A Brief Interim

August 10, 2009

In The Interim:

Ok, I’ll level with you. You didn’t ask me, but I do owe an explanation for why I haven’t sent out any stories, longwinded emails, or well…anything lately. There really is a good reason for this, or a reason at least. Here goes – I’m in prison.

Not really in prison prison, the carcel, lockdown, behind bars – more a spiritual and mental prison. A land of intellectual breakdon, the place dreams come to do. Colloquially, the Casa Kiwi, a small hostel near Trujillo, Honduras. If I were a stupid shitforbrains writer for one of those awful guidebooks to the world, I’d describe the Casa Kiwi somewhat like this:

It’s an isolated beach bar and hotel situated on a windswept peninsula, overlooking the beach 30 meters away and the calm bay, and gets gorgeous, postcard-worthy sunsets with near-daily frequency. With a staff of expatriates, travelers, and storytellers, this colorful establishment caters to the local expatriate community, longtime backpackers and travelers, as well as a steady stream of locals looking for a bite to eat “off the beaten path.” Indeed, off the beaten path could adequately describe the Casa Kiwi, as it utilizes its isolation to give guests a truly relaxing, life at the end of the world experience.

And you know what? If I was a guest, it would be nice. I came and stayed as a guest for the first 24 hours here, and it was pretty nice – a bit dull for my style, but hey, I could see how people inclined to relax and hang out could find it nice here, a break from their daily grind.

Nice as the stay might be here, it is a whole other world as a staff member. We get sweet digs, like a cracked-concrete hovel with a leaky rusted tin roof and a colorful cast of frogs, blood-crazed mosquitos, tarantulas, great big toads, and the occasional scorpion that is only matched by the joke that is the surgical tube shower. We work 8-10-14 hour days, 7 days a week, for 100 lempira ($5) daily, which comes to my post-college graduate ass earning $.40 to $.60 an hour – sure makes those 4 years feel well spent! Work ranges from bartending and cooking food to manual labor, rebuilding concrete walls, removing enormous strangler vines from trees, throwing a whole lot of oil and garbage onto the neighboring property, burning plastic and batteries and food waste in a bit in the back yard, firefighting, driving (which keeps me going) making deliveries and pickups, waiting tables, sucking dick for tips, laundry, cleaning rooms, and a thousand other insane little tasks, like scrubbing bird shit for hours off of concrete and rebuilding ¼ of the roof of the hotel. Suffice it to say we’re being taken advantage of, we know it, we get over it, because we all need somewhere to stay for the moment, a chance to get our feet back under us, whatever – the personal reasons vary, but we share the common mood of one resigned to a fate he does not desire. The underlying air of rebellion and comaraderie, stirred by some malcontents and troublemakers, is thick and nourishing, and were it not for the management, this place would be downright tolerable, neverending piles of work and all.

The Casa is run by Chaz, the owner, and her long-time friend Joy, both Kiwis, 40-something women who have long since perfected the fine arts of drinking shitloads of Port Royal beers, chain-smoking Belmont Azules, whispering to each other very pointedly about people around them, and just generally sucking the fun out the job, and of your very soul – I’d call it witchcraft if I didn’t know better, but really it is just the pessimism and dark dispositions of two people tired of life, stuck in a place they themselves dislike, with no real out, and no destination even if they could get away. The result is a dark force so powerful that it rips into your very desire to live unless you throw up a thick shield of indifference and alcohol, and the result of that is a constant worn-down feeling and a lot of shitty mornings. We’re all dying here, slowly, and while that hardly makes us unique, it also happens to be the only thing we’re doing, and being able to feel it so acutely has driven all of us down into a sullen morass of tense days, harsh words, and busy work as we wait to see whether the tourists will ever come back to this politically active little country. With the constant unwarranted criticism, punishment tasks, and downright awful attitudes of our bosses, the staff is all searching for ways out. Me, I just had a week job searching – yet another of the now-3 stories that I’ve been unable to get cracking on – and I’m fresh, reenergized, and ripe for some havoc. Stay tuned in the near future – something tells me that we’ll all be in for a great story very soon.

In the meanwhile, I’ll try and get some of those other stories up soon, to fill the now-2 month gap since my Belize adventures ended. Hope you’ll keep reading!

Update – Well now, it’s only been a week since I wrote this, but I didn’t post it then, and now it is hopelessly out of date – that great story I was feeling? It came, it hit, the wave is receding and leaving me battered and naked, washed up on another distant shore. I’m going to have to write it all up, starting right now, but I think it will take 4 days to get the now 4 stories written, edited, posted. If I can make it to somewhere with good internet, perhaps a bit less, but for now I’m thinking 4 days of hard work will set it all right. For now, accept my apologies at being so vague and disjointed – here’s a couple fun hints – my face is swollen up, my feet too, everything I own is dirty and smells of rank and sweat, and I’m half a country away from Trujillo but I can still see the bridges smoldering from where I torched them all to the ground. I have a new traveling partner, kittens were somehow involved, and I woke up this morning to watch a new-old friend slip quietly out of my life again, leaving me smelling of cheap guaro and goulash. 4 days!

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One Response to “A Brief Interim”

  1. George Pickett Says:

    Solid gold. I can’t believe the accuracy that you were able to express about Casa Kiwi. I totally agree with everything you wrote. I was not able to convey those exact thoughts but looking back…perfect. I just decided today to facebook/google you to see if I could find you…surprisingly harder than I expected.


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