Some holiday kindness goes a long way
We are at our familiar hotel in the Algarve in Portugal and so far nothing is letting us down, nothing is concerning us…bar, that is, the question of sun loungers and parasols.
Do we adopt the German system and place towels in position before breakfast, after breakfast, during breakfast or do we eliminate all risk and set the alarm for midnight? Do we take a parasol for ourselves? Do we even take two now that our children are teenagers and big and gawky?
This sunny, warm, cloudless day we judge it fairly and take two hammocks, two sun loungers and no parasol, as we have the shade of some nearby vegetation to call our own. We forget though that the sun gets really rather high in the sky in Southern Europe in July, and so by midday we are exposed to its full power with just our factor 30 standing between us and first degree burns.
My husband asks at reception for another parasol as all are taken around the pool. He is told to return to the pool and they will talk to the manager – this is long form for ‘get out of reception you are making the place look hot and sweaty.’ Hopeless!
We all get more and more miserable, funny how things can deteriorate so quickly when one of our basic needs is not met. I explain the pyramid of needs to my 12-year-old daughter but she plugs in her iPod and looks even crosser than before, if that were possible.
Then, out of nowhere, a lady approaches asking if I speak German. I drag up from the depths of my zero level vocabulary the words “Ein bisschen” and she looks much encouraged.
She then speaks in admittedly limited English saying she has sun shades in her room and I say: “Ich wohne MIT sie in das Zimmer,” feeling really rather pleased with myself. She steps back a pace and hastens off to her room to get the shades.
They prove perfect and, even if they hadn’t done, I would have felt so very happy again just at the thought that people, whatever their nationality, can be so very kind. It is only later when lying on one of the hammocks in the welcome shade that I realise I had offered to live with this kind lady in her bedroom – that may have accounted for the step back?