The first order of the day - shopping! I may have had a lovely new fitted green clown suit for the wedding but I had nothing to go with it. (True, I had shirts and stuff in the UK but I wasn't sure if I'd have time to dig them out before the big wedding day.) Shoes, socks, shirts, ties and cuffs all needed to be purchased and I knew just the shopping centre to do it in!
The afternoon had me check into my pre-paid hotel. I had an awesomely huge twin room with 2 soft giant double beds and it's own en suite facilities - luxury! After sorting out what I was taking with me on the expedition I tentatively stepped out to meet the rest of my expedition crew in the hotel bar.
Throughout the past few months travelling I had briefly encountered large groups of loud and obvious Americans. I had always shyed away from these types, not wanting to be labelled or associated with them but instead wanting to mingle with the quieter local indiginous people. I was now very horrified to find myself slap bang in the middle of a stereotypical nightmare! These people had just stepped off the plane and knew nothing of the alien word which surrounded them. They were loud, brash and stuck out like a very sore thumb.
Half the group already knew each other from previous rafting trips and chatted loudly. Some were "fun" and others "friendly" and the leader wanted us to play "ice-breakers" and do group activities. I'd largely been on my own for months on end, in groups rarely larger than 3. I just wanted to shrivel up, be left alone to quietly drink beer in the corner or just, leave. Unfortunately, none were possible. To make matters worse we were going out for a group meal. Great!
Some may be happy (and others disappointed) to note that I branded myself as Welsh to the group!
Dinner was okay and I managed to retain a couple of names but was still relieved when the majority moved to a bar - they'd be in my house now! The place was empty when we arrived but soon filled up and turned into a dancing night spot. After mooching around a few times I came to the conclusion there was no-one of interest the bar except for maybe a couple girls at the back, one of which wore a particularly striking, tight black T-Shirt with a batman logo across the chest. I was quite surprised then, when they came up and started talking to me! In English! Bonus! In return I impressed them with my local club music knowledge.. (I'd been in the country long enough to recognise the weird and wonderful popular hits.)
I migrated from the American group and followed the girls to a local 3 story dance club! Woah! This town has everything! At the end of the night we finished up tucking into a local version of the kebab but come 5:20am I had to leave, the rafting expedition was due to leave town at 6:00 am and I really didn't want to miss it!
Back at the hotel I picked up my bags and checked out, kicking myself that in my first luxury room in 6 months I was leaving with the bed sheets untouched and the beds definitely not slept in!
Posted by Steve Eynon