Living in a hostel is not easy. Before arriving here I have worked for a hostel in Munich during Oktoberfest, but that experience was completely different. In Munich I used to spend some of my free days alone visiting the city, but in Rio I couldn`t walk alone on the street once the sun was down. I have less privacy as I share a dorm with other tourists and I don`t have much space for my stuff. I have to cook all my meals because I can`t afford to eat out and I have to wash my clothes manually as we don`t have a washing machine. On the terrace we have a family of cats that are squatting our hostel and sometimes they take the clothes from the dryer and play with them, so in the morning you have to start washing again. It`s very tiring and frustrating because I always have to be careful with my stuff – I have to lock my important things, when I`m working I have to take the laptop with me even when I go to the bathroom because some people leave the door opened and the neighborhood is not that safe, I have to watch my food etc. So I never get a break because I have to be careful outside, but also when I`m at home.
However, there are many good aspects about this lifestyle. My boss knows all the good places in Rio, thanks to him I`ve visited most of Rio with very few money and I`ve learned a lot about the culture, traditions and history of Rio. It was almost like having a personal guide. Because I work in a hostel I can enter parties for free, but I only did it once and it wasn`t great.
The hostel is an hour away from the center and 20 minutes away from Lapa, so I was able to walk to the center. I would take a bus just for Ipanema or Copacabana or other distant neighborhoods.
Another good side is that the hostel is situated in a typical carioca neighborhood (smelly, dirty, homeless people everywhere, floods during the rain etc), so I got to see a genuine way of living in Brazil. The area looks bad, but it`s pretty safe. Of course, bad things can always happen in Rio, but I`ve never heard of anyone getting into trouble in here.
This is one of the cheapest hostels in Rio, so it attracts interesting people. I had three guys staying here for over a month. At first I thought this was good because I figured I would have a sort of stability and I would be able to make friends, but I just realized that you are forced to share your living space with people you may not like, so I think it`s better to have guests that stay for short periods. Anyway, I ended up fighting with one of the guys, one of them used to drive me crazy with small things and I was relieved when he left and I still keep in touch with one of them who was always very nice to me. We also had a 19 years old latvian guy who earned the money for coming here by playing the cello on the streets. There was another columbian guy who was playing the guitar on the street for money and he`s been everywhere in Latin America. So we had a lot of interesting people. The guy who worked here before stayed with us for a week and he helped me a lot by talking with me in Spanish. After this I was able to have an interview in Spanish with a hostel in Montevideo.
There were many crazy nights. Most nights I didn`t need to go out because the guys were fun to hang out with. The guy that was driving me crazy is the kind of person you cannot stay upset with. He is a 38 years old brazilian composer who sleeps about 20 hours/day. In the final weeks it was a big relief that he was sleeping this long because he wasn’t nagging me. He always wanted money, food, cigarettes or booze. But all in all an interesting person. It is the kind of hostel where you can’t get bored and you learn to appreciate the rare moments of peace.
There wasn’t much work to do. My boss would leave for two days every week to visit his family, so I was in charge. I had to prepare breakfast, to clean a little the kitchen and the bathroom and to check people in. It wasn’t that difficult, but sometimes it was very annoying. Usually a room is dirty 5 minutes after you’ve finished cleaning it. When I was working I had a lot of time to read or to blog. When I wasn’t working I was visiting new places.
The most weird thing was designing my tumb stone for the staff cemetary. My boss wrote on a wall the names of all the people who worked there and drew tumb stones around them. I chose to draw a cat because I will always connect that place with the millions of cats that were living on the roof.
All in all my experience there was everything I expected. There were difficult moments, but I overcame everything, as always!