A Love Letter to Hostels

I flew to Puerto Vallarta last October because the 1 way flight from Newark was $100. By this point in 2022 I had become very comfortable with my nomadic life and even more comfortable with Mexico. Comfortable is the wrong word. I fell in love.

January I toured the Yucatan peninsula exploring the beaches, jungles, and cenotes. March I posted up in CDMX, feeling the endless energy of 20m people. Now it was October and I was ready to explore more. I landed in Puerto Vallarta because it was cheap. Friends had told me how beautiful Sayulita was, a little beach town 2 hours north. I was quickly learning the tourist destination was built for Americans. If you can find the neighboring city you can experience something more cultural.

I booked to stay at the Selina for the second time this year. Selina is THE hostel for a 30 year old traveler. They have small private rooms that are affordable, offer yoga, meditation, murals, and most importantly work space. In 2022 I stayed in a Selina 5 times, in Cancun, Panama City, Sayulita, Oaxaca City, and Rio. I have also now practiced yoga in Spanish and Portuguese.

After couch hopping for 2 months in America, I was ready for my own little space to call home. I booked the micro which has a clothing rack, double bed, night stands, and an ac unit. The bathroom is shared. I never book the coworking space because I am on calls all day. Everyone would hate me in there. I booked for a week before heading to meet my parents and brother in CDMX.

Traveling alone is a risk, an open armed reach into the world to see what is out there. Hostels have been the gateway to some of my favorite moments. Here are my top 3 from Sayulita.

  1. Morning sunrises on a quiet beach and yoga before working

I had negotiated my contract down to 10 hours a week for my main job. I had 4 virtual events this month. I had produced 30 already this year so it was easy enough. I took a second gig as a transportation manager for the Chanel fashion show in November. That started this week and was 20 hours for the month. I may have looked like a backpacker and stayed like one but I was traveling with 2 macbook airs.

Each morning I would wake up at 7am, get a coffee from this little espresso bar on the way to the beach, and journal. Yoga was next, at 9am at the hostel and was free. At yoga I met the people I would spend the rest of the week with. Similar to how in Cancun at yoga I met the people I would travel the rest of the month with. Most of them were Americans remote working. We clicked and started a whatsapp chat. Everyone disappeared to their work days messaging to meet up later.

2. Squished 5 in a cab to San Pancho, also known as San Francisco.

My new friends and I decided to spend the afternoon in San Pancho. We called a couple cabs, squished in, and drove over. Lo, was in the front, I’d meet her again in La Paz in a couple weeks. Allie was in the back with me, she’d crash with me in CDMX at the end of the month where Santiago would join us out for a night of dancing.

Exploring alone is fun but exploring with new friends is a whole different story. Within a new group you find people you connect with quickly. The ones you don’t you move away from. It helps you talk to anyone, ask questions, open your mind, speak your beliefs. With these people, I traveled in the back of a truck on the way to a surfing beach accessible only through the jungle path. We took a women’s defense class from a local woman. We smoked late night joints on the balcony. We had group dinners all over town. The group would endlessly grow as people would move on to a different city. In the kitchen I met 3 more people. When I left a couple of them would join the group and go see Metallica in Guadalajara. One door always leads to another.

3. Late night salsa dancing with no phone

On my last night in Sayulita there was salsa dancing offered at our hostel. Raquel and I had already become besties during the week. She worked at the front desk and stayed in one of the dorm rooms. We were going to salsa that night, I got all dressed up and decided to leave my phone in my room. Sayulita is small and safe, I liked the idea of being disconnected and hands free so I could be twirled. People were serious dancers here. Sayulita may have tourists but it also has Mexicans visiting from around the country. I was intimidated. Raquel is from Veracruz and knows how to dance. The band sang and we flew.

Some of our friends joined us and we decided to move to the late night spots. There were two club like bars in Sayulita. We hit up both dancing to the DJs, finding friends along the way. At the last rooftop bar we took shots with the bartender and danced to Bad Bunny and Danny Ocean.

The group chat still lives on and people have met each other in other countries to travel together. Not all hostels are this good though, for instance in Australia they suck so just find a Selina somewhere in Latin America and go make some friends.

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