Well, I can finally check something off my bucket list--staying in a hostel. Besides walking into my room and being welcomed to the sounds of a man masturbating (there is simply no way that a man could sound that happy when he was taking a nap), the trip has been just lovely. I've met and made friends from Germany, Alaska, Oregon and Illinois, and almost every person surrounding me has some story--running away from home, backpacking across the coast, just getting by, going on an epic journey...I can certainly say this is a very, very unique place.
You sleep in a room with 5 other people. There are three sets of bunk beds, and beneath the bottom bunk is a locked case for you to store your belongings. Surrounding your bed are curtains so that you can sleep with a little privacy (although in terms of my jerking off bunk buddy, it simply does not provide complete privacy). There are private showers on each floor which are first come, first serve. So far no trouble.
As I write this I am staring out the window at the iconic Public Market Center. This hostel is right in the center of it all. They provide breakfast, which was a welcome surprise, but there is a catch--you have to cook it. They provide the bread, the eggs, the pancake mix...but from there you are on your own.
Some of the renters work here to live here. They cannot afford to pay the cost of the stay, so instead they help out with odds and ends in order to make the rent. They cleanup the bathrooms, prepare the breakfast area, clean the different dorms...it was a very peculiar addition to this hostel experience I had not expected. Essentially, because of the ample amounts of free food they provide, you could theoretically continue to work here just to sleep here for one more day. It's like a modern day form of indentured slavery, or at worst high-end, glorified poverty.
They provide daily activities--today is a tour of all the famous dead musicians graves--and they do everything they can to create a fun and friendly atmosphere. The spin is that you can embrace this and make new friends from all over the world, or you can stay to your lonesome self and not say a word. It is entirely up to you.
I'm reminded that I am in a global city because of the computer I am on. They are courteous enough to provide free internet and even free computers, but even here there is a catch--it's a French keypad. If you go through this blog update, every single apostrophe (') has been cut and pasted into this document. I have no idea how to locate it on this keyboard, and frankly I just gave up looking!
The journey thus far has been fun, exciting, challenging and filled with the unexpected. I'll be sure to continue with the updates as the myriad stories find their way to filter in.