We were woken by bright sunlight, needling through the cracks in the bamboo wall, and the sound of children’s voices. I pushed open the door of our hut, and gasped at the sheer beauty of our surroundings. After all the trauma of the previous night, we’d landed in paradise. There, just a few metres away, was a crescent of silver sand lapped by the crystal water of the lake. A couple of palm trees waved lazy branches against the sun.
And, as in paradise, there were angels: a gaggle of ragged smiling children had gathered at our door, chattering excitedly. As I stepped out into the sunshine, they fell silent for a moment, then burst into a chorus: “Good afternoon. Good morning. How are you? Do you speak English? What is your name? Manchester United! Give me money!”
I smiled back and chatted for a while. Gradually more and more children arrived. There must have been at least 20 of them, staring curiously as I tried to wash and clean my teeth (the electric toothbrush drew squeals of delight) and following me to the hut that served as washroom and toilet.
“Please, that’s enough. Go away now,” I pleaded.
“Gowayno,” they echoed, smiling angelically.
I retreated into our hut and closed the door, hoping they would go away. They didn’t. Little hands pattered on the walls, and little voices outside persisted: “Do you speak English? What is your name? My name is David Beckham. Merry Christmas!”
Sometimes even angels can get a bit irritating.