I sometimes chastise myself for not writing more about my travels here. After all, I am lucky enough to work in a lot of places that people would save up to go and visit as a tourist. And I am not blasé about it, I do realise how lucky I am and appreciate the ability to travel and see places that some people only dream about. But it is work. It is what I do. That takes the edge off the glamour a bit. I can talk about my work and travel adventures with co-workers and fellow travellers; but back at home, family and friends lose interest surprisingly quickly. See for me, the glamorous locations are the background, not the main event. It is hard to have empathy for a woman carrying her own weight in luggage arriving at an airport at 4am for the fourth time in as many weeks unless you have done it yourself.
Here is a snap-shot of my life on the road…
2.30 AM, Saturday Morning (Or is it still Friday night) I get up (if I have been to bed at all) quick shower, dress, make up, put toiletries in appropriate bags, check luggage, drink coffee, smoke cigarette, feel like shit.
3 AM Taxi to the airport. (Pray the taxi driver isn’t drunk or sleepy and that he doesn’t want to make conversation).
4 AM Arrive at airport. Meet teachers I will be looking after. (One of them is bound to be lost or sick).Smile and look bubbly. Check in my suitcases bulging with clothes, teaching materials, admin notes, hair-dryer, travel iron, travel kettle, phone chargers and other electrical equipment. (My lap top is in my carry-on bag and never leaves my side). Sneak out for a last cigarette for several hours.
4.20 AM Immigration/Passport/Security control. A never ending queue of people moving slowly towards the metal detectors. Have I removed any sharp objects from my bags? Am I wearing some jewellery that will make the machine beep? Will I have to unpack my carry on bag? Is there anything embarrassing in it? Did the guy in front of me wash at all this week??
Anytime between 4.45 and 4.30 AM… Queue up again for coffee and sandwiches for breakfast. Check all my teachers made it through. Try not to fall asleep while waiting for my flight to be called. Go to the gate.
6 AM Scramble on board the cheapest flight my company could book. Try and get a window seat. Fail. Get an isle seat. Wait some more… Take off!
9 AM local time. Geneva airport. De-plane. Rally other teachers like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Catch bus into city centre. Changes buses. Get a bit lost. Finally find the right bus out of town.
10.30 AM Arrive at small town between Geneva and Lausanne. Walk the last few hundred meters to the hotel. Check in. Unpack. Unwind. Perhaps sleep.
1 PM Have some lunch. The rest of the day my other teachers have free but I have two meetings, first, this afternoon, with the headmaster of the school we will be teaching in this coming week, and second, this evening, a promotional visit to the principle of another school in the town that might be interested in booking our company. So I shower, make up and try to look business-like and head out to work.
After the second meeting (which seems to have gone quite well) I am invited out for drinks. I accept to be polite but try to convey that I have been awake for nearly twenty-four hours already. My plight is ignored. I allow myself to get tipsy enough to seem friendly, but not so tipsy that it is unprofessional. I am very tired but try to continue being bubbly and in control. At least he doesn’t hit on me (which others sometimes have done). At 10pm, he takes the hint and takes me back to the hotel. By 10.30 I am fast asleep in bed.
On Sunday morning I can sleep in and I do. Luckily I don’t have to sort out any problems with the other teachers (which often happens). Sunday afternoon, I even have some time to do some sightseeing. I am back for 4pm though when we have a teachers meeting. I have to brief the other teachers about the school, assign teaching teams, go through the company’s rules and regulations, give out timetables and registers. Then we eat and go to our rooms to prepare six lessons each for Monday. I stop by all the new teachers to make sure they are okay and give some help if they are stuck on any lesson plans. I am in bed by 10pm. Tomorrow work begins for real.