We left Buenos Aires on December 23rd and its been a bit of a whirl-wind since then. We've stayed in six different locations in 12 days. Here's how it went:
We took a three hour ferry ride from BA, across Rio de la Plata to La Colonia, Uruguay (the cutest and oldest town in Uruguay- I HIGHLY recommend making the trek if you plan to visit Buenos Aires) where we stayed one night in our very first hostel. I was smitten the moment we walked inside the hostel as it was all open air with a beautiful, comfortable design- big lounge beds, cute dining tables, hammocks and a Boxer puppy that quickly became my bestie. We booked a private room with a nice big bed instead of the typical shared room with 4+ strangers sleeping in bunk beds. That night we met wonderful people, shared mate, wine and pineapple. I could have stayed there forever, but we were on our way again the next morning.
We had a two hour bus ride to Montevideo, Uruguay and checked into another hostel. This hostel was slightly more rugged, but bustling with chill travelers, great communal areas to hang and we had a private room again, so we were content. We spent two nights there and had an absolute riot with our hostel-mates and some friends that we met in Sao Paulo. Christmas Eve six of us drank all day and were meant to go to a huge outdoor party on the beach at night, but we got lost instead and ended up wandering the streets and beaches with beers in hand (legal here), lighting off bottle rockets as we walked (also legal) and watched massive firework shows from all angles (obviously legal) for literally 6 hours (shouldn't be legal- insert angry emoji face) as we tried to find a cab. In whole, the night was a complete shit-show, but we laughed the entire time and it will easily go down in history as both of our most bizarre Christmas' ever.
On the 26th we took a four hour bus to La Paloma, Uruguay where we planned to stay through New Years Eve. La Paloma is known as a casual, little surfing town, so we were excited. The hostel we stayed at is tough to describe as the looks of it were nice, but the staff was very odd and always "creeping around" (as my friends from home would say, Hi girls- miss you!). They didn't do anything especially disturbing, but a lot of little things basically all of the time. For example: in a matter of two hours the following took place: we were drinking on the patio, they helped themselves to our booze (we didn't care, it was just odd), my sunglasses were sitting in front of me on the table, one worker sat next to me, tried them on and very seriously asked me if he could have them. They stood over our shoulder while we cooked in the kitchen and we made a run to the store one asked us to buy him three packs of cigarettes and pop with no offer to pay for it. They walked right into our bedroom when the door was left slightly ajar for a moment. NONE of these things are necessarily bad, but altogether it was simply strange! We decided to cut our stay short and meet some friends in Punta Del Diablo on the 29th through Jan 2nd. We hitched a ride there from some guys we met at the hostel. Thanks again Chico and Fabrizio!!
Punta Del Diablo, one of my favorite destinations so far. It's an old fishing town with a slow, hippie, youthful and eclectic vibe. We heard the night life was fun and it being NYE week, there were going to be a lot of people visiting the itty bitty town from the surrounding cities. We were STOKED. Since we booked accommodations last minute we had to stay in a hostel that was a twenty minute walk from the beach and thirty minutes from town AND we had to book a shared room. No biggie, I shared a room with my sister for a while and Andrew shared with his bro...we can totally handle this. We checked in then took a tour of the massive hostel, which looked pretty damn lovely. There's a restaurant, bar, pool and a bunch of other fun amenities. Three twin-size bunk bed stacks in our room with a slider door to the pool/bar area with a huge stage where a reggae band was jamming in the sunshine. We thought this hostel had everything we wanted and then some... Turns out we were horribly mistaken.
I could seriously write a book about the following days, but instead I'm going to give you the most whiny, complainy PG-13 rated cliff notes. Please understand that no one, two or three (maybe four or five depending on the combination) events I'm about to list would have been totally manageable, but the collaboration of everything at once was honestly my personal hell.
(1) The hostel's wifi and phones being out of service from the moment we got there- this isn't great for work purposes, but we made do.
(2) There were spiders and cockroaches the size of my palm camouflaged in unexpected areas.
(3) A mystery bug that nibbled at basically every inch of me (even my lip that grew to THIS size) was starting to drive me mental. I was slapping at my body at least three times a minute out of pure reflex.
(4) The food at the hostel was barely edible and none of the appliances in the kitchen worked, so we couldn't keep food. The closest restaurant was a 45 min walk away. Remember, the phones were out, so we couldn't call taxis.
(5) Showering was counter productive and I won't tell you why.
(6) Our room filled-up with two groups of two girls (poor Andrew) who were super rude (poor me). They didn't speak any English, but they apparently mastered the art of the silent bitch.
(7) So, we knew the hostel used to be a club, but we didn't know it still IS a club and the ONLY late-night club in PdD. Every night, every human under the age of 30 came to our hostel/club. We like to party, so it was fine with us for the first few hours, but we completely forgot that nobody, in all of the places we've been in South America so far, stops partying until after the sun comes up (Seriously, WTF people, it's 7am?!).
(8) Remember when I said we had a sliding door that went to the pool/outdoor bar area? Well, that means the party was immediately outside our door.
(9) Did I mention that none of the doors lock on any of the hostel rooms? This means anyone from the party could pop in at any moment and they did at all moments.
(10) WE (as in, not just me) were so afraid of what could happen in the night that instead of sleeping in our own toddler size beds, we slept in one toddler size bed together.
(11) I know I said there was a stage outside, did I say that they blast a mix of music from the early 2000's and Brazilian Samba from 1AM until 9AM?
(12) The worst part of the entire stay was the people staying at the hostel. Every one of them was under the age of 22, out of their minds on drugs and complete and utter idiots. When we were forced to interact with the tool bags, they called us "New York" and wanted to practice their English with us. This would have been totally fine if they weren't always so wasted that they sounded like their tongues were too big for their mouths. The boys were incredibly inappropriate every time Andrew turned his head and the girls had very high pitched voices and they squealed a lot. I think this goes without saying, but this hostel was a disturbing cross between MTV Spring Breakers and a drug riddled child-rave that never seemed to end.
(13) Last, but not least... the whole affair made me feel so old and grumpy and as though we can't hang anymore. This is devastating to my ego, which really pisses me off more than anything else.
I just want to mention that this experience will by no means prevent us from hosteling again. I mean, everyone knows there's nothing glamorous about hostels, BUT apart from a few exceptions, there is really no other accommodation in the world that properly treats you like family, where fellow travelers talk to you with genuine interest, trust you for no apparent reason and share what little they have without expecting anything in return than a hostel. There's some magic in that sense of community that we really love and can't wait to experience in Africa.