Well, I’m knocking on in years now and actually don’t do much travelling outside Scotland, my home country these days – it nevertheless has the same things to observe, learn and understand as any exotic location. I spent a long time – around 17 years – working in adventure and tailormade travel as Tour leader +/- driver, Operations manager, Country manager, Travel agent and Tour operator.
Aside from that lifetime, I’ve done a vast array of different jobs, from emptying cesspits using a bucket nailed to an old oar, to creating documents which formed part of a submission to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. There are few jobs that I haven’t done at some time, but working as a tour leader was easily the most satisfying and soul destroying.
I always viewed my role as being to do myself out of a job, because I wanted to show people they could do all sorts of things themselves if they were able to supplant their fear of the unknown with a greater desire to acquire understanding. My greatest pride was always that my groups left their destination having lost any fear of the unknown, and gained a sense of our own place in this world.
Over the years I have written lots of tales, little ditties, memoirs, moans about stupid situations or stupid punters, things which any tour leader will recognise. When animated I’m apt to ramble on, finding endless new connections and asides. I hope I can put this down to insatiable reading since the age of 4, but a lot has come from the practical observations which tied this sometimes obscure information together. I was often told that I should “get it down on paper”. A thought endlessly relegated to “one day” when I woke the next morning ! So I’ve finally got round to it.
This work is perhaps a nice memoir for people who were lucky enough to pass through those lands, but more especially a view for younger travellers who may never in their lifetimes, now, be able get to the places I have been lucky enough to see and live in and also specifically for others that have worked as tour guides.
As you’ll be aware, in any sort of specialised work you develop a sort of code, an understanding of what things mean, (“Oh, yeah they used a such and such piece of equipment on that job” and everyone knows what the outcome will have been etc), and tour leaders are just the same. The problem for our “community” was always that we rarely, if ever, met, because we were working in different countries or on alternating tours i.e. back to back.
The only times we could have met were if we had a base, like Cairo, Delhi, Athens, Istanbul or Marrakesh, where multiple tours started and ended, or in the company office in England, where we would get our contracts and travellers’ cheques signed outgoing, or get paid after settling accounts, incoming. Ships passing in the night, but our various reputations, knowledge, skill, languages, bus driving licence, wizard – like abilities to avoid, contain or surmount very sketchy situations, or sometimes simple carnal success (!), spread in gossip through the ether. And when we did meet up, it was like you’d suddenly met all the others that had come from our planet ! So, it’s also partly for that small but very discrete market who have only ever partially been rehabilitated into the day to day world.
There is no commerce whatever on this site, except links to charities I support like Sightsavers – (checkout their site and work in Malawi), Water Aid – providing sustainable clean water to communities all over the world, and Greenpeace Environmental Trust – an educational charity, linked to the overtly political parent organisation, (I’ve supported their work since their first database was made, I’m told, so pretty committed that way).
You are free to read, download and use the material, provided appropriate credit is given. I have made things as accessible as I can at present, (e.g.alI featured photos have an alternative media description), I would also invite others to the making audio files which people can download if they have visual impairment or simply prefer to listen as they’re travelling about, or trying to doze off !
Any comments or suggestions welcome.
Hope you enjoy what you find here, maybe even offer a bit of inspiration !
See yer later,