El Hostel

What do you get when you mix 20 strangers, bottles of Malbec and Quilmes, the faint smell of cigarettes and our good friend Mary Jane, communal bedrooms and bathrooms and foosball? You got it: a hostel.

Hostel living is not for the faint of heart. If you aren’t comfortable with sharing a bedroom (and, like, everything else) with strangers, then stay away. However, if you’re into the adventure that is attempting to climb into a rickety bunk bed in the pitch black without waking up the entire room, then please, go for it. I was skeptical of the whole hostel thing in the beginning, but then a Guatemalan made me some pasta and poured me a glass of red wine, and the skepticism was gone along with any fear of not making friends.

Here at Hostel Palenque, which sits on the busy Avenida General Paz next to a tiny supermarket and a pizzeria, there is always the buzz of noise: conversations in foreign languages, the 90’s rock music that seems to always be playing and someone’s shower singing drifting through the hallway. This is the soundtrack of hostel living, and I love it.

Every day begins with toast, dulce de leche and a mug of steaming yerba mate, and every day ends with a $2.00 bottle of cabernet sauvignon and a large plate of pasta or milanesa. The in-between is complete with trips to buy the hats and scarves necessary for a Córdoban winter, fruitless expeditions in search of a place to exchange money, mix-ups while undertaking the city’s bus system and late-night futbol watching. Despite the obstacles or the frustrations, such as popping Pepto Bismol like candy when the inevitable occurs (American girl + South American water= doom), I always look forward to coming home to the hostel, which is an experience in and of itself.

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