Bartending in Peru
I had always had the intention of working whilst traveling, I felt it was a good way to not only be apart of the communities I was visiting, but also attain cheap or free accommodations. I found Workaway.com to be the most efficient way of searching for work, room and board in any foreign country. The layout was extremely easy to maneuver and within minutes I found a listing for a bartender position in a small beach town south of Lima called Paracas. Within a week they were expecting my arrival. I was able to find my job on the immediate openings page, however note that most people using the site set up visits months in advance and some even set up multiple trips to assure free accommodation throughout their travels.
My spanish was workable and I figured how to get myself from Lima, Peru four hours south to Paracas. As I moved through the country the landscape dramatically changed from a sprawling city to a desert whose ands kissed the waters of the pacific ocean. I felt I had chosen the perfect place to exist in this lonely excursion. Arriving at Kokopelli Hostel Paracas I was excited by the modern accommodations and the colorful murals splashed on almost every wall. A series of rooms lined a large pool surrounded by beach chairs and people from all over the world catching the intense desert rays while Anderson.Paak played over the loudspeakers.
Beyond the pool I found myself in a dining/entertainment area with foosball, ping pong and pool table placed the perfect distance apart to be surrounded by partying travelers. The bar itself was the epitome of a beach bar, built with a combination of wood from palm and shaded with their fronds. I found Mike the bar manager ready to begin my training within the first hour of my arrival. He divulged to me that he was from England and had been working at Kokopelli Hostel for almost 3 years. We shared travel stories and he iterated to me the classic story of falling in love and staying longer than expected while he trained me on my bartender responsibilities. I learned that there were ten other volunteers with whom I would be living and working with for the next month. The shifts were to be four hours each and the work consisted of me making basic well drinks with a few local favorites mixed in, taking customer orders and on one night a week entertaining international guest in some type of tournament. In return for this work I received room and board and access to discounted tours, free kayaks and two free drinks a day. The deal was a good one and I knew that I could grow even in some small way from this experience.
The group of volunteers constantly rotated with people looking for a place to relax between trekking Machu Picchu and the excursions deep in the Amazon. While working he bar in shifts of two you get to know the diverse travelers from all over the world. Pedro a Brazilian man who also spoke German, Portuguese ,and Spanish (which completely blew me away) ,was the first person I remember meeting. He invited me to drive dune buggies through the desert with the rest of the volunteers. We drove through the desert that same afternoon chasing the sunset alongside steep Peruvian cliffs.
I met Abby and Nina two other Americans from the midwest and east coast and we exchanged stories of how our passports gave most people a certain reaction and how the effects of our current countries regime had echoed all over the world, conversations had while strolling moonlight beaches enjoying a smoke. I developed an interesting relationship with a German man named Jan-Eric he would train me a couple of times a week in ping-pong, a game I developed a small addiction to, and we would argue over the proper pronunciation of Parmesan. I developed an amazing friendship with an Irish woman a little older than me who had been traveling for almost a year and had no intention of stopping. We shared stories of robberies, heist and how we fell in love with the wild country of Colombia over gin at our shared place of work. The parties at the bar brought in people from all over and it was easy to party until sunrise any day of the week. The thing that amazed me most is that it truly does not take much to develop deep long lasting bonds with people vastly different than yourself. Something as small as just existing in that small dormitory and working a bar can leave you with long lasting impressions of people you would have only in that particular situation.