Just on 6 years ago my wife Sue Haakonsen, and daughters Maleteka Joy and Lineo Nicole moved to Cape Town. Sue and I had moved on from 23 years ‘officially’ in the mission field, including the last 10 having founded and built up Beautiful Gate Lesotho, a Care center for abandoned and HIV AIDS affected babies.
The first 5 years in Cape Town were very tough, with no regular job, major health issues for Sue (and I to a lesser extent), and a period of searching and identification for both the girls. Eventually, after trying a few possible income creating options and spending time with a life coach friend David Ramsay, I considered the career of tour guiding.
At the end of 2015, I felt God drop into my heart, the word ‘Breakthrough’. However as 2016 arrived, I certainly did not notice breakthrough happening in our situation, but realise sometimes its hard to see the wood for the trees when struggling! My friend Dave, casually on a phone call reminded me of breakthroughs he had observed!
Despite not having a regular income, we now owned a house, our girls were beginning to show some signs of progress, Sue had weaned herself off much medication and I was finding some direction in what ‘career’ to pursue, post 60 years of age!
So I began the journey of qualifying as a tour guide immersing myself in study and learning as much as I can about the industry. By July 2016, I had qualified as a Western Cape guide, cut my teeth for a short while in a Tour company, then stepped out in faith as a Freelance guide! I bought myself a Year planner for 2017 and at the end of 2016 only had one definite tour booked (private tour with 7 golfers from Australia). Thanks June and Hedley Giles for believing in me for my first private tour! But the planner looked somewhat bare!! 14 days total booked!!
I have attached, together with guiding photos, a photo of the planner showing the guiding I did throughout the year! I write this with such a sense of gratefulness as many of these jobs came unexpectedly and through referrals from others! My desire to post on Facebook about my guiding journey has certainly been fun for me, but at the same time, a great way to promote what Im doing and ‘Build a brand’ as a few of my marketing friends would say. The ‘Rayfie’ pics have been a hit with most guests willing to be in them and also a source of connecting with other guides and stakeholders in the industry!
I am so thankful to many who have been part of this amazing journey with me, from family and friends who have encouraged me, fellow guides who have instructed and taught me, a great trainer Jeanette Bosman, who introduced me to the world of guiding, those who have given me work, Tour operators who have trusted and been loyal to me as I’ve tried to be loyal as well.
I’ve learnt so much this past year and whilst there were some big ‘gaps’ of no work in places, it amazes me how much I did! 141 days (10 times more than what I had pencilled in December). A special thanks to my friend and more experienced guide George Meyer for so so much…thanks a ton boet!
I am also very thankful to all of the guests I have had the privilege to guide (many who are now Facebook friends), who have given me hours of joy and fun, learning opportunities for me about their countries and cultures and a sense of accomplishment when the tour comes to an end. You have all helped me to ‘grow’ as a guide and as a person and I’m so thankful for that. I apologise for not tagging you all or I would be here for days 😊
I’ve walked with elephants, accompanied a horse safari in Namibia, stroked a Cheetah, been on numerous game drives, golfed with guests, watched Whales in their natural habitat, visited a multitude of places I’d never been before, regularly visited local attractions I never tire of in our beautiful region, gone on fabulous wine-tasting experiences, eaten wonderful food and stayed in exquisite accommodations…and I could go on and on! I’ve guided from 1 guest to 40 in one vehicle and added 1 other province to my armoury so far 😊
I’m blessed, thrilled, privileged and grateful for all of this and more and can only hope that those I’ve had contact with because of this industry, have benefited in some way through encountering me 😊
It is my intention in 2018, to be as passionate and committed to this guiding industry as I was in 2017, trying daily to be better qualified, equipped and enthused, to provide a quality experience for my guests. This job is not all fun and games and does demand much of a guide, however I am trusting God, as He has before, to give me the passion, strength and wisdom to fulfil my mandate! The way I’m doing this may be a ‘road less travelled’ in the industry, but it’s the way I know 😉 240 guiding days (or equivalent) is my goal for 2018!
As I close, I do so with 1 short tour still ahead before year end, but I want to thank you and wish you all a blessed Christmas and prayer that 2018 would be incredible for you! I have realised, my the ‘breakthrough’ I was looking for has not been sudden, but a process….and its certainly progress! God bless you all!