Earning my keep

Earning my keep 28.06

I have worked for six and a half hours so far today. The guest house needs a lot of tlc. Airbnb photos hide the shabbiness, the broken, the misaligned. Rooms that have been half cleaned and plants long since neglected. I get a sense that advertising has been limited until my arrival. Almost as though it’s too much for one person to manage. 


I helped serve and clear breakfast, dusted, mopped, washed up, removed dirty towels from, I suspect, long since used rooms, picked crumbs and napkins from the floor in recently unused dining areas, removed an unopened bottle of wine from a cupboard in a loo, emptied full bathroom bins, checked rooms were ready for guests only to find several without towels, soap or glasses. 

Tasked with watering plants, mostly dying of drought or rotting, I moved some outside, on to a flat roof verandah type area, to tend. my host expressed surprise that I did so tho showed understanding when I showed her the dead leaves and bare stems. She sighed, mooted concern about the state of plants outside as well and said ‘but where do you start?’ The bin, I said and immediately cast out a dozen drowned pots sitting neck deep in water.


I’ve done a major sort, weed, trim, repot, relegate to bin and created a much needed plant hospital in one corner. Whether the hospital residents live or die is irrelevant, huddled together they look less weedy, less wilted, less sorry for themselves and allow the healthier specimens to look beautiful. Sweeping winter’s detritus from the cream painted concrete resulted in a black muddy mess, worse than before I started, I asked if there was a pressure washer and was given a hose. Jeans rolled up and bare feet paddling in the water, I scrubbed and swept. It now looks fresh and cared for but i can’t remedy the main problem, that the water runs away from, rather than towards the drain. 

My host is clearly grateful. I asked if it were her mother who had cared for the plants and she said yes. I wonder whether it may have been her mother who did most things and get the feeling that for all my hosts bouncy bubbly socialness, she may not have the rigour to manage.

Half stories, guarded words. If I were writing purely for myself there would be so much more I would say. 

I’m staying, not in the guest house but just down the road in my hosts house, next door to her fathers house and opposite her brothers. I’ve met many of her family this morning. My space is a furniture less room with a mattress on the floor and no curtains. There are too many hills surrounding us to know whether the sun actually dipped beneath the horizon or not last night, but I don’t think it did. 

From the kitchen window I look out onto a sandy bay, one of the most used whaling beaches in the islands. The Grind, the harvesting of whales, is a contentious issue but rising levels of mercury in whale meat mean it is no longer recommended for safe consumption on the scale it was before and may well die out for reasons other than animal welfare concerns.  Behind the house are green mountains, I’ve seen similar before in the lofoten islands in Norway, a sparse and thin bright green layer, clinging tenuously to rock. 

I’ve not yet walked out to explore, I have a couple of hours rest before evening meals. this evening the guest house is full. Evening meals to be served at six and then again at eight thirty. I think there are about fifteen guest in total. It’s going to be a busy few days. My host is excitable. I like being busy. There will be time to explore in due course, I’m in no rush. 

On the seventh and eighth of July my host tells me she will visit her grandchildren in Norway and I may have her car and take two days to myself to explore.

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