Three stories for this month in the Tour Guide Diaries. One story is about chocolate and how it came back to the guide and bit him in his behind. The other story sounds like a soap opera, but truly happened. Our group rescued another guided tour group, who were lost in the middle of the Goat Market in Be’er Sheba. The third story is the continuation of the last one about two goats (smuggled from that market) on rampage in a hotel and its aftermath.
For the privacy for everyone involved, if I mentioned names, they are not their true names (except myself).
- The Tour from Hell (10/1/2016) - This tour was the tour from hell ... for me. For the group absolutely not, because they had loads of fun, costing me my hair of course. We are talking about a tour, which shows what Israel actually is, a mixture of culture, adventure, exploration and Israeli sights in all the major touristic centers of Israel. This article is part of the Tour Guide Diaries September 2016.
- Clair, the Red Headed Ghost of Jerusalem (9/26/2016) - Or the sick who became a ghost? The change of title depends on your perspective of a very funny and mysterious (at first) story I've to tell you about a recent so called low-budget tour in September 2016.
- Tour Guide Diaries September 2016 (9/24/2016) - When two large families from Canada and Israel join for a tour in Israel, WW3 is almost unleashed in Israel. The results of that almost major conflict are that the women take charge and the men wisely murmur "Yes Dear" and the kids have fun.
- Tour Guide Diaries August 2016 (9/23/2016) - Three stories for this month in the Tour Guide Diaries. One story is about chocolate and how it came back to the guide and bit him in his behind. The other story sounds like a soap opera, but truly happened. Our group rescued another guided tour group, who were lost in the middle of the Goat Market in Be’er Sheba. The third story is the continuation of the last one about two goats (smuggled from that market) on rampage in a hotel and its aftermath.
- Tour Guide Diaries July 2016 (9/23/2016) - Two stories here. One is about the relationship between a guide and a camel with the name of Fred in a tour, and the other one is about a tour with alternative transports with like trains, buses and camels! Further it describes the baptizing in Israel and renewal of wedding vows.
Do you see the image above? It’s about the chocolate. When I was on tour with a group of Americans from Texas, they knew my preference of junk food and especially the really nice sweet stuff. They thought to surprise their guide and bought chocolate when we visited the De Karina Chocolate Factory. It was a bit strange, because the majority was buying chocolates, and not a little, but kilos! That was 10 in the morning.
When we left Ein Zivan (that’s in the Golan), the group preferred that they stretched their legs and have their picnic early. Two families presented me with their bags full of chocolate and they insisted that I accept their little gifts (because the evening before I arranged for them a boat on the Sea of Galilee with life music and dancing (music was for free, the boat cost the group $300, or $30 per person) for four hours!).
So I ate. We are talking about white chocolate here! Melts in the mouth. And the chocolate with those strawberry fillings, melted in my mouth and face. And the milk-chocolate encapsulated with dark chocolate melted in my mouth, my face and shirt.
The group was having their picnic and I had my chocolate. After a hour we continued with the tour, while I continued to eat. Instead of decreasing the amount of chocolate, it increased faster then I could eat, because others offered me bags and boxes of chocolate too.
When the tour continued over the afternoon and early evening, I became more green by the hour. I didn’t see that, the people did … I only felt it.
But I’m from the stronger stuff and a bit of chocolate (a couple of kilos) would not bring me down (not for nothing I’m from Holland, there they eat chocolate when they are babies and in England it’s official medicine).
In the evening we arrived at our hotel tired and excited. Why excited? Dinner was waiting for them! The favorites for the families, because I always arrange something special for the group during dinner, like ‘magicians’ for the kids, dancers for everyone, violin player (trying to be romantic, not?) for the parents, or something extra ordinary like the ‘exploding’ or ‘imploding’ desserts for the kids and me, or the laughing candles for the parents, or the most delicious marzipan, chocolate, strawberries, real whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce tastefully made together for everyone … and me of course. The last was planned for that evening.
When this delicious dessert came up in a big show with sparkling star-thingies, and everyone’s eyes were popping out in the restaurant (also guests from the hotel and not part of our group, I – for the first time in my life – did not feel well and ran to the bathroom and waited (after being violently sick) till the desserts were gone.
