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9. SIT Guide’s Expertise: (full)

YOU are the guide!        SIT Irony!

'My guide’s expertise' was dictated & defined by my guidebook, internet research & any on-site Interpretive material. Often, I might spend time the night before glancing at my notes, saved PDFs and a little Google Search just to prepare myself.      Remember, I am only doing this once.    I must make it count.

If you have the time to waste dawdling, ..... on-site cell phone research of all knowledge is instantly available.

WADR, tour guides seem like teacher’s presuming because they spoke, you learned.     Never true in school!  Not true with a guide.

A. Day Tour Guides: 

Day Tour company guides are usually very good because 1) screened for customer satisfaction by tour company, & 2) today’s online reviews can severely damage a company’s reputation & profits if guide’s are bad.

B. Private Guides:

Private guides may be useful if you can effectively control amount & depth of their commentary & still retain the freedom to ask questions. Full-on lecture or sporadic insights bolstered by YOUR incessant questions.  Your money.

        ANECDOTE: In some museum: Well-intentioned parent’s of 2 kids hired private guide who jabbered incessantly to the near-exclusion of guest reflection & questions. Guide focused on parent’s who dutifully ‘faked’ attention, while kid’s faces dripped with boredom. In contrast, my videocamera recorded what interested me, while I punctuated each exhibit I videoed with questions that someday (now) I might answer. 

Unfortunately, most guides seem to think, perhaps correctly, that their value & credibility lies in their uninterrupted, constant commentary, BUT, …even  an expensive ‘private’ guide does NOT guarantee you actually learn & RETAIN much. Just like public school & uni.


    1. Site’s private guides:
Site's private guides may be official or informal. If official, they often are in a queue & you take next in line OR you choose from a of gaggle pushy guides.                              

Either way, you really don't know quality of guide, although if local, they may well be reasonably knowledgeable. I've experienced it both ways.

    2. Informal Local Site Guides:
Today, local guides may self-promote on the Internet, giving them credibility, while others may hang out at site entrances, if allowed. Often useful.

    3. Local ‘sneaky’ site private guides: 

While beginning your site exploration, a local may casually sidled up to you calmly & authoritatively tossing out site info. If you engage, allowing person to tag along, you have, IMO, informally/ethically contracted with this person to be your guide. If you choose not to, firmly reject their kind offer and excuse them, so not to deceive, offend or waste their family-feeding time.

    Anecdote: Ollantaytambo, Peru’s Inc a site: In contrast, my well educated, VERY private, Ollantaytambo 'sneaky guide' casually (approached me IN-site) gratuitously dropping info until he had — magically - become my guide. 

He easily accepted that I wanted 1) verbal gaps for my reflection and video shooting, 2) answers to my constant question stream, and 3) freedom to move on alone when I finally chose.     Perfect. He was excellent, well worth my tip.


    Anecdote: Albania fortress original residence area. As the 1st, only & earliest fortress visitor, I roamed leisurely about and then entered an original fortress residential area that subtly seemed to be still occupied.

Shortly, a presentable, young man glided up beside me, casually throwing out tidbits of site info, answering my ocassional questions, and – – magically – –, I had, once again, acquired a site guide.😀

He graciously answered my questions, allowed me to record my video, and let me silently reflect. Well worth the tip, although I didn't necessarily believe the story of his sick mother (wink, wink).

C. My Practice:

Other than the 2 Anecdotes above, I have avoided all private guides because:
     1) Too Distracting: guide’s constant monologue would distract from my focused immersion into the site. Guide’s are just doing their job.

     2) Can’t determine skill level beforehand:. To be fair: Some local guides are terrific

     3) Not always correct: peddling bogus info cuz they know you don’t know.

Granted I did NOT have the seemingly endless ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ info of a professional guide. But, more important to me, … I had the ‘silence’ to contemplate what I saw AND video it with my reflections & questions which I would dwell on at some future date.

        Bus Tour & Cruise Guides: [pplk: Touring].  &.  [pplk: Cruising] provide professional skilled guides who perform many vital functions: site & itinerary info, client problem solutions, logistics coordination & management;      essential & valuable.


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