The house in which we’ll be living while here in San Diego was not available to us the first week of our stay. For this very first week, we decided to stay at a hostel downtown – so we could explore the city. In choosing, we picked one that had single rooms, was decently priced and had okay reviews. It even said on their booking site that ‘an international passport or other proof that you’re an actual traveler is needed to check in’. We figured there’d be a random mix of backpackers and other young budget travellers – a crowd I enjoy.
We were wrong.
At first it seemed pretty chill. Quiet, laid back and no worries. The roof patio was nice and they closed it at 10pm so we could sleep without too much noises. I did find it slightly odd that my private room was in fact a 4-bed room which only I had access to, but deemed it simply as bonus space where I could store my stuff.
Pretty soon, though, we started noticing things. Odd stuff. Like the morning when there was a new sign in the kitchen telling everyone not to steal dishwashing liquid to use for laundry. Or the fact that the main entrance had a small lock-box with the key, with the code 1234 – and with that code usually being the one it was set to, so it could be opened directly. Or the white-haired, older man who asked me if I was available for becoming one of his many girlfriends two minutes into the first conversation with him – “They all know about each other, don’t worry!”. Or that evening where one of the guest were doing an in-the-name-of-jesus-christ healing in the hallway. Or the guy always wearing blue sunglasses indoors. In short, we started realizing that this crowd was maybe not exactly the international economy traveller crowd that we had been expecting. By that time we had however paid for the full week, so we decided to stick around. There were definitely moments where we regretted this decision – like when someone almost knocked my door down way past midnight – but now that we look back on it, it was a pretty entertaining week.
First and foremost, there’s Bob. Now, Bob is a good fella. He’s friendly and polite and introduces everyone to each other, which is always a good quality to have! He works with introducing two-hand tennis to wheelchair users in the ghettos of New Jersey to avoid gang related crime. Or something along those lines, I honestly did not catch all the details. Bob is the focal point of the house, where the party always is. Several days, he greeted us warmly with “I’ve made pasta with broccoli! Come have some! I’m getting pretty good with my Italian spices!”. He had a small motorcycle that he’d apparently ridden 4000 miles across the US. He kept walking around with this double handed tennis racket he was trying to sell (?) to people. And, as before mentioned, he politely asked whether I was available to join his group of girlfriends. I politely declined.
Then there’s the Finnish guy who’s sick and tired of life. I never caught his name. He left Finland – he just had to leave everything and everyone. Then the plane company lost half his luggage. He was eating jam out of a jar at the kitchen table, talking about how Bob was going to help him sue them, and that Bob would also get him a job maybe. If not, he would just go to Mexico. Just go. Whatever. Mexico.
Then there’s the girl with the ukulele. Now, she is a pretty big girl. The ukulele is a pretty small instrument. She is adorable with that little backpack on, venturing out to her next free gig (“I should ask them to start paying me!”). The first time we met her, she was in the living room at the common computer. She asked if she could put on a song – I had no problems with that. However, when the song had gone on repeat 6 times, and she had been singing along trying semi-sucessfully to learn the lyrics and the melody, and she repeated the venture with a second song, and then a third, before venturing over to try to learn the New Zealand national anthem… I will admit a hint (okay, maybe a little more…) of annoyance. But, she was always so loving and friendly. You’d have to forgive her.
Then there’s the guy in the security guard uniform. Now, I don’t think he actually was a security guard – at least not at the hostel. But he wore it every time I saw him that whole week. When he was not ironing his shirt on a bench in the hallway, that is. He was even wearing it when performing the before-mentioned and seemingly very powerful jesus-christ-healing, in the very same hallway.
There was apparently a weightlifting guy in one of the rooms too. I never saw him, only heard and felt an occasional shake of the building whenever he for some reason would drop his weights on the floor of his room on second floor. Always made my heart jump, considering we are in an earthquake region.
The guy with the blue shades I’ve already talked about. One of Bob’s girlfriends (?) living at the hostel had a little too much pink makeup for what I would personally consider pretty, but then again I hardly ever wear makeup so what do I know. The guy who seemed to run the place was friendly, though he looked and behaved like a shy 15-year old and I never had more than a one-syllable conversation with him.
The Texan who always greeted me with “Hey girl”, and the surfer dude with curly hair both worked in the reception, and the weird part about it was that they actually seemed pretty normal, which was disconcerting as they had been spending weeks at the hostel. I honestly think you’d need to be a little odd to spend a substantial amount of time there.
Then again, maybe they had their legitimate reasons, and they are sitting right now, writing a blog post about all these funny characters at a small hostel in San Diego, remembering these two weird people from Sweden, who seemed decently normal but must have been completely quirky for wanting to stay more than just a night or to at this oddball hostel.
We were at IKEA to buy some furniture the day of moving out of the hostel. We were jokingly discussing how much we were going to miss “Bob and the gang”, and his pasta with broccoli. Just as we were talking about this, we walked through the kid’s department. When we found this guy, we immediately adopted him and named him – yes, indeed. Friends, meet Bob.