Unexpected Experiences!

You may wonder why I haven’t uploaded any articles from my time overseas so far. Well, my placement took a somewhat unexpected turn! Here’s what happened:

Cape St. Vincent
Known in ancient times as the end of the world, Cape St. Vincent is the south-western most point of Europe

I had been in Portugal for just under 2 weeks. During this time, I had travelled to the end of the world (Cape St. Vincent, see picture), run some airport transfers and toured round some of our beautiful hotels. Now well acquainted with all things Algarvian, I received a phonecall from my RTM. Apparently, there had been unexpectedly heavy rain in one of our other resorts, Boa Vista in the Cape Verde islands. Our staff out there had been working around the clock to ensure the ensuing flooding and damage to infrastructure affected our guests as little as possible. However, they had not taken any breaks for a few days, so they needed some relief staff and I had been chosen to fly out and help.

That afternoon, in a route that felt it justified an Indiana Jones-style red line on the map, I was on a plane bound for Lisbon, from there to Sal, another of the Cape Verde islands, and from there on a short propeller plane flight to Boa Vista Airport.

Propeller Plane!

I was picked up in a jeep, as we had to travel cross-country to avoid road damage, and taken to the hotel where I was to spend the next two weeks working as one of our Holiday Advisors.

Whilst there, I helped keep customers in touch with the flooding situation, helped booked trips and excursions and answered questions they had. It really gave me an appreciation for how much work our Holiday Advisor staff put in to make our customers’ holidays special: the long hours; the relationships with local staff; the number of guests they remember and recognise.

I even had a little opportunity to have a look around. Boa Vista has only been operating as a tourist destination for about five years. This means the island is almost totally undeveloped. The beach on which my hotel stood was a 10 mile stretch of brilliant white sand with nothing beside it but scenery. The beaches there are so unspoiled that they are a refuge for turtles, which some of our customers were lucky enough to see. The inland scenery is, for most of the year, stark and rugged. Composed of reddish and brown volcanic rock and, due to the dry climate, almost devoid of plant life, it is often compared to the surface of Mars. However, after the recent rain, all over there now burst forth green, transforming the island into something that better resembled its name: Cape Verde – the Green Cape. That said, it’s not actually a cape…

Whilst hard work, it was a great experience to have been able to see Cape Verde and help out in keeping things running as smoothly as possible. I’ve now returned to Portugal (and internet access) and now plan to make the best of my last remaining week here!

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