What did I learn? To keep quiet about my preferences of anything during a tour. And not to mention chocolate.
The worst thing what can happen with a guide is being lost. That can happen you know, especially when you visit places, where not many tourists come. I was with a group of tourists from Germany on the Israeli Gems Tour. At that moment we were visiting the market in Be’er Sheba. In Be’er Sheba you can find more then one market; you have there the ‘tourist trap’ normal ‘Middle Eastern’ market, the goat market and the chicken market, all of them Bedouin markets. The Gem tour means that you visit places, where normal tourists are not coming, but are extra ordinary interesting.
At that moment of time, when we walked through the normal market, several people from my group asked me in English (that was strange, because we only talked German during the tour) where the goat market was. I didn’t realize it then, but there was another group and guide (from Belgium), who were listening in to my telling the group what-was-what during the tour and they followed us already for a hour, enjoying our touring.
So I answered back that we will visit the goat and chicken market soon and said loudly how we would be traveling there (on foot) (in English). Then I start noticing the Belgium group and their guide and they quickly moved away from us.
I forgot the whole thing, focused on my group, did my thing and we arrived at the goat market. I was forced to interfere three times, because certain members of the group wanted to buy a ‘cute’ little goat! And the price they asked for was unbelievable ($30!) (you could buy a camel and wife for that money (I’m joking … maybe)).
When I explained what most of the people would do with the goats they were buying (eating them of course), two ladies (from my group) insisted to save the goats and buy a few (the cute ones, they added) (that’s another story I tell in the next entry here). Before I could hunt down the ladies (running into the market again), I was stopped by panicking strangers screaming and crying in Flemish. I speak Flemish very well myself, so I asked what was going on?
It’s not dangerous there at the Bedouin goat market (with a big male guide), but you don’t see girls and young women running around without the traditional wear of the Bedouin women (see the images of the women dressed) in shorts, revealing tops and bright t-shirts and with no family or male company! That’s more then uncomfortable for everyone and it makes those Bedouin women very angry!
Those crying Flemish people were really distressed and in full panic mode! It turned out that they were listening to us at the previous market and their stupid guide thought that it was a good idea to follow us. While doing that, he lost sight of us, and he didn’t hold his group together, so everyone got lost, distressed and in full panic mode, especially when those Bedouin women started to curse them.
At the end, all of us helped to find everyone of the Belgium group (but we could not find the guide at that time!) and the two girls from my group. I was forced to rescue two times several girls from a mob of angry Bedouin women, who were cursing them, because the way how they were dressed (shorts and tops) and they were also trying to make photos of those women! Oof. You don’t do that with those women! They will start trowing stones at you!
That interfering of mine was shoving my belly between the girls and the mob and yelling at the Bedouin women in Arabic: انهم لي! (innahum ly! or in English “They are mine“). That shocked the mob for a while and we had time to run back to the rest of the group. The girls and I were happy we escaped and in a good mood, smiling and all, but I didn’t realize that this would bite me in my behind later!
So suddenly I had not 30 people in my group, but 55! Guiding a group larger then 30 people with one guide doesn’t work, so I was forced to be creative. We moved quickly from the goat market to the chicken market! For a bit of money, we had a chicken race, sipping home made lemonade and drinking real Arabic … or better Bedouin coffee (super strong and super sweet) and loads of sweet ‘food’. That kept everyone occupied until the replacement guide could arrive … so I thought.
While waiting, several Bedouin people recognized us from the goat market and called me Arab names, while laughing, which made me blushing (I’m male and human) and uncomfortable. When some of the women were asking what they were saying, I didn’t answer of course. (“I don’t know“). What I didn’t tell them was that those Bedouin people called me ساحر النساء, or sahir alnisa or in English ‘Lady Killer’ and alshshaykh (Sheik). They referred to the moments I was trying to shock the Bedouin mob at the goat market so we (the girls and I) could run away.
