Thursday, 18 October 2007

It seems that some of my loyal readers would prefer some more pictures over just my reporting, so let's see what I can do.

I had considered posting a picture of my ankle which had turned purple for a while, but then thought that some of you might be reading this over breakfast and not even I am that mean.

I'm not very good at taking pictures I have to admit, so what you're about to see is mostly from somebody else. Let's start with a recent trip to the beach to get you all a bit jealous and then work our way through some sightseeing and my combined Housewarming/Birthday party.

Kanepa Lagoon2   Kanepa Beach 3 Kanepa Beach 2 Kanepa Lagoon

Kanepa BeachCliff-Jumping  Cliff-Jumping

 

Goddamn awful, isn't it? What do you think?

Here's some more directed more at your entertainment... if you lose your appetite now, I can't really help it

Lese-Wolfi    Jetski-Thoughts   Waiting for Jetski  Smile Wolfi

 

I could tell you a story now about jetskis, a guy called Coyote with only one arm and dreadlocks, but you would not believe it anyway, so let's move on.

 

Here's a bit of downtown Willemstad:

Gouvernors Palace   Handelskade   Handelskade (2)   Hotel Otrabanda

 

National Flag   Rif Fort Outside   Harbor with Bridge  Floating Bridge

 

And a bit of information for you.... not sure if you'll be able to read it....

The name Curacao   Historical Walking Tour   Language   Slave Trade Center

 

Here is where I drink away my hard earned bucks...

Sopranos 1  Sopranos 2  located in the Rif Fort

 

And finally some pictures of the biggest cruise ship we get here. Let me tell you, it is massive!

Adventure of the Seas   Adventure of the Seas (2)   Adventure of the Seas (3)   Adventure of the Seas (4)

 

Which finally brings us to the Housewarming party... It's nothing compared to Cafe Bendl, but we did try at least and I believe we can call it a success. Again, I will have to be a bit careful in publishing pictures here. Some people apparently do not appreciate it very much...

Doorway Wolfi   Birthday Car   P1000775   Mari, Lalith & Wolfi

Birthday Cake  Mari, Daniela & Shanuska   P1000783  P1000833

 

And this is when the dancing, singing and other madness starts...

P1000823  P1000829  P1000816  P1000830

P1000825  P1000799  P1000807  P1000793

 

And on an on and on... Thank you to everyone who came, for all your help and presents.

The next day I was MOD again, thank god it was quiet...

Gotta get some sleep, so we'll leave it at that for now. Take care

Thursday, 18 October 2007 01:55:34 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Saturday, 13 October 2007

A little note before I start: It has been pointed out to me that some people might not really appreciate the way I portrait them or their country here so unless I'm certain I can ridicule you in public, I will be a little more careful with names etc. and what is going on at the place that I call work. I hope it does not have too much of a detrimental effect...

Well, another week has come and the Biggest Loser program is now in full swing.

Monday saw the start of the special menu in the canteen (sigh) and also the beginning of the first activity: Powerwalking.

There are actually 2 choices for taking part. One at 6am (I THINK NOT) and one at 6pm.

It was my full intention to participate and report back to you lovely people what this intriguing activity might entail, but it was not to be.

On Monday, I just missed the 6pm group and was therefore forced to rely on Miss M from P and on another friend who would normally not be my first choice as an exercise partner. You see, he just ran the Amsterdam Marathon 2 weeks ago and even finished it, so we're not exactly in the same league when it comes to exercising. He also carries a slightly worrying amount of gizmos when exercising. Believe me, man has gone to the moon and back with less computing power than he takes for a jog. However, he is younger than me, has even less hair than me (hehe) and is known to make the occasional sarcastic comment (mostly for my, ah, benefit), so I don't normally mind having him around.

Anyway, those 2 were available so off we go in a weird mixture of running and walking. Weird mixture because Miss M is walking and the rest would rather run and actually does so in what could maybe called installments, i.e. run for a little then turn back to fall back to Miss M before starting over.

