Thirteen hours on your feet can be a challenge for someone who works at a desk all day, but much of the day flew by and I generally enjoyed it. I was at the Getaway Show, a travel show, at Lourensford Wine Estate.
When we left home at about 7am the weather was chilly and a light misty rain had me hoping that the tent, which was our stand at the show, would be cosy and dry inside.
Not that I should have worried, the weather turned out to be hot and humid and the afternoon was swathed in bright sunshine. I should have brought sunscreen, but instead I now have a few more wrinkles and an odd shirt tan, which will soon peel off. Back to the tent, I mean house.
The tent proved quite an attraction with visitors to the show, with a few, not so much interested in winning a dream trip to L’Afrique de l’Est or a Luxury Madagascar Adventure, but in the structure we had set up. You see we are building some luxury tented lodges in Zimbabwe and this particular tent was just a small ode to what can be done with aluminium, steel and canvas. With laminated flooring and beautiful travel pictures on the walls, some visitors were ready to move in, though they would have preferred a location on a river bank in the bush somewhere, rather than in the middle of the Lourensford polo field.
The tent was set up inside like a mini movie theatre with rows of seats and a large flat screen TV. We would be hosting presentations by acclaimed travel writer and past editor of Getaway magazine, Don Pinnock. Don was coming to inspire and excite visitors to the wonders of exploring Madagascar et L’Afrique de l’Est, a nice complement to our show specials and competition. I grew up reading Getaway on lazy afternoons in between game drives or around the camp fire at sundown. I have read a number of Don’s works and really appreciate his approach to travel and his style of writing.
To be honest, I hadn’t really given it all that much thought until Don arrived. I had been more focused on discussing my own passion for Madagascar with interested visitors to the stand; inspiring others to add Madagascar to the tops of their bucket lists (as everyone with an appreciation of beauty or a like for adventure should). So it turned out a treat to meet this unassuming and humble man and listen to him tell stories about all things strange and weirdly wonderful in Madagascar. I have only travelled there once, for a short time, but the country is large and very diverse and there is so much one can engage with and experience that once is definitely not enough. Don has been to various parts of the country and has a wealth of knowledge and stories to share. Although I couldn’t focus entirely on the presentation due to my duties, seeing the pictures of crazy colourful chameleons and cute fuzzy lemurs and hearing snippets of stories about famadihana, a tradition of exhuming the dead and dancing with their bones, and fady, a series of diverse cultural taboos, I wanted to hop on a plane and go straight back to that crazy colourful weird and wonderful country filled with fun and friendly faces.
Don also spoke about L’Afrique de l’Est later in the afternoon, and the tent was full of visitors who enjoyed hearing about the rich history, culture and incredible wildlife that one encounters when exploring that part of the world. Even if some couldn’t afford it straight away, or their children were to small to take travelling, I think L’Afrique de l’Est was firmly entrenched on their minds as a place they must discover for themselves sooner or later.
Later on in the afternoon one of the show organisers stopped by and intimated that our stand was in the running for a prize. Turns out our not so little tent-theatre was not only noticed and appreciated by the visitors, but was also worthy of the “tour operator runner up prize”, which was handed to the team manning the stand the next day. All in all I think the show was a success and we inspired many people to become travellers, to discover and explore and hopefully to do it by taking a Jenman tour!