Thursday, June 19, 2008

hotel: congo-style

so, i actually really like my hotel. granted, it's waaaay overpriced (i feel really bad that the office is spending almost $150 a night on me), it's almost as expensive as the grand hotel or the memling, which are closer to the real deal (or an african version of a best western or something). anyway, there's electricity, hot water, pool, internet, the works!
when you want to enter the compound in your honk your horn and they open these rrrrrrrreally squeaky metal doors. all night i hear rrrreeeeeerrrrkkkkkkkk! over and over. there's a guy that washes the front gates every day, and even soaks the cement on the ground to clean it, but no one has any wd-40.
to enter the hotel there's a sliding glass door, but it doesn't really slide. if you pull on the handle normally, it tips diagonally on a corner, and comes off the track and then you're really in trouble. that happened to me my first day, i had a bag of of groceries, my laptop, a big water bottle, hands full so then i find myself holding up this huge plate of glass wtih my cheek, preventing it falling down the stairs and smashing into a million pieces. the guy inside sits at a little wooden desk, he checks his email, looks up, marginally entertained by my struggle and goes back to youtube.
though, whenever people come to pick me up, i have to admit that i often wait for them on the flowery couches, and get my kicks out of watching double guy maneuver the door. he actually figured out my trick the first time, you open it a crack, then stick your foot in the bottom to push it open juuuuust enough to squeeze through sideways if you hold your stomach in. to close it, you grab the far side with two hands and delicately put it back into place, perfectly booby trapped for the next guest. voila. damn italian guy has discovered the alternate exit by the pool.
the restaurant is weird. there are 15 tables, permanently set for all the invisible dinner guests (i am always solo in the evening, with three waiters standing a foot away, giggling when i mistake the toothpick dispenser for pepper. yeah, so i pour 25 toothpicks all over my meal, what are you looking at?). the only place you can get breakfast is at one breakfast table near the bar. mind you, it's a 6 person table, so when you're late and everyone else is already there, you have to squeeze in. no sitting at another table!

the other guests don't really seem like morning people. they sit in complete silence. this morning i read a bonobo book and swatted at mosquitos while they just stared. meanwhile, the waiter is freaking out. breakfast for 7 people! he doesn't know what to do. he brings individual pots of coffee or hot water for each person (no sharing?) so it takes a while to get everyone going on caffeine. then he'll bring one whole breakfast meal out, like some butter, jam, milk, juice, toast, omelet, but spread it all over the table, like socialism. so i'll get the butter, italian guy gets the milk and two belgians get the juice and omelet. the last course is the papaya course. belgian guy 1 luuuuuuvs papaya, and he'll wait around. this morning, waiter was all "no papaya today!" and so belgian guy storms off. two seconds later, the waiter brings papaya. i hate papaya, i think it smells like feet, so i trade with italian guy.
poor italian guy, he is so lost. i spotted him trying to hail a taxi today. dude, white people do not hail taxis in this town. you need a personal car with a driver (like baby!) so these vans and cars jam packed with people were slowing down just enough to scream this fact out their windows, but he apparently does not understand french. he also doesn't know that walking around with that shiny sony laptop under his arm is also a bad idea. italian guy, we are going to have a little talk tomorrow at breakfast.


Unknown said...

OK, so it doesn't look like you're getting a lot of comments, so here's RoRo from Paris. I loved the description of the hotel. Reminds me of *Barton Fink* by the Coen Brothers. I'll have to read some of your other posts to see if Kin has more to offer this time around than the hotel. I agree with you: WWF pays $150 a night for *that*?

lefty said...

that's actually the negotiated WWF price. it's $180 for anyone else!