I found an abandoned fairy yesterday across the road. In a highly unfairylike fashion, she was hollering at the top of her lungs for her Mom and Dad. Her costume included red lipstick, blue eyeshadow and translucent wings attached to the back of a sleeveless gossamer dress. Shivering in the freezing cold, I gave her my gardening jacket and we settled down to a sobbing conversation.
My five-year-old fairy was locked outside alone. Everyone else was having great fun at a costume Escalade party in an upstairs apartment. No one had realized there was a fairy missing.
There is a frantic craving for fun at the moment — not just here in the Geneva countryside, but all over the place. A recent trip to Madeira found us in the middle of a packed early-morning November flight out of Zurich. The passengers were excited and eager.
The flight into Funchal, the world’s most dangerous airport, went well (no turning back to Porto this time), and no medical incidents on board either. But the fully-booked Edelweiss/Swiss flight must have got tangled up in so much fun, and I was electronically eliminated from having taken the flight.
They then, secretly, cancelled my flight back.
In the tourist world, ignorance is not exactly bliss, but it can help. For six days the weather was perfect in Madeira–sunny and just warm enough to leave the window open at night (necessary to avoid dust-related asthma attacks.)
The hotel had a tropical garden and a glorious view, and once upon a time must have merited its five stars. However, parallel to the world of fun-seekers, there has to be a world of fun-providers. Sinks, toilets, towels, beds, and carpets do not clean themselves. Supper does not cook itself. Drinks do not pour themselves.
There was almost no staff, BUT there was a grocery store nearby and a working television. Lunch was often the local specialty – swordfish with a fried banana on top.
However, the great pleasure of Madeira are the famous levadas which are man-made water courses coming gradually down the volcanic mountain sides. You do great circuits through the laurel forests, and if your walk is long enough there will be no tour bus crowds.
Yes, the thousands of cruise ship passengers coming into Funchal daily now have changed the atmosphere of the island. Flip-flopped people come ashore and board big black buses to take a tour of the island. They clog up the narrow steep roads and scenic view spots.
I have a theory that all of the people who once worked in the tourist industry of Madeira now work on the cruise ships. They, too, have taken up the concept of fun. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You’ve got a job, food and a bed. The tips are better and you’re going somewhere.
Concerning my flight back, I was much like my little fairy from over the road: out in the cold with gossamer wings.