Somewhere this, elsewhere that

2021-12-21 @Travel

A month or two back I coincided with a couple of travelers as we migrated between the same two hostels across two coastal towns of Jalisco. Upon our second encounter, in bland effort to break the ice (none of us too loquacious), I asked how they found the experience of the prior hostel.

Curiously, our perceptions couldn’t have further deviated. They found it dismal, incredibly dirty, worth a ‘one-star commentary’. I, in turn, found it pleasant, fun, one of the more inspiring stays as of late, something easily deserving of at least 4.5 stars out of 5.

Such shocking discrepancies occur all the time, mostly due to varied expectations. As for me, having transitioned between tons of rooms, apartments, guesthouses, hostel dorms, and even Couchsurfing type lodgings over the years, and much over the recent months, my expectations as a nomad have sunk fairly low.

I’ve often come to not even see the dirt, the disarray, the dust, the dampness. Or if I see it, I don’t perceive it as but something ephemeral not worth prolonged focus. I don’t mind it. And if I mind it, I’ve got deeper problems.

I guess it’s slightly more complex. If I’m the sole or one of the very few occupants, I inherently feel a significant part of the responsibility for cleanliness and tidiness, in which case I try to maintain my minimal standard.

But in a grander establishment scaled for larger groups of transitory beings, I inevitably expect the mechanism to self manage, either by the designated personnel or through enough distributed labor among the occupants.

It’s a jungle. Most establishments I’ve hopped through over the preceding months: the rustic, the bohemian, that random hostel, I consider precisely the jungle, wherein I hardly adhere to the expectations of a clean, few-occupant private dwelling.

It’s all fair game: the bathroom of peeled walls and rust, spotted concrete, cracked mirror, dim lighting, poor tiling, soiled counters, thick films of dust … none of it is a big deal, not when transitory, not with lots of occupants, not with the condition self-perpetuating and self-mitigating.

Somewhere a solar panel, Somewhere a furnace, Somewhere a cold shower stream. Somewhere the hot and cold reverse positions. Somewhere clockwise, elsewhere counter. Somewhere a water shortage. Somewhere damp, dewy, dim, Somewhere lit and merry. Somewhere the fumes of weed and cigarettes. Somewhere gas burners, somewhere electric, Somewhere a single-burner contraption. Somewhere the forsaken microwave. Somewhere heaps of cutlery, plates, bowls, pots, skillets and cute coffee cups. Somewhere a pair of forks and spoons. And one barely usable knife. Somewhere silence. Somewhere shouts, television and music, Accompanied by traffic, door smashes, barking and farm animals. Somewhere the lounge chairs, hammocks, sofas, posh writing desks, and wine bottles with protruding plant growth. Elsewhere a plastic table and a few shit chairs. Somewhere a glass door for all to marvel, With one barely functioning flimsy lock. Elsewhere a three-lock gate demanding six key turns. Somewhere, a bedroom window. And even a bathroom window. Elsewhere, a murky cavern. Somewhere a drip coffee maker .. a French Press. Or an Italian Moca. Elsewhere, just the boiling pot. Somewhere eclectic bookshelves. Sometimes quality books for exchange. Elsewhere, not a single bloody magazine. Towels usually included. Sometimes for rent. Torn, with or without stains.

Questions, comments? Connect.