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Doug Thomson, Wildland Cape Town Guide, South Africa

Wildland's Cape Town guide Doug Thomson (on right) and his father at a World Cup soccer gameA Springbok fan and friend for life.

When time allows, I always try to get my friends or family involved in our tours. This may be a stop off at my home for coffee, a braai (BBQ) at my house with my family, or a friend or two joining us to watch a rugby game on TV. It is these special experiences where travellers stop being clients and become friends for life.

One especially memorable family group was from San Francisco. The son was battling Lou Gehrig's disease and he had a brilliant spirit. He wanted to do all the activities including kayaking around Boulders Beach and hiking up Lions Head above Cape Town. In high school he played American football and as such, was naturally interested in rugby. He heard that the South African rugby national team, the Springboks, were playing Australia in a test match and asked if we could watch the game.

While touring the family through the Winelands, we stopped in the afternoon at a local Afrikaans pub to watch the game with the locals. The day before, he tried in vain to buy a Springbok jersey but the store did not have his size and he was bitterly disappointed. The morning of the game, I managed to purchase a jersey in his size. I didn't tell him until we arrived at the pub. After I pulled on my own South Africa jersey, I pulled his from it's bag and tossed it to over to him. It felt brilliant as I watched his face light up when he saw that jersey! In addition, that morning, I called a mate of mine, an ex-Springbok player, and asked him to join us for the game. As this huge former rugby star came strolling in and sat down next to us, a murmur went up throughout the pub from the local Africaans fans. Watching this wonderful American kid, wearing his green and gold jersey, amongst real Afrikaans-South Africans, sitting next to an exSpringbok, reminded me why I love my job!