In the more than 20 years I worked internationally, I visited some under-developed countries and on some occasions, conditions were quite difficult. But that wasn’t always the case. There was one trip in particular that will always remain a happy memory for me…
Working in the Seychelles is not what one would call a difficult gig. We left the luxury beach-hut at nine each morning, returned from the office at three, and the rest of the day was our own. Frankly, the most difficult part was walking through the exotic garden in my business suit, carrying my briefcase, while my neighbours sat on their balconies in their swimwear eating avocado, mango and papaya for breakfast, smirking!
When the day’s work was done, I jumped into a swimsuit and shorts and nipped across the sandy lane to the beach. On a really busy day, there were three other people on the mile-long stretch of white-golden sand. Sometimes, I was completely alone. My shorts would be deposited over the branch of a tree — not for security, just so I would know where to find them again — and then the ocean was mine.
I am someone whose early holidays included being forced to swim in the Irish Sea by parents who thought they were being kind. Since leaving home, I have never swum in open water anywhere north of Crete. (Well, not until last June, anyway.) But this was much further south than that. Warm, silky saltwater flowed around my body, lifting my limbs gently and carrying me with the tide. Occasionally, my conscience would prick me, suggesting there might be a report to write or something else fairly urgent I should be doing but really, I was too warm and sleepy to care.
Sometimes I swam along the shore-line, measuring my distance by the passing palm-trees. Otherwise, I just floated, suspended, examining interesting shells or fish if they came into view, but not particularly bothered if they didn’t.
Sunset comes early and quickly in Africa (and the Seychelles are officially African). I would lie on my back watching a glowing red orb sink towards the horizon. The smell of fish grilling in the beachside cafes would wake me from my trance and then it was back to the beach, my shorts — and dinner.
Now it’s your turn, readers: I’d love to hear about the best place you’ve ever worked in – and why.
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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