Before we started I had to wait a little for the 2 of them and so I had time to stretch and warm up a little which turns out to be a good thing.

In fact, it proves absolutely vital as maybe 2 kilometers away from the hotel I trip and land awkwardly on my left foot.

Those of you who know me and my medical history for a bit longer do know that if I'm not currently fighting for my life against swollen tonsils blocking my airways, my usual area of expertise is ruining my knees. However, my body seems to go along with the whole changing-of-life-moving-to-Curacao thing and decides against the knees and goes for the ankle. Ouch!

For a minute or so I just think that this is it again: Cast, crutches, physio-therapy and the lot. Those of you who have ever broken, ruptured or sprained something will know what I mean.

Leaning against the wall and standing on my good foot, I carefully test how much strain my injured foot will take. Not a lot. I also wonder how the hell I will get back to civilization. While my friend's gadgets might be able to monitor my heart rate and other life signs and pinpoint our GPS position to about a meter for the Med-Evac, they don't fare so well when trying to replicate a wheelchair.

The situation does improve though after maybe a minute or so and I slowly start hobbling back towards the hotel. In my mind, nightmare scenarios keep unfolding about having to deal with a cast in these temperatures and being stuck at my desk the whole day. Miss M does her best to enliven my ankle fantasies by providing some horror stories of her own, mostly referring to painkillers and the fact that you can't really drink alcohol while you're taking them. This has some alarm bells ringing I can tell you...

While it's not comfortable, at this point I can still walk within reason. This will remain so for the rest of the evening when I ice the ankle and also put on some Sports Cream provided by my friend thinking positively about the future.

This has changed dramatically by the time I wake up Tuesday morning. I'm back to the point where I can't really put any weight on it and every movement hurts.

Luckily it's my left foot and I drive an automatic so at least I can drive reasonably well and get to the hotel. The way from the car park to the office is long though and I get there exhausted. At this point there is no doubt that I will have to seek medical attention if things are to improve.

I go and see a lovely doctor who confirms a sprained (and by this time quite swollen) ankle. I get some cooling gel and anti-inflammatory medication plus a bandage and am told to take it easy (poco poco). An X/ray is considered unnecessary.

I would like to point out that the medical service received is much better than the skeptical old me has expected. It's not at all complicated and very quick, both at the doctor as well as the pharmacy. It's easily ten times better than England (big deal I hear a lot of you think) but also good in comparison with Germany and I would say it can hold it's own against Norway and Switzerland.

So, instead of exercising, I just sit around a lot collecting dust. It does give me time for writing up all this though, so at least you benefit.

I will keep you informed on how I'm doing.

Saturday, 13 October 2007 23:06:37 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Saturday, 06 October 2007

No, I'm not gonna whine about how old I am or how little hair I have or gonna bore you with any of the grief others or I have recently endured. Instead, I will tell you about a new initiative happening here at the hotel. Some of you might be aware that there is a program in the US called The Biggest Loser. There is a spin-off of this in the UK and also in Germany I believe whose names currently elude me.

In essence, it's a program about losing weight. We might not have cameras or drill-sergeants but still, that is what we are going to try and do here at the hotel with any associate who cares to participate. At least in principle. The program will run for 3 months and whoever loses the most weight on a percentage basis, will receive some special prize. The hotel is running the whole program and there is organized Sports activities and a special menu in the canteen. They have also given everybody a special diet plan (Ha!) and will measure progress at set intervals.

Those of you who have recently seen me back in Germany or the UK will have noticed that I had lost a bit of weight already (about 7 kgs to be precise and thank you really for all the flattering comments) but you all know also that there is still lots of room for improvement.

So, of course, I signed up. Almost my entire department actually did. About half of all the associates participate, at least for the time being. Time will tell how many of us will still be around by the time the program ends at the beginning of January.

