One of the things that has become very apparent to me when it comes to adventuring in different countries is this: tour guides are everything. And when your spoilt little English butt is traveling somewhere where English is barely spoken and you haven’t the first clue about the local language, well then you bet your spoilt-little-butt that The Tour Guide is a kind of saving grace that you cannot live without. Tour guides not only educate you with fascinating historical tales about the spaces that they share with you, but they also know where all the clean public bathrooms are. And the ATMs. If you get lost, they will find you. If you get hurt they will get you help. And if you get into a spat with a shopkeeper they will save you. They are worth all the gold, people. All the gold.
To that end I’d just like to take the time a pay a little tribute to our guide on the Neon Tours tour we did of Turkey last month. I’ve never done a proper tour before. Not one where you basically just pitch up and nothing is in your control. Of course I’ve done a ton of day trips both alone and with guides, and tour guides really do make a difference when it comes to understanding what you are and being shown where to look. But I was a little bit worried about doing one big tour with one guide and one group of people. My worry was for naught.
Ismael Habib Keser was so extraordinarily good at his job that I actually could not help but marvel at this man for ten whole days. Ismael’s great love for his beautiful country was matched only by his incredible knowledge on everything to do with it. Where does he cram all that current and historical knowledge? And the most incredible part is that he shares this vast knowledge using his second language. Now I speak more than one language as well, but get me to educate people on the history of a country in Afrikaans? Uh…is jy mal?
I wonder if I have even met such an intelligent person before? After a while I actually started to pay specific attention to his responses to questions and was impressed to note that he never seemed to be stumped by a single one. On top of all that, the man’s incredible sense of humour – which consisted mostly of saying the most outrageous things with the most deadpan expression so that you could never be sure if he was kidding or not – had us laughing for days. I found his humour such a refreshing change from “English Humour” which I swear we all just learn from watching too much TV. It was kind of nice to laugh at something that felt un-plagiarised.
The tour we did in Turkey was incredible. The sights, the accommodation, the food, the affordability. All of it was quite lovely. But I would be remiss not to note that the entire experience was tied together into a perfect package by this man.
Thank you, Ismael, for sharing your knowledge and your patriotism with us. I am charmed to have met you and to have learned so many things from you.