The author shares her experiences after trading the hectic corporate career for the laid-back lifestyle of a travel guide.
Siefkas’ (With New Eyes, 2015, etc.) book is ostensibly about how she broke away from office life to become happily ensconced among the many pleasures of Cuba, including its great weather, wonderful people, and excellent drinks (she even includes her favorite mojito recipe). However, its true appeal lies in the author’s wonderful tidbits about her tour-guide work. Cuba was only one of her stops; it was, in fact, the site of her first tour. But her travels in the tourist trade took her much farther afield, from Greece to Italy to New Zealand to Machu Picchu in Peru. One of her more intriguing observations is how easily a bunch of supposedly respectable adults can revert to high school behaviors while on a tour (including gossip and popularity contests). She often had to be the responsible adult among them, which meant dealing with their troubles, including urinary tract infections and seasickness. Siefkas is a lively writer; for example, she refers to cruise ships as “floating petri dishes” and explains that toilet seats are not always a given. She also shows an admirable can-do approach to her job: when faced with mismatched roommates—a night owl paired with an early bird—she simply offered her own room to one of them as a trade. However, her personal life experiences, while somewhat interesting, don’t have the same insider-y, fly-on-the-wall hook as her job accounts. Siefkas ably recognizes the perceived glamour of her occupation; her guests always want to know why she chose an untraditional career path with no health insurance or 401(k), and they always ask the inevitable end-of-tour question, “Are we your favorite group?,” to which she always responds, “I love this group. You’re real good eggs.” As it happens, Siefkas is a really good writer. Perhaps she’ll reshape more of her rich travel-guide memories to create another book, minus the more personal stories.
An often entertaining look at the author’s adventures in the touring trade.