Abbi greeted me as if I was late and she was annoyed at having had to start without me.
"Hello" I said, "do you have a room?"
"Yes yes, of course" said Abbi irritably "Come in! In! First sit down" she waves me towards a wooden bench against the wall.
She is small, with long hair in a high ponytail. She has sharp features - a pointy nose and chin. She makes slight but fast movements. She reminds me of a squirrel. A potentially vicious squirrel. I sat. She sat opposite me and studied me for a moment.
"There is another foreigner already here" she said finally, "he is climbing the mountain tomorrow. You will go with him."
"Ok" I said, wondering if it was rude to ask which mountain.
There was a pause, we looked at each other, then she spoke with the exasperated patience of someone used to dealing with idiots:
"So you can share a guide!"
"Yes, of course" I said nervously, "sorry"
"He is looking around the town now." She stood up. "So! Come!"
I followed her upstairs.
"Which room you want?" she said and she opened all the doors. Two of the rooms were occupied.
"Sorry" I said, to an elderly man reading on his bed. He stared at me with wide-eyes as I closed the door. I turned to see Abbi watching me suspiciously, as if I was behaving strangely.
"The first one" I said.
"Ok" she nodded slowly "a very good room. My sister give you key when she return, until then" she raised a finger threateningly "Don't shut the door!"
"Right" I said.
She looked at her watch and started down the stairs.
"I be back at 5 or 4. You drive a motorbike?"
"No" I said apologetically. She tutted.
"Ok then" resigned "I will drive"
"Sorry" I repeated, feeling very British. "Errrrr, do you know, can I get any food around here?"
"My sister out back, she feed you" and she was gone.
I turned to find the elderly man from upstairs cowering behind me.
"Hello" I said.
"Hello" he replied, "I am a guest here too." He looked behind him nervously and then continued in a conspiratorial whisper "it is a very nice place"
Just then another, far friendlier, squirrelly face appearred at the back door.
"You want eat?" she called.
"Yes please! Hello, I'm Ja -"
"Come! Come! I made fish and vegetables, come!"
Apparently I was late for lunch too.
ToL: Methods and Success
22 hours ago