Thursday, March 22, 2012

things i cannot recall

Considering how long it’s been since I last updated the world about what I’m doing, I’m sure a summary of most things will be sufficient. I’ll save the ramblings for unnecessary tangents on rooftops. You’ll see why later.

I last left off where I was traveling through the Yucatan Peninsula and loving being back in the comfortable life of a traveler. But early on I found a hostel I wanted to work at so just after the New Year I returned to Cancun for over a month of random debauchery.

I knew we would be family immediately; not sure why or how, but my co-workers at Ka’beh hostel were better than I ever could have hoped for. First and foremost, there is Joe, and there is no one else on this planet like her. She is energetic, loud, outgoing, and totally unforgettable. There is no way to describe her completely here, but stories of Joe will travel with me throughout my life.

Then there was my insta-gay husband from Kosovo and we immediately clicked as we smoked our first bowl together straight away. I could talk to him forever and we connected in so many ways, especially spiritually. He is one of the most interesting people I’ve met and I was lucky to have him as my confidant and guide.

There was also the Aussie hippie who was managing and basically running the place and keeping it all together. He was the one who actually convinced me to come back for work and he continued to make me laugh throughout my stay. The last worker was a local girl who didn’t sleep at the hostel, but worked most of the awful 7 am shifts and cleaned better than all of us combined. The final piece of the puzzle was a French-Canadian who had recently invested some money in the place and came down to learn to scuba and relax and enjoy life for a little while. Altogether we were the core Ka’beh family, and altogether we were a bunch of loud, ridiculous, but hilarious drunks.

Our staff was small but so was our hostel. Sixteen official beds to rent out, then some hammocks, and even our beds in the staff room of four went up for grabs plenty of nights. The hostel didn’t just feel like home, it used to be one. Converted only a few years ago, Ka’beh quickly became known in Lonely Planet as a party hostel, and lives up to the title to this day.

Every night of the week we had activities planned including free bbq and beer pong. My favorite was open bar on Fridays when for just 20 pesos, or roughly $1.50, you could drink as much liquor as you wanted for a few hours. Now that’s some good messy fun!

My first shift was during tequila jenga and needless to say, I learned pretty early on that there was a whole lot of leeway in the term “work” around there. After staying up till dawn and getting wild and weird in hammocks, I realized I was going to love working there.

As Cancun is a major party destination it was our job to facilitate getting our guests out to the bars and have loads of fun. Not always up for a night of binge drinking, I still had to get others amped to drink and party any night of the week. And it never mattered if it were Saturday or Wednesday, Cancun was partying hard.

But that fact rarely affected me; in fact plenty of days I never left past the hostel walls. I didn’t need to, I had everything I needed right there: stocked food and kitchen, internet, and most of all, people I loved being with. I could waste time so easily at Ka’beh because I was genuinely enjoying every moment I lived in. Even though I was technically working, it was so laid back and relaxed I could never take it too seriously.

Most often we would visit the roof. A jenky ladder led to an even jenkier roof top, we escaped multiple times a day to talk, relax, and smoke a bowl. We would invite the guests we really liked up to the roof as it was kind of a random but amazing spot. I also slept/passed out on that roof. A couple of times. Naked. Whoops. (Sorry, it’s just that kind of roof.)

More than just the hostel workers, our Ka’beh family was extended into our guests that stayed for awhile and really bonded with us. It’s surprising how close people become when they’re not working or studying and instead only enjoying life. It becomes easier to meet people, connect, and bond. Especially if you’re drinking every night together.

So many amazing people came and left Ka’beh that touched my heart and made me happy. I wish I could tell stories about them all, but I can’t, so I’ll pick just one: Samuel. He is a French Canadian chef and it wasn’t long before we started hooking up. One thing lead to another and it turns out he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He stayed for over two weeks before he had to make a move, but promised to come back soon. When he did, he brought me two pairs of feather earrings, both beautiful and both totally my style. It was around then I really realized this guy might be different. Before he left for good, we talked about wanting to travel together. I wasn’t ready to leave when he was so I planned to meet him in less than a week in Guatemala and we would travel together there. But that’s a whole other blog you’ll have to wait for.

