LEON LIGHTMAN
experiential tourism

Creator of The Argentine Experience & the Thai Experience

“The recent global shift to experiential tourism, and the science of how to make people feel a new destination”.

An amazing character and genius at what he does, will be with us on Friday 22th – Creator of The Argentine Experience (that many of you have already been to) which is famous for its’ experience originality and quality of.

Leon also created The Thai Experience in Thailand and some amazing pop ups and food tours in other countries such as Mexico.

We will have a chilled chat about the recent global shift to experiential tourism and the science of how to make people really “feel” a new destination 

Ready for
some funny stories?

And, as we promised to our audience, here we want to share with you some of the most funny, crazy, unique anecdotes of when Leon was a Tour Leader – – Sit down grab a glass of wine or coffee, and get ready to laugh and be wowed …

Every week we upload some new and fresh stories! Stay tuned!

THE VIBRATOR STORY

Now I’ve heard many similarish story’s to this on the grape vine, and kind of thought they were an urban myth, but during my last guiding contract with G Adventures I was witness to an absolute cracker.

Only a few days into a trip we were taking the plane from San Salvador to San Jose. Everything going smoothly, nothing out the norm to report, until we all passed through security. As standard I let the group go first so I could confirm there was no problems. I was waiting in the queue and noticed one of my pax having their bag looked through. Thinking it was most probably a bottle of water I thought nothing of it. That was until that same pax was rather physically led into a private room.

I approached security explaining I was her guide, and therefore translator, so would he please let me through to assist. He obliged and escorted me to the office.

Picture this (I will NEVER, EVER, EVER forget this), 3 x heavily armed policemen standing, 1 x tomato red faced crying pax sitting, 1 x vibrator and butt plug on the table. Hahahahahahaha a-maaaaaaazing!!

Again, I can’t stress the difficulty of keeping your cool in this type of situation. Every single molecule in my body wanted to burst out laughing and take a selfie 🍆 🤳 

After swallowing down what could have been the most inappropriate laugh in my guiding career, I asked what the problem was. The police pointed at the vibrator and said it was a gun, which is illegal, and that she was going to be arrested until they did further tests.

Now in the polices defence, this vibrator wasn’t a classic wang shape. It was small, black, with kiiiind of a gun like appearance. I’m not gunna say it looked like a gun, as it didn’t, but it had a sort of morphed gunnish shape to it. I’m sure all westerners would recognise in a flash it was a vibrator, but in El Salvador, a beautiful yet super Christian country frozen in time, I’m not 100% sure they’d ever seen a super modern, querky travel edition vibrator before.

I explained what the police said to my pax, trying my utmost to maintain a serious face.

Leon “So it appears they want to arrest you for having a weapon”

Pax “whaaaaat? Leon it’s a vibrator not a gun. What am I gunna do, orgasm someone to death?

I know I shouldn’t, but I was really, reeeally enjoying this moment. For me one of the best parts of being a tour leader is the incredible variety of crazy situations you find yourself in, that your pax in one way or another usually land you in, and this one was shaping up to be a ‘why I do this job’ level story.

I explained to the police that it was a vibrator and NOT a gun (so many jokes came to mind to link the two together but I held myself back). Their reply, “what is a vibrator”?

The next couple of minutes were hands down some of my favourite Spanish speaking moments of all time as I proceeded to explain, in detail, what, why and how to use a vibrator. I didn’t hold back at all, if anything I may have been a little over enthusiastic. Ann Summers would have be proud ☺️ All the police looked massively uncomfortable as they tried to process what I was telling them. I asked permission to have the pax turn it on, which was granted. 

Again, this scene was absolutely priceless. My pax proceeded to turn on the vibrator, which then buzzed aggressively. She proceeded to offer the police the buzzing vibrator to inspect which made all of them jump backwards with their hands up saying “no no no” (weirdly similar to a reaction of a gun)

I explained again what it did, and why a traveler would bring it with her (which was my favourite part), again to faces of pure astonishment. It was clear the topic of the female orgasm wasn’t so common in these parts. There was something quite fascinating about watching heavily armed ‘macho’ police look so embarrassed (even so, clearly not on the same level as my ‘travel savvy’ pax) 

They said they wanted to X Ray it on its own to be sure. So there it went, accompanied by a butt plug (which the unfortunately they didn’t ask about, but I wish they had) which majestically came out in a tray the other side, right in front of my entire group who had been waiting.

