It is another sunny day in Swakop and I am on my way to pick up the clients. Alte Brücke is where they stay. „Good morning, how are you? Are you coming sandboarding? Then let’s jump in the car.“ A family. A French family. But the parents speak English very well. So all easy so far. But I know already that I won’t do the stand up boarding today. These kids will do the lie down boarding and I know, that Beth prefers not to deal with the little ones. No problem for me, I love working with kids. And these ones remind me on all these years back home in Germany where I worked as a nanny or babysitter with French families. By that time I was fluent in French and hatet English. I wasn’t able to make a proper sentence in English. But since then things changed. A lot. Now I am standing here after over year travelling and working in different parts of Africa. Totally confident in English. But unsteady in French. And what did you say Beth? The parents of these kids are not doing the lie down? They do the stand up boarding? „Exactly!“ Awesome. So do they understand any English? „They can say hello in English. And the little one is scared. She won’t go down by herself.“ Brilliant. So you don’t need to listen to Steven’s instructions, since you anyway don’t understand a single word. While Steven is giving the other clients instructions, I am sorting out the girls with „les casques“ (helmets).
And now let’s go up. The parents walk up the first part with their kids. In the meantime my brain starts working. How do I explain her how to do it? How do I say that in French?
The parents continue all the way to the top and I start with the big sister. Easy, nothing complicated. Comment tu t’appelles? Quel âge as-tu? Je m’appelle Anne. (What is your name? How old are you? My name is Anne.) Ok, the first step is done. They answer me. But now Louise starts to cry. Ne pleure pas. On va faire ça ensemble. Well, concentrate Anne. You still have 8 other clients. So, let’s start. I sent down first all the other clients before I explain Romane how she has to do it. She is 8. Lift up the front. All the time. That’s all I tell her before the first run. And go.
After that it is time for Louise and me. Sur mon dos! I tell her to lie on my back. She tells me that she is scared. I start sliding down by dragging my feet very hard in the sand so that we go very slow. Have way down my toes start burning. The sand is very hot. I ask her if she is ok and let it go. Feet out the sand. Puuh that was getting very hot. We arrive down there and look at that she is smiling. Then let’s go up again. She grabs my hand and walks next to me. Tu as quel âge? I ask her the same question as her sister before. „Cinq ans et deux mois!“ 5 years and two months. Yes, at that age it is very important to be precise with the age.
And the morning is going on. Me up and down every run. Either as the first person to demonstrate the others what to do, or as the last person. First pushing down all the others and then transporting down Louise. And sometimes even transporting her up. Yes, it is a hot day and the climb is not that easy for the kids in this heat. But we manage it together. Talking, having breaks, drinking water. Me all the time concentrated to find the French words. And then the Germans in the group thinking it is not difficult enough for me to swap all the time between English and French, so they ask me questions in German.
Yes my brain is running. If someone still thinks that I don’t really have to use my brain in my job should try that once. Talking to three different people in three languages. Yes, I love it. But it makes me tired. After this trip I am exhausted and happy in the same time. Happy because I realised I can still communicate in French. Happy because it is always fun working with kids. But exhausted. Exhausted because I did 5 walk ups, two with the girl on my back. Exhausted, because my brain was working all the time.
That’s why I went to the beach after that trip.
To the beach to relax in the sun.
To the beach to enjoy the beautiful weather.
To the beach to go swimming.
To the beach to play volleyball.
To the beach to hang out with friends.
To the beach to watch the dolphins next to me in the water.
To the beach because I can.
Life is a beach. 😉