Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kathryn Goes Republican, Chapter One

Hello all. This is Kathryn, coming to you straight from the lone computer at what we're going to call Hotel Fun, Punta Cana. (I don't want this blog to come up in someone's search for the hotel and get me in trouble!) For those of you who are thinking, "oh great -- more long-winded updates from Kathryn," you needn't worry, as it is highly unlikely that there will be many e-mails in this series or that they will be particularly long. Because:

1. This one computer serves about 200 GOs ("Gentil Organisateur," my embarrassing title here), several of whom are standing around right now waiting for me to finish. (I gave up my spot three times already today, so they can suck on it.)

2. It is a crappy, crappy computer with a sticky and terrible keyboard and a constant beeping sound; it's highly probable that I'll give up before the end of this e-mail.

3. My day starts at 7:30 am and finishes after midnight, so my one day off a week is for sleeping and doing laundry.

4. I'll probably be fired soon for breaking the rules, either wearing a hat or sunglasses in the village (average daily temperature: 32 degrees celsius), not saying hello when I pass a guest on the path, or eating any meal alone instead of with guests. Or, god forbid, for doing the unspeakable and telling a guest about these rules.

As you can imagine, so far I'm having a really good time here in Paradise.

But let's not dwell on the negative. There isn't time. And it serves me right, since I talked this whole thing up for so long. (Everyone who said "it will be like being on vacation for eight months!" owes me an apology.) I won't dwell on my room, for example. Because then I'd have to explain that I'm sharing a small, single room with another girl, with daily promises of being moved tomorrow. And that the girl inquestion is very, very messy, which makes a cramped room even crampier. Nor will I mention my bed, a last-minute roll-in cot that spontaneously folds up twice a night and whacks my knees into my face. Or the lack of hot water in the shower, which, combined with the freezing air conditioning, is giving me something that feels like bronchitis.

I will, however, mention the interesting fact that I have had no fewer than sixteen men take me for a walk and tell me that I'm the woman of their life. I guess it's the tradition when there's fresh blood in the village, but it certainly makes for a tense work environment. (And some of these guys were Spanish-speaking only; while my Spanish is getting better and better, my conversation is obviously quite limited and their declarations of undying love even more unfounded and absurd than those of the French-speaking men.)

The kids are a lot of fun, which is nice. I have 4- and 5-year-olds but also spend quite a bit of time with the older ones. (See "can never be seen alone," above.) I have also fallen in love with merengue and today went out for my first sailing adventure. The good thing about all these men hovering around me all the time is that I get instant access to any activity that tickles my fancy, and today I chose to whip over the water in a small boat and get lots of salt in my eyes. It was awesome and I can't wait to do it again.

I also went on the trapeze, but I acted like a big baby and now I'm embarrassed to see the circus team again. I'm not scared of heights and I was really pumped to go up there, and of course they've got you attached and safe and there's a nice net underneath, but my body betrayed my logic and when Bazz told me to lean forward over a big empty void, all I could hear was my fear of death pounding in my ears and I think I said the words "Bite me, asshole" -- which may or may not have ended our friendship. I did manage to do the flip and to hang from my knees and the whole bit, though, so I figure it will be better next time. And my neighbour, Kevin, with whom Anouk and I share a bathroom, is the chief of circus and is very comforting, so if he's there to talk me through it I might come out with more dignity.

I can't take the beeping anymore. Or the girl sitting beside me, watching me type. I guess I'll go to an internet cafe on my next day off, as I have to do some shopping and apparently the closest town has a giant Wal-Mart and an internet connection. And then I can give you some details about what our actual job is, though for a start you can just picture running around with kids all day, eating with total strangers and then dancing the Hotel Fun dances all night at the bar, every day.

I don't have any details yet on family discounts, but I think I'm retracting my invitation anyway because I don't really want anyone I know to witness my life here. Though my tan is coming along nicely.


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