All posts by Maureen Moss

Born in the UK, lived most of my life in Guernsey, Channel Islands and since 2003 in La Mata, near Torrevieja, Alicante province, Spain. I have three adult children and one granddaughter. After leaving university with a degree in French I worked as a personnel consultant and subsequently as a languages teacher, travel agent and communications trainer. After travelling extensively and moving to Spain I became a travel writer, book publisher and tour leader.

Encountering dangerous creatures: an extract from my Tour Guide Course

What to do if you encounter a dangerous creature

(And I mean the non-human kind!)

In most cases freeze, and breathe in slowly and quietly.

Then move away steadily – in the opposite direction. Don’t run, or draw attention to yourself by shouting or waving your arms: the animal’s instinct is to chase. Most creatures, insects or snakes will not harm you if they sense no danger to themselves. Shrieking, jumping around or running will alert the animal into protecting itself – probably by attacking you.

If you encounter a wild animal, look it in the eye and try to make yourself seem bigger – open your coat, stand up on tiptoe. If you can, hide behind a tree, out of the wind (so your scent doesn’t carry).

Remember the most dangerous creature on the planet is the mosquito – killing more than any other creature on the planet – followed by the fly. Wear repellent!

By contrast, in Australia -which has the highest percentage of dangerous creatures of any country- there is only one death per year caused by a shark, and only two per year from snake bites.

Dangerous creatures, either from their poison, their sting or their bites:
Bears, sharks, jellyfish, snakes, spiders, elephants, buffaloes, scorpions, crocodiles, hippos, big cats, pufferfish (only if eaten), stingrays, frogs, flies…and mosquitoes!


Interview with Iceland Tour Guide

Recently I was lucky to interview a highly experienced tour guide from Iceland. Here is our conversation:

What sort of employment background did you have before becoming a Tour Guide?

I was a student

Do you think it’s important to have good customer service skills beforehand or can these be learned on the job?

They can be learned on the job. I was due to shadow a guide but she didn’t turn up, so I was thrown in at the deep end!

What did you like best about the job?

Getting to know my country and new people

How many tours did you run?

I lost count; I did it for over 30 years

Which was your favourite destination?

All of them

Did you have any ‘near miss’ or dangerous encounters?

I had a group of 40 people when a flood collapsed a bridge. The driver took the group on an extra excursion while I found accommodation. He slept on the back seat of his bus as there was no room for him. We took from 08.00am till midnight to get back to Reykjavik in time for their flight

What are you most proud of in your tour guide career?

Not talking non-stop like some guides do! Helping people, smiling, being polite but firm, and sharing my country with others

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

To be optimistic; to serve and help, and to think before talking

Do you think being with you on tour made a difference to the customers’ or the local people’s lives? And if so, and anyone were to ask you what difference you made to others’ lives, what would you say?

I think my friendliness and optimism made a difference

Which was the most challenging part of your country to work in? Why?

None in my country. Denmark, Germany, Holland, England: all challenging for different reasons

What did you personally get out of doing the job?

Experience and learning adaptability

Do you think knowing local and other languages makes a big difference to the way you can do the job?

Yes. Having the local language is very important

How much support did you get from your employers? Did they give you a detailed tour manual with contacts, advice, recommendations by previous guides?

I had a skeleton plan for each tour; I wasn’t spoon fed

Did you work with regional guides or were you pretty much on your own? If so, were they easy to work with?

Yes, and yes

Have you ever been a driver/guide?


Did you need special skills like knowing about vehicle mechanics, how to do basic repairs and so on?

No I didn’t

Did you get adequate training from your employer before going on tour? If not, how do you think they could have done it better?

No. But a year later I attended a tour guide course run by the State Tourist Bureau. My first teacher was elected President of Iceland years later!

Did you ‘shadow’ another guide as part of your training?


Did you know what to expect when you started working?


Did you know much about people from other cultures before you started? And what did you learn about them?

A little, from school, and from movies

Did you get adequately paid or did you have to rely on tips? Were all your personal expenses covered?

The salary was low at first, from 1963 to 1972. Then a Tour Guide Federation was set up to protect guides from exploitation. They are still fighting for better conditions

How much tour documentation did you have to do? Did you have to post a report after every tour?

Not much: just sign for the bus, meals and hotels

Were you aware of all your responsibilities before you started? Would you still have done the job if you had known?

No, I had no idea!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Be patient and listen with open ears. Don’t forget to smile!

Did you already have leadership skills or did you learn these the hard way?

No I didn’t, but I was natural and had good organisation skills

How regularly did you have to communicate with your employer? How did you do that – phone, or written?

Not often

How did you get the job? Did you have to apply then have an interview? Or did you get the job through personal contacts?

Personal contact: a friend owned the company

And the best part is: I am going there in March!! (and really exctied abou it)



This month’s job selection

As usual, a great variety of tour guide jobs are featured this month. Here’s a selection:

Working with students:

Al in a day’s work?

Fancy being a distillery tour – hic – guide?

A man who loves his job:

Is this job offer a dream?

I suppose San Diego isn’t too bad a place to work…….just everyone’s favourite USA city?


What a great job for bird lovers:

Another dream job for nature lovers:

Fond of history?


Plaza Real at dawn – again!



After the horror of the recent  attack, I want to remind myself of the beauty of my favourite city, so here’s an updated version of an earlier post:

At 5.30 a.m., the palm trees swayed silently, and the sky was pink. The mountains were as pale as clouds in the distance, whilst the spires of ancient churches were silhouetted against the rising sun. The arched colonnades lent an elegant ambience to the café restaurants surrounding the open square. A lone guitarist plucked a tune at the base of the central fountain. This city has seen me excited, broken-hearted, in love, out of love, scared, thrilled, angry, broke, and prosperous.

I’ve seen the stunning Sagrada Familia cathedral double its towers; I’ve seen new Gaudi houses open to the public; I’ve seen Barceloneta go from slum to fashionable, the Born fill with restaurants, bars, shops and expats, great modern buildings rise from previously empty spaces, and Nou Camp become known throughout the footballing world.

Yet not so many people talk about the Plaza Real. I wonder why. The square is surely filled with secrets and gossip. I can imagine clandestine meetings taking place under the arches, forbidden rendezvous by the fountain, drugs changing hands under the café tables, and dangerous messages being whispered under the palms. All the while the nonchalant Barceloneses stroll by holding hands or chatter in strident Catalan.

I’m returning soon with a friend from the USA. We’ll go to Plaza Real, of course, and San Felipe Neri, and this time we’ll include visits to the Old Hospital and the Contemporary Art Museum, both recommended to me by a friend who visits regularly. Does anyone have any comments to make about either of these?

The girl with the pearl

Naked children squeal gleefully, splashing with delighted grins as they run towards us across the muddy waters of the early morning Mekong river. We wave and are rewarded with a dozen high fives.

We chug past wooden stilt dwellings with straw rooves and trimmed branches neatly stacked on the ground alongside, ready to be used as firewood. A father and son squat on flat rocks at the water’s edge, hauling in their enormous fishing net suspended between two long bamboo poles. They’re struggling, but there’s no catch yet.

Daily life goes busily on along the banks as the water flows relentlessly towards the South China sea. Our boatman slows the engine to a rhythmic thud, and steers us towards a rickety bamboo jetty. As I alight unsteadily, I feel a tap on my bare calves, and am about to swat what I think is a mosquito when my eyes open wide: a tiny girl is holding out her clutched hand to me. She turns her wrist and opens her fingers. A tiny pearl nestles in her palm. She wants to share her treasure with me, but I can tell from her expression that I can look but not touch: she wags her finger as she holds her prize close to her chest, and her big brown eyes glitter with pride in the late morning sun. She puts her forefinger to her lips; we have a secret, she and I, and I am enthralled beyond measure by this innocent gesture of trust.

Latest job news

Film star tour guide?

Fancy being an astronaut? Space tour guide:

Beer tour guide!

Work in Ghana?

How about working on a party boat?

And on the down side….

Have fun browsing through these posts, and even if it’s too late to apply for some of the jobs posted earlier on this blog, reading through them will give you a good idea of the vast range of tour guide jobs available. What’s stopping you? Get trained and get travelling!

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