the hostel experience
03/03/2010 § 1 Comment
I have come to the conclusion that staying in hostels is a bizarre experience. You meet so many people, lives are joined for mere moments, and then gone with a swift, brisk, Patagonian breeze.
At the end of each hostel-stay, I would say my goodbyes to some, hug a few and make plans with a couple of new acquaintances to see them again. In the end, I knew, most of these people , people I had biked 25 kms of mountainous range with, people that were lost with me in the forest, people who I shared fresh trout from a grill with, I would never see again.
You learn rather quickly, whether you are a traveled hosteler or not, who is going to become a friend, who is going to be a riot to hang out with, and who is not even worth the effort. Perhaps it is for this reason that when you introduce yourself to some people, you can’t get a word in edgewise. They go on and on about their own travels and their fucked up pasts. It can become a little awkward at times when a middle-aged woman latches onto an unrelated conversation and wallows in self-pity about her lack of relationship with her mother. It’s times like these you excuse yourself by saying, “Hold that thought, I just really gotta pee” and sneaking up the stairs to your room. I have no shame in sharing this tactic with you.
Nevertheless, despite repeated introductions, awkward silences and continental breakfasts, it was a really interestingly good time. I would do it again (2 week maximum with long intervals in between) and recommend that one goes in with no attachments to anything, including a delicious Mantecol candy-bar (mashed up peanuts) that got jacked from my food-cubby. ( Of all the things to take, iPod, passport, money, they stole my candy-bar.)
Another suggestion is to not hope for friends, rather travel-buds. Don’t go in thinking you are going great nor idiotic people. In the end, they are just people that can provide companionship on your next leg of a trip. Surprisingly, the more removed you are, the less eager you are to latch onto people, the more people want to hang out with you because you will ask for no strings, no BFF, no dependency.
Needless to say, I did meet some really cool people who I have already made plans to hang out with later this week. Some still message me, congratulating me being a Canadian and the beautiful gold-medal we won against the American hockey-team, and some give me quick one-liners, letting me know they are thinking of me.
So, there it is. My first, solo hostel experience. Check.