We wake up to a grey old Sunday morning. There’s been reports of a cyclone hitting the WA coast so the miserable weather is probably at least partially due to that – not that we have any true sense of the temperature outside, it could be 15 degrees or 35 and it wouldn’t make any difference. The hotel air-conditioning appears to be centrally controlled and as a result I’m glad I bought a hoodie to keep me warm as it’s been a regular part of my quarantine uniform. The weather hasn’t stopped the Sunday morning marathon runners however which leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. When will people just accept the fact that there is nothing enjoyable about jogging, hiking or cycling in cold, windy rain!
Somewhat disappointingly, there’s no hot breakfast this morning – instead we are presented with two individual packs of cornflakes (“made in Australia”) with the usual tubs of yoghurt and fruit cups. The cynical part of me quips that this is because the hotel doesn’t want to pay its catering staff Sunday rates. I don’t mind the cornflakes though – we already have a carton of fresh milk in the fridge waiting to be used – and you can’t have a fry-up every day.
My morning is spent skimming YouTube videos for make-up tutorials. For today’s challenge, I have to attempt to recreate 3 make-up looks from social media influencers. Trawling YouTube, and specifically for make-up videos, is not a regular pastime for me and I am quietly shocked not only at the length of some of the videos but the breadth of them as well. My make-up supplies are relatively basic particularly when I’m traveling – and after watching a couple of videos it soon becomes apparent that I am lacking some key ingredients: “primer,” “bronzer” and other potions and lotions I never knew I needed. I persevere however, and maybe even pick up a few tips along the way. I save the most intense “look” from a video suggested by my friend in LA for last – a recreation of Margot Robbie’s “Harley Quinn” character. I contemplate using my bright pink lipstick on my left eye, but ultimately decide against it seeing as I am running seriously low on wipes and cotton pads necessary to remove the mess from my face.
It’s looking like a bit of a slow afternoon. It’s a weird juxtaposition – motivation for actual work is lacking, but at the same time, the day seems to be approaching a bit of a lull. Perhaps surprisingly, we haven’t been watching much television – and have been somewhat disciplined about restricting our viewing hours to the start and end of each day – but I’m starting to suspect that afternoon movie breaks/TV series might be on the cards before we finally clear this room.
After 5 days, our tiny bins are pretty much at capacity and the towels are starting to give off that wet dog odour. Mine too, has entered a new realm of filth following today’s make-up escapades, now sporting telltale brown streaks, black smudges and even a few pink smears. Prior to check-in, the hotel has placed a bag of basic cleaning items for use in the room, including stuff like extra toilet paper, a couple of bin liners and two tiny sachet of dishwashing liquid, but there is nothing to clean the toilet or sink which is now dusted with tiny make-up fragments. The welcome pack says you can request a change of towels or linen by calling housekeeping and leaving the used items in the red bag provided (of which there is only one).
I dial housekeeping and the call is answered after one ring. I ask about changing towels and confirm there are two of us so we need two fresh sets. The efficient voice confirms that they will be sent up and left outside our door. “Do you need anything else?” Slightly caught off-guard, I say “Um, is it possible to get… something to clean the toilet, like a toilet brush or something…” “Cleaning kit??! Yes no problem!!” the voice answers excitedly. “Do you need anything else??” “Um, no that’s it, thank you.” I wonder if perhaps I am the only person that has requested a cleaning kit while in quarantine – given that the majority of return travelers that we’ve seen seem to be single men, it’s probably a fair assumption. I am struck with a twinge of pity for the cleaners – being a hotel cleaner cannot be a fun task in normal circumstances – collecting wet towels, scrubbing shit off toilets and removing trash containing such delightful human germ deposits like dental floss, used tampons and earwax-filled cotton buds. But at least in normal situations, the build-up of filth and germs normally only occurs over 1-3 days. The state of these confined human cesspools after two weeks must be a whole other thing. No doubt they come in with full PPE and disinfectant – but I’m not sure it makes the experience any better.
Housekeeping keeps their word and a little while later the delivery pixies return with their signature rap at the door. Outside is a bag of fresh towels and a plastic cleaning caddy complete with two spray bottles, a plastic bottle of chemical which I assume is for the toilet/shower, two blue cleaning cloths and a toilet brush. I’m excited – our bathroom is about to be return to it’s semi-fresh state!
We have no shortage of disposal gloves – an item which is always included in our travel kits for flights departing EG (together with disposable mask and hand sanitizer). We have never used the gloves however and have always instead settled for compulsive hand sanitizer application and wiping high-contact surfaces with disinfectant wipes. I’m happy to have some gloves available now though, so I glove up and get to work on the bathroom. The finishing touch is a spritz with the Lysol that I packed in my bag. I’ve never been a fan of bathroom germs and getting sick in these four walls (COVID or other) is not something I want to risk.
The weak Sunday sun starts to drop, Michael has succumbed to pressure or boredom, or a combination of both and is testing out the exercise bike. I wait for him to finish so I can have my turn. There is another loud knock on the door as I dismount – dinner is here. We are expecting a “Moroccan lamb tagine”. The lamb in mine is completely buried beneath a thick layer of couscous. We supplement with snacks from Woolies, cheese, salami but the delivered meal is passable (so long as you don’t think of it as a “tagine”). We inspect the dessert – which they are calling “Tres Leches” and looks like a soggy white cake floating in pale custard. It tastes like eating a dish sponge that’s been immersed in milk for a week and I spit mine out – we’ll stick to the Cadbury Marble chocolate for dessert tonight. It’s still early, so we consider our television viewing options. Michael’s good mate has given us his Netflix password so we logon and browse the documentaries. We settle on “Abducted in Plain Sight.” It’s a shocking story about a girl growing up in Idaho in the’ 70’s who is groomed by a family friend and subsequently abducted by him on 2 separate occasions. It shows how grooming can extend beyond the primary target and highlights how susceptible ordinary people can be to manipulation. It also shows the magnitude of fucked-up-ness of the orchestrators with their calculated grooming tactics. The primary victim calmly and candidly recites all that happened to her and is interesting to watch.
The weekday routine is about to start and after a few page turns of the Kindle it’s lights out.