Under An Island Sun – Episode 12

The main characters from the story

“Of course, you will also be guides,” Chris continued, “hence the need for language skills. You’ll also need to know about the island.

“You’ll pick up knowledge as time goes on, but that won’t cut much ice with our customers in the meantime.

“I think even Antonio would tire of talking if he had to do it all himself.”

Antonio gave a mock bow as everyone laughed.

“This is a polite way of saying that the three of you are going to have to sit down and do some homework.”

Chris handed them each a thick folder.

“These contain information about Fuerteventura, with its geography, history, geology and all sorts of snippets, along with detailed maps.

“We provide several excursions around different parts of the island, each set out in their own sections.

“But you should aim to get yourselves as well informed as possible, so you can answer clients’ questions.

“You’ll be amazed at how much people ask, and how curious they are about everything once they’ve got over their initial reserve.”

Hilary felt a surge of pride as she flicked through her copy.

Her son had done an excellent job.

“I appreciate you’ve had a long journey to get here, so you can have the next two days to recover and get your bearings.

“Mairi and Philippe, you’ll pick up your Land-Rovers tomorrow.

“Your first tour will centre round Cofete, a hamlet to the south of the island, on the wild western coast, picking up passengers from hotels en route, before meeting up by the harbour at Morro Jable.

“There you’ll divide up according to language, and Hilary will transfer from Mairi’s vehicle to travel with Antonio, with the German contingent.”

The Italian nodded.

“I will lead the way over tracks to Cofete and its beach and panorama of mountains stretching into the distance,” he told them, and smiled.

“Prepare to have your breath taken away if you haven’t been there before. It is magical.”

Hilary found it difficult to sleep that night.

Although she was flattered by her son’s faith in her, she couldn’t help wondering if she was up to the job.

She was used to tackling a class of teenagers, so knew patience and tact could be effective, but Chris was relying on her so much.

It didn’t help that he’d told her, after the meeting, that the bigger tour company was undercutting his prices, making it all the more important that their customers should have a quality experience.

And then there was Antonio . . .

She drifted off eventually, waking early in the morning to realise she had dreamed of his warm smile as he’d grasped her hand.

Why on earth had that vision been so vivid and moved her so?

Mairi’s door was closed, so Hilary quietly made herself a coffee and sat on the balcony, reading through the folder.

In a section about the island’s history, she read that fortresses had been built to fend off pirates in former times.

Sadly, it seemed they hadn’t succeeded. The former capital, Betancuria, for instance, had been raided and razed to the ground.

What with only just finding her feet, and coming out of the tunnel she could tell Mairi was still in, Hilary had a feeling that she was going to need a fortress around her heart it she didn’t want to risk it being broken again.

And she didn’t.

Given the island’s unsuccessful record of seeing off invaders, hers had better be a lot stronger.

Otherwise, her stay here might be shorter than she had first imagined.

To be continued…

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