The heat later in the day would reach 33 degrees, but already my hair stuck to the back of my neck and left over food in the cooler box was now floating in warm water. A list establishes itself in my mind:
1. Tidy camper van
2. Lock camper van and remember to keep the key in a safe place so I can return it to its owner later in the evening.
3. Walk back to the hostel.
4. Make a healthy breakfast and eat it and read my book which is taking a long time to read.
5. Tidy my room (which I share with two other hostel staff) and put my things, which are now spread in three different rooms plus in a camper van, 800 metres away from the hostel, in an orderly place.
Each of the hostel’s three levels serve their own purpose.
First level: a staff dorm, bathroom number one and reception, the first and last point of contact for guests.
Second level: three dormitories: male with six beds, female with six beds and mixed with four beds. There is a living area which is filled with a large glass table where guests eat drink and chat, a computer which guests are welcome to use and a bookshelf with a book exchange. Mostly Terry Pratchett. You can find the second bathroom here which has a tile and mirror mosaic across the walls, and a shower with one of those nozzles that you can detach for those hard to reach places.
Behind the living room is a kitchen, small in comparison to the rest of the house and the number of people which it can bed. Plastic bags are filled with staff and guests’ food, many containing coffee and food past its use by date. The fridge, though large is full: mostly milk, beer and leftover dinners. Its chaotic and nobody enjoys opening the fridge. Later each day, it becomes the object of much controversy.
Third level: we (the staff) introduce guests to the third level as “the best part.” There is certainly some truth to this. Tables covered with mosaics, of course, flutter around the mosaic terrace floor. A candle sits on each table which, if a staff member remembers to do so, is lit up at about 9pm at night when the sky gets darker and the shadows have made their way up the nearby mountains. There’s one rainbow umbrella, which slants itself over one of the tables, a small relief from a very hot sun. Most guests and staff during the day sit further back, in the sheltered part of the terrace where people can lounge on the blanketed sofas and cushions and stare at the trinkets which hang from the thatched roof. There is a colourful sign which reads:
The terrace is closed at 10.40pm. Thank you.
There is a sturdy branch which hangs the sign, but it also has the task of holding up some square wooden boards which in turn hold the cats’ food bowls and a cushiony cat house where the two cats sleep, sheltering them away from the very hot sun.
Behind the enclose part of the terrace is a large glass door, which holds another sign:
DO NOT ENTER
There is also a painting of a skull and cross bones on it. If you thought the fridge was chaotic, the staff area defines the word chaos. Paintbrushes, fabrics, couch cushions, old CD cases, a sewing machine, sketch books, guitars with no strings, broken vases and books with missing pages are just the beginning, before you can even begin to dig a little deeper.
Off to one side is a staff bathroom with a shower which doesn’t work and a sensitive toilet which will not allow toilet paper through its pipe works. This is confirmed in an even more colourful sign than the previous one, which hangs on the wooden toilet doors which do not have a look:
Do not flush toilet paper
down the toilet
Behind the bathroom sits a kitchen which is often recalled in people’s minds by the cockroaches which climb up the walls and the ants which nuggle their way into the food bags which aren’t stored in the guest kitchen down below. It’s not really seen as a proper kitchen because the stove doesn’t work, but if the guest kitchen below is crowded it’s a nice place to prepare salads or do your chopping.
Next to the kitchen, behind more chaos, are some yellow curtains which separate another staff dorm, girls only, from the rest of the staff room. Here, the beds aren’t bunks but three makeshift beds which can be uncomfortable for extended periods. There is a clothing rack which splits the room in two, once again. Clothing sits in three large separate plastic boxes for three separate girls. Random furniture frames the room and sometimes there is incense burning, probably to hide the stale smell of the chaos.