I was not so lucky, because some of those Bedouin men spoke perfectly English, French, German, Hebrew and Russian and explained it to my group in all juicy details and were telling them about harems and Arab and Muslim marriages with more then one women and how good it looked for me to have more then 10 women. I would always be more then welcome to come back to the market and drink coffee with them, but I suppose to force my women to dress accordingly, … and the whole thing went on and on.
When the whole thing was finally ended and we gave up waiting for the guide, we went back to the bus, I had a group of 55 people behind me (laughing, giggling and the like) and me with my red face trying … praying that they would forget the whole thing.
When we arrived at the bus, we had a problem. My group was already in the bus, but the Belgium group not. They had no idea where their bus was. At the end, we decided to take them in and to bring them to our hotel in Be’er Sheba. So we did. During our short trip in the bus, the driver was asking if everything was alright with me and why I was so red. The reaction was that the whole bus was roaring with laughter.
The bus driver’s eyes went wide when he listened to the group explanations that I had a harem! That idiot believed it too! Local Israeli and local Be’er Sheba resident! And that idiot was telling it later to my travel agency too. Everyone had a “Laugh at Wim day”. But I’m afraid that was not the end of the day for me, oooooh no!
After the adventures on the goat market, we settled down in our hotel in Be’er Sheba. After a good, loud and hilarious dinner (together with the Belgium group, who was still waiting for their new guide), we had our show (a belly dancer) while eating. I regretted that, because some of my group paid her to dance in front of me … very close. That was so much not fair, but everyone thought it’s hilarious. So I threatened them all with calling my wife and set her on them! And that didn’t help of course, so I was sipping my lemonade and eating sweet cakes and kept quiet. I’m so happy that I’m 56 years old with a belly. Not like that beautiful dark hair belly dancer and that clown of an i****, who suppose to be the magician and constantly called me Sultan and Sheik, but all in all, it was a nice evening.
I observed strange behavior though from several of the women from my group, like whispering and grinning, giggling and the whole jazz, and my bullsh*t antenna normally will send wails of sirens off that something is going on, but everyone was still making fun of me, so I didn’t pay too much attention.
Everyone went finally to their rooms and I had rest … or so I thought. I shared the room with the driver and the newly arrived guide for the Belgium group. The new guide arrived at 11pm, heavy weighted, enormous mustache and a very deep voice and spoke fluent Russian, Hebrew and Arabic, but no English or Flemish or German. Well, that was a problem for the next day.
While I was trying to sleep, the driver and the new guide kept me awake with their snoring. The driver had a light snorting sound, while the guide had a deep growling and rumbling sound while sleeping. The driver had probably a dream, because he started to hack in his sleep and he sounded almost like a goat … the blaring of a goat. Just like at the market, the goat market the day before … and again I heard him almost blaring like a goat. Then suddenly I heard a very loud and clear sound of a goat! That sound came straight from the outside of our room. And it was joined by muffed female laughter. I sat suddenly wide awake in my bed, and promptly hit my head on the wooden beam.
I left the room quickly to see what was going on and when I walked towards the kitchen, I heard loud male voices in Hebrew and Arabic and female voices in English, Flemish and German and loads of giggling. When I arrived at the entrance of the kitchens, the goat mystery was solved. Two little goats were eating something, while the cook was swearing in Arabic, the manager telling the cook off in Hebrew with his hand full of money and the girls cooing to the two little goats.
It seemed that the goats broke lose and found the kitchen themselves and were making a mess of things there, until the cook found them. When the furious cook was trying to hunt down the scared goats with a knife through the corridors of the hotel, he met his manager, who immediately met the girls looking for their goats. The manager was very upset of course and was demanding all kind of things until the girls gave him money and was quiet for the time being. That was the situation when I found them; just like a soup opera on TV.
The problem with goats is that if you let them alone in a room, they would cause heavy damage to the walls, cables, curtains, plants, flowers, chairs, bed, blankets, sheets, towels, toilet paper, bags, computers, laptops, phones … well, everything. I proposed that the cook would find a temporary place for the goats, so everyone can go back to their beds. The cook agreed immediately, while waving his knife. The girls refused and the manager was telling them to kick out the goats. After two hours of ‘discussions’ we agreed that we would bind the goats in the garden at the back of the hotel. We finally had our rest.
