The Hostel Experience

Practically everyone I know would hate the hostels I stay at. Most of them are pretty much dumps but the thing that makes them enjoyable, besides the fact that they’re cheaper by at least half than hotels, is the variety of people who patronize them. They’re especially popular with the young back packer set, but others stay as well. In hotels you really don’t get the opportunity to meet and interact with the other guests the same way you do staying in a hostel.

Last night the crowd here in David threw a barbecue. When the fish monger (great word, monger) came to the restaurant across the street some of the guests here went over and bought four beautiful, corvinas (sea bass) for less than five dollars a piece. They also went out and bought steaks, chicken and corn on the cob and then cooked it on the huge grill near the swimming pool. It was a United Nations of hostel stayers ranging in age from their early 20s to myself in my late 60s with some 40s and 50s mixed in. There were people from the States, Poland, Austria, Australia, China, Panama, Argentina, Costa Rica and Slovenia.

One of the three Gringos was a Chinese guy from Toronto who lives and works in Springfield, Mass. He was riding his BICYCLE through Panama with a final destination of Texas. Robert is 41 years old and has cycled in a lot of countries, including Pakistan (which he said was the worst place) France, Spain and England. He’s cycled across Canada and the U.S. from coast to coast and his ultimate goal is to be able to say he’s biked around the world.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Hostel Experience

  1. People like your bicycle rider amaze me. I always wonder, “How do they finance such a thing?” Probably with better career choices than I made, actually. Or more portable skills.

    In any event, I’m with you on the hostel experience. My first encounter with such wasn’t really a hostel, but the Chicago YMCA. It was aeons ago – 40 years – and it was Thanksgiving. His family said, “Of course you will be with us.” My family said, “Of course you will be with us.” We said, “No, actually – we just decided we’re going to Chicago.”

    We stayed at the Y and had Thanksgiving dinner in a Greek restaurant where it might have been that Chinese restaurant scene from “A Christmas Story”. Some of our new friends from the Y went with us, and I encountered ouzo for the first time.

    Best danged Thanksgiving ever!

    I guess on of the ways Robert was financing this trip, and I suppose his others, too, was living as cheaply as possible. He carries a tent and pitched it out in the garden area of the hostel which was even cheaper than staying in the dorm…$5 vs $8 in the dorm. I opt for a private room with a shared bath and a/c for $25. And, of course, he’s not paying for gasoline. I filled the tank of my rented Hyundai Elantra after driving from Panama City and driving around the area for several days with $3.21/gallon “petrol.” So Robert’s expenses are minimal and he’s leaving a small footprint. More power to him.