We were talking at school today about vacations and tour guides and a lot of the really memorable guides had been/ or were still teachers. These experiences were from Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba and we got to wondering if a lot of tour guides in Cuba have a teaching or academic background. What has your experience been? On our first trip to Cuba we got together with a few others from the resort and went to Havana for the day with our guide Lionel - a former teacher - and a great guide. At that time he was building a house and as we walked around Havana he seemed to know everyone and was doing some shopping for materials for the house as we toured. I often wonder how the house turned out.
Sometimes you would be surprised at the past professions of a Cuban resort worker.
Like Fabio the taxi driver, he was a school teacher, and Alberto the head Animation guy at Hotel Las Morlas, he was an economic student. Both very smart articulate men who decided that there was more money in tourism.
But yeah a school teacher would be a great guide. ;D
I’ve never found occupation to be much of a factor in determining how good a guide will be. Intelligence always shines through no matter what the person’s background. (And some teachers are sooooooo boring…)
I think it’s more important to have a guide who was born, raised and still lives in the community coupled with a very gregarious personality and open attitude that means they’ve been everywhere, done everything, know everyone, etc. in their town.
Even in a city as big as Havana it’s still a fairly small town in some ways, so it’s quite easy to find a guide who knows the the city and the inhabitants like the back of their hand, thus allowing you to discover things that you’d never find on your own.
Every teacher isn’t necessarily a great tour guide, but their professional training may enhance their ability to engage the learner (you) in experiential educational activities (such as touring). Familiarity with the subject matter is important … we all know the challenges a substitute teacher faces trying to instruct in a class where she/he has no relevant training!
Teacher training in Cuba follows a more holistic approach than here in Canada, with a fairly rigid national curriculum. Along with the academic subjects, teachers instill the philosophical notions of Cuba, including the responsibility of each person not only for their own welfare, but also to enhancing the welfare of their community and their country. This probably facilitates teachers’ abilities as guides … as they are trained to be attentive to the needs of others.
Guides with “over-the-top, gregarious personalities” drive me crazy! I can’t stand spending time with cheerleaders … they zap my energy!
I agree, an “over-the-top” personality would drive me nuts too - but someone who is simply gregarious and thus has the personality to be intimately involved and knowledgeable about the undercurrents within the community makes the ultimate guide for me.
I have no interest in someone who is simply book smart and gives a by-the-numbers tour through Old Havana. If I want to know about an old building then I simply read a book, no big deal. There’s no secrets to discover on any organized group tour, it’s all available to anyone who cracks a decent guide book on the flight down.
A guide who walks you past the organized tour group blankly looking at a church while their guide explains when it was built… and instead slips you inside and up a hidden staircase to share a shot of rum with the old bell ringer who lives on the roof of the cathedral with a pig and few chickens - that’s what makes a guide really great for me. I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea - different strokes for different folks…