Caribbean, Central America, Toronto Star, travel

Meet Your Tour Guide – Kimike Smith

February 23, 2016
Meet your tour guide

Originally seen in Toronto Star on Feb 6, 2016

Kimike Smith is in his late twenties and sports a sunglass tan from years of rays reflecting off of the water. He speaks fast, enthusiastic Creole, has an award winning smile and an infectious laugh.

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Born and raised on the beautiful Caribbean Sea off of the Belizean coast, Smith can navigate his boat by the stars, tell you the name of every sea creature along the reef and fill guests with excitement and enthusiasm at the start of everyday.

Kimike Smith was our main guide as we paddled from lodge and lodge, snorkeled, fished, ate and relaxed on the Cayes. He explained why working for Island Expeditions is not just a job, it is his life.

TORONTO STAR: Meet Your Tour Guide - Kimike Smith

How did you come to work at Island Expeditions?

Everyone in Belize knows about Island Expeditions. They have been here since 1987 and provide good jobs to a lot of Belizeans. We know the ocean and the jungle unlike any foreigner and they respect our knowledge. They are also the best tour company in the country- the most professional and protective of our wildlife. I started working with them twelve years ago and they saved my life.

TORONTO STAR: Meet Your Tour Guide - Kimike Smith

How did they save your life?

I was young, my parents were no longer in my life and I was living in a friend’s basement. I was getting into some trouble. A friend’s mother told me about IE and the type of jobs they offered. I knew the ocean and I liked working with people so I thought “Yeah! I’m gonna be a guide.” I was cocky. Because I didn’t have my tour guide license, they only let me work maintenance. I quit once. I was frustrated that they wouldn’t let me guide just on my knowledge but they have a high standard for their guides and I couldn’t be one until I met those standards. Finally, once I got my ego in check, they helped me go to guiding school where I aced it. Of-course. (He flashes a smile) If they hadn’t supported me and believed in me, I don’t know where I would be now.

How long have you worked here?

I’ve been here twelve years now.  I have the best job in the world.

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How so?

Look around! (He gestures to the sparkling water, the white sand, sunny blue sky)

This is paradise. I get to spend my days on the water and in the sun. I get to see beautiful fish and watch the reef change and grow. I see my cousins and friends on all of the small Cayes every week as I guide guests from lodge to lodge.

I also get to meet and talk with people from all over the world. I love meeting new people, hearing about their lives, travels, families, work. I have people I could stay with all over the world now.

TORONTO STAR: Meet Your Tour Guide - Kimike Smithith

Have you ever thought about leaving?

I was once engaged but she was from the States and wanted me to move there with her. I loved her- I still love her (He pauses and looks down) but I could never leave here.

This is my home.

This is me.

TORONTO STAR: Meet Your Tour Guide – Kimike Smith

TORONTO STAR: Meet Your Tour Guide – Kimike Smith

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