As I write this I have a heavy heart. I have just dropped my guests off at the airport and they will soon be in a plane flying across the continent going back to a place I also once called home.
These people who will soon fly over me were my sole focus for the past two weeks. Are they hungry? Would they rather do activity A or B? Are they happy with the trip? What do they expect of me? Do they want a jam-packed holiday full of adrenaline or do they want to take things slow and relax? Most of the time even they did not have the answers.
Every morning I plan the day so that it will make them as happy as possible. I get frustrated when others in the industry that I rely on to do their jobs well (waiters, receptionnists, cleaners, chefs…) get things wrong, as I feel responsible for their wellbeing throughout these 15 days.
This is a personal default of mine. I want everything to be PERFECT. But it never will be. This I have had to learn, and I think that if I had stayed in Europe maybe I would have always strived for perfection, however living in Africa has taught me to *breathe deep and reboot*. As I now say to my guests, In Africa most things don’t go as planned, but often plan B is better than plan A. But to let that happen you have to accept plan A has left the vicinity, forget it, and work with what you have. This often leads to the best adventures and I am sure many solo travel bloggers will tell you that this is the best way to travel and you should just go with the flow. Unfortunately I cannot always do that as I am responsible for guests that have payed thousands of hard earned euros/dollars to be here and most of which have spent months planning their trip here. For many, travelling in Africa really is a once in a lifetime experience, and I want my guests to remember it for all the right reasons.
So this is where my organisational skills dive in. I sort out plan B, put everything into place and add sprinkles and a cherry on top to make sure that it is better than plan A. For example, with my now airborne guests, I was supposed to have them in the town of Swakopmund ready to take (yet another) flight, over the Skeleton Coast. This is an amazing experience and a very costly one. I soon realised that with the number of kilometres that we needed to drive to get there, the poor state of the dirt road we were on, and the other activities that were to be completed that morning, there was no way we were going to get there in time and in one piece (unless we left at 3am, but driving at night in Namibia is not a good idea!). So, did I tell my guests: ‘sorry guys, but you know that awesome really expensive flight you booked? Well that’s not going to happen.’? No, I phoned up the flight company (a feat within itself when you are in the middle of the desert with no cell phone reception) and moved the flight to another day, and had it leave early in the morning so that they would see the sun rise and have the best light over the dunes (ie sprinkles and cherry).
So back to my heavy heart. Surely, you must be thinking, she must be glad to see them leave and forget some of those responsibilities? Well no, because as I have said, my past two weeks revolved around these 2 people, and by doing so, I cannot help but become attached. They fly over the evolving African landscapes as friends of mine for many years to come. In a short space of time I have learnt more about them than I am sure many of their colleagues have in 2 years. We have shared unique moments that they will never experience again, got lost in hazy desert landscapes, comfortable in each others silence, in front nature’s beauty, and giggled all the way to the lodge in the back of an open landcruiser after our lodge’s guide had a heavy hand with the Gordons in our G&Ts. I have listened to their family’s turmoil, learnt about their past, their usual every day lives, and their dreams for the future. Just as they have heard all about my journey to how I got to where I am today and all the paths I hope yet to walk.
For a brief amount of time, they have discovered my world as I shared it with joy and passion. This is the real reason I love my job so much, not for the animal sightings in Etosha or the breath-taking landscapes of Sossusvlei, but because I get to show people from around the world what I love about Africa, from the environment to the culture and the people. I am payed to talk about what I love (and those who know me know that is what I do best), and enrich other people’s lives as those I have met have enriched mine.
So I say goodbye to my guests with difficulty, but my heart also soars as I see them beam and their eyes sparkle as they tell me how much they loved their travels and that they will never forget what they experienced. And to know that I have played a major role in that is just extraordinary.
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