SURREAL ADVENTURES FROM THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Always at your service

After my ordeal in the plane, I landed safe and sound in Mawi-Mawi. To my surprise, Moebius Hax -the jeweller who told me about Ed’s supposedly fake diamond ring- disappeared into thin air.

Tourists were most warmly welcomed by a few sarong-draped local beauties who offered colourful flower necklaces to the visitors at the airport lobby. This gave me the wonderful feeling to be in a land where nobody was a stranger.

Mawi-Mawi is a beautiful country with white sand beaches, tropical vegetation, enviable temperatures all year round… and most peculiar people too, as I could confirm upon my arrival.

I took a taxi at the airport and asked the driver to take me to the Majestic Hotel, where I had booked a room. I’m fluent in Mawi-Mawian, but my strong Sandwichian accent often betrays me.

- Are you from the South Sandwich Islands, ma’am? –he asked-
- Yes. –I answered shortly-
- Are you coming to Mawi-Mawi for tourism or business?
- For tourism.

When he stopped the taxi at the first red traffic light, he turned round to face me, stared at me and asked:

- Can I ask you a question?
- Sure. Go ahead.
–I said, not knowing whether I would regret it or not-.
- Would you like to hire a male stripper for a private party?
- Ehm… no, thanks.
- What a shame. Just in case you changed your mind… here’s my number. I perform artistic stripping shows at weddings, birthdays and all kinds of social events. My name is Seymour Butz; always at your service!
–said the cab driver, as he held his hand to me-
- Thanks Seymour, I bet it must be an excellent show.

We shook hands. Seymour Butz, the taxi driver and moonlighting stripper, probably was in his fifties and owned a big pot belly. It seemed to me that the crisis was really affecting the taxi sector. He smiled and gave me a small paper where he had written his name and cell phone number; I promised to call him if I ever decided to organise a hen party or a late night orgy.

My hotel was located in the most elegant neighbourhood of Mawi-Mawi City. I found this exceptional offer of accommodation in the internet and didn’t hesitate to book. The crisis was particularly hard on the hotel industry and catering trade, which were Mawi-Mawi’s main sources of income and it was easy to find bargain holiday offers and cheap flights in these days.

Unfortunately, my skinny budget wouldn’t allow me to book a suite in one of those truly unforgettable and extraordinarily unique luxury Mawi-Mawian coastal resorts, with attractions such as golf, watersports, spa, beauty facilities, natural ecology… and tranquility. So I had no choice but to stay in the city, sunbathe at the hotel terrace and swim at the hotel pool.

I had booked a room in what I thought was an ‘elegant small quiet hotel with charm, far from the city noise and fumes’; but instead of that, I found myself in the very heart of town, entering the lobby of an exclusive, sophisticated, five-star facility marked by distinguished style and attentive service… or so I thought.

Twenty minutes later, Seymour the cab driver dropped me off at the Majestic, took my trolley out of the boot, waved goodbye -smiling grateful for the generous tip I had given him- and disappeared in the blink of an eye, after reminding me about his stripping skills.

I entered the hotel and walked towards the reception desk. The room was well illuminated by a beautiful crystal chandelier hanging from the high ceiling, projecting its light on a round marble table crowned by a wonderful bunch of orchids planted on a huge clam shell.

Three male receptionists worked hectically with their laptops, behind the black granite counter. I walked towards them, very determined…

- Good evening. My name is Leni Qinan and I’ve booked a room…

But I couldn’t finish my sentence. To my surprise, they started to fight. One of them knocked out the other. The third one, who was peacefully watching the scene behind them, tripped up the winner of the previous round and finally stood up right in front of me, primping and raising two fingers, in a sign of victory.

Nobody, apart from me, seemed to have noticed the mess going on there. I was shocked. After pushing backwards his two knocked out co-workers, he smiled at me as if nothing ever happened and said:

- Good evening Miss Qinan. Welcome to the Mawi-Mawi City Majestic Hotel. We hope you have a pleasant stay with us. May I have your passport, please? –he asked, in a perfect Sandwichian English-.
- Sure. –I said, totally dumbfounded-. Are they alright? -I asked, pointing at his workmates-
- Oh yes, don't worry about them. -he answered-

They probably got a commission on the number of customers served. Hence, the fight. And again, the crisis on the background.

He checked my bookings on the computer and turned back to me, with a smile in his face.

- I’d like to have a quiet room; far from the elevators, if possible. –I said-
- I’ll arrange that for you, Ms Qinan. Your room number is 429. My name is Frank Furter, but everybody calls me Paco, the nickname for Frank. Always at your service. –he said, winking at me-
- Thanks a lot… Paco.

Sometimes I wonder why on earth I attract all kinds of unusual persons like a magnet, everywhere I go. I was intrigued and a bit puzzled about that kind of familiarity. But I was too tired to think, so I let it go.

The bellhop took my trolley and escorted me to my room. He took the magnetic key and opened the door. The room was not big, but very nice and cosy.

- Thanks, you can leave the trolley over there. –I said-
- The restaurant is open until midnight, madam. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11am. The terrace and swimming pool on the tenth floor are open till 8pm. There are beautiful art galleries in the city and you may like to visit the Cow Parade too.
- I will. Thank you…
- My name is Dixon Hand, madam. Always at your service.
–he said, seriously-

I had a strange déjà-vu feeling: it was the third time I heard that sentence preceded by a funny weird name in less than one hour. And it was getting worse by the minute. I got the giggles and managed to stop it but I had a hard time trying to hold back my fit of laughter.

- Is there anything else I can do for you, Ms Qinan?
- No, Dixon, thank you very much for your help.

