Leaving one paradise for another, Victoria Paillusseau has come from her home in Mauritius to work at Inverdoorn as a lodge volunteer. This is her first time in South Africa and she decided to come here because "I love Africa. I already lived in the north, like Morocco, and I wanted to see how it was in the south." It doesn't end there though, as she maps out a childhood spent in France, Sierra Leone, Egypt and Gambia. When she is not at home in Mauritius, and once she has completed her volunteer work at Inverdoorn, she will return to Paris where is she currently studying hotel management. Her family has a deep history in the industry, which she is proud to continue.
A seasoned traveller, she has found much to love about South Africa. "The people have good hospitality and are very friendly. In Cape Town there are so many young people who want to enjoy life. It's a beautiful city where you can have a good life." She also loves the advantage of leaping from city to country. "You can be in Cape Town and have the city and then after two and a half hours be in the middle of nowhere."
She seems right at home at Inverdoorn, bustling about the lodge, carrying out her daily duties. "My programme of the day is to supervise breakfast, check if the guests are happy, stock the rooms, serve drinks. I help everywhere. If they need me in the office, I can help also. I can translate for the safaris. I can babysit." She laughs as she trots out the long list that makes her a jack of all trades. "I can help with the cheetah volunteers too," she says. Victoria speaks with ease and enthusiasm, is keen to help and share and even invites me along to do a circuit of the rooms the following day.
Besides the times when her French tongue is required, she has been able to enjoy a safari for herself, and choosing no particular animal as her favourite she is happy to do this. "I don't have any favourites, they are all so amazing," she explains. "That is why I came here." If she had to pick a safari though, it would the morning game drive just after the crack of dawn "when you can see all the animals."
While she fulfills her dreams of "travelling and meeting people" she learns valuable lessons along the way. "You have to understand people and you must understand their culture and how they work." She admits that it is challenging "coming here without knowing anyone and improving everything, like your English." But she has clearly done remarkably well and never flinches at my fast-paced flurry of questions.
Victoria's time at Inverdoorn is almost over, and then she will return to her studies and even more adventures. She has certainly left her mark, but with her itchy feet yearning to explore new ground and her goals set firmly in place, she knows it is time to move on and discover even more of the world.