how i ended up a tour guide in central asia and iran: the simplest explanation

PersepolisFor years I’ve traveled, and all the while I’ve tried to figure out how get paid for it, while photographing and building up a portfolio. That’s the simplest explanation of how I became a tour guide in Uzbekistan and Iran.

It became clear early on in the tour season that leading later-middle-aged Australian tourists around Central Asia was not my calling, and perhaps not a great idea at all, but that was not going to prevent me from finishing the season. No way. I would persevere, suffer, and complain because if nothing else, I’d learn what I did want through what I didn’t.

What saved me wasn’t taking photos, but writing bulk emails (and many people along the way, but that’s part of the story), which came to be known as “the bulks.” I’d scribble into a journal when I had time, and turn the notes into big emails about my tours when I hit a town with internet access. The next time I checked my email, I was delighted to see that my friends forgave the impersonality of the bulks and sent me lines of encouragement and appreciation, as well as updates from their own lives.

I’ve posted them here, interspersed with more recent recollections, because they are a fun, light way of learning a little bit about the area I was in, places no one much heard about until 2001. Enjoy!

[This was written retrospectively in 2004, but is posted here as an introduction.]

next: how i ended up a tour guide in central asia and iran: an honest explanation

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