The 21st April, 2013, was the day I flew out to Lanzarote to start my career as a holiday rep. Just getting to this point had been hard work. After deciding to apply in August the previous year, I’d had the daunting assessment day and the training course in Portugal to conquer. I’d been told I’d be going to Tenerife, but plans had changed and I’d been placed in Lanzarote (these changes were par for the course). It had been tough, but equally those experiences had made me all the more excited for what was to come. This really was my dream job. I can’t tell you how many times I’d dreamt of living abroad; how every time the skies were grey I’d look up and wonder what on earth I was doing stuck in Wales when I could be overseas working in the sunshine. As I sat in the departure lounge at Manchester airport, I felt so proud that I’d got this far.
On one hand, I felt a bit emotional, and I’m not really an emotional person. I knew I would miss my family and friends and pets back at home. But on the whole, I was just so excited to be on my way.
So many questions were running through my mind: Where would I live? What would my colleagues be like? Would I make friends? And most importantly, when would I eat?!
The flight took around four hours and I landed at around 7:30pm to be met by my manager, Deborah*, a friendly, smiling woman who I had spoken to briefly in training. It was just a short drive to the resort of Puerto del Carmen where I would be living. Although I had an inkling this was where I’d be based, I’d not been told exactly where I’d be staying beforehand. I was glad to be in Puerto del Carmen, though, as I’d read it was the liveliest resort on the island.
Despite the time, it was still warm, perfect for a dedicated sun worshipper like me. That weekend there had been a calima which is a sandcloud carried over from the Sahara, and temperatures had risen to 37 degrees!
I was dropped off in town, and I was excited to see where I’d be living. My first floor apartment was in a central location, just a short walk from the beach, next to some hotels and a little supermarket. Inside were two rooms and a spacious kitchen/living area, plus a balcony with view of the sea and some palm trees. It was perfect, and definitely met my expectations. I was greeted warmly by my colleague, Kim, who seemed really friendly and immediately offered me some of the pizza she was cooking. Kim would be leaving in a few days time for her summer placement, but she told me two other girls would be sharing the flat with me when they arrived in a few days time.
Through in my bedroom, I started to unpack. I hate living out of a suitcase, it makes me feel disorganised and isn’t very homely. Once my things were in the wardrobe and drawers, and I’d put up the photos of my friends at home I’d bought with me, my room looked a bit more “me”.
While we had our pizza, Kim told me that she was going out that evening with friends and would I want to join them? Although I’d only just arrived, I said yes. I figured it would be good to start meeting people and I really wanted to sample the nightlife. For all that I was well aware the repping lifestyle isn’t just about parties and nightclubs, I still wanted to go out as much as possible while I was there. I got changed and we walked the short distance to the seafront where we met Kim’s friends, who all worked in PR/Barwork kind of roles.
Everyone was friendly, chatty and outgoing, and I felt really shy and quiet compared to them, although I tried not to show it. The wine we were drinking helped my confidence and it helped that the girls were so welcoming. I think when you meet expats, a lot of the time, they know how it feels to be the new kid, and they know how awkward it is to land on an island where you know no-one, so throughout my overseas career, I always found the majority of workers to be inclusive and hospitable.
After quite a few bottles of wine, the girls said they were going to Centro Atlantico, the main area for nightlife in resort. I had only arrived a few hours ago, and I had work in the morning, so I didn’t want to get too drunk and arrive to my first day with a stinking hangover. Buuuut…it was my first night, and anyway, if I was going to be a decent rep I had to learn how to work after a big night out, right?! So, even though I knew I should just leave it at a couple of drinks and go to bed, I followed them along to Centro.
Centro Atlantico…the location of so many lost memories, the place where my dignity would be left at the door every single weekend over the months to come. Back then, I had no idea what this ‘centro’ place the girls talked about was. It is a big three storey building with clubs and bars inside, designed in such a way that you can pop between the bars easily. We hit the bar, where I was excited to see that you could get two (very strong) vodka and oranges for just €7. It wasn’t long before the generous continental measures hit me and I was dancing crazy to Gangnam Style.
I’m not entirely sure what happened the rest of the night, alcohol has turned my memories into blurred snapshots…
I dimly remember going to the top floor of Centro, where there were two nightclubs. I stayed out on the terrace chatting to everyone who would listen about how I was a rep! Kim seemed to know everybody and kept disappearing to chat to her friends, which was didn’t bother me in the slightest as I was really drunk and therefore much more sociable than usual.
We ended up going home at 3am, and the clubs were nowhere near closing. It was perfectly normal for clubs to stay open until 6am, sometimes even later, which to me, coming from a place where doors close at three at the latest, was amazing. I’m a real night owl and perfectly happy staying up till the sunrise. But with work the next day, I had to be vaguely sensible.
Back at the apartment, I grabbed a bottle of water and tried to get some sleep. But my stomach was spinning, and before I knew it I had to rush to the loo to throw up all the alcohol I’d had that night (soz for the TMI). Great start to the season!
Despite the fact I’d ended up with my head down the toilet bowl, I was glad I’d gone out. I’d met some lovely people, got some contacts in my phone, and experienced the local nightlife. Not bad considering I’d been on the island less than twelve hours. If the rest of the season was as good as that night had been, I’d have a great summer.
I just had to get through a full day of work first though…!
*Names changed to protect the innocent…and the guilty!