I tipped him and pushed him out of the room. As soon as I locked the door I nearly split my sides laughing. I couldn’t believe everybody had these names in Mawi-Mawi. How could I possibly survive one week there without being arrested by the police for dying of laughter in their face when they introduced themselves?

I focussed on a touring plan. The art galleries and the Cow Parade sounded very interesting. And a relaxing session at the swimming pool would do for a start. So it was decided.

I jumped on the bed, looked at my ring and dreamed for a while. Fake or true, it was the most amazing diamond I had ever seen in my whole life. But I was dying to hear from Ed’s lips what the meaning of that ring was. So I took my cell phone and called him.

- Hi Ed. I made it safe and sound.
- Hi sweety. Did you have a nice flight?
- Not really, it was very bumpy, but I’m ok.
- Excellent. Did you open the box I gave you?
- Of course I did. And Ed… it’s such a beautiful ring! How did you know my finger size?
–I said, enthusiastically-
- I know everything, love. We’ll talk about it when you’re back, ok?
- Oh, no please, I won't be back until next week! I can't wait! Let’s talk about it now!
- I’m sorry, Leni. I'd rather talk about it personally. Now I need to go, love. Some people are waiting for me to start a videoconference.
- Ok sir, always at your service! -I said, very upset-.

I put the cell phone down, really disappointed. He was always so busy.

ALWAYS AT YOUR SERVICE.

I had that sentence stuck in my head. But that was not going to spoil my vacation.

I took my notepad and wrote down my schedule for the week.

Monday: Cow Parade. Swimming pool.
Tuesday: Magical mystery park; Swimming pool.
Wednesday: Cubist artists expo at the Art Museum. Swimming pool.
Thursday: Old quarter. Swimming pool.
Friday: Shoppings. Swimming pool.
Saturday: Royal Palace and harbour. Swimming pool.
Sunday: Back to Sandwich and ASK ED ABOUT THE F*CK*NG RING.

I was now isolated in a carousel of jokers, clowns, buffoons, weirdoes and comedians… but in spite of that, Ed would not escape my questions just like that.



'Across the universe' (Fiona Apple)

12 comments:

Grass said...

wow, indeed you're in a circus island, amongst people with funny names.. I was laughing at "Frank Furter". I hope he doesn't look like one LOL!

But aren't you going to hit the beach? I mean, you're in an island, why not explore it. Just try not to react to anyone you meet as soon as they finish introducing themselves :D Reacting is probably illegal :p

anyway, this island and its occupants are very curious bunch. I can't wait to hear more about absurdities, ridiculousness and bizarre things that would probably go on in your vacation there, knowing you.. ;-)


xxx

Crabtree said...

Une bagarre de réceptionnistes ?
Ce n'est plus un Hôtel-de-luxe c'est un saloon !
Quoique ! Pour un baiser d'une jolie dame les hommes sont comme ça !


A votre service pour toujours !

(* Mon nom est Crabtree ou Crabinou ?Affectueusement *)

Fernando said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernando said...

And.. didn´t you phoned Seymour???

You always make me read and wish more and more.... and then you ALWAYS cut... the story when I´m feeling happy reading what you wrote.

LeTi, don´t treat me so...

Leni Qinan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
max said...

Leni, you hit the nail on the head when you said that you attract all kinds of weirdoes like a magnet (including Ed).

I really laughed at Seymour Butz, at Dixon Hand and last but not least, at Frank Furter. It looks like you’re on a dangerous journey with too many strange people messing with you.

Take care.

(Coy parade? Wth is this?)

Leni Qinan said...

Hi sis!

The world is not as small as we think and some countries are populated by most peculiar people. (The real Frank Furter doesn’t look like one, haha, he’s quite normal but too friendly to work at a hotel reception desk and the real Seymour Butz is a Bosnian taxi driver who offered male and female company).

Actually, I felt as if I was Alice in Wonderland. I’ll follow your advice and try not to react, lol. It could be dangerous.

I did try to explore the island, and you’ll never guess what happened to me. (you’ll find out within 2 chapters). I won’t lift the veil, just let me tell you that I met more freaks and got into serious trouble. So my advice is… don’t be stingy, take a trip to Bora Bora, the Seychelle Islands or wherever except Mawi-Mawi.

Big hug.

Leni Qinan said...

Mon cher Crabtree!

Ils sont drôles les réceptionistes dans cet hotel, n’est-ce pas?
Merci bien de la galanterie, mon ami, vous êtes très très gentil !

Je reste à votre disposition aussi !

Crabinou ? ;)
(*un grand bisou*).
Et voilà mon ptit poème pour vous. :))

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Fernando, where were you hiding?

No, I didn’t phone Seymour because I really didn’t need his services at the moment. But I still keep his number. A friend of mine is getting married next saturday and who knows, I may need him for the hen party.

Thanks a lot for reading, my friend; don’t be impatient. There’s more to come in my next chapter…

XXX

Leni Qinan said...

Dear Max,

You say that I attract weirdoes like a magnet and yet you come back for more? LOL.

I presume you mean the COW parade, not the COY parade.
It’s an art exhibit of life-sized cows painted by artists, with auctions at the end of the event benefitting charities. Come back to read the next instalment and you will see me with the cows and the weirdoes, lol.

Take care.

rebecca said...

Well, Mawi-Mawi looks like NOT the place to go if you want to get some REST! With names like those, I think it is a virtual hotbead (excuse the pun!) of disease...eh, I'll pass, thanks!

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Rebecca!

Mawi-Mawi is a crazy country, as you will be able to confirm in the next instalments. Strange people with weird names, doing strange things… definitely, I wouldn’t recommend you take a holiday trip there… ;)