Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Children of the Loki


As I sat on the edge of the sandy cliff in front of the red and white horizontally striped lighthouse overlooking the town of Mancora and the Pacific, with a head full of booze and San Pedro, maliciously chatting with some anti-Semitic Irishmen after my first night of work, I looked down at the white goliath fortress as it dwarfed the rest of the buildings in town with planted palm trees, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a three story bleach-white guest house with over one-hundred and fifty beds. I thought about how I got to that cliff and where I was, long and hard; I thought about the white fortress and the natural hallucinogen I had just taken as the clouds melted into one another.

The white fortress was called the Loki Hostal to backpackers and the western devil to the locals. With the bus being broken, Mike, Matthias and I decided to volunteer at the Loki, so we could receive a free bed and meal while we waited for the train to get fixed. This proved exhausting.

When we arrived for our training, Matt, the bar manager, who previously offered a job to Matthias, rescinded his offer coldly by saying that he had found someone else due to Matthias´ lack of enthusiasm during our initial interview. Matthias was left alone.

There were only four hours a night that there was no music blaring, from three to seven, between the loud bumping wee-hour thuds of Nelly´s "Hot in Here" to the smooth DJ infused jams of a Loki breakfast. The afternoon, like a day during MTV spring break, was filled with superficial pectorals and loud testosterone infected woos coming from the cattle during one of the daily activities that were forced upon the guests by the aggressively greedy management staff.

There were four Loki Hostals in the Loki Hostal system. The Mancora Loki or the Western devil had existed for only three years and had monopolized the guest house industry in Mancora, filling its one hundred and fifty beds to eighty percent on any given night, while the other, usually locally owned, hostals/posadas were nearly vacant.

On our first day, we attended an all staff meeting. About fifteen employees sat around in plastic yellow chairs in the back of the exaggeratedly large concrete floored dining area, while the bald-headed Scottish bar manager, Matt, seethed about the rules and the problems they were having with the "free" employees breaking the rules, for one hour and a half.

“Do not go on the beach after dark. Tell everyone not to go to the beach or the bars on the beach. As far as we are concerned, those bars on the beach do not exist. It is very dangerous. I have lived here for four months and have heard of many people being beaten, getting their legs broken and faces maimed.“ He said with an aggressive, sing-song Scottish flare as he instilled his western fear into the new recruits, unconsciously hoping that the fear would spread to the rest of the guests causing them never to leave the few fenced-in square acres of Loki. Mike, Matthias,and I had been drunk on the beach every single night the week before without incident.

He continued to tell us that we needed to up sell, cheese on fries, and doubles instead of singles. It reminded me of my days working at Chili´s, something I was desperately trying to escape, but there I was listening to this skinny, bald man ranting about up-selling. He returned to the sing song oratory.

“The discount is for you, not your friends. You are working for your discount. Don´t give it to your friends. You work for it, fuck em.” He said to us as if we were on his side.

Then the owner rallied forth and told us if we were caught stealing that he would “sack” us. Jesus, who would want to get sacked from a job that was paying you no money but acted like they did while they treated you like cattle. But that is what we were to them, cattle.

For me, it was like being taken straight out of a South American adventure and instantly being transported back to Panama City´s Club La Vela during college Spring Break, name brand board shorts, big ole titties, weak frozen drinks, guys named Brian with cool sunglasses whose favorite movies are Tranformers and Scarface, and girls who are too self-absorbed to even enter into a conversation that is not totally about their dull lives. None of the people here have even asked me any questions about myself; they are too busy recollecting their mindless stories from the pointless night before. I travel to steer away from people like these, but somehow those motherfuckers have found me and infiltrated my environment, just like they did in high school and college.

These travelers, if you can even call them that, do the same thing every day, drink and play stupid games with other western people just like they would at home. There is no discovery; everyone already knows that is possible to get blacked-out drunk every night.

It is hypocritical for me to criticize excessive alcohol abuse, and even to criticize these people for staying here. After all, I am a Loki resident. I see myself a bit different, a citizen of the Americas , a constant traveler. Maybe Loki is what I am, and I am having a self-realization that, I too, am a self-absorbed puppet, no different than any other people.

But I can tell you, I count the days to my release date from the Loki Pen, when I can be free on the G-Train again, but until then, I am Loki.

Photo by Marta Anglada

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