It’s ten minutes to one in the morning on a Friday night, and instead of raucously whooping it up like the nine other individuals who aren’t in my hostel dorm room at the moment, I have instead decided to come back after a couple drinks and grab my computer to write up this article and do some late night trip planning. I’m telling myself that it’s because this really is the best time of night for some decent WiFi (it is so painfully slow and intermittent in South America), but really I’m secretly wondering in my head, have I gotten old?
And you know what? In some ways, I think I have. It doesn’t help that I happen to be staying in a very large party hostel, something I’m not fond of for several reasons, but the biggest one being that it is very difficult to meet people. There’s a certain anonymity in large hostels, it can be very cliquey, and you usually only get to meet the people in your dorm. Considering that my dorm-mates, and most of the travelers in this particular hostel, consist of six young Chilean girls on the equivalent of American Spring Break and three quite stereotypical Australians who like their booze way too much. Cue one of them trying to crawl into bed with me at 5am last night because he was A. too drunk to stand, B. too drunk to know which bed was his, and C. too drunk to probably be left on his own (he ended up passing out on the floor by the door when I refused to let him sleep under my bed) and I don’t feel like I quite fit in anymore to this particular style and way of traveling.
I remember the ridiculous days in my early twenty’s when I may have partaken in one too many alcohol filled beverages, and I’ve even written about some of the not-so-brightly-shining moments I’ve had under the influence while traveling. So, no, I don’t look down on any of these university aged students enjoying the most of their early twenties, because I definitely did when I was that age. Yes, I know, only a mere six years ago. But I can’t help but realize how I do not quite fit into this particular type of hostel anymore or with some of these people. My style of travel has changed and become more tailored towards things I really enjoy and things that enhance my skills and knowledge, like learning and discovering new outdoor sports and activities. I would much rather spend my time and money on these things than partying till the wee hours of the morning when I’m traveling.
Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like to go out and party it up here and there, because I sure do, but I’ve also come to realize the benefit of not being painfully hungover so badly in the morning that I can’t get out of bed till the middle of the afternoon. There’s too much of this world to see, so why would I waste my money and precious travel time on expensive alcohol and wasted days feeling awful in bed (and a bed that’s not even my own and usually an uncomfortable bunkbed)? Because I did that just the other day right before two long days of travel by airplane and bus, and it was even worse than I remembered. Plus it took me a night of almost 12 hours of sleep to catch up after it all. Is that sign number two that I might be getting old?
So yes, I may have gotten a wee bit older when I wasn’t paying attention and I can no longer fully appreciate the teeniest of skirts, the baby-faced boy giving me an up-and-down across the bar, or the blossoming ‘love’ occurring right there on the dance floor for all to see. But you know what? I’m actually okay with it. I can understand those who enjoy these activities, but now I’ve come to a point when I can be satisfied with a different way of socializing. Well, let’s be honest, not so different, just maybe not as often or as rowdy. So top my glass up with a bit more wine (because I actually do like it), some good conversation, and a few close friends to enjoy their company with and I think I’m set, hangover the next morning or no.