You know, I visit the forums every day, mostly just lurking in the background, reading what people have to say, and finding the various opinions fascinating - but now feel the need to just give my 2 cents worth (for what it is worth of course
I work in the Tourism Industry, for a large operator that has camps all over africa and is 100% dedicated to conserving the wilderness areas in which we operate and work.
This is my vocation - I contribute to the conservation of Africa's wildlife, not by sitting in the bush with a rifle waiting for a poacher, but by promoting reserves, camps and hotels that share the same values.
I contribute by sitting in an office for 10 hours a day, making sure that people get to see our beautiful country, that people fall in love with our country, and keep coming back to spend money here, and uplift our country; of course one of the perks of my job, is that I get to travel, often (Next KNP trip in 21 Days), to places that are way out of my price range, and normally I would not be able to afford. This is my vocation, this is MY choice. I take the good with the bad.
However, I have also been back of house (admittedly never at a Sanparks camp) but I have worked in some very impressive Game Lodges and reseves, all over africa - and this I think allows me to give a little perspective that some city dwellers do not seem to grasp. They simply try to compare their lives to their holidays in the camp - and so very quickly assume that people working in camps have that holiday feeling all of the time.
So here goes -
1) Your management couples and field rangers - are paid a pittance - yes you get perks - housing and meals if you are lucky - and why most of us do it - you get to live in an amazing place - the bush. This is a vocation, this is a choice, and you take the good with the bad (low salaries, and lack of modern amenities vs a life in the bush) See that word choice come back - you can choose to do this - you go and learn how to be a ranger, how to manage a lodge etc - so it is pretty well thought out really, a plan.
2) Your cleaning staff, Porters, Kitchen Staff etc - are paid even less, they often dont have much choice in choosing a job - remote rural areas - you take what you can get, a hungry belly and starving children are a very good motivation to go out and get a job - and then you take what you can get - there is very little choice in the matter.
3) Cleaning staff - are the most undervalued
staff at a lodge, I once had to help clean an outside shower at a private lodge after a hyena had decided this was a good place to corner an impala - and let me tell you it was gruesome.
People on Holiday are messy, they feel that because they are paying top dollar to be at a lodge or resort or even a national park - they have the right to expect people to clean up after them.
Now, let me tell you - I have walked into rooms to supervise the cleaning staff, where drains had been blocked by vomit; people had missed a toilet, or simply used the shower instead (these are some of the more extreme cases).
The cleaning staff - have no choice but to knuckle down and clean it up - because if they dont, they get fired and then we are back to the empty bellies and crying children. They generally do not have the means to make their own decisions - their decisions are dictated by their circumstances. Can you seriously think of any one person, who says when they grow up they want to clean toilets - I cant - so lets please stop assuming that is how these people have ended up scrubbing your toilet.
I doubt that any person, who has not lived and worked in the bush for an extended period of time will fully understand the difficulty that these people face trying to make your holidays memorable. Often you are away from your family for a long period of time, your friends are the people you work with....Imagine the most annoying person in your office, and then imagine having to share a house with them...(i have the signed t-shirt if anyone would like to see it)
I have often heard people say, they could easily move to the bush and be very happy there, hell, I was one of them - and I can tell you, it took me a number of years to get used to it, until you have done it - dont assume it is easy.
Imagine, the middle of winter, and you dont have power - you need to be at work by 04:30 am to prep for early morning game drive - and you need to take a cold shower (5 days in a row - because the generator is for guests) no use in trying to do it in the evening when you get home, because you leave the lodge way after the last people have gone to bed (remember they are on holiday - and they have the benefit of an afternoon siesta - while you need to try and unclog the pool because of a naughty monkey trying to kill the creepy crawly)
Try having Ellies rip out the water pipes to the swimming pool 24hours before a bridal party checks in, and working through the night to try and get the pool fixed, filled and blue so that wedding photos can be taken.
(yes - at the one lodge the pool was jinxed and an endless cause of sleepless nights)
I always laugh when the office workers around me get so excited that its time for the weekend to begin, because they are braai-ing and swimming and drinking, and then I always spare a thought for my ex colleagues who are currently still working in the bush, often having worked 3 weeks in a row, without even an evening off - and how busy they are going to be over the weekend, answering to the beck and call of some people they might never see again.
I also just want to say - I love Sanparks - I have had the pleasure of staying in each and every camp in KNP, of hiking Table Mountain over weekends, and growing up in what is now the Garden Route National Park. So I am not in anyway trying to discredit them, or question the way in which their staff are treated. I am simply trying to give a little background to what goes on behind the scenes.
Of course, every little creature you see - softens the blow of every inconvenience you encounter - and of course, if you are fortunate enough to be able - you can leave.
So - next time you want to moan about staff being grumpy, or inconveniencing your holiday - spare a thought for everything they endure every day, to be there and to make your stay a memorable one, and of course we all have our off days, where the boss chews us up and spits us out, or you are tired because you had a bad nights sleep - we all go through this, and showing a little bit of tolerance for our fellow man, can go a long way to improving everyone's day.
Live and let live, and life will be a much more pleasant experience.
So there are my 10 cents worth, have a lovely weekend everyone, I am off to a braai