Never occurred to me that I could be spending time in a city for less than I was paying for rent. That’s because I never tried the hostels. The idea of sharing rooms and bathrooms sound like an experience you may want to avoid, but there are more benefits than disadvantages.
First, the flow of people and the opportunities to establish new contacts can’t be compared. In a hotel, you need a reason to stand up and talk to the person at the next table. In a hostel, it’s actually expected for you to step in and introduce yourself, your country and the purpose of your trip. Since I’m not American and my English is deplorable, I fit the “foreign creature” criteria.
There are weekly activities that intend to integrate the community in some hostels, like brewery tours across town so you can crawl back with new friends. At night, you have a label for your bed and you sneak into a room with up to twelve people in different stages of intoxication. But the place doesn’t smell bad. My jacket caught a consistent essence of pot that mixes very well with my cologne.
Not all are kids. There is a fair share of people in their thirties. The last one I saw was a funny guy with gray hair. He was trying to make friends with the girls, but they would smile politely and run away, what had him very mad. But he had bigger concerns: the man was running away from two hit men from Los Angeles. At night, when he wasn’t snoring like a dying elephant, he was jumping up and down in his nightmares, begging to his executioners to spare his life. I was worried about the fact that the room is easily accessible from the street. My hope was for the gangsters to be professional enough to check names in the beds before start shooting, but I made extra big letters on mine just in case.
The next day I left Portland for Seattle. Don’t stay close to a target if you don’t know for sure the caliber of weapons that are pointing in that direction.