Also, not all of us will have lost weight. You see, the entire schedule is worked out to work against you. Let me explain: You are not only fighting your body, who by the way is more than reluctant to give up any of that religiously stored fat, you are also fighting the calendar.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist (or even very smart for that matter) to work out that between now and the beginning of January lie 2 festivities which normally are not exactly associated with dieting. On the contrary, it seems that these days the sole purpose of Thanksgiving and Christmas is to submit yourself to the yearly experiment of seeing how much food (and drink) you can stuff yourself with before repairing to the couch to watch a Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys game or thanking good ol' Aunt Gladys (who is just a tad hard of hearing) for the lovely sweater with the Unicorn motive. In any case, the timing of the whole thing could obviously not be more unfortunate and a bigger challenge to my discipline (which most of you are perfectly aware is shaky at the best of times).

Be that all as it may, it all started for real last Monday with everybody getting weighed and photographed and then told how much weight they need to lose to achieve their ideal weight.

In my case that is a sobering 17 kilos! Yeah right! I will not share with you how much I would weigh then, but let me tell you that it must be about 15 years since I passed that weight mark. 10th grade would be my best guess. And during those days I had far more hair, good looks and brain cells!  Much as that might sound and undoubtedly is, it's nowhere near some of the kilo figures that some of my fellow associates are supposed to lose. There are individuals who need to lose more than 40 kilos, so that is the only thing that currently makes me feel slightly better. I have no intention of losing 17 kilos, if I get rid of 8 to 10 I will consider it a massive success.

Well, instead of babbling on, I must ask you to excuse me. My neighbor (the loyal Miss M from P) and I have decided that we would start all this in earnest on Monday. So until then, I'm off to enjoy life, beer, pancakes, cheesecake, full fat coke and something amazing called Cheetos, which to describe would take another whole blog entry by itself.

More next week, and ah yes, please don't tell Aunt Gladys about the Unicorn sweater...

Saturday, 06 October 2007 10:07:15 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Friday, 05 October 2007

First of all I would like to say sorry that it's been quiet for a while. I have been to Germany and the UK and seen some of you in person and I also moved house where I now have no internet. So all not so easy sometimes.

If you read my last entry (and if not, why not?), you might remember that I said that chronologically something else noteworthy happened before the hurricane. It needs a bit of an introduction, so here we go.

Like most other hotels, managers here have to occasionally perform a function that is commonly known as MOD (Manager on Duty) or Duty Manager. It usually hits you twice a month and here is more like what I was used to before I came to Grosvenor House where the whole Duty Manager thing is a real laugh. If you're unlucky you have to sort out real problems like thefts or deal with Overbooking situations or system problems. If you're lucky it's just walking around a lot talking to people who are all happy enjoying their holiday. The whole task is not be taken too easily as in case of any real emergency you're basically it and you better know what to do as to not make a complete fool out of yourself and the hotel. Now, over the years I had ample training of making a fool out of myself, but I was still reluctant to just go and start doing these shifts without pretty much knowing anything.

So, the idea is born to do one shift together with the Security Manager to get some more information on the whole "what-to-do-if"-scenarios. This guy is called Robert and he is from Florida. So, he's also not from the island and is also struggling a bit with the languages. Not as much as me of course, as he would need to lose his tongue to be in as many language problems as I'm in.

He's black and he used to play professional basketball before and therefore (maybe not surprisingly) is not exactly what you would call a small fellow. In fact, he is more of a giant.

I'll leave it to you to imagine what sort of an odd couple the 2 of us make when we go on our rounds in the hotel....

So it is that I find myself on a Sunday morning walking the hotel with Robert. Something you don't get to do a lot on these shifts in London, Germany or say Norway is to check the condition of the beach and surf. So, this is a bit of a new one for me, however the rest is pretty much the usual. You need to check a room (which I'm ashamed to say was so bad that even to our 2 untrained pairs of eyes the room was clearly not ready to be given to paying guests), walk the property, record the occupancy as well as the usage of the F&B outlets and so on. We do all that and somehow pass the rather uneventful morning, go to Lunch and do a final round of the hotel before all that is left is to write up the report.