Sam was definitely part of the Ka’beh family though, an intricate part that cooked many delicious meals. In fact, we all cooked amazing meals together and that fact alone is what makes us family. Everyday someone would cook something for everyone. It wasn’t planned who, when, or what, but eventually someone would get hungry or feel like cooking and groceries were already bought for us ready to be prepared. No one else was vegetarian but no one minded at all eating veg most the time, considering how much cheaper it is. I loved creating this community and having a time where we all came together and ate. Not around one big table literally, but together with conversation.

Since I worked at Ka’beh so long and drank so much, there are obviously many crazy stories to share. But I can’t (and won’t) share them all so instead I’ll just focus on a few. The craziest ones always involve Joe, and her birthday was no exception. It started off slowly with a game of King’s Cup and somehow turned into us making human pyramids at the bars and then stripping to our undies and running into the ocean at sunrise. It was one of those magical seamless nights, the only bad thing was that someone jacked my purse while we were swimming. Not really surprised though.

The best part of the whole night was the bus ride back, most of which I don’t remember. What I do recall is Joe staying in her drawers and stopping/directing traffic so we could cross the 8 car lanes. Mind you, it was a Thursday morning around 8 or 9 am and everyone else around was going to work. Joe has no shame but instead a huge heart that wants to keep her friends safe.

Even though Cancun had a plethora of large clubs to go out to all night, most heavy drinking nights were spent at home in Ka’beh. It was incredibly cheaper to get pissed back at ours and we had the most fun just being our weird drunk selves. It was a giant blur of spanking with paddles, dressing up in ridiculous outfits, and death defying hammock tricks. The most infamous night of course was Australia Day, when hammock sutra was invented. There were only 5 hammocks, but there were over a dozen people in them, one of which was performing. Joe literally gave lap dances to everyone in the hammocks, carefully balancing herself above everyone’s crotches. Eventually it became too much and a couple of hammocks pulled out from the wall and asses went down on the ground hard. Just another day at Ka’beh.

Naturally with this much drinking, people are bound to pass out, anywhere and anytime. (Joe regularly chose to sleep on the main couch, usually close to naked.) But if someone assed out during their “work”, they were bound to get taken advantage of. It started off innocently enough with pictures of the victim passed out with a sign on them saying “hard at work”. (Hard at work quickly became the slogan for our hostel.) Near everyone got a photo with the sign, but sometimes we felt like being artistic with the victim, namely Joe. One night there was a sombrero, empty bottles, and a condom filled with milk all over poor Joe (who is genuinely a hard worker). But that’s what you get for drunkenly passing out while doing math for your checkout at 2 am. Or for living at Ka’beh.

I was more than lucky to have this place and time of my life; I loved everyone who was apart of it. The flow and tempo of life was slow and steady but much to my liking. From time to time we were challenged though with the reality of work. If there was a flash storm (and there were a few) we had to get soaked in the rain as we scooped buckets of water out of the alley that threatened to flood our kitchen and into the garden further away. We ran out of water. More than once. And we were lucky if the hot water ever worked. Don’t even get me started with the laundry machine. But overall it was mellow light housecleaning work and checking people in and getting them situation. We had to keep the place clean and everyone happy, that was most important. But in general someone just had to be around 24/7 so that meant someone always had the 11pm-7 am night shift. That was rough.

You were allowed to sleep a bit but I rarely did. And after a few days you get properly worn out and ready to sleep all day. The whole schedule of partying, sleeping, and working throws your body through a loop. I definitely adored every minute I had at Ka'beh and could have stayed longer, but it was my time to leave when I did (even though I did so sobbing). I had Sam to catch up with and was eager to start traveling again, this time in Guatemala.

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