It’s been a crazy four weeks. Home, taking baths, having a mobile, feeling clean, proper English tea, my daily Facebook addiction… all feel a million miles away. I’ve never felt better.
It’s hard to get a minute to yourself at camp, and even harder, it seems, to get affordable and consistent internet in Croatia; so I have been very slack staying in touch with everyone, and especially awful with attempting to keep a blog. Doesn’t help that my Blackberry wont switch on (damn you!), so even when I do encounter a rare wifi-hotspot, I don’t even have a device to connect with. Woe is me.
Or not. This is actually the happiest, most fulfilled, I’ve felt in a long time. No more hours in the library, or weeks stuck in an office. Cut off from the world and in the sun with kids all day, I’m now bronzed and super blonde, and I’m possibly the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m active: messing about in the lush Adriatic sea at least twice a day, teaching my favourite hobbies and getting paid for it; and learning to laugh at camp’s tough situations. That’s not hard; I have thirty-odd new mates from all over the world to laugh with.
Thats me on a girlie night out with two yanks- sorority girls none the less! We had a blast.
To top it off, I live in a stunning holiday resort.
Welcome to the ‘I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life-so-I’ll just-travel-and-do-random-jobs-abroad-until-I-figure-it-out’ club. I don’t think I want to leave. Sorry Mum and Dad.
So what’s been happening? Let’s backtrack. I began my journey mid-June with two days doing the tourist thing a bit further south in Split and also Trogir. I basically just walked around getting lost, soaking up the sun and the sights, trying not to fall asleep on my feet or spend too much money on ice cream.
The first real lesson of those two days was that (shocker) not everyone speaks English. Namely, my bus driver, who kept repeating something in angry Croatian whilst I threw more coins at him until eventually he grunted and gave me a ticket. Secondly, don’t try and walk ten miles wearing new flip flops in thirty degree heat when you haven’t slept a wink all night thanks to Easyjet’s cheapo flight schedule (which in the end isn’t even that cheap). The consequence of such a fool-hardy act is that you get uncontrollable nodding dog syndrome on the bus back to your hotel and fall asleep into a window, loudly SMACKING your head, much to the amusement of your fellow travellers. Who also stare at your bloodied post-new-flip-flop feet and wear an expression that suggests they are wondering why you smell so much.
But Togir and Split are lovely places, certainly well worth the visit. I found Trogir the more charming of the two: small, historical, beautiful cobbled streets and authentic restaurants, palm trees lining the harbour, framing a well maintained castle at one end.
A miniature gem, you can see it all in two hours easily. Be sure to try the ice cream, and don’t linger too long on a bench lest you get asked out dancing by a middle aged Croatian. Given my sweaty-betty state, I should have been flattered I suppose.
Split is much the same, but on a larger scale. As much as the guide books rave about the place, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the tourist-trap-ness of it. The cobbled streets of course hide some amazing eateries and quaint shops, but they are also home to far too many over priced and generic tourist shops and high-end fashion stores, which in my opinion seem really out of place. Perhaps I’m too English, but I expected some old fashioned, family run cafes and bars; not a set-up so outrightly commercial. Still, Split is worth seeing; the market is awesome (best strawberries I’ve ever eaten), the harbour and sea front are stunning, and if you wander West there is some gorgeous park land that offers some welcome shade and breathtaking views of the coastline (but be prepared to be a sweaty betty to get up the hill).
Just be sure to research the buses first; the bus station is about a mile or so away from the old town and the harbour, and in true Croatian style everything is very poorly signposted. The coach station meanwhile is right on top of the harbour, but only buses from the airport seem to stop there. Luckily, stop anyone under 25 for directions and their English is pretty good and they know where to send you. Croatia could still do well to print some bus timetables and actually stick them up though; a reoccurring theme as I spend longer here is that you just have to know where to stand and when to wait; bus timetables and bus stops are simply not really in existence.
Anyway, following my sweaty two days getting lost and falling asleep on public transport; I was met at Split ferry terminal and driven to Camp California. Unfortunately, my driver did not speak the best English, but he did manage to tell me that he had eaten fish, garlic and onion for lunch, it was making him burp, and he was very sorry he smelt of it. Lovely.
The first week of camp was all about staff training. Mainly this included mucking abouttogether as we tried out all the activities, getting to know the camp and the procedures, sampling the food, and slyly checked each other out. Interestingly, in addition to the ‘I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life’ club, there is also the ‘heartbreak’ club; namely, people that have just come out of long-term relationships and are relishing some time away to figure out ‘who they are’. It’s a potent and intoxicating mix, but like many of my new friend I am also in both clubs. I feel excited about life.
Above are some of my new friends…
We had a brilliant week together, and even enjoyed a night out that afforded me the opportunity to demonstrate my other career option- pole dancing. Thank goodness for big knickers. Of course, kids soon arrived and ruined our 18-30 holiday vibe (okay, it was never that raucous); but the laughs have continued and the kids seem to be enjoying it.
How does it work? We each live with a group of kids in a cabin. We eat three meals a day with these kids, and make sure they are on time and ready for all their activities, which are different for each kid. We make sure they sleep, wash, change their clothes, don’t get pregnant, don’t kill each other, be quiet at night, shower…. and the list goes on. Whilst its nice getting to know seven thirteen year old girls well, it’s also every dull making them eat their greens and stop whispering after lights out, and even more dull to keep reminding them to please: Speak. In. English. This is by far my biggest battle. The ‘Croatian corner’ of my dinner table drives me nuts; but I suppose 14 year olds don’t realise how rude it is to exclude the other girls in that way. I feel this will be my biggest annoyance this summer. Kids come here to speak and learn English, but getting little groups of friends to actually do so is tough, despite the fact they very easily can when pushed.
Teaching is the bit I most like. It’s so rewarding to encourage a scared kid up the climbing wall, or take a bunch of creative kids to get stunning photo’s by the water, or get four ten-year-olds to finally understand how to change gears and get their bike up THAT hill.
Then there’s the kayaking, the windsurfing, the snorkelling… and of course ‘water park’: two giant inflatable blobs with trampolines in the middle, and a huge inflatable sausage, which all float on the sea and kids go wild on them. Believe it or not, I get paid to float around on these for one hour a day, sunning myself above crystal clear waters, against a backdrop of Adriatic Islands off in the distance. And thenthere is the days off, which we live for. Its either this:
Okay, so when you work with kids 24/6, you need a drink.
Life is sweet.
But life is also sweaty. Its hot, like, real sweaty-betty, stinky-minky, gunna-pass-out, hot. I’m constantly grubby, and constantly need to be somewhere. You would not believe the horrors I find in bed with me, or the size of the spiders that live in my cabin and often venture onto my pillow. Spider haters, look away now…
Just to clarify, these live next to my bed.
There is also no electricity and no personal space. There is also free ice-cream every night to tempt me away from my quest for a bikin-body!! And the worst bit… I have to sing before 8am every day. I am not a morning person.
But I’m loving life, for sure. Hard work is good for the soul. Fresh air and exercise, and a diet of fresh fruit and veg, is all good for the body. Doing something so challenging yet rewarding is good for your character. And working somewhere so beautiful, with fun people and lot of laughs, all whilst getting a banging tan and impressive highlights, is just generally awesome.
This is us laughing in front of a sunset, just to demonstrate..
From left to right… A scot, an Ozzie, a Brit (me), a Canadian, and two yanks… and later we all walked into a bar…
My free hour is up, time to go teach climbing in the sun!
Love to all xx
P.S, thanks for the birthday wishes, it was off the hook.
P.P.S, The degree results are in… I got a first!! Celebrations in store this weekend!