December 27, 2005
The last few days, I have been getting sick of my hostel. It's run by a German family, and everything is so strict, it's almost impossible to relax. There are signs absolutely everywhere telling you what you should and should not do. "Always wash your dishes right after eating." "Put your food in the container corresponding to your room." "Don't drink anything at the computer." "Never get water on the bathroom floor." The place is spotless, but I'm backpacking. A little uncleanliness has become a part of my life, and the hostel is taking all of the fun away with all of these rules.
Aside from the rules, the lack of atmosphere is getting to me. There aren't any decorations anywhere in the hostel other than the "Do-This-Don't-Do-That" signs. There aren't any pictures, posters, artifacts, vases, nothing. There aren't even any Christmas decorations, including a tree! You wouldn't even know it was Christmas other than all of the people staying there cooking big meals. The place is so sterile, it feels like I'm staying in a hospital.
I knew that I had had enough last night when I put a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes on the ground for the cat to eat. I could hear the owner coming from a mile away, but I didn't even care enough to take the bowl away before she saw it. Having so many rules just makes me want to break them. "This is not possible, you must not do this," the owner said. Christmas was the only thing that kept me there, and now that it has come and gone, I am happy to leave.
I chose to cross over to Argentina because the roads there are better, it's cheaper, and there is a city nearby called Bariloche that I thought would be a fun place to stay for New Years. I jumped on a bus out of town very early in the morning. It was the worst bus ride I've experienced since Bolivia. I got stuck sitting right next to the bathroom in the back, so it was loud, smelly, and bumpy. The entire bus was littered with babies that never stopped screaming. Crossing the border took forever because another bus had gotten there just before us, so we had to wait for them to get inspected first. The ride was supposed to take six hours, but it ended up being eight.
Luckily, I was able to find a nice hostel once I got into town. It looks like the people here will be fun, and it's a lot cheaper than Chile. I think I'll stay here through New Years. The holidays have forced me to slow down a lot because I have had to find decent places that still had room. Slowing down is not necessarily a bad thing, though. It's still tough for me to relax for more than a day or so, but I'm slowly learning.