We haven’t left yet but I must relate the story of my Australian roommate.
He wasn’t at our introductory dinner last night due to a flight delay. What I didn’t know at the time–well, there was much I didn’t know–was that he was to be my roommate. There were two beds in my room but it never occurred to me that Lonely Planet had doubled us up. I had all my things sprawled across the extra bed as I sat on my side surfing the net and listening to Dave Brubeck on my headphones. I was enjoying my first taste of air conditioning on this trip, clad only in my swim trunks.
At about eleven o’clock I heard a loud pounding at my door, loud enough to override the music. I thought for a moment to cover myself up before opening the door but decided instead to present myself to whoever it was quasi- au naturel.
I was nonplussed when I found a tall, blonde woman bearing a backpack smiling in my doorway.
“I guess I’m your new roommate,” she said buoyantly.
The first thing I thought about was my bare chest, and general lack of covering. But I managed to stammer out a friendly greeting and welcome her into my/our inner sanctum. I hastily moved all my things off the second bed.
“My name is Courtney,” she told me. It took a couple minutes for me to process the situation.
“Courtney,” I thought to myself. Of course, a suitably unisex name to confuse the Lonely Planet computer. They think she’s a he!
“I don’t have any problem with this,” she informed me straight away.
I was delighted. I couldn’t think of a better gift than to have a roommate for this trip instead of my usual isolation. I went on a multi-day tour in Albania a few years ago with some young folks and I was never able to make friends because of the natural tendency of the younger people to bond. This roommate thing would be my ticket to incorporation.
But I underestimated the organizational oversight of LP. Within ten minutes of Courtney’s arrival there was another knock on the door. She answered. I heard some muffled conversation, then she returned to her bed. Moments later, another knock. This time I can see Omar in the doorway. He’s apologizing, I can’t tell what Courtney is saying. Will she persuade them to give her her own room…and leave me bereft? I’m betting that three rooms (the Danish couple, Courtney, me) will wreck the group’s budget. LP’s desire to make a profit on this gig is my one hope.
“What’s the situation,” I ask her as she returns from her Omar talk.
“I guess you and I will have separate rooms on this trip,” she tells me. But I also gather that we’ll be a pair for one night. Courtney is, understandably, non-voluble after her long flight from Sydney. I don’t know if her terseness is from being tired or from being put off by this odd arrangement. I turn the light out and we retire.