Needless to say that was not the last time that was brought up that trip 🤣

KARMA

Karma, a tour leaders best friend………
 
There are sooooo many times that as guides, we would love to knock a cocky pax down a few pegs, but as we are professionals, that love our job, we begrudgingly refrain. 
 
However, every now and again our old friend karma pokes up her beautiful face and does the job for us waaaaay better than we could have ever done, and for that, we are eternally grateful.
 
Let’s just say I had one of those pax. A special, self proclaimed, know it all, I’m amazing at everything ‘funny guy’, who loooooved to give his (often wrong) opinion about everything people spoke about, even when he wasn’t part of the conversation (what a ‘delight’, not irritating at ALL)
 
Actually his ‘Legend’ began early during the welcome meeting of our trip in La Paz, and I really feel sets the tone perfectly.
 
Leon “what are you most looking forward to on this trip?”
Pax “FINALLY getting to try the world famous Bolivia caviar”
Leon “erm, are you sure your not getting confused with Beluga caviar?”
Pax “yep am sure, Bolivia caviar, best in the world”
 
🤣 A-maaaaazing! I knew immediately that this pax was gunna be…….. ‘great’
 
He was just so confident, so proud of his ‘fun fact’. As i had a lot more to discuss with the group, I let that one pass and just said when he found it (in landlocked Bolivia) that I’d eat some with him.
 
Fast forward time to the day after when I’m taking 5 of my group to do one of my favourite activities in Bolivia, to cycle ‘The Death Road’. 
 
This is a freaking mental 64km all downhill adrenaline filled adventure. You start at 4700 meters up in the glaciers, well above the cloud line, in full alpine gear, and for 3 hours speed down a very narrow bumpy dirt track, meandering through the mountains, small villages, mini waterfalls, clouds, streams, and ending up in the sub tropical jungle. Oh, and dont forget the MASSIVE 2km drop with no rail at ALL times down the left hand side of the track, littered eerily with crosses where hundreds of tourists and locals alike have cycled or driven to their doom.
 
That being said, if you go with a good company, great bikes, with even greater breaks, and actually LISTEN to the guides, it’s very unlikely that you’d fall. Ive personally cycled down ‘Death Road’ 14 times and I’m juuuust fine.
 
So the guides at the top explained that one would be at the front for the faster riders, and one at the back for those who would like to take their time. This ‘special’ pax, let’s call him Brian (not his real name) was doing what Brian’s do, peacocking in front of the ladies, showing off in advance about how fast he was going to go, how he’d biked ‘waaaay’ crazier things than this, that biking was in his blood, as ACTUALLY, his great great grandfather was a mountain bike (🤣 ok i made that last bit up, it just felt right, but you get the point, he was showing off)
 
We all got onto the bikes and set off. Within 500 meters we made our first photo stop. Everyone slowed down and got off their bike as instructed. That was all accept Brian. He really wasn’t going fast at all, I think his intention was to come as close to one of the girls as possible, and emergency brake last second (perhaps a Brian form of courtship dance). However, what actually happened was he came in slowly, approached one of the girls, accidentally hit his front break instead of his back, and fell, in what looked like slow motion, unceremoniously over his handlebars, face first into the ground, whilst farting.
 
#KarmaChameleon  
 
It was genuinely hilarious, and the fart really was the perfect sound track to such an epic fail, and it REALLY was a epic fail. Just imagine how differently that all played out, to how he’d planned it. For that level of organic comedy, you just have to be in the right place, at the right time (#lovemyjob).
 
It required every ounce of my self control not to laugh, and possibly snort out loud (the girls did plenty that for me). I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed (or is possible to have) a more spectacular fall, at a slower speed. It was legendary, but unfortunately for Brian, for all the wrong reasons. He sustained a few minor injuries, scratched up left side of face, bleeding wrists and forearms, and perhaps most seriously of all, a bruised ego. He certainly didn’t appreciate the girls suggesting the guide put stablisers on his bike, and attach him to an extendable dog lead.
 
Now for the majority of us normal folk, an embarrassment of that magnitude, especially in-front of girls you liked, would most likely have you take a back seat for a while. Perhaps let the attention drift onto someone or something else, whilst carefully and strategically selecting the right moment to make your comeback. 
 
Oooooh no, not for our Brian. If anything it caused him to enhance his Brian-ness, to do whatever it takes to ‘regain his cool points’ and retake his rightful place as the groups Alfa idiot… ooops sorry, typo, Alfa male.
 
