Over 50, Still Kickin'

A slightly skewed perspective on life in The Middle Ages

Lee Ann Rubsam

The Peru Chronicles

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The Hostel Takeover

No, I didn't get that title wrong. Yes, I know the difference between hostile and hostel, although a couple of things about the hostel were a little hostile.

Our missions team leaders decided we needed a day of R & R, so they took us to an oceanside town. Instead of staying at a hotel, we stayed at a hostel. There are lots of these in Peru, but it was my first experience with this interesting type of accommodation. For most of the people in our group, the stay was no different than it was at the hotels, but Paul and I had the misfortune to be at the very bottom of the list for getting a room. By the time they got us quarters, all the regular rooms were filled. All that was left was a room with no bathroom. The bathroom was next door. The hostel management said someone would be checking out of a spacious room with a bathroom in the evening. We would just have the nonbathroom quarters during the day, and then they would shift us into the good place in the evening. This was fine. We cope well.

They took us to our room. So far so good. No sleeping mats on the floor, just three bunkbeds. They assured us the bathroom next door was for our private use. Fine. It was quite dirty, but we were going to get a new room in the evening, so we were good.

I was not feeling quite up to snuff, so I stayed back from the sightseeing tour scheduled for the afternoon. It gave me time to pray in my little bunkbed room. However, there was no curtain on the window. I was open prey to the curious. A number of boys kept wandering back and forth in front of the curtainless window. They seemed to feel compelled to check out what was going on in the room each time. Now, I was not doing anything that I wouldn't want the world to know about -- just having a time of prayer. But it was distracting to have people staring at me. One guy decided to stand in front of the window and just look for a bit. I interrupted his observations. "Excuse ME???!!!!" He moved on. Just kids.

On to the "private" bathroom next door. Not private. Other folks using it at will. Not a big deal yet. The door on it did not quite completely shut. I had visions of, if we did not get the promised spacious room in the evening, Paul having to stand guard outside the door while I took my shower in the morning. I did not really enjoy the prospect of shuffling through the courtyard in my pajamas in the morning, either. Did I mention that there was no toilet seat in this bathroom? Toilets sans seats are common in Peru. You just learn to manage without.

The spacious room never showed up in the evening. Didn't I suspect this would happen? We were given a choice of staying where we were, or moving to another room, which still did not have its own bathroom. It was a ... hostel situation. We inspected the alternate sleeping arrangement. The bathroom was cleaner, although filled with other people's toiletries and ... underwear. But the bedroom did not have a window for the world to look in at. Cleaner bathroom, no window on the world -- two mighty big advantages. We opted for the change in location. Never mind that now we were down from three bunks to one twin bed to be shared by the two of us.

I decided something must be done about the underwear strewn all over the bathroom, so I struck up an acquaintance with the people from the other two rooms sharing the bathroom with us. They spoke English. They were U.S. people, I think. I kindly asked them if they could remove the clothing items and washcloths out of the shower just until morning. We would be up very early, get our stuff done, and be out of their hair in no time. They agreed ... but they did not comply. The underwear and other items stayed in the bathroom and in the shower. Oh, well.

Someone among them did not understand that in Peru, the toilet paper does not go in the toilet, but in the wastebasket. The toilet was plugged. This was commencing to look serious. Paul asked if I thought he should contact the manager and see about getting that toilet unplugged. G-o-o-d idea, Paul!

We got the toilet unplugged. Now if we could just get our hostel neighbors unplugged! They ran through the hall, shrieking and laughing, long after we had gone to bed. They were having a good time. Minor detail. We would be out of here in the morning.

We survived sharing the bathroom, but just barely. It wasn't a pretty situation. I will not tell you what strange things happened in that bathroom. Only my family will ever know what I found in there. Let's just say that people who have never been educated in hygiene beyond the caveman level should live in a sty.

I was beginning to feel ... hostile.

The toilet was again plugged in the morning. More toilet paper where it should not have gone. We did not contact the manager. By this time, we were hearing from our other team members that toilets were plugging up all over the hostel.

Time to get on the bus!

© Copyright 2007 by Lee Ann Rubsam. All rights reserved.

On the Serious Side

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