An Irish man guides me from bus stop to hostel. In the next few days I will learn not to judge him by the number of teeth he is missing, but rather, by the few teeth he still has left. Before I have the chance to pull out my iPod for directions he chastises me, teasingly, for relying on him to show me the way to the hostel rather than working it out myself. It turns out he works at the hostel and I wonder why he isn’t at all surprised that I’ll be a staff member too.
When I arrive inside, there is a kaleidoscopic swirl of colour and miscellany. A tipsy American girl gives me a tour and an introduction to the varied bunch that live inside. I begin to realise why Irish man didn’t seem too interested that I was a worker: because most of the people here are workers, too. For every couple of guests, there are about six workers. Later I’m given an explanation: it’s the low season and now is the time to prep the hostel for the winter –high season in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.
The next few months will be more like living in a giant share house than working in a youth hostel. The tipsy American girl, who I will rarely see tipsy again becomes my often-naked roommate. Soon I will fall in love with three charming Spanish girls, I slacken my fear of cockroaches, I become infuriated with a misogynistic flamenco player who can’t handle a 14 hour work week, I go snorkelling for the first time since I was a kid, I try every flavour in an Italian ice creamery (in both a cone and a cup), I develop a distinctly white arse compared to the rest of my body and I am treated to a summer fling with a scuba diver who talks about poo a little too much. And I’m going to miss it all, so fucking much.