Wow. What a difference this past week has been.
Glorious things have happened. I am glad I last posted.
The night I was at my worst, the saddest and most discouraged is been for awhile, I was happily surprised to learn we were having 2 bands stay with us. From Finland! Wow! But they wouldn’t arrive until late. I sipped some vodka and talked with 2 of my friends that had been here at the hostel with me awhile. 2 Americans (one of them being my friend who was sleeping in the bunk above me, who, after talking with him these days, is now my best friend here) and an Australian. We talked of The shit show that America is. And how beautiful it can be. Of our travels. Our conquests. Our triumphs. Our failures. Of Australia and how no, not EVERYTHING is out to kill you.
Finally at 1:30 the doorbell rang. In came 6 scraggly, dirty long haired dudes. They stared at my leg. They pointed, “THAT’S THE GUITAR FROM STEEL PANTHER!!” They exclaimed. I greeted them with some of my vodka (I had half a bottle, between the 6 of them, their “welcome shots” cleared the bottle as they put the bottle to their lips and chugged) and a short tour of the hostel. They took turns heading to the shower and showing me their music videos. Shortly after, the other band came. Beer runs were made. Talks were had. Laughs were shared. Stories of snow and crazy ways to fill up the long, cold days of Finland. Stories of traveling with bands. I learned some Finnish. It was quite an experience being the only girl with 11 Finnish metal boys and 2 American boys. It was a bizarre experience. A night none of us would soon forget, staying up til dawn and exchanging beautiful, yet crazy conversations. Actually, 2 of them were Croatian, the driver and one of the band mangers. They told stories of growing up during the war in the Balkans.. Wow…
Anyway, the next day, their room was a shitshow to clean. Beer and vodka spilled everywhere. Empty bags of chips lay crumpled behind the beds with crumbs scattered everywhere. Something brown was smeared on the wall (they swore to me it was chocolate)…
I then utilize the Couchsurfing “hangout” app to find other lost travelers looking for friends.
The other day I took Daniel with me as we met up with 2 Germans. We were supposed to go to a beautiful park. It was the first lovely, sunny day after a string of rainy, gloomy days. As we talked in, of all places, Starbucks, we noticed a guy in the corner kinda looking our way occasionally. He seemed interested. I recognized that look. Of being an English speaker in a foreign land and you hear being spoken at the table next to you and you want so desperately to talk to them, but at the same time you’re just happy being able to understand. It turned out he was an American from Oregon and was just wandering the city. Still new. Never heard of Couchsurfing before. Perfect. We invited us into our group. Shortly after, we noticed a local Romanian on the app was available to hangout too. We had him meet us. And when he got there, we knew we were in for an adventure. He decided we were to get beers. The park was too far away for him. He was very amusing. Super funny. Quick with jokes, quips and comebacks. His sarcasm was on point. We all fell a little in love with this dude as he took us to some beautiful bars with tree branches as canopies in the courtyard so it felt like you were actually in a park. He recommended the best local beers. He took us to a restaurant so we could get done authentic Romanian food. By this time we were 12 people. It was glorious. Everyone chatting. Friendly banter. Teasing. Making fun of our countries or others. Australia. Germany. Egypt. Romania. America. We ended the night at a shisha bar. Ohhhh how I missed shisha. :))
I, again, was the only girl there and was delighted to be “one of the guys”. I adored it. But, By the end of the night they were all passing around pictures of girls they had slept with on their travels. It was cute at first but then they got a little crude and I decided it was time to get out of there.
I had had enough of guys talking of girls they wanted to sex. It happens more than a few times on this trip. “Send me some Ukrainian hookers.” “Asians are where it’s at man.” I tended to hang out with guys more often than not and listened a lot of this kind of talk. Sure, it’s a thing. Sure, it’s normal. But wow. I am certainly not hott. Not sexy. Or pretty. Little boobs. Big belly due to the scar that I hate so much…. The guys all talk with me about their ideal girls. Always physical characteristics. Or the favorite girls they’ve met. And it’s usually related to something sexual or physical. I realize how far from ideal I am in every sense of the word, but at least I can be “one of the guys”. But still. It leaves me cringing everytime I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Sure, I’ve had my share of guys say I’m beautiful, but it’s all from drunken old men on the streets who give me a wink and a nod and try to invite me nearer to them. Daniel said, at one point, “You’re a girl. You have boobs. Of course any guy near you will be willing to sex you.” Hmmmmkkk.
