As I young woman, I worked for 11 years as a tour guide all over the world. Back then, it was not as easy as it is now to receive a work permit in many countries and being a tour guide was one way to do it and learn about other cultures and peoples.

In the summer of 1981 I was sent to a 6 months’ assignment on the beautiful Greek island of Skiathos. It was an amazing experience because the place was small and still quite untouched by mass tourism. I rented a room in an old house the middle of the village, nobody spoke English and I was therefore obliged to learn Greek as fast as possible. I had taken Greek lessons at the University of Geneva and had learnt some Greek the previous summer when I had worked in Rhodes, but this was it, this was about survival. I spent lots of time with the kids in the neighbourhood to practice, they were grateful that I brought them colouring pencils from my regular trips to Athens and I enjoyed talking to them because they didn’t judge my grammar.

Due to the tiny size of the island and the lack of shops, my friend and I took the ferry to the city of Volos on the mainland once in a while on our day off to change the scenery and shop for important supplies such as shoes etc.

Unfortunately, the day before one of our shopping days, a wasp had gotten caught in my friends’ sunglasses while she was driving her small motorbike between the hotels she had to visit and the area around her eye was swollen and looked really sore. We decided not to cancel our shopping trip, and I promised that I will help her with my perfect Greek, to buy a soothing cream in a pharmacy once we got to Volos.

The conversation with the pharmacist, however, didn’t go as planned. I told him, that my friend had been bitten by a xifias / Ξιφίας. I mixed up the word sfiga / σφήκα (wasp) with the word xifias, which stands for swordfish. The pharmacists’ eyes got a little bigger, he asked: “In the water???” and I replied: “No, on the motorbike” and when I noticed, that he nearly fainted, I realized, that I must have said something wrong…

We all had a good laugh, I managed to explain, that it had been a wasp and not a swordfish that had bitten her, we got the cream and went on with our day.


  • Elisabeth Villiger Toufexis

    Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Author, Motivational Speaker

    I am the author of the book “The Soul Kit” and a Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Motivational Speaker. My life purpose is to add value to people’s lives and brighten the path of those who are a little lost in the dark.  I am originally from Switzerland but live in Cyprus with my husband, and we have two grown up children. I speak 6 languages and also work as an interpreter. I found out very early in life that if we want to achieve something, we have to take action and not wait for someone else to do it for us. Life doesn't happen to us, we make it happen. I had a bit of a tough beginning, my mother was 16 years old when she gave birth to me and wanted to give me up for adoption, my grandfather insisted to take me home and I grew up with my grandparents but unfortunately when I was 10 years old, my grandfather died. I felt a lot of insecurity and shame and spent many years feeling quite lost and worth less than others but was determined to achieve something in my life. When I started understanding that we are in charge of our life and that it’s entirely up to us how we want to create it and that we must never allow our past to define our future, I started creating a wonderful life for myself. As a young woman, I worked as a tour guide in many different countries all over the world and learned about other cultures and mentalities, I learned that even though we may look different and speak different languages, we are all the same, with the same needs, wishes and dreams, and that we all have the need for safety and happiness. I have travelled to over a hundred countries, and I love to get to know people, appreciating similarities and respecting differences while bringing out the best in each other.