From insurance to tour guide: Alex’s story

The Beginning

It all started one day when my mother was returning from a holiday on her own, flying via Johannesburg to Cape Town. Arriving late, she missed her connecting flight as did many other passengers.

Amongst the passengers she spotted some German visitors and overheard the one woman telling her two daughters that they would just have to be patient until the next available flight. As it happened the German woman started chatting with my mother, soon striking up a friendly conversation. The German woman’s name was Karla and worked for Lufthansa and could fly for 10% of the costs. A perk of the job was that her daughters, Liesel and Mona, could join her on one long distance flight every two years.  This holiday, Liesel and Mona were joining Karla on a trip to visit friends in Cape Town.

Liesel and Mona seemed excited by the trip, but were uneasy about not knowing anyone their own age to hang out with and see the attractions of the Mother City while their mother was with her friends. My mother had a great idea and volunteered myself, (her son, Alex) to look after them by acting as their veritable tour guide, showing them Table Mountain, Long Street and proudly South African eateries.

When my mother arrived in back home in Cape Town, she promptly told me she had met three wonderful visitors of which two were my age and needed someone to show them the magic of Cape Town. I was incredulous but not surprised, knowing how much my mother liked to meddle. I was apprehensive, but decided to help as my mother seemed so excited.

A few days later, I received a call from Liesel.

“Howzit,” she said and laughed. “Sorry, I thought I should try out some South African slang.”

I laughed and told her not to worry.

“My name is Alex,” I said. “So what’s the plan?”

Liesel asked if I would take her and Mona to Club 604, which was found at on the top floor of the Heerengracht building in the CBD. She gave me the address of where they were staying and I said would meet them at 8pm.

When I arrived at the door, I wondered what the night had in store.

The door opened and I was greeted by a vision with blonde hair and dark green eyes. She introduced herself as Liesel and was the same age as me. Mona had the same green eyes as her older sister yet her hair was chestnut and wavy. What followed was a wonderful night of getting to know the sisters, who were charming, witty and friendly. After drinks and dinner at a Mexican restaurant, we went to the club and enjoyed the music and breath taking view.

The next day, I decided to take a half day from my job at an insurance firm to meet up with Liesel and Mona again.

We went out again for a delicious lunch of pap, wors and braaivleis and watched a rugby game. The whole afternoon and evening was even better than the first.

The third day, I didn’t go into work and took the sisters on a guided tour of Cape Point. To make sure I didn’t bungle it, I read up on the historical and geographical facts of the region. The sisters loved the tour and were amazed when I told them I had never given a tour before.

I decided to quit my job as I had been feeling unhappy for a while and, coupled with the enthusiasm for life the sisters had taught me, I felt it was necessary.

For the remainder of their stay, I took Liesel and Mona on tours of Table Mountain, Khayelitsha, Kalk Bay, Rhodes Memorial and even hired a car and travelled to the Cape Winelands and the Overberg.


When the sisters had to return to Germany, they presented me with a present: a badge of Table Mountain made from beads and wire we had seen on our tour of the townships.

“We think you should follow your talent and become a tour guide,” Liesel said.

I decided to listen to their advice. I put out several ads and went on a few interviews but with little success. One day, a former classmate called and said they needed me immediately as a tour guide at their ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn.


After a Skype interview, I got the job. Within a few days, I had moved to Oudtshoorn and started my new and fulfilling life as a tour guide –all thanks to my meddling mother and two great German tourists.