Anyway, I always come back by 11pm so the receptionist can go home. The past long while there were some Romanian opera singers. All of them 18-23. They would drink Rose wine and stick in their own group. One night they all piled into one of the rooms upstairs. They turned up their music. It was nearing midnight. There was a hospital next door that always complained or called the police if things got too loud. I trudged upstairs, hating to be the party pooper. But I politely asked them to keep it down. They apologized and promised. Ten minutes later, the music was even louder. This happened 4 times. Eventually Daniel and I heard the THUD THUD of people jumping above us. The chandeliers bounced above our heads. I looked at Daniel and begged him to come up with me. I reminded him that there were a bunch of Romanian girls up there too he could try to work his magic with them. He was about to go out clubbing, but agreed to come up with me for moral support. We climbed the stairs. We heard them jumping. Dancing. Laughing. Singing. I opened the door that led to the upstairs “chill out” area and saw them all having the time of their lives. As soon as they saw me, they scrambled into one of the rooms except two dudes. I reminded them to take it down a notch or three. One of the guys laughed and said I needed to lighten up a bit and needed some wine. He pressed a plastic cup of warm Rose wine in my hand. They laughed. I sighed. I was NOT uptight. I was NOT square. I wanted to defend myself, but instead complimented them on their singing. Their dancing. Sweet talked with them. The other dude was staring at me hardcore. Finally he asked what my story was as he poured me another glass of wine. Daniel stood nearby, trying to peek into the room to get a glimpse of the young Romanian opera singer girls who week huddled in the dark, giggling. I ended up befriending the two dudes and chatted with them for an hour. The girls all ended up going to bed after about 5 minutes of us talking (it WAS 2am after all..) and Daniel scurried out to catch the clubs, promising to tell me stories of his night (which, by the way, consisted of bumping night clubs, sexy dancers, failed attempts at talking to girls, hookers trying to kiss him for Money in dark alleyways and gypsy kids running about at 4am).
It turns out they were a big bunch of college kids participating in a festival/contest. There were students from different levels and a few teachers. The dude who was staring at me before was 19. Never smoked. Never kissed. Never been with a girl. The wine during this trip was his first and he only had a cup or two. The other guy was louder, more flamboyant. Animated. The next night I hung out with them too. And a couple others. I invited them down to the main hangout room. They played guitar and sang with their angel voices. I was impressed. After most everyone went to sleep but the 19 year old, one of the piano specialist and some other guy. We talked a bit of this and that. And the piano guy asked the 19 year old to translate for him. He was speaking English just fine before. He asked the poor kid to ask me if I would sex him. Or suck his dick. I was a bit disgusted. I apologized to the poor kid and headed off to sleep.
There are 2 older guys here. One is Australian. One is Romanian. They are loud. They are big. They take over the room they are in. They demand things from us. They have been here since I got here. But I’ve friended them too. In fact, the other night they invited me to dine with them. They had fresh tomatoes and some of the most delicious cheese I’ve ever tasted. They talked of their travels. Setting up businesses. Of Australia.
The other night the Australian had a diabetic seizure. His friend brought him to the main room. It was 5 in the morning. I could tell the friend was agitated at being woken up. The friend was contorting. Screeching. I opened the front gates of the alley so the ambulance could come through. It turned out his insulin was at 45. He was confused. I sat down next to him and held his hand. His eyes slowly focused. I was gentle. I spoke softly and firmly that he needed to answer the questions or they would take him to the hospital. He had said he didn’t want to. Adamantly refused. Slowly he came back. He looked so sad. So ashamed. So tired. He just wanted to sleep. I told the other guy to get some sleep. I let the other guy eat the rest of my Chinese food. And the chocolate I had saved to help get his sugar levels back up. We talked until dawn. He is a sweet man. I didn’t mind staying up to help him. 🙂
There are always beautiful talks with beautiful strangers to be had at hostels.
Everything happens for a reason.
And I think I’m slowly finding my reason to be here.
More to come….