Friday 16 May 2008

news and views

Here's the view I'm not going to have from my office door any more:

(that woman's not always there)

Because I've got another job - woo !!

in the garden

Tuesday 6 May 2008

He's a very, very, very nice man

I'm not sure that I've mentioned this before, but since I got here (6 weeks tomorrow! Can you believe it?!), I've had no rubbish collection. Now, that's not as manky as it might sound. There were only six bags outside, and four and a half of them were left over packaging (bubble wrap, polystyrene, etc.) from when I moved in. So somehow I've only managed to produce a bin bag and half of actual household rubbish in six weeks... does this suggest to anyone that perhaps I'm not eating properly? (Well, maybe...) But, I digress. My point is that six week's worth of rubbish is not as horrible as it sounds - it's not like it was starting to stink or anything...

Nevertheless, even though there weren't flies buzzing around everywhere, or evil smells, I'd started to become a little concerned, and had posted on a forum I'm a member of, asking if there was someone I should speak to about it. As is the way with forums, people came back with various "helpful" comments:

"The dust car comes on a regular basis in Peyia most people put their rubbish in the green skips along the roads so dont expect door to door service not many get that have you had a word with your next door neighbors -- have a look to see if they put out their rubbish on certain days."

"We have lived in Peyia for over 2 months now & our bins are emptied twice a week, without fail. The binmen come at 4.30 in the morning."

"Throw your rubbish in the nearest Green bin as they are emptied every week in Peyia."

"Every day where we are."

"We dont have a bin wagon where we live but take the rubbish up the hill to the skip on the main road its emptied every day. It becomes second nature after a while."

"We used to have to take our rubbish to the bin across the main road. Our nieghbour went to the council office and ask for a bin to be put in our road and it arrived the next day. We have some waste ground as you come in the road so it's ok there. Now it's just a quick stroll down the road. Much easier. It seems you can also put nearly anything out and they will take it. We put an old washing line there last week....someone took it anyway."

"...hope you dont mind but we use your bin Laughing as for the line -- not guilty"

I was *extremely* tempted to reply with, "Well, aren't you the lucky ones? Doesn't solve my problem, though, does it?", but instead I responded (quite calmly, I felt, if perhaps a touch sarcastically):

"Thanks everybody for the advice.

I've seen the green skips/bins you mean, but not anywhere near where I live. I guess I could put the rubbish in the car and take it to one, but that seems a bit daft... I also haven't noticed any of my neighbours putting out rubbish, or any bags in the road, or anything - hence the original question - and I'm getting worried that I'll become known as "that crazy woman up the hill who hoards all her rubbish bags" !!

I've only been to 3 Greek lessons, and so far we've not learnt "when do the bin men come?" - so I'll check that with my teacher tonight, then maybe go and ask one of the neighbours, although I probably won't understand the reply!"

Anyway, that was my plan. But then, tonight, my landlord appeared. (I'm fairly sure it was coincidence, as I don't think he's been reading the forum posts, but you never know - I suspect it was probably more to do with the fact that my rent was due nearly a week ago!). He picked up all but one of the rubbish bags (one broke and I had to re-bag it - thankfully it was one that contained pieces of polystyrene, rather than rotting fruit pulp from the juicing extravaganza!), and sprinted off down the road, round the corner and up the hill. I followed him to see where he was going with them, and at the top of the hill was ... yep, you've guessed it, a big green bin! I'd not spotted it before, as it's an extremely steep hill and not somewhere I've ventured often - it's almost too steep for my little car to drive up there, never mind walk (or run, as he did!).

So now I know where to take the rubbish. Yay!

He also watered all the plants in my garden (which I have already been doing, but sparingly, with leftover washing up water, due to the water shortgage - I thought I was being good) as he obviously thought they weren't looking too healthy, and pulled up the weeds (I'd not been confident enough that they were actually weeds, and hadn't wanted to pull up anything that might end up being pretty...). And the whole time, he kept apologising, but I don't know the Greek for, "No need to apologise, it's my fault really."

He has invited me to "come drink coffee" tomorrow and "meet my woman" (I think that in Greek the word for both "woman" and "wife" is the same), he tells me that "her English better"
. He pointed out his house - "long with four windows" - which is on the other side of the hill, more or less opposite mine (I'll take a picture when it's not so dark!). I'm not quite sure how to get there - you can't go in a straight line, Pegeia is very hilly! - but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

I'm very happy that we're able to communicate (and maybe even understand each other, sort of!) d
espite both his English and my Greek being, well, somewhat limited. There's a lot of waving and pointing involved, but it seems to work.

Talking of communicating, I'd better run, as I have a Greek lesson in half an hour...

Saturday 3 May 2008


I really like my job. I'm starting to understand it better, I'm enjoying the work I'm doing, and the people there are great. But... well, there's always a but.

