slowly surely + xyz : a journey of (re)discovery

I AM. Observing

By InspiredJourney

It’s early evening.

I’m a few days into my stay at Hostel Interrupt All Joy, when I’m inspired to reciprocate Jean’s kindness on my first day in the hot garden.

I walk to the main area of the hostel and see Jean sitting on a stool, conversing with Maarrrgeaux through an opening made into the building’s wood slatted exterior ‘wall’. This drop leaf ‘window’, I later learned was created by Tomas, a fellow American from the north-east.

Pointed, I walked over and politely join their conversation, declaring my intention to reciprocate Jean’s kindness.

Of course, they both spouted there was no need. However, I insisted; stating I’d serve up the same rum, sprite and limes that quenched my thirst.

They resigned from their initial stance, accepting my offer.

The conversation moved more towards being friendly, and sharing a bit of personal information. This was the point where I learned they were more than travel partners. They were married. In fact, married just over one year, they were still newlyweds.

For the second time I hear a slight and unfamiliar accent from Jean. They both had accents. I had registered Margeaux as Quebecois, from her french accent. But I wasn’t able to place Jean’s origin. He stated he’s from Czech Republic.

We carried on for several more minutes, my learning more from paying close attention to them.

True to the initial vibe I felt with them, Jean was consistent in his kindness, while Margeaux failing at masking her oozing insecurity. At one point, I mentioned primarily eating plant-based meals. This was met with that once-over toe to head scan you find with people who are looking for ways to call you on bullshit, or just to find comfort in being critical to slight you in some way. Yes, Margeaux was not capable of being okay with herself. I felt pity for her.

We speak a few minutes more before my asking and given directions to 69, the most convenient one stop shop.

I walked there and back with 750ml bottle of Havana Rum, soda, limes and ice in the reusable shopping bags I travel with.

Having prepped tumblers with solid mixes full of, if not more, double shots, I serve as resident cocktail waitress to our few.

We drink. We converse. We laugh.

It wasn’t long before the resident scavengers smelled free anything up for possible grabs alcohol. Among the scavengers were a couple of not-scavengers I didn’t mind pouring a drink. But oh, among them was Toto (who I later witnessed as a top scavenger), the quintessential tall, seemingly harmless,  very blonde and ‘handsome’ Dane from Copenhagen Toto (‘cup in had’) reaches, grabs, sets a pour then asks in quick succession: “Whose is this? It’s yours? May I have some?”

Silently I’m so not questioning his action as really anything more than a simple formality to not be a complete entitled ‘ick, while chastising my knee-jerk reaction to question. I mean, this behavior is so common, it’s silly to even question how one can be so entitled. Had this not been day three, and my still learning the lay of the land and group dynamic, I would have certainly denied his brazenness.

Over the next few hours, the long table grows from three, to about seven and ultimately about 13 of us filling chairs and finishing the bottle, and they more.

Enter Magdalene.

Somehow, she’s found her way to an empty chair next to me.

She reaches, grabs and asks about the reusable silicone bottle sitting in front of me: “Whahht’s this?!”

“My water bottle.”, forms in my slightly inebriate brain and out of my mouth as I grab it, unscrew the top and drink from it.

She’s visibly confused, but that’s no of my business: “Oh.”

As that part of the night drew to an end, some confirmed their intent to go out for more drink, dancing and other debauchery.

Invited, I decline. I’ve never been one for club spaces.

We begin to disperse.

Standing, slightly, but ever-so wobbly, I feel Magdalene grazing me as she rises to her stable feet. She’s very close to my body and unexpectedly murmurs “Great, at least we’ve gotten rid of them.”

I’m perplexed.

One, I don’t give one shit about anything that happened before I arrived on this scene, and two, I don’t give a shit to be pulled into another insecure person’s silliness; three, why the hell is she going there? I mean, is this really about to be the school yard of primary or junior high school playing out? Is this really about to be one person I must avoid at all costs, but needing to interact with her over the next 2.7 weeks?

Le sigh.

I heard but didn’t entertain. The night was over.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, due to my natural internal clock I was privy to a number of hostel guests questioning me in the earliest hours of the morning about various issues. I had all of zero helpful answers or assistance to give. Three days in and new to this environment, I had nothing to offer to solve their various problems. I noted this bothered me a bit.

One such issue was hearing a panicked voice asking “Is someone there? Is someone awake?”

My room was centrally located. Anyone entering or exiting passed this room. The jalousie window facing the hall, high-speed ceiling fan blowing the curtains and light were confirmation that yes, someone there and possibly awake.

Responding as I opened the door: “Yes.”

She wants to know if I have or can locate a key to the same gate Margeaux had offered I lock my belongings in on my first day.

Her backpack was locked inside. She was panicked because she was scheduled to catch a bus or flight to her next destination.

I didn’t have nor know where the key would be. I did, however, state Margeaux would know. No one had shared any details or procedures or contacts or, you get my point. She was the only person I knew had access to keys.

That was a tiny faux pas, because she then began walking through the hostel yelling out to find the only person that may be able to release her backpack.

The second, a know at my door. The woman of the couple with the room next to mine asked me about the keys to open the reception desk.

Again, I don’t have any helpful information.

These were the third or fourth-ish clues about Hostel Barely Standing and Running Itself with Half a Generator rolling on Two Wheels, being a possible disastrous ‘experience’. Remember I’m on a mission to live and reclaim me through varied experiences, and chronicle them.

I don’t know if the mission to rescue the bag was successful. However, the issue made its way into my past quickly, as I continue prepping for myself for garden duties.

By the time the sun was dawning, I was always going into my second hour of duties. By the time first sign of life of others happened I’d being close to three hours complete.

This sign was typically ushered in by, you can imagine, seeing Jean walk by on his way to stretch near the pool.

Like good southern neighbors passing:

Him:”Hello chica!”

Me: “Hey Jean.”

He would verbally note that I’m up early again, and remind me take it easy and not work too hard. And of course, I’d counter with it best to not get stuck in the searing sun dragging a rake across the hot ground, kicking and swirling dirt that’d only form a thin mud layer one combined with my sweating exposed skin.

We continue on our respective paths.

One afternoon, Magdelen, pulls me aside to chat. Stating because our hours are complete opposite, she wanted to know more about me and inquires if I have an interest in learning more Spanish, citing working the reception desk helps her and would give me the opportunity.

I tell her I have no specific or expressed interest in doing either. However, because I’m up before dawn, I had been asked about keys, and how to gain access to the reception by others. So, if it’s helpful that I cover the front desk before the 8am shift starts, I’m willing to fill in. She likes this, and suggests that would be great and cut my hours down by two, given it was so early and no one else would be willing.

Believing her word she had authority, I accept.

At some point, I pass Margeaux at reception, and shared the decision about the early shift.

She seemed, a bit put off. It read as if her authority was undermined in some way. I wasn’t interested in any details and suggested she show me how to set up.

She does.

The next and subsequent mornings, all seemed well with my opening.

Post duties, the remainder of my days were spent roaming around taking in any interesting things about this place, ordering fresh juice, people watching or sitting near the pool.

There wasn’t much to this place. But I was enjoying being in a foreign place, seeing new things, steering clear of messy vibes and discovering Jorge’s delicious smoked fish tacos.

3 responses to “I AM. Observing”

  1. […] time and a couple of days ticked on, I opt to be friendly and ‘successfully’ engage with the group at Hostel […]

  2. […] We drank. I observed and chronicled it here. […]

  3. […] time and a couple of days ticked on, I opt to be friendly and ‘successfully’ engage with the group at Hostel […]

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