Picture the scene. Warm air cooling as it wafts over pale grey marble floors. Palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. The children are in bed, having wolfed down a huge meal of fresh Mediterranean fish, and the weather forecast for tomorrow looks fabulous. Then listen to the dulcet soundtrack of a husband crashing around as his BlackBerry refuses to download a document he has to read and comment on before his office wakes up tomorrow. Meanwhile, the hotel bar entertainer ramps the synthesiser up another notch as he launches into a peculiarly Tunisian version of Isn€™t She Lovely? Welcome to World of the Volcano, day six.
Like millions of others, we€™ve been caught up in the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano. Unilke millions of others, we€™re sitting pretty in a lovely hotel in Hammamet, on the Tunisian coast, instead of having to hang around an airport praying that the next update will mean a flight home. The three children are loving their extended holiday, as are their parents €“ while vaguely worrying about the hotel eventually pulling the plug on their beachside idyll. But it€™s a funny thing, watching how tourists, including ourselves, react to uncertainty. You see knots of the same nationalities swapping latest information in the lobby. The hotel shop has sold out of nappies and baby wipes. An enterprising group of fathers has banded together to discuss overland routes back to London, laughingly (but one can only suspect, seriously) talking about turning the trek into a race between different families. I€™m almost tempted to take part, though think the company of a five-, three- and one-year-old, not to mention a six-month bump, might just slow me down a little bit.
We€™re glued to the hotel€™s only English speaking TV station, BBC World, while snatching odd snippets from the plethora of French channels available. Family and friends back home are texting news, and plenty of gossip – the latest saying it might be months till flights resume should the volcano€™s €˜sister€™ also erupt. The news even started to get better, but today we woke to details of further clouds of ash heading south, and keeping UK airports, at least, shut for longer. We should really relax into being here; how often does one get an enforced, and paid-for, extra holiday? But… There are work deadlines that need to be met. Plans discussed with builders. Summer school uniform to buy, and haircuts to be booked. Buffet food is starting to pall, particularly trying to explain every time that no, three different balls of ice cream does not constitute a healthy meal.
So deep breath and get out of €˜setting up school abroad’ mode €“ we€™re off to the beach!12 Responses to “Day six of World of the Volcano”