On Friday I was asked to sign another copy of my contract, as there had been a mistake on the original. I'd spotted and pointed out the mistake when I signed the first copy (the start date was 25 May instead of 25 April) so it was crossed out and corrected, and initialled by me, and by my manager, and by the General Manager - and I was told that would be fine. But the Personnel department have said that it needs to be re-signed. So I've been given a new, corrected, contract. However, on the original contract, there were a couple of points that weren't entirely clear. So before signing the new copy, I thought I should take the opportunity to ask some questions (which weren't things I'd thought it appropriate to ask during either of my interviews). And all of the answers I got were not the ones I wanted.

So, there are a few "problems", most of which have only just become apparent to me...

At my first interview I was told that I would have to work "some Saturdays". At my second interview I was told I would be working "Saturdays in the summer". According to my contract I work "6 days a week" (with no mention of summer/winter) - this is, in fact, the case. So the only time I have that is properly "free" is Saturday night and, having just worked 6 days in a row, I am basically too exhausted to do much other than come home and collapse! Most days I've been out of the house for about 11 hours - as well as working 8 hours a day (with an hour for lunch), and obviously getting there and back, I've also had to fit in everything else, like going shopping, and going to the bank, and, well, everything, really - because on Sundays, of course, almost everywhere is closed!

I wasn't told at either of the interviews that I wouldn't get public holidays off work. I didn't find this out until the day before I started - I was a bit surprised but, at the time, I didn't think about it too much. I started on Good Friday, when most of the people I know here were just starting a week's holiday (as Easter Monday and Tuesday, and Thursday 1 May, were public holidays too). So that was a little irritating, but I figured I'd already had a month "off", so what did a few days matter? Then I started thinking, but what happens at Christmas? So this was one of the things I asked. I was told that I could of course take time off at Christmas if I wanted to, but that it would come out of my annual leave allowance (and yes, that does include Christmas Day - unless it happens to fall on a Sunday!).

So I asked a few more general questions about how this annual leave thing actually works. I get 24 days annual leave (based on a 6-day week, this is 4 weeks' holiday). I have to accrue this holiday before I can take it, i.e. I have to work a month before I am entitled to take 2 days off, therefore if I want to take a week (6 days) off, I have to have worked 3 months. I can't (or at least it is "expected" that I don't) take any holiday during the Summer (April/May to September/October) - especially in August, which is the hotel's busiest month. I could "perhaps" take a "long weekend" (i.e. what I would think of as a normal weekend), but any more than this would be "frowned upon". It was "suggested" that I should save my annual leave for the winter, as the hotel is likely to be closing at some point for refurbishment, and therefore there won't be any work for me to do then anyway. Which seems a bit unfair.

I have been told that all of this is "normal" for the hotel industry in Cyprus. But there's another woman who works at the hotel (the PA to the General Manager, no less!) who doesn't work at weekends or on public holidays. Hmmm.

I thought my salary was fairly good, but now that I've worked out how many days/hours I'm actually going to be working, the hourly rate is not that good at all. And it appears that I'm not going to get paid for another five weeks.

So, they're the problems. And the fact that I enjoy the job really doesn't make up for them.

Whilst I understand that a resort hotel's busiest time is going to be the summer (kinda obvious when you think about it, I guess), I didn't realise that meant there would be restrictions on when I could take holiday. I already have flights back to the UK booked - in August - if I stay at the hotel, I'm going to have to cancel them, and lose quite a lot of money, which is rubbish. But aside from that, I don't honestly think I can work 6 days a week for the next 6 months (or so) without any decent amount of time off.

I left my last job due to (amongst other reasons) stress caused by working unreasonable hours, and I moved here for (amongst other reasons) a better quality of life. I don't want my job to be my life. I have other interests, other things I want to spend my time doing. As well as this, I need a bit of "me" time. And if I don't have the time to enjoy and appreciate being where I am, I might just as well be anywhere. (Looking at it another way, if I was working similar hours, days, etc. in a similar job in the UK, I would have more or less the same, i.e. poor, quality of life, but would be earning at least twice as much money...)

Anyway, I'm feeling somewhat misled, but I'm also feeling pretty damn stupid for not having asked any of these questions before I accepted the job. But hey, we live and learn...

So I bought the paper today and have started job hunt number two. Again, I'll be applying for anything and everything - but this time, definitely not jobs in hotels, posh or otherwise! What I want is a nice Monday to Friday job, with a reasonable amount of annual leave (which I can take when I choose to take it!) and all public holidays (of which there are 14 - yes, count them, 14!) - I know that such jobs exist, now it's just a matter of finding one... I don't care if I don't like/enjoy it. Or if it's less money. Or both, even! My quality of life, ultimately my health and happiness (and my sanity!) are far more important.

But it's not all doom and gloom. I borrowed a ladder and changed the dead lightbulb:-)