Even in Hawaii, a Hostile Hostel is Still Horrible
This is an excerpt from Pet Sitting in Paradise. I will be posting them occasionally, but you can find it on Amazon if you must know what happens. At this point, I'm pretty sure it's free. : ) I'm not kidding, it's free.
As we approached Waikiki on the way to the hostel, I saw beautiful stores like Coach, Hermes, Tiffany, and The Cheesecake Factory. The streets were filled with happy-looking tourists all indulging in too much food and sun. The cab continued down Kalakaua Avenue then made a turn down a tiny side street called Lemon Road. As soon as we made that turn, the sun disappeared as well as the happy tourists I saw moments ago. The cab driver parked on the side of the road and we exchanged cab fare for my luggage. With a puzzled look on his face, the cab driver asked, "Dis where you stay? Dis hostel?" I said "Yep, dis where I stay. Before I can even say thank you, he hopped back in his cab and said, "I pray for you." I didn't think much about him saying that, I just assumed it was a traditional Hawaiian salutation. I had images in my head of European hostels where backpackers stop for rest and develop friendships that last a lifetime. I would soon learn this notion couldn't be further from the truth. The hostel itself was a rundown five-story building in desperate need of a power wash. Towels and bathing suits were lying over each guest's balcony that was visible from the front of the hostel. Every few feet on the ground there were wayward bikini bottoms that had defected from the balcony. Even though the hostel was only two blocks away from central Waikiki it might have well been a universe between the main street and where I stood.
When I checked into the hostel the desk attendant asked to see my return ticket. I thought that was completely bizarre and said, "I just got here." He explained that it was against policy to book a room for anyone who doesn't have a return ticket. When I told him I didn't remember seeing this policy on their website he gave me stink-eye but agreed to check me in for a week. However, he explained that I might be asked to move next door at the end of the seven days. I asked what was next door and was told it was another hostel whose owner accepts guests without return tickets but with communicable diseases. He continued "If that's a problem for you then you can go next door to them." I admitted, "OK, I give up what's next to the hostel that is next to yours?" He explained "Another hostel, but you don't book a room, you just sleep where you can." I asked as long as guests are paying their bills why couldn't they stay as long as they wanted? His response was sobering "People dream of moving to Hawaii and after they realize how difficult a move it really is, they get stuck." I would think that getting stuck would mean more money for the hostel, but the money wasn't the issue. He continued "They might not find a job because they're over-qualified If they find a job in their field, maybe they didn't realize their salary would be half of what it was on the mainland, but their cost of living will double. They take the job in their field because it's steady but can't afford to collect a deposit on an apartment. Eventually, they become miserable, start drinking, and then get fired. They end up working for us, which means changing sheets and cleaning toilets in exchange for a room. At some point, everyone becomes belligerent, exhausted, and resentful. Then they phone a relative for the money to get back home. While that plays itself out we don't want your sorry ass sticking around all day causing problems." I thanked him for his vote of confidence and explained that I'm not a quitter. As I walked away I heard him mutter "You will quit."
The most economical room choice was co-ed with a shared bathroom and two sets of bunk beds. As I schlepped my bags up the stairs, I began to recall the stress I experienced when checking into a college hoping my roommate didn't have two heads and webbed toes. Teaming with giant beads of sweat I entered the room and was happy to see it was empty. I checked out the bathroom, which was totally filthy and came complete with stained porn magazines under the sink. After using the restroom and washing my hands with scalding water, I lied down on the one empty bed and fell asleep immediately.
I awoke several hours later to a horrendous screeching noise. I flopped over in bed to see a perfectly normal-looking girl duct-taping her valuables to her chest while getting ready for bed. She looked like a suicide bomber but instead of a weapon made of nails, hers was made from cigarettes, gum, and loose change. When I realized she was protecting her valuables from thieves I contemplated taping my prized tweezers to my chest.
I stayed awake all night scared of noises from outside and the duct-tape girl. Every two hours I would hear the sound of glass bottles being smashed to the ground. There was also the constant noise being created from hostel guests walking up and down the hall. It was like I was surrounded by vampires, but not as good-looking. I gave up on sleep at 6 am and began to forage for food. A nice breakfast of piping hot coffee and a perfectly flaky croissant would hit the spot. When I couldn't find the dining hall I woke up the desk clerk who must have replaced Mr. Positive and asked where the continental breakfast was served. He lifted his head only high enough to pull his arms out from underneath him and pointed to a corner. There I found a card table, a filthy toaster, moldy bread, and two-day-old-coffee.
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