4 minutes reading time (822 words)

Get to know your guides: Ale Sanchez, Costa Rica

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Ale is a very natural guide, he lets the flow of his traveler's experience carry him and makes the best out of every opportunity that presents itself during a trip. No matter what, he always reaches his goal: leaving travelers 100% satisfied, with big smiles on their faces. When Ale is assigned to my travelers I know they will be in great hands…oh and he is a master of group selfies! I got to interview him recently and here is what he had to say about being a guide, enjoy!

How did you decide to become a guide and when did you start?
My father was involved in tourism for a long time so I decided i wanted to be a guide at a young age. I became certified as a naturalist tour guide at the National Institute for Learning Costa Rica in 2004.

What do you like most about being a guide?
I love making new friends and sharing my country with them. I love our history and culture and it's always exciting for me to involve my guests in real Costa Rican experiences; like taking them to markets or interesting local places and finding things that may surprise them about Costa Rica. I really enjoy taking guests to the Alajuela market and introducing them to "Los Sapitos" or "The Little Frogs" where they have the best empanadas, gallos, and fresco de frutas!

What do you do to make each trip you guide special for each traveler?

The first hour of the trip is always the most important. I get to know the travelers and "read" the group so that I can adapt the trip to each person's needs and expectations to make it special for them. Every person is different and special in their own way and I try to develop a real friendship with each guest. I look for smiles and learning experiences and I like when people ask lots of questions.

When you go out on a trip, what are you most excited to see and what are your favorite things to do?
Every place I go has special and unique features but the Arenal Volcano and visit to Vida Campesina is always a highlight for me because guests get a real Costa Rica experience. They learn about organic, environmentally friendly vegetable growing and they get to taste real Costa Rican fare in a real farm environment with goats, sheep, and chickens running around. Driving is always fun as well because it's always unpredictable and you never know what you might see along the way! Monkeys, sloth or iguanas are pretty easy to spot and travelers love to have those opportunities.

What's the funniest thing that has happened to a traveler you were guiding?
The funniest thing that has happened was one morning while guiding in Arenal. We were eating breakfast and a coati (similar to a raccoon) climbed the restaurant deck, then onto the table and proceeded to eat my guest's breakfast fruits! We were all laughing for a long time after that!

What was one of the most meaningful and moving experiences you've had with a traveler while guiding?
On a recent trip, while talking to my guests, I shared about the loss of my brother. The guests were moved and shared how they almost lost a daughter in a car accident. They shared that she thankfully survived the many operations and recovered. That was very meaningful to me, that we all felt comfortable to open up to each other in a very intimate way.

What makes a great guide?
A great guide must have a very accommodating personality and be able to anticipate and put the guest's needs first. They must also know how to read their guests and be able to be friendly and listen well as many guests share personal situations. A guide should also be creative and look out for things that can be special moments for guests. For example, depending on a guest's interests, I like to stop to join a soccer game if our guests like sports. If a guest likes food or culture I will stop at a fruit stand to try some unusual tropical fruits or take guests to lunch at a local family home instead of a restaurant. 

Guest Quote about Ale

"Buenos diaz Alejandro! We made it back to Pennsylvania. It is snowy and cold here today. I'm already wishing I was back in Costa Rica but it's good to be home and see my Ryleigh. She hasn´t left my side. Thank you so much for making our trip so much more memorable. It was great meeting you, Katherine and your father. I made arroz and frijoles this morning for myself! Keep in touch. The offer is always open to visit PA on your journeys". - Wildland Alumni

I always love working with Ale and love recommending him as a guide in Costa Rica. If you are interested in a vacation in Costa Rica don't hesitate to call me, I would love to talk.

Your friendly Costa Rican expert,

Grettal Calderon

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