Jorge Mario Rodriguez
Jorge leads tours for Explore in his home country of Guatemala. He said of his time working as a Tour Leader: "Working for Explore has allowed me to meet interesting people; but above all, people who are interested in seeing what my country has to show. It has enhanced my desire to improve, in order to be able to provide our guests with a memorable experience. It has made my love for my own land grow and rewarded me with the pride of seeing our guests conclude their journey satisfied for having decided to visit Guatemala."
We had a chat with Jorge about his life as a Tour Leader:
What is the view from your office?
I don´t really have an office. But while working, the view I have is always changing. A line of colors that flow and images that pass by, always leaving an impression. A view of reality that sometimes is bright and sometimes not so much. But always a view to remember.
What is the best place to visit in your country and why?
In general terms Guatemala is a small country, but with many beautiful places to see. Places of natural, historical or cultural value. Honestly, it would be quite hard for me to decide over one single place in the country and appoint it as the best one to visit. For me, the best advice would be to: either visit as much of Guatemala as one could or, to take as much time as possible in the places visited to actually get to see and feel them.
Describe one of the local customs in your country?
Every year, on December the 7th, families make a bonfire outside their homes. Right by the front door. Originally, to purify the houses, to cast out evil spirits and to light the way for La Virgen de La Asunción [The Virgin of the Assumption] in her way to come visit the City of Guatemala. For many, this also constitutes the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.
What do your customers often forget to pack and what other recommendations would you have?
Generally our guests are experienced travellers and by the time they visit Guatemala they have already been to quite a number of places. So, generally they come very well prepared. My advice would anyways be to always read carefully the trip notes and consider all tips and recommendations provided on it.
If you were given a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Honestly, I am not much of a traveller myself. For a number of reasons. But if I could start traveling with that plane ticket, I guess I would go to any of the countries from where our most of our guests come, so I could understand and relate to them better.
What’s the best thing about life on the road as a tour leader?
The fact that my working space is broad, open, colorful and really well illuminated and ventilated. Meeting new and interesting people from whom I also get to always learn new things. And the opportunity that it provides to cater our guests with good times and memories to be.
Have you got any packing tips for a travelling life?
Complicated because precisely the things one always packs and never uses are the ones that one needs when finally one decides not to bring them anymore. So, since each person knows itself, my best advice would be to try to pack as light as possible but bringing what one thinks one will need. And just don’t mind about how other travellers might pack.
What do you never leave home without?
At my age… Antacid! Lol!
On tour what has made you stop in your tracks and go “Wow!”?
So many things. An erupting volcano in the distance. The view of many sunsets. A day so clear one can see way far in the distance. Rain so heavy one can barely see the road. And even a car accident on the road… just to name a few.
What’s your top tip for travelling responsibly?
Please, keep in mind that you are not on your own country and that, for as different as the local ways are, they are the ones under which this place and its people exist. Keep in mind that you are the visitor and that you came here to see, not to judge nor make changes. And if there is one available, please, always follow the advice of your tour leader or local guide.
If you had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Huevos y frijoles [Eggs and beans]. Which is the basic diet of simple people in Guatemala. And what most of us have been brought up on.
If you had the chance to start a new country with your own rules, what would be your first rule?
To follow all the other rules before trying to change any of them.
What was your proudest moment as a tour leader?
So far, every time our guests conclude their journey pleased, satisfied and feeling that it was worth to come.
What was your funniest moment as a tour leader?
One time at the introductory briefing I was answering a question from a guest. Looking at him directly I called him by his name but… it wasn´t his name. It was the name of the guest sitting next to him.