Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Bench Africa’s Julie De Palo

This week, we challenged Bench Africa’s groups and operations director to a game of Pictionary. She wiped the floor with us.

What are you reading?

I have never really had a lot of time to read, but have always been interested in Steve Jobs, so I am reading his biography.

It always intrigues me when someone comes from nothing and becomes something. We all have it in us.

What are you watching?

Netflix – lots of it. Like all, I have just watched Tiger King. I didn’t like it, but I had to keep watching it!

What are you listening to?

Spotify. A little secret: I am one of those people who loves all music, but can never tell you who sang it or what year, so for me, Spotify works. I just listen to a mixture of all genres and I don’t have to select them myself.

What are you cooking?

Coming from an Italian background, food is everything, the kitchen is where the heart and soul of the family are – sitting around the table, always in the kitchen and eating.

My mum is a fabulous cook and has passed all her recipes on, so whilst I have some free time, I am trying the master chef in me. Not all are succeeding, but practice makes perfect.

So, until we can all be with our families, I will just have to facetime mum and show her my achievements.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I love walking and thankful that we are still allowed to do that.

Where I live, I am blessed with beaches and lovely coastal walks, so I am taking advantage of that and the great weather we have been having. Yes, I’m keeping my social distance.

What’s the one thing keeping you sane?

I’m a Pisces, so my imagination is always on fire and keeps me sane – I can be anywhere without being anywhere.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

There are all types of people, but we have always known that. When we are so busy with our lives, we forget that deep down we all care and that there is compassion in all of us especially in times like this.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I’m actually pretty good at taking control of a crisis when needed. Also, I am so loving playing Monopoly Deal and Pictionary.

What’s your advice for others in the travel industry on coping with the crisis

It is not your fault. Just listen and be patient, people just want to be heard and don’t take it personally.

I have realised how many of us in the industry care about each other, in times like this. I have got together with some of my competitors and all of us have offered to help each other. We are all in it together and will help each other to become stronger than ever together.


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