The gateway to heaven a.k.a. the door to my hotel room opens.... my jaw nearly drops to the floor. My hotel room seems to be copied and paste from a travel magazine. It’s been a very, very long time ago that I have seen a hotel room like this from inside. There’s a kingsize bed in the middle, a massive wardrobe on the side and an over-luxurious bathroom. I put my suitcase in the corner, take a deep breath… run towards the dream bed.. jump the last meter, turn around in the air and land with my arms wide on the silky soft sheets. I burst out in laughter. What a contradiction with my life a few weeks ago…
Immediately after my epic fail with job application attempt 564, I had put a post on Facebook. That evening every forum and Facebook group had my face on it with ‘Wanted: Parttime Job!’ underneath it. I got overwhelmed with helpful advice and recommendations. The one that surprised me the most was a phone call from my boss, where I already had a job for two short days a week. “Hi Sanne, sorry to disturb you outside of office hours, but I saw your post on Facebook. I don’t think it will be a very good idea if you work for somebody else besides Backpacker Deals. It will make you lose focus. It will be a big financial risk for me, but I would love to hire you for 4 days a week from next week on.”…. (silence)….
I could barely believe it. For 2 months I had been cycling the legs from underneath my body to make enough money to buy groceries and in my spare hours, I applied my life away for almost every vacancy available throughout the city. And now, out of all possibilities out there, my current job seems to be solution…. “Ow and Sanne. There is going to be a big conference up at the Gold Coast in a few weeks, I want you to go there and represent the company during the Backpacker Awards.”
My life just couldn’t be any more perfect at the moment…
After a long (rain) shower, extensive prepping up in the bathroom and enjoying the fact that I could roam around the room on my bare feet (what definitely was not the case in most hostels I had been before), I feel like I am born ready to rock the conference.
I show the lady at the counter my business card of the company and she welcomes me to join the breakfast buffet. My eyes nearly pop out. The dining hall is about the size of Amsterdam Central Station. There’s bread, fruits, vegetables, cold and warm meats, dairy products, fresh juices, coffee, tea and so on. “Is there a limit?” I ask the lady behind the counter. She giggles. “No miss de Groot, you can take as much as you like”, she tells me with a smile. I give her an astonished look back. “Pardon me asking, but how do you know my name?” I ask her. Her eyes drop down towards my chest. My eyes follow hers, looking down. “Ah… hahaha sorry! Of course, my name badge!” The lady laughs again and gives me a wink. “Enjoy your breakfast miss de Groot!”
It is a week filled with activities, lectures, drinks, good food, networking and more. I’m enjoying every minute of it. From my newly met friends, all the new things I’ve learned and everything that is coming up.
To make the most of my trip I kept the upcoming weekend off to have a little holiday. An idea I happily made notice off amongst the local tour operators. Before I knew it I got offered a private room at Bunk Hostel, a kayak tour with ‘Kayak the Gold Coast’, surfing lessons with ‘Let’s go surfing’ and a full day of hiking with Kaylene from Rainforest Tours through the Hinterlands. To top it up I give myself a day at the local zoo as well (once a zookeeper, always a zookeeper).
All these positive vibes need to be celebrated with a good glass of wine. So I decided to put my best party outfit on, put on a nice piece of art on my face (make-up) and make my way downtown.
“Yes hello, pretty lady! Could I offer you this voucher for a free drink in our bar?” I hear one of the promo boys say. I recognize his voice, but can’t really say from where… It is a strong posh British accent, somewhat softened by a significant amount of marihuana.. it is not… no, it can’t be... I turn around, put my sunglasses on the tip of my nose and look straight into the face of… “Max?! Oh my god Max?! Is that you?!” The promo boy lowers his sunglasses as well. There it is, the face of Max, my former housemate with whom I was sharing an apartment in the tiniest and most remote town of Colombia: Capurgana! Max had fallen in love with the San Blas islands and worked as one of my assistants for a while (see blog 'rain brings rainbows').
“What Sunny! No way! What are you doing here down under?”, he asks while he gives me one of the firmest hugs I ever had in my life. “I can ask you the exact same thing brother!”. We look at each other for a short while and then just burst out laughing. “Oh my gosh… it is a small world, after all!.” Max agrees… “Come Sunny, let me buy you a drink”, Max says, while he pulls downtown.
We enter one of Max’ favorite bars, order some food and drinks and start on to our long extensive catch-up. We talk for hours and hours. About my life, his life, life in general. Max tells me about his peculiar time at one of the world’s most prestigious yacht rentals. Where he had worked as a private butler for a great variety of the rich and the famous. He always had to fulfill the most bizarre wishes. 24/7. “From taxi rides in helicopters to some of the world’s best DJ’s for a private party to Russian escorts to acrobats from Cirque du Soleil for a kids party. I’ve had it all.”
I’m highly fascinated by all of Max’ stories. “And now you work as a promo guy for clubs and bars. How are you finding it?” I ask him. “Ow Sunny, I hate it. I hate it severely. People throw their beer in my face. You hear NO the whole day. It is horrible. BUT I have my freedom back now. I can do as I want, work whenever I want. Just a few more week and then hopefully I’ll have enough money together to travel around Asia.”
I tell him that I personally find that one of the hardest struggles while living like nomads. Always being flexible. Ranging from having plenty of money to having to eat dry bread for days in a row. Not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow.
“Yup Sunny, that is all part of the game.” Max responses. “You can never live in such a UP like us, without facing the DOWNS. That is the price we pay for an adventurous like ours. Otherwise, you can't call it an adventure, can you? Then everybody would give up their boring 9 to 5 job and hit the road."
Max definitely nailed that one… My start in Australia was hard, but that was just the price I had to pay for the UP I was in right now. There will be a down again somewhere on the way, but time will get us out of there too.
The waitress comes to bring the bill. Max hands her his credit card. I stop him. “No Max, please. I’m in my UP now. Now it is my turn to take care of others. Your turn will come again once you are back in yours. I hand the lady my creditcard, without any nerves or concerns. It is nearly pay-day. My first full-time salary since a long time. My financial crisis is over for now. Can't wait to see what else this UP will bring along on this new adventure!
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto