Travelling can take you to some far flung and remote areas. Sometimes to places that are dangerous or where outsiders are not usually welcome. It is definitely easier to avoid these places, stick to the beaten path and stay comfortable, but then that’s not why we travel. We travel to push our boundaries, to see things few other people have seen so we get a better appreciation for the life we have. I am not talking about the markets selling unfamiliar food or the neighborhoods outside the tourist zones. I mean the jungles, mountains and remote villages that are more than just a bus ride away. However, to wander blindly into a hostile environment, unprepared and inexperienced, may not be worth the risk. Rather than skipping that once in a lifetime adventure, you will need to hire a guide. These people have grown up in the area, they know what can hurt you, where the best places are and without them, travel wouldn’t be possible.
But these people, the local guides, are so much more than someone to follow around and ask questions. They are someone you put your complete trust in. Someone who will accept your frustration or whining when the trail gets tough and inspire you to continue on. Someone with super-human strength who carries twice the weight you do (and still offers to carry your bag). They are someone who always has a story to tell or unique wisdom to share. They will often cook a great meal out of almost nothing. They will translate and interpret so you can have meaningful conversations with the people you meet. They are willing to sacrifice their own personal comfort and in return they don’t ask for much (tips are appreciated). Guides don’t always receive as much of the glory as they should, because without them there is so much that wouldn’t be possible.
It is easy to overlook their efforts when things go wrong, which they inevitably will, or when you are basking in the glory of conquering that bucket-list adventure.
Without Jorno we never would have released baby sea turtles in Indonesia and slept in a tent on top of his jeep. Without Xai, we would have been completely thrown off by the indigenous women without eyebrows and never would have eaten the most amazing bamboo soup he made completely from ingredients found in the jungles of Laos. Without Omano we never would have come face to face with orangutans and met our new favourite primates, gibbons, in Sumatra. Without Nelson we wouldn’t have had hammocks to sleep in at the over-crowded camps on route to the Lost City of Tayuna. Without Johnson we would never have summited a volcano in Nicaragua that challenged both body and mind. Most recently, without our 9 year old guide Marlon we wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun tubing down a river set in the Colombian rainforest. Thank you to all these people and the many others I forgot to mention who have guided us safely on our adventures. You have opened up a very special part of this World to us and we are forever grateful.