Taking the Round the Island tour (again)

October 9, 2014 2 Comments

20140911_095910Far-flung golfing holiday resorts solve the first world problem of transporting their guests from one end of the resort to another by simply using a fleet of golf carts. It’s a nice solution we first encountered in Mauritius, and we weren’t surprised to see them zipping about on Kuredu aswell. The large Banyan tree beside the main reception was even kitted out with an electrical port for charging the vehicles! We didn’t need to use the carts to get about very much as we were conveniently located about a five minute walk from the main reception, restaurants and bars. For anyone at the northern or southern villas the regular transportation was very convenient in the sweltering heat of the days though. We only used them rarely.  Then we found ourselves sitting in one on an impromptu island tour.
It all started one morning when the Rascal was excitedly pointing out a golf cart (or truck, as he called them) for the bazillionth time. We decided it was probably time to take pity on him and let him ride on one of the things. We clambered aboard with a few other holidaymakers but were at a bit of a loss when the driver asked where we were going. “Um… Sangu?”, I said. It was blatantly obvious that he knew we were just taking our toddler on a golf cart joyride, so he just nodded and hit the accelerator. Off we flew along a sandy track headed towards the exclusive O Resort where there were NO CHILDREN allowed. We dropped off a few people, picked a few up. All far too slowly for the Rascal who very loudly announced “Ready, Steady… Go!!!” from his perch on my lap. Everyone turned to stare at me. I gazed nonchalantly at the scenery and pretended nothing had happened. The Rascal shouted it again, more impatiently. The driver grinned widely, and absolutely booted it down the track. “Whhhheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”, squealed the Rascal all the way to Sangu.
img_3869There everyone else got off and the driver, correctly assuming we weren’t going to get off, turned to ask the Rascal’s name. “Rascal ready?”, he said. “Ready!”, agreed the Rascal. Whoosh, we were off. So fast we could barely hang on. We bounced along the sandy track, swerving to avoid trees and other carts. The driver started a running commentary on the history of the island along with general information on the different areas as we were passing by. The Rascal was having a great time, our driver seemed delighted to have an enthusiastic passenger, and we were in no rush.  We also weren’t quite sure where we going at this point.  The driver stopped by the golf range and we were encouraged in to have a gander around. A golf ball was procured from somewhere and offered to the Rascal so he could roll it into holes on the practice putting green. This being the first time he’d even seen a golf course, he was amused and confused at the whole concept but willing to give it a go. After a few minutes of that we were herded back onto the cart to continue circling around the island seeing the employee living area and the island football pitch as we passed by. As we drove along, the driver’s mobile rang. Presumably wondering when he was coming to pick up waiting passengers elsewhere. “No, no… I’m on an island tour”, we heard him say. This was a thing? Apparently it was, and we were treated to one most days following that.

20140911_100039We’d be walking to/from our hut and hear a quiet purr as a golf cart drew alongside. There would be our friendly driver, calling to the Rascal, asking if he wanted to go somewhere. No matter where we were going, our driver was going that way eventually.  One day as we dropped people off, another couple looking to go to main reception were told that we weren’t going back there as we were on a tour. Can’t we have a tour too, they wondered? Soon we had a full cart. On this tour we stopped off by the greenhouses to wander around and see how food was produced. There were official ‘back of the house’ tours of the island, but these unofficial excursions were proving popular.  The Rascal was offered flowers and other random objects by staff wherever we stopped.  The little golf cart excursions were one of the highlights of his days.

Our unofficial tour guide was called Monomil. It was very interesting getting to hear about his life.  He had been working in the resort for many years – since it had its own airstrip.  He was well versed in the history of everything to do with the island. His homeland was Bangladesh, and he was in particularly good spirits as he was due to head home for the first time in 18 months to visit his wife and daughters. Life for an employee on the island appears pretty good to an outsider. All the staff seem very happy working there, from the older ladies tending the pathways to the ‘front of house’ staff.  There was football practice most days, and in the evenings we could hear the music blaring from the employee compound. While everyone was working very hard, the working environment was a pleasant one.  In a lot of ways it’s an attractive lifestyle compared to ours, doing uncomplicated work on a tropical island instead of commuting during long cold winter months to an office job where you sit all day at a desk. However there are many parents working there that are living apart from their families for very long periods of time. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Rascal got such a warm reception wherever he went. Many staff members had their own toddlers back home that they didn’t see much of. If you have to work overseas away from your children then there are certainly far worse places to work, but it must be tough constantly seeing other people holidaying with their families when yours are far away.  Maybe the grass isn’t so much greener on the other side after all.  Though it definitely is sunnier!