Physics in paradise: scientific guide

The job I’m going to talk about, and that I had for some time, is more a temporary job than a permanent one. By word of mouth I found the Acquadimare association (ex Universo Acqua) in Milan, that coordinated the activity of a large number of so-called “experts”, both in science and humanities. These experts participate in private events, excursions or, in my case, activities in a tourist resort.

These resorts are located in places that are interesting for cultural or natural tourism, and in that spirit they offer activities more cultural than simply recreational. The resorts have a so-called “resident” biologist/naturalist that shows the tourists the local fauna and flora, and that are helped by the so-called “itinerant” experts (dance, holism or martial arts professors, primate experts or any kind of scholars). This job does not have a prototypical profile, and you can find people with and without a college degree, professionals or amateurs in this or that area, etc… The daily job of residents and itinerant experts is not very different, but in the case of the residents the job can be considered permanent (at least 5 or 6 months in the same resort).

After getting my Physics degree in college, I worked as expert astronomer in two of the resorts of the Hotelplan hotel chain: the Maafushivaru Island Resort in the Ari Atoll (Maldive Islands) and the Chale Island Resort in Kenya, for a seven week period in total, during Christmas and Eastern Holidays.

The work to be done was spread through the whole day, and it included not only the specific duties of each expert, but also the organization and coordination of events, arrival and exit of tourists, etc. As expert astronomer you are usually in charge of day and night observations, and you can also have short meetings any time during the day. In my case I run plain sight observations three or four times per week, with a brief and very basic introduction about the tides, the star cycle, the zodiac, the sun and the moon, etc.

During these observations there was enough time to enter in details and answer questions about the subject explained or any other curiosity. For all the activities I had the use of a good amateur telescope of 8” aperture.

For this kind of job all you need is some knowledge about physics and some passion for astronomy; but this knowledge must be complemented by the usual features that the tourist sector requires, like the adaptability to new situations, a good command of one or two foreign languages, teamwork skills and the ability to awaken the tourists’ curiosity. Organizing entertaining activities, like games and shows, are not the main goal of these resorts, simply due to the philosophy of the hotel chain, but they can be included as complementary activities.

The clear advantage of this job is the possibility of visiting very nice and exotic places, staying there for some months, meeting the local people and learning about their traditions and habits. On the other hand one of the disadvantages would be the salary, at least taking into account the daily duties and commitments and the temporal discontinuity (for the non-resident experts). The resort covers the lodging and meals, extras excluded. The salary depends on the season and the professional experience and it is similar to a usual salary in the tourism sector. In my opinion, the job of the non-resident experts cannot be considered a full-time permanent job, but a sporadic activity, even though it’s true that the agency tells you about the trips several months in advance, making that way easier the possibility of coordinating it with other jobs.

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