Tuesday, 2 March 2010
My first job ever
At the time of writing, I am about to take a train to go to Rome and sign my new contract. It is basically the job of a tourist guide in Egypt or Greece. My formation starts in about three weeks and it'll take me to Tunisia.
So I was thinking what to write about, and I decided that after so many intellectual posts, I'll take a more lighthearted tone and discuss the suicidal process of looking for employment - by going back to the first job I ever had, back when I was living in the Caribbean (and there's a whole set of entries in this blog on that time of my life, if you're wondering when that happened).
You see, couple of months into my permanence in Eden, I succeed in the ingrate task of finding a job. Thanks to my multiple language skills and of course my pretty eyes, it turns out that I am qualified for the position of tourist guide. A lady with a face like a camel, going by the name of Nadia when she’s not carrying Arabs on her back, will be my boss. Obviously before the job can begin I need to find out about the island myself.
The Queen Victoria, not proportional to Queen Victoria herself I hope.
So there we are for our introductory trip at six in the morning (why do these things always have to be done at six in the morning?), dressed up like scarecrows in a Nintendo videogame. The uniforms for the job consist in white trousers and multi-coloured shirts made with a local material which would be perfect if I were an air-traffic controller, given that being accidentally run over with that beaming flag around your chest is as likely to happen to you as drowning in Iraq. The shirt was easy to find, but the trousers were only available in pigmy-style size. When standing for the first tour, I have my nut-sack pressed up to my diaphragm and I look like an eunuch, the guy next to me is sporting a goatee over the shirt and he looks like something out of gay pride.
The tour starts, and a local girl who is supposed to be an ‘experienced’ guide sits in front of the bus. She begins explaining what it is that we are seeing as we take notes. The experience would be quite pleasant were it not for her insistence on ‘entertaining’ us. When the bus sets off she turns around all jolly and goes, ‘How are youuu??...’ and her words trail off into silence. She repeats the question and when we still refuse to lift our arms and go ‘yaaayyy’ like a bunch of demented retards, she gets quite angry and starts shouting and ranting at us. She seems to want to come back here and beat us, in fact. Considering that the girl has such a body mass that if you send her into space you can fly satellites around her, you’ll understand that she looks pretty dangerous. Fortunately she does settle back when we start reaching our destinations, like a pacified rhinoceros.
Then I find out what the lack of national monuments can do to a culture. The volcanology museum is a hall the size of a small stable the greatest attraction of which is represented by a broken church-bell which survived the first volcanic eruption and a couple of skulls the sight of which alone is enough to make everyone ill. The rum distilleries have some legitimacy as tourist attractions because they give free shots of rum at the end, but the summit of self-serving embarrassment is without the shadow of a doubt the banana museum. What on earth is there ever to see? Getting off the bus is humiliating enough, as you have bananas thrown at you from every side as though you were a monkey, and the interior is made up of panels, hung on walls, which tell you the history of the banana. Then you walk towards the plantation and out, all the while with people offering you bananas (or variations thereof – banana cakes, banana creams, banana paper, banana ketchup and shit yo). The plantation, given the naturalistic setting, is the only bit which looks rather interesting, but we have to interrupt it because it starts raining and because the guide makes a joke about bananas being ‘useless if they can’t stand’ which has Nadia in convulsions.
The banana plantation. In the rain.
It really makes you wonder what’s the point of going on holiday to the Caribbean if you don’t intend to spend your time toasting yourself on the beach. If you plan on seeing buildings and museums, you’re much better off staying in Europe.
The one thing which is really lovely and worth seeing is the botanical garden. Good heavens! I have never seen so many and such beautiful flowers all together in one place. Martinique is surnamed ‘Madinina,’ meaning ‘island of the beautiful flowers,’ and this is entirely legitimate. The only problem is that bringing people around through that garden implies learning the names of all the flowers by heart, and that would be hard enough if they weren’t all in Latin. I guess it’s true that you can’t pick a rose without finding some thorns.
When the tour is over, we are carried back – and the girl tries to entertain us again. ‘I will now teach you fifteen terms in Creole, the local language.’ (An appropriate choice I believe, since Creole is spoken by approximately fifteen people). ‘Bonjou means good-day. Saofé means how are you. Mabien means I’m all right. Chuchu means – ’ Enough, Jesus!! My turn to lead the tourists around will be the next day. I reason that two Creole terms is as much as I can realistically expect any of those nut-heads to learn, even in the implausible case that they may want to hear some more. I note down the first two, then I close my eyes, lean back and let the bus take me to my sweet port.