When I brought the girls to their rooms (I didn’t trust them to go back to the goats and guard them or something strange like that), we discovered the damage the goats had done to the room. Wallpaper ripped from the walls, cables eaten, curtains torn, plants eaten, flowers eaten, chairs damaged, bed damaged, blankets torn, sheets torn, towels torn, toilet paper everywhere, bags torn, computers chewed upon, laptops chewed upon and phones chewed upon.
One of the girls said something like “… nice goat soup …” and that set off the girls with each other. Another hour later we decided to switch some girls with other girls of other rooms and at last everyone could sleep. It was 5 am. I went back to my room and fell asleep almost immediately and woke up by a scream of the driver and hit my head again.
That morning at breakfast, a very exhausted group of girls (and me) were trying to eat. Outside the hotel we heard the two goats loudly blaring. The whole group of 55 people heard already about the nightly adventures, while I was wishing for my pension, everyone was discussing what to do with the goats. The driver was refusing to allow the goat in his bus. The newly arrived guide was trying to explain in Hebrew to people who understood some English and of course Flemish what his group suppose to do (waiting before their bus came).
I was translating for the Belgium group with their guide in Hebrew and Flemish, and trying to discuss what to do with the two goats with the manager in Hebrew, and trying to mediate between the girls and the same manager of all the damage from the goats in one room in German, till the answers came in the form of the freshly arrived bus driver for the Belgiums and the belly dancer and her i**** of a so called magician in Arabic, who still kept calling me Sheik, even in the bl**dy morning. She brought something sweet with her for me (chocolate) (she received a big tip from the group) and left happily. I got the idea of the life time (after the chocolate of course, which I didn’t share with anyone).
I proposed to swap the guide with the driver for the Belgium group (who spoke English) and the guide had bus driver license. That was one. I paid for the damage for the room, so the manager was happy and quiet and I brought him many times business. And the girls paid for the taxi to bring the goat to the market. Yes, I was laughing so hard! I tried to explain to the taxi driver in Arabic that his passengers were not the girls but the two goats.He didn’t believe me and thought I was joking.
At the end, for $50 he was willingly to bring the goats back to the market. I’ve no idea if he did it or brought it to his wife at home for a nice dinner, but sorry, I didn’t care that that moment.
At last we could move to our bus and continue with our tour. I took loads of pain killers for a killer of a headache, but everyone else was in a very good mood and had loads of fun.
From that day, the group called me Sheik instead of Wim or Mr. Vincken. Cheeky b*ggers. And every time people asked why they were calling me Sheik and the group explained. That went well, until we arrived at Dom Polski church in Jerusalem and spoke to the priest. They introduced me as Sheik before I could say anything. The priest knew me very well for a long time already because of the tours. When he asked the group why, they explained and he looked at me very strange. When I came later with a new group to the same church, he welcomed me by name … Sheik. And he explained to the new group why I was called Sheik. I never knew that priests had such twisted humor.
Later, when the tour was finished, the travel agency contacted me, who arranged the tour for the people from Belgium. He thanked me and when I asked how it went with the new tour guide, he hesitated with answering. ” … you know, your idea of swapping the driver with the guide was not such a good idea after all, because he lost his way almost every hour during the bus drive to Eilat. They reached Eilat after 7 hours. It suppose to be 3 hours! That %#$%& …”. Those poor people. I never met the guide who lost his way, neither the travel agency. They tried to call him, but he never answered. What happened with him, no idea.
That’s it. My fingers are hurting from all that typing. At the moment I’m in the desert with a new group south of Be’er Sheva and met the manager and the cook yesterday (when we slept there for the night). This time we stay two nights with the Bedouins and have a great time there. Nobody calls me Sheik at the moment.
Many things happened this month, but I keep it with three stories. The next one I will write for the happenings in the Tour Guide Diaries July 2016 and start on the Tour Guide Diaries for September 2016. Many hilarious and nice things happened, especially with my friend Fred, the Camel. That’s the story for July.
I publish this article for the site and close the laptop and go to sleep. Good night everyone.