Robert actually was to do that alone and so I return to my room (I still live in the hotel at that point) and change out of my uniform into something more casual. It's about 3pm now and the shift change to the late MOD is at 4pm. Unlike me Robert is an Operations person and likes dealing with guests and problems. I think it's fair though to say that computers are not necessarily his friends. He knows his way around them just fine, but when it comes to placing the odd comma and making the occasional sarcastic remark about Housekeeping and other departments, there is other people more at ease with the task. You guessed right, that'll be me. As he calls me for help with his report I obviously go to his office and take care of the wording and all the formatting. For all I know, he might still be there trying to get Excel to merge those 2 cells. Bless him.

I know that the more skeptically trained of you are wondering where the hell all this is going, but just bear with me, we're almost there. Anyway, the time is about 3:55pm. All of a sudden the radio (or walkie talkie to some of you) goes crazy. Most of it is unfortunately in Papiamentu so Robert and me are not really any wiser as to what is going on. It takes us maybe 30 seconds to figure out that they are actually reporting a fight between guests at the pool! Once we figure this out we are obviously off running. Now I would like you to know that when you are attending any sort of physical confrontation, it is always somewhat comforting to be in the company of an almost 7 foot, 300 pound giant, that could easily play Linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.

Anyway, when we get to the pool there is a guy in the pool. Now this might not be very unusual in a resort, however, this guy is fully clothed (okay, he has lost one shoe) and he is bleeding rather profusely. There is another guy standing just on the verge of the pool with a pretty big rock in his hand shouting at the top of his lungs.

Now, we do not have the time or the space here to report what exactly had happened the half hour before this incident or the next 3 hours afterwards so I'll give you an Executive Summary. Just so you know, it took the Police and us about 3 hours to figure about half of this out.

About an hour before the Pool episode, 2 local guys ask for a room and are checked into a first floor room. These guys have come to the hotel with the sole purpose of using the room for some sort of deal. They are expecting 2 Asian guys with a lot of cash and the plan is to whack them and take off with the money.

To achieve this plan one of the local acts as bait in the room while the other guy puts a stocking over his face and hides in the closet with a gun (no kidding!).

Whatever happens next exactly is unknown, but certainly the 2 Asian guys prove a lot tougher than the 2 local guys expected. A big fight ensues and they trash the entire room in the process! However, it does not stop there. They crash into the door opposite their own room, take out a lamp in the corridor and eventually one of the local guys crashes through the railings (or more likely is transferred through it against his own will) and takes a dive down one floor into some sort of flower/plant decoration. He loses the gun (which is some sort of antique by the way which I doubt would actually fire) and sustains some injuries which cause him to bleed but do not really slow him down. From here on he takes off through half of the resort leaving a trail of blood and eventually seeking refuge in the pool. The Asians, having tasted blood, are in hot pursuit obviously forgetting the small detail that they have just left about $25,000 and the other local guy behind upstairs.

Needless to say that both money and guy are not there any more when they realize this fact. And so it goes on...

So, we're now back at the beginning...

After we get them separated and out of the pool, I try to stop the bleeding of the one guy until the ambulance and police arrives. I then entertain myself by viewing all places of the action and by trying to get all sorts of credit card information and so on and (I kind of liked this actually) by buying all other guests at the pool a drink. I also try to figure out what the pint or so of blood will do to the water quality in our pool, but I eventually leave that to the Chief Engineer. Kind of funny how suddenly all sorts of senior management show up, but whatever.

Eventually everybody gets arrested but to say that I have even a tiny amount of confidence in the Curacao Police force is a vast exaggeration.

So, so much for doing a nice little Manager on Duty shift here at my new hotel. If you want excitement, this is the place.

I have done 2 more shifts since then. On one of them I had to move out of my own room and on the other one there was a fire across the street, so at least it keeps you occupied.

I don't really know how to get there now, but I want to dedicate this episode to my friend Robert, who helped me through my first shift and who I could count on at all other times. For some mysterious reason Robert got fired last Friday, so Robert, should you ever read this, this one's for you.

Friday, 05 October 2007 15:18:20 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |