a unique breed.  Anyway, we got the car all packed up with our suitcases and a cooler full of tasty road snacks.  I actually packed some new spices that I wanted to bring to one of my friends who runs a food store in a town close to Branson.  We hit the road promptly at 8am.  Things were looking good.

Earlier in the week, I had taken the Land Rover into my mechanic to just make sure everything was working properly and that it could handle the 5 hours there and back.  Standard procedure.  My mechanic had it for 3 hours and handed me the keys assuring me that everything was good to go.  I have been using the same mechanic for several years and I have never had any issues with him.  Needless to say, I was not concerned about the condition of my vehicle on this trip.

The first hour of the drive was completely uneventful, other than my wife having to stop to use the bathroom…twice.  What are you gonna do!?  We stopped at a big gas station off of one of the main exits.  I bought the kids some candy to keep them happy and I bought a big coffee for myself to stay sharp on the road.  We were listening to the new John Mayer CD and everyone seemed to be content.  About twenty minutes after we left the gas station is when the problems began to occur.

My wife, Hazel, started to notice a slight odor of burning in the vehicle.  I shrugged it off and assured her that it must have been my coffee, which was not very good, but what do you expect from a gas stations.  Then, my daughter,  Amid, also mentioned the smell.  I started to think I was crazy, because I did not notice anything.  All of the temperature gauges seemed to be at normal levels.  I was not concerned.  Then, a sure sign of overheating presented itself.  There was smoke coming from the hood of the Land Rover.  I smelled it now!!  My wife gave me one of those looks…you know.  I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and got my family out of the vehicle as fast as they could move.

I popped the hood and couldn’t believe what I saw.  It was the most disgusting thing I think I have ever seen or smelled for that matter.  There was a dead squirrel on the engine block and he was on fire!!  I ran to the back of the Land Rover and grabbed the portable fire extinguisher.  I bravely returned to the front of the vehicle and discharged the extinguisher putting out the flames.  What an awful smell.  Anyway, the fire had done enough damage to the engine compartment that there was no way we were going to be able to continue our journey in this vehicle.  I reluctantly called a tow truck, and they showed up in an hour and gave us a tow.  Luckily we were all able to fit inside the tow truck.

The tow truck driver took us to the nearest service station.  The mechanic there said I was going to have to call my insurance company, because the car was most likely a total loss!  What a bummer.  Stranded.  Luckily, my insurance company provides a free rental car in situations such as these and they were able to actually send the car to us at the service station.  What a relief.  The rental car showed up two hours later.  It was a really nice Ford Explorer.  Luckily, none of our belongings were damaged in the smoke.  We loaded up the Explorer and continued our journey.  What a mess!  I’m going to miss the Land Rover.  It was the first “luxury” item I bought when Viva Pablo started to make it big.

Hopefully, this is the last setback on our journey to Branson.  Stay tuned for more details…

Planning A Trip


My wife approached me the other day and said that it was time for a family vacation.  I agreed with her and then the process began of choosing a great spot.  Now where does a father take his family when he has been all over the world?  No don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a big extravagant vacation as much as the next guy, but I was thinking that this time around, we go on the most touristy and cheesy vacation imaginable.

What better place to go than Branson, MO?  I haven’t been there since my wife and I were newly weds.  We went there for a friends wedding.  Yes…I have a friend that got married in Branson.  It was actually a very entertaining wedding. So anyway, the wife agreed that Branson would be a great getaway and we could actually drive there.  You have no idea how much of a hassle it is getting my children onto an airplane. Ha.  Tommy, one of my most trusted employees, agreed to take the reigns at “Viva Pablo” while we take our trip.  We actually are leaving this Saturday and will not return until the following Thursday.

The kids are very excited.  We booked a hotel that has an indoor water park and a bunch of other activities to keep the children occupied. We would like to go see a show or two while we are up there, so if anyone has any recommendations please comment on this post.

I will post a “review” of our trip and experiences in Branson when we return.  I look forward to telling you all about it.  And hopefully Tommy doesn’t “burn things to the ground” while I am away at Viva Pablo.  Until next time….

The Spice Guys

Its not every day that you come up with an idea that will change your life forever.  But that is exactly what happened to me on February 21, 2001.  I was working my tail off in the spice shop, as usual when a young man walked through the front door.  He was wearing a Yankees ball cap, blue t-shirt, and a pair of cargo shorts.  I remember it as if it was yesterday.  I greeted the young man and asked him what it was that I could help him with.  He said that he was shopping for a gift for his mother’s birthday.  He and his family had just moved to Norman from New York City and apparently there was a spice shop down the street from their flat that sold a spice that his mother loved.  He had been looking for the spice since moving but was having no luck.  I asked him what the name of the spice was and although I had heard of it, we did not carry it.  Light bulb went off in my head.


I hopped on the shop’s computer and told the young man that I could order it for him through the manufacturer’s website.  He shook his head no and said that his mother’s birthday was the next day and obviously the spice would not arrive in time.  I ordered a case of it anyway and told him to stop by in a week or two and I would give him a good deal on the spice.  He thanked me and went on his way.  I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if there was a website that spice companies worldwide could sell their spices from one central location.  I had some friends in Norman that were quite educated on the internet and how to build websites.  I set up a meeting with them and told them my idea.  Needless to say, they were intrigued and agreed to work on the site with me to achieve my goal.

The website started out as a very simple webpage with only a few spice vendors taking advantage of the idea.  Within two years, however, the website had grown into a very well known site in the spice world.  Viva Pablo was the name of the website and let me tell you the best part.  People pay a lot of money to advertise on popular websites.  I hate to brag, but the money was really starting to roll in.  Companies from all over the country were starting to take advantage of the popularity of my website.  And it wasn’t just spice related companies.  I had kitchen remodelers, knife manufacturers, and even a roofing company, Norman Roofing Co. right here in good old Norman, Ok was advertising on my site.  It was crazy.

At year 5 I had over 2,000 spice vendors using my website’s services.  All of them were paying a monthly membership fee as well.  I was able to sell our quaint little house in Norman and buy the house of our dreams in nearby Oklahoma City.  I even bought season tickets to the NBA team here in Oklahoma City…for the whole family!!!.

The website continues to be a powerhouse in the spice world and the sky is the limit for what it can do for me in the future.  Once again, I am not writing this article, or any article on the site for the purposes of bragging.  I’m just trying to show how a great idea, hard work, and perseverance can pay off.  One of the greatest advantages of my success is the ability to travel all over the world.  Whether its for business or pleasure, I spend a large part of my life seeing the world.  In my next article, I will tell the story of my most recent trip, to Ireland.  Believe it or not, they have some great spices in Ireland.  Till next time…

The Adventures of Pablo Ventilla


Hello everyone.  Just wanted to take a quick second and thank all of you for visiting my site.  It is a real honor to be able to tell you the tales of Pablo.  My company, Viva Pablo, has been in business for over 20 years and has become a global powerhouse.  It didn’t start that way of course.

I began my career in the importer/exporter field back in 1998.  I worked as a traveling salesman in San Antonio, TX.  I flew all over the world.  For a young man, this was a great adventure.  I remember riding Elephants in India on the way to a spice traders palace.  So exciting.  This is where I fell in love with spices…but more on that later.  I worked for this company for 5 solid years.  It was truly a great adventure.  But then I met Sandra and figured it was time to settle down.  We got married, bought a house in Norman, OK, and had a child.  I was the happiest person on earth.

While living in Norman, Oklahoma I bounced around from sales job to sales job and never really found anything I felt passionate about.  I would spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking about all the wonderful places in the world I was able to travel to.  Wouldn’t it be great if I found a way to combine my love for spices, travel, and my family all into one package.  I thought long and hard and decided to open up my own spice store in downtown Norman.  I was going to sell rare spices from all over the world.  I already knew a lot about the industry and had several contacts worldwide.  I was able to secure a business loan, and open up my shop.  I quickly filled the store with spices from all over the world and business was good.  Pablo’s Spices was the name of the store.  Simple but effective.

I worked my butt off at the spice shop in order to provide for my family.  The money was alright, but the time and effort I was putting in just didn’t seem to be worth it.  I needed something bigger, something “global”.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do…at all.  I spent another few years banging it out at the spice shop.  And then I got the idea that would change my life forever.  You’ll have to stand by for the next post to see what that great idea was….sorry.