the nothing whatever...

The Blue Hostel

For the first four days or so, I was the only guest in the dorms at the place and, more often than not, I was the only surfer out in the water, which was icey cold due to the current patterns circulating Arctic water up and down the North American coastline. I am not sure if this is the reason for the abundance of sea-life through there, but in Alisitos (where the hostel is located), I swam with more dolphins and seals than I ever have in my entire life. The romantic appeal of this was tainted by the fact that often there was an early morning fog rolling through that created an ethereal misty haze. With visibility being at a minimum and things that were bigger than myself and had dorsal fins splashing around in the water, it would never take long for my imagination to start running away from me. Another slight blemish on this romanticism was that on day six or seven of my stay in Alisitos, I watched a shark that was double my size cruise past me less than three metres away from where I sat in the lineup, like an underwater Starship Enterprise. And before you ask...yes, it was a shark, I could easily tell the difference between it and a dolphin from my front row seats. I went out there again later that day, but it took some powerful self-deceit to not see every tiny little chop as ripples created by some colossal grey beast lurking in my vicinity, waiting for its primal “Go” signal. When it comes to nature, you have to take the good with the bad, if those descriptors do even apply.

I think for this post I am just going to channel Wes Anderson and allow for some brief introductory descriptions of the characters within the Blue Hostel, as this is probably the best way for you to become acquainted with it, and will serve you with some context for future posts...

The formally British owner of the Blue Hostel, Ian, seemed to be of the same litter as Keith Richards, having the harshness of a life of addiction etched deep into his face, and a beautiful smile that looked like a broken old piano that's been dragged through the mud. He was mostly polite to his guests, except when he was doing them a favor, at which time you would receive the same mild level of contempt and impatience that he gave everyone else. He had a deep-seeded hatred for the American government, dream and way of life, but also marginally detested every other nationality, including his own. His resounding bitterness could really only be pierced consistently by two things; money and Molly.

Molly was his 12 year old daughter. She had been around the world and knew far too much about it for a 12 year old, perfectly illustrated by her giving Pete and I the “birds and the bees” talk one remarkably uncomfortable afternoon, less to prove anything than to watch us squirm. Like most 12 year old's, she was equal parts annoyance and entertainment. As she knew exactly how to play Ian to get what she wanted, it enabled her to barter that power off to the guests in exchange for treats, or for information if she was curious about a highly personal aspect of your life. On the whole she was a good kid, but with her manipulative streak and head full of cunning, I had the feeling that there was going to be some turbulent teenage years ahead.

Jackson and Teneille were his Australian live-in workers who had just recently fallen in love in Vancouver BC. Their placid, friendly, Zen nature contributed to giving the place the “surf escape” vibe that I was craving. I would return home from the surf in the morning to the sound of them jamming Ramshackle Glory on the top level balcony. Jackson on guitar, Teneille on vocals. Although they were not paying for board or for food and were living on the beach in Mexico and were doing whatever they wanted for most of the time, sometimes watching them have to bow to the peaks and troughs of Ian's unpredictable mood swings was a little painful. We would be on the roof overlooking the surf and sipping a few cold ones when suddenly the beds would not be made properly or water needed to be boiled or the doorbell had been ringing for the past half an hour, and they would look at each other the way a couple does when they have a newborn crying in the next room...”you go honey, it's your turn”. Beautifully patient people.

Gabe was the only other guest at the hostel when I arrived, and was staying in a private room. He was originally from Florida and had been living in San Diego for the past few years with his girlfriend. They had broken up very recently, and in the next few days he was to be transporting boxes of their stuff across the country and back to Florida. Most of the time Gabe could be found on the second level balcony smoking a joint by himself and looking out pensively over the surf or intently down into his iPhone. Initially he came across as a little bit curt, one or two word responses, but after about half a day he warmed to me, and we were then able to share the second level balcony, albeit in the same introspective silence, but now without feeling the burden of a foreign entity invading it. He also spoke Spanish as a first language, was in possession a car, and was very familiar with the area, so in that sense he was a powerful ally.

Harry was a young English surfer (not an oxymoron apparently) of about 24 years who arrived in the latter half of our stay at the Blue Hostel. With his classically charming accent and his boyish good looks, it didn't take long for Molly to fall in love with him, and for Pete and I to come up with the obvious nickname of “Prince Harry”. He was quite unassuming and didn't fully recognize the power of having Molly crushing on him, but Pete and I had witnessed the dynamic of the place enough to understand exactly what it meant. To no surprise, Ian was treating “Prince Harry” like royalty. Ian's car was not road-worthy in a country with any sort of respectable driving laws, but regardless, to obtain the keys was almost symbolic, like a father throwing the keys of his brand new Beamer to his son the day he passes his driving test. A message of trust. Pete and I had been at the hostel for over a week, and we stared slack-jawed as Ian threw his car keys across the room to Harry, who had been there for a day, hadn't ever driven on the right side of the road before and was the youngest of all the guests. It ultimately worked in our favor though. Harry was just one of the boys, and was more than happy to share the spoils of his undeserved angelic status in the Blue Hostel.

So, now that you understand the character's and have some context as to who these names are, I can begin with the storytelling...