Like most islanders, especially coming from a sunny island such as Malta, I crave for beaches and the sea.
Being Maltese means growing up a stone’s throw away from a beach, wherever it is you live. Our summers are spent by the beach, swimming from dawn till dusk and then, when the first stars come out, the barbecues are set up and the marinated meat or chicken is thrown over the grill, filling the beach with a smell so reminiscent of summer. In winter, whenever the mood takes us we’d order take away and eat under the stars, snuggled up in a cosy blanket with a bottle of wine for company. The Maltese reading this, or anyone who is lucky enough to live by the sea really, know what I’m talking about. You can imagine therefore my absolute relish when I saw Mauritius on my roster. And while the rest of Europe shivered, I packed my bikini, summer dress and flip flops and dreamt of a tan in December.
Let me just say that Mauritius was all I had dreamt of and more. You know, when you see these commercials of the Caribbean or other similar destinations and you think to yourself, it can’t be THAT good. It can. I was actually very lucky to have a really good team on the flight and an energetic first officer who booked a van for us as soon as we reached the hotel. We decided (actually, I had no say in it whatsoever. Anything was fine for me. I was too happy to do anything but smile and nod) to go to Le Morne. I googled it that evening and the images which came up…it was too good to be true. Sprawling white beaches, crystal clear waters, rolling green hills. I bit down on my enthusiasm. Surely something would happen, a freak thunderstorm maybe, which would ruin everything. I slept with my fingers crossed that night. I had missed the beach and Le Morne, I felt, would make up for the absence. When I woke up, a pale sun was rising beyond the trees. The sky was cloudless. Needless to say I was the first one down, waiting like an eager puppy who was promised a walk.
Le Morne was about an hour’s drive away from the hotel we were staying at. I thought I’d be sleepy on the way there, having slept late and woken up early. But the scenery kept me entertained. I took photo after photo of the natural beauty of Mauritius. The quaint and colorful villas which reminded me forcibly of the Latin American dramas my mum used to watch, the infinite stretches of green, the grassy mountains which dotted the horizon and the occasional grotto along the way which housed a white statue of a Madonna. We bounced along until we reached our destination.
Ah, Le Morne.
What would I give to spend five days at the resort, with a house having a short trail to the beach? What wouldn’t I give? We spent an amazing day sunbathing and swimming in the sea, a blue reflection of the sky above. We went for walks, discovering little heavenly corners, too beautiful to be put into words. Reggae music floated to us from a boat which had anchored not far from the beach and when fancy took us, we had lunch under this very typical straw umbrella. I read my book in the shallow cool waters and enjoyed the company of the people I had only come to know the previous day. And we mused together about how lucky we were to have this opportunity, that no matter how bad or tough the flight could be, we were rewarded with this. A trip to paradise. We didn’t want to leave. We stood gazing at the beach for a long time, wiling ourselves to commit it all to memory. On the ride back we exchanged photos, laughing at our poses and sunburnt noses. I knew I would most probably never see these people again,it’s a reality when you work with almost 18,000 employees. But what we had shared that day was enough for us to linger in each other’s memory for a long time yet.
Every job has its ups and downs. And although some of it is not in your power to control, your perception and attitude can affect it a great deal. Some people find it easy to induce a fun element in their workplace. Others find it harder. I guess I’m lucky to be blessed with an experience which allows me to do what I love most; travel, meet people, learn. I know it is not a job I will do forever. I know I will eventually tire of it, would want to settle down, have a job which allows me normal sleep hours, have a family. Of course I go through times of loneliness where I miss home more than other days, when the words of friends are the only comfort and their reassurance that you will wake up feeling better is the only thing that makes you fall asleep. Of course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. But deep down I know that right now, this is what I want. Give me the world, a couple of days off every once in a while to go home, and I will be happy.
They say travel is the only thing you can buy which makes you richer. So what makes a person who is paid to travel? In my opinion, it’s the stuff of dreams. Like walking on clouds, only literally.