Having toured now for over a month, I’ve encountered tour guides in all shapes and sizes, but whatever the attraction, the excursion, or the adventure, you can be sure to come across one (or more) of the following types:
The Language Barrier
This is an advertised ‘bi-lingual’ guide who has memorised their English script but can’t deviate from it. Identifiable by their poor pronunciation, these guides are likely to provide some entertaining translations (for example, damage to monuments being caused by ‘thunders’), but will be at a total loss if you ask any questions.
The Super Sleaze
Typically an older señor who has determined you will be endlessly flattered by his ongoing attentions, serenades, and inappropriate remarks. And you might be, until you realise he’s tried it on every señorita he can find. If he’s particularly determined, he will ask about your family, your marital status, and even grill your fellow group members to find out all there is to know. Eventually of course, it just gets annoying and you wish you’d taken the advice of the Lonely Planet and invented a husband from the outset.
The Bundle of Knowledge
For this guide, the tour isn’t about showing you the sights, but showing off their knowledge. They don’t want you to learn, they want your adoration and adulation. For every tit-bit of information, you will be prompted to inquire, to expose your ignorance, and to marvel, not at the facts, but at your guide’s knowledge of them.
The Moral Crusader
This guide has an opinion on EVERYTHING, and [insert appropriate deity here] help you, you had better not deviate from theirs. If you do, you can forget whatever sights you’re seeing, you’ll be ear-bashed until you agree that Americans are the saviour of the earth, people who destroy the environment should be put to death, sharks aren’t dangerous and you will eventually win the lotto.
Get Thee to a Nunnery
Usually found in a converted convent, museum or art gallery, this guide will dress as though it’s 1934 and carefully express only orthodox opinions. While you take equal care to word your questions in order to get some semblance of useful (if sanctioned) information out of them, you’re left secretly wondering if this guide doesn’t do a naughty-by-night transformation as soon as she’s off-duty.
Everybody’s Best Friend
This guide makes an effort to get to know and entertain the group. Less likely to accurately answer your cultural and historical questions, this is the guide you want to have telling Dad jokes and doing magic tricks while you’re trekking to 4000 metres through sleet and hail. At their best, you will become friends with this guide, but at worst, they just want to be liked by everybody, but don’t really like anybody.
When this guide turns up they might as well not be there. Happy to take your money, they are less happy to actually do anything to earn it. At best you will see this guide at pick up and drop off, at worst, you won’t see them at all.
Moody is how best to describe this guide. Your Best Friend one minute, they will turn sullen by the end of the day. In the case of the Super Sleaze this may result when they realise not only do you not intend to return their interest, but you also find it humorous. In all cases the Bi-polar will result at your lack of tips.
The Kick-arse Awesome guide
Lastly I want to make a special (serious) tribute to our Peruvian guide, Bel, who faced illness, injuries, and the Inca Trail (again) to keep us working together as a temporary family, who went above and beyond to make sure we could kick back and enjoy while she worked tirelessly in the background. Tips are not thank-you enough for the kick-arse awesome guide.