Near the Old Man of Storr, Scotland I took this in 2004

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hostelling, Oh Joy OR: The Lessons You'll Learn

So, I did get to backpack during my trip. I use the verb "get" because I wanted to, initially, mainly because it had been such a time since last I had. But dear god, was I shocked/disappointed/straight grossed out.

The hostel was awful. My sheets, in the all-female dorm I asked for, were filthy, I wore socks. Until I started to boil.

I got locked out of my dorm a few times, and were it not for a kindly, and awake at like 3 in the morning, French guy , who was there with his friend, I would've stayed locked out, at least for a lot longer than without his help.

The guy and his friend were sitting outside my room on a bench, and when I got back to my door,( I had gone to the loo) the stupid garbage I had put between it to keep it open, (cuz the key was shit,) had moved, and the door was locked and I was keyless!

Can you imagine returning to your room, at 3 in the morning to find the door locked?

When I noticed, I panicked and cussed, audibly, enough so that the same guys turned to ask what was wrong. I explained, and in unison they responded to my dilemma with, "Oh shit!"
My sentiments exactly.

So, the French guy said casually to me, "Just knock." He continued, " Knock loud." He could see that clearly I felt nervous about doing this. So he offered, "Do you want me to do it for you?"
I was grateful for the help. I didn't feel like making any enemies at such an hour,
and I guess, more than that, I felt meek, as most women tend toward feeling/acting/behaving due to our idiotic social conditioning to always be "sweet", etc.

But then this random French man reminded me of something important; this is why I love travelling, the things you learn from the oddest people, in the weirdest of ways. He said, as he began to knock and knock and knock, on my behalf, " You have to knock hard. People are lazy and don't want to get up. Keep knocking. Who cares if you wake them up. You will never have to live with these people again." And with that little gem, one of the girls who I had befriended came to finally open the door.
I thanked him, and slipped inside.

That moment reminded me to take my place more fully. It's odd the things that can remind us of things; teach us certain helpful lessons. But it did. It reminded me to not be meek, quiet and demure. But, instead to knock loudly, rudely, aggressively, assertively, and most of all, persistently. This isn't just about a locked door at a hostel, but for all things in life. Though the metaphor of a locked door seemed perfectly apt.

It was supposed to be a "hippy" hostel, but all that really translated into was filthy, edgy, and none too friendly, save for the odd kindly stranger, like the French guy.
Everyone was too "busy" to notice things like the fauna and flora and the sky.
All they wanted to do was call their damn boyfriends, or pretend that they were hard-core travellers cuz they were in Australia, whoot! But none could identify even one bird song, let alone the birds themselves.

I could though, identify the songs and the birds. And though I had such a dismal time at my hostel, I enjoyed the beauty of the land, it's differentness, it's newness for me.

And the help of that French stranger and another French woman in my dorm, who kindly put her phone alarm on for me cuz my phone was about to die, made me feel connected, and less alone.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos in flight

a beach at Byron Bay


  1. Ah yes, the ever present "be a lady" sentiment. Reminds me of a time a few years back I stopped at a gas station and there was this teen boy looking very upset at a flat tire he had. I thought about not doing this, but I gathered my nerve and asked "Do you need help changing your tire? I know how to do it" He looked at me like I was nuts and seemed to be trying to decide if he should let me help him with such a manly thing, but he said "Yes if you can" So we changed his tire, he was so grateful. It made me feel good, my good deed and my being balls-y enough to be a little tom boy

  2. Let's change the word balls-y to something better, say, strong, just that. Or what about using the phrase, to have enough chutzpah, or exchanging it with persistent and assertive.

  3. I was wondering how to spell chutzpah lol I saw this shirt that made me laugh, it said "If I had Balls, they'd be bigger than yours" lol Strong is always very good too. After all, all women are strong,thats why we have the babies, men can't handle the pain

  4. I completely agree, about the strength thing, and chutzpah is a funny word, hey? like yarmulkah, but you pronounce it "yammaka"( which is Yiddish) and Kipah, which is the Hebrew word for the same thing. And just so I don't assume you do know, a yarmulkah or kipah is the head covering worn by Orthodox Jewish people, even some women, like cool female rabbis.