Posted by: Jena Davison | October 26, 2009

Shifting Gears

I am currently working at the reception desk for today’s 2pm-10pm shift. Here, we rotate working one of four eight-hour shifts: 6am-2pm, 2pm-10pm, 10pm-6am and split shift (8:30am-1:30pm and 7pm-10pm). General responsibilities when manning the reception desk include checking guests in and out of the hostel, showing them their rooms, explaining to them all the services we offer, replying to any emails that come in through the website, answering the phones, re-stocking beer and soda in the fridge, bartending, keeping track of all money coming in and out of the cash box, and answering any general questions anyone has. Whoever is on split shift generally sets up and cleans up breakfast and picks people up from the buses to greet them and walk them to the hostel. Breakfast here consists of freshly made loaves of bread with butter, marmalade and dulce de leche, fruit and coffee.

Dulce de leche is basically spreadable caramel and is used in and on everything here in Uruguay. My friends and I here have a serious addiction to alfajors, which are the famous pastries here. An alfajor is two layers of cake glued together by a thick layer of dulce de leche and then rolled in nuts or coconut, or better yet, dipped in chocolate or white chocolate. One alfajor a day keeps any chance of weight loss away. Ha. Also, since the hostel is open 24 hours a day, we play music here 24 hours a day. Therefore, another important job for anyone on duty is to set the mood by DJing with music from the 50,000-song music library on our reception desk computer. I am in music heaven. I have spent hours upon hours scrolling through the music, which spans across every imaginable genre, taking note of any new artists I come across and really enjoy. Maybe one day in the near future I will post some cool music that I have found and can suggest for you to check out. Stay tuned.

We also do not work everyday. We have about two days off a week, where we can go to the beach, take a day trip or pitch in with some of the other projects going on here. It is an interesting scenario working, living and playing with the same people in the same place all the time. Some have paralleled it to a season of The Real World, and it’s not too far off minus the trashiness and the fact that it is not scripted or taped for public viewing. All in all, it is closest to living in a co-op. Each of us needs to pitch in and do our part because everything needs to get done by somebody and if one person is not doing it, somebody else is most likely picking up the slack. Plus, we are all living together, so we constantly need to be careful about pissing each other off or about refraining from telling each other what’s on our minds or else tension will develop and the whole group (and hostel) will be affected. Happy working environment=happy living environment. Happy living environment=happy working environment. Happy living and working environment=happy guests.

So, in reality, this is really a 24-hour job in the sense that we can be called upon to clean up a spill or pick up a guest from the bus at any given moment and we must always put the guests’ interests first and represent the hostel in a positive light. In order to survive here, we always need to remain flexible and must get used to both little sleep and little privacy. However, we have all recognized the necessity for some down time to decompress in order to avoid going completely loco. Right now, we are living in two of the dorms in the hostel, but within a few days, we are all moving out to a staff shack in the back and will have our own kitchen and bathrooms. It will definitely be nice to have our space where we can relax and escape if needed. Of course, there are also many perks to living and working in this environment. It makes the working day go quicker when you know you are surrounded by people you know, love and feel comfortable around. And better yet, there is no nine-to-five rigid working schedule, no long commute to work (rather, setting our alarms for 10 minutes before work and literally rolling out of bed), no fancy dress code and everyday is different and exciting. I think it’s going to be a really hard transition when I actually have a job that possesses all the aforementioned qualities.



  1. As Brian’s older brother back here in Wisconsin, I enjoy getting a peak at what is going on at EDT. He is so busy, he forgets to update us once and a while.

    Did you know it’s his birthday on Sunday November 1st. Sounds like a good opportunity for the staff to make him feel at home during the Viking / Packer game!

    Good luck with the busy season, enjoy yourself.

    Dan Meissner

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