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The Tent Pro: Isaac Ngobo

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Story and image by Richard van Ryneveld

Putting up tents is a mission, but if you’re Isaac Ngobo from Villa Spa Holiday Resort on the KZN south coast, you make it your mission to be the best at what you do. The thing that struck me, on my recent caravanning trip down the South Coast of KZN, was that there was often a team of guys to put up the tents. You don’t seem to get this luxury back home in the Cape. At Villa Spa Holiday Resort at Ilovo Beach, there was a team of only three guys, and they had my tent up in literally 15 minutes.

I was particularly impressed with the obvious leader of the team, a tall, slim, quiet man, who (without talking very much) went about setting up the tent so neatly and efficiently that I stood there in awe. I offered the guys each a cup of coffee; and Isaac Ngobo, the tall, Zulu man, said, ‘Thanks. If we can have that at our lunch break, that would be great.’

That’s how I got chatting to this really charming and interesting man. At lunchtime, I started to find out a bit more about Isaac Ngobo. ‘How long have you been putting up caravan tents?’ I asked him. It turns out that Isaac has worked at Villa Spa for the last twenty years. Married, with two young boys, he started out as a young man at this park − then owned by the Faul family. The park, now in the hands of Gayle and Anthony Faul, has been in the family for the last 31 years.

Isaac is a deeply committed Christian and a humble, quiet man; but ask him anything about camping and caravanning and he comes into his own. He’s too polite to laugh when I ask him what the first thing is that he does, when a caravan arrives at Villa Spa. ‘I first level the caravan… take out the awning and tents if the clients have more than one… put out the ground sheets.’ And he goes on to say that even when it is an imported caravan or motor home that arrives, ‘…give me the tent plan, and my team and I will put up the tent.’ I also learnt that Richard and Charles, the other guys, were still learning the ropes… if you’ll excuse the dreadful pun.

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