For the entire activity this included, but wasn’t limited to, cycling fast through muddy puddles to splash others, cycling in and out of being close to others going “wooooow”, telling sexist jokes at the photo stops, creeping up and giving the girls highly unwanted muddy sweaty cuddles, and speeding past people with his hairy ass hanging out singing “it’s a fabulous night for a moooooooooondance”
 
As you can imagine, the girls were all ‘thrilled’, fighting amongst themselves over who gets to date ‘dreamy Brian’. Personally, I was quite amused watching how one man could socially get it SO wrong. Much like a car crash, you don’t want to look, but your curiosity often gets the better of you. It was keeping me entertained witnessing what I was sure to become the second ‘40 year old virgin’.
 
Once we had finished, and were all eating lunch in the jungle, I was sat considering my options for how to explain to Brian, without being too insulting, that his attempts at ‘impressing the girls’ were in fact doing the opposite. The problem, however, with these type of pax (and there are many of them) is that they are just so unaware of the negative reactions they are causing, they can actually convince themselves that their strategy is working. 
 
Luckily for me, Karma stepped in again, big time!
 
During lunch, Brain had unsurprisingly said something that had upset one of the girls, which in turn upset the other girls, which escalated quickly into a heated argument. That was, until, Brian suddenly started to pull some rather unusual faces. One of the girls said “you don’t win arguments with stupid faces, you win them with words and valid points”
 
As the girls waited for his response, his faces got stranger and stranger, and more and more exaggerated. His body joined in, kind of jellyfish like. He looked semi possessed. One of the girls screamed “what the hell is wrong with y” and JUST as she said the word ‘you’, Brian, took center stage and spectacularly, and I really do mean SPECTACULARLY……………..……..sneezed, vomited AND shat himself all at the same time. 
 
Yep, you read that right. 
 
Everyone jumped back from the table as Brian proceeded to vomit all over his own face, hand, plate, lap, and feet. He then struggled up and waddled off, squelching his way to the toilet (perhaps a little late). 
 
To sneeze, vomit and to shit yourself simultaneously must be a combination reserved ONLY for the worlds most ‘special’ people, as I’d never seen it before. It certainly makes a statement, and is NOT subtle. It’s like karma decided it had enough of Brian’s terrible chat, and pushed his purge button. Really quite an unpleasant moment to witness with a fajita in your hand (still finished it tho 😁). However, worse than the rather graphic visual that moment provided, was the sound that ‘winning’ trio created. With bass, tenor and soprano all present, it achieved a fabulously disturbing harmony.
 
The good news was is that it was enough of a blow to his confidence to successfully bring him down a few well needed pegs (thank you Karma). I’m not gunna say he was the perfect pax from that moment onwards, but he was, for a time considerably more low key, less vocal, and less arrogant, so I guess, less Brian. Halle-freaking-lujah!!!!

GIRL POWER

This is a short and super sweet story of a girl, who quite simply blew my mind by doing something I thought was impossible.
 
For those of you that don’t know, in Bolivia, on the public buses, there are no toilets.  So it’s common to have to wait 3 hours between each scheduled stop, with no exceptions.
 
I’d explained this many many times to my group prior to this journey (like I do eeeevery tour). I’d explained that the drivers of these buses DO NOT CARE, and WILL NOT STOP. Therefore I recommend NOT to drink lots of liquids, and NOT ask me to stop the bus, as I’ve tried it before, MANY times, ALWAYS unsuccessfully.
 
“Everyone understand?” I confirmed in the bus station. “Yes Leon” they all replied. 
 
So we are about 2 hours in and sure enough, a girl from my group comes up holding her stomach with a highly tensed face saying “Leon, I’m so sorry, but I’m going to burst, please can we stop?”
 
🤦‍♂️
 
I explained agaaaaain that on these public buses rules are rules and that I’ve had zero success trying to stop them in the past. She proceeded to beg that I tried, so of course I obliged, and of course got the reaction I expected. A big, fat, NO.
 
Then one of the best things I’ve ever seen happened right in front of my eyes. The girl stomped up to the driver, pulled her trousers down and squatted next to him. He looked at her in panic saying “Que hace, que hace?” (What are you doing?) and she screamed, and I do mean SCREAMED back at him “IF YOUR GUNNA TREAT ME LIKE A FUCKING ANIMAL, IM GUNNA ACT LIKE A FUCKING ANIMAL, AND PISS ON YOUR FUCKING FLOOR” 
 
The driver was so shocked that he slammed on the brakes, causing half the passengers to fall out their seats, and opened the door. After which all the ladies on the entire bus ran off and pee’d behind the trees.
 
I think I may have fell in love in that moment. She absolutely nailed it, fullstop!
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