Before I got married, I used to stay in the cheapest dorms possible. Cleanliness, safety, and character took a backseat to price.
One of the best aspects of traveling married is that I no longer have to stay in the dorms and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of drunk Irish dudes snoring. Dorms are a great way to meet other travelers, but a terrible way to get any sleep. Every night someone stumbles in drunk and someone wakes up super early to noisily pack for an early morning train. (Sometimes that person was me.) The halls are usually abuzz by 7am as people get up for the day. On the flip side, I met so many cool travelers and ended up on many random adventures by staying in the dorms, something we don’t get traveling as a couple.
Dorm life for me can be summed up by three days I had in Mendoza, Argentina, which I have illustrated for you below.
For about a week I shared a room in Mendoza with 5 other people. There were two cool American guys and an Italian doctor who were all about my age, which was mid-twenties at the time. The other bed was a rotating hodgepodge of characters.
The first occupant of the other bunk was an elderly French dude who was in town to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes. He had already summited the mountain in the past, in addition to climbing Everest and Denali. He looked like he’d dedicated the last decade of his life to growing out his beard.
Eccentric French dude slept on the floor, claiming that the beds were too soft.
Eccentric French Dude had so much gear scattered throughout the room it looked like an REI. On the morning of his departure, he awoke at 5:00 AM and started (noisily) packing. I remember not liking him at that point.
The next night, the American guy sleeping underneath me stumbled home drunk in the middle of the night, knocking over stuff, tripping over backpacks, and crashing into beds and walls. I remember not liking him very much at that time.
The next morning, or a few hours later to more accurate, I awoke to the terrified squealing of two Korean girls. I awoke to this:
It scared the hell out of me and I remember not liking them much at that time. In fact, hitherto that moment, I didn’t even realize that two Korean girls were on the other bunk.
On the bunk below me, the drunk American from the night before had passed out. Naked. The Italian doctor came over and did something but in my sleepy stupor I did not know what was going on. “What happened?” I asked him for I could not see below me. He thought for a second, trying to find the words in his tired state and thinking of how to translate. “I will tell you later,” he said.
The doctor had tossed a shirt over the drunk American’s junk.
This made the Korean girls happy.
It was summer in Mendoza, which meant that the temperature in our non-AC dorm room ranged from hellish to sweltering. On the third night, I awoke sweaty and hot. I decided to turn on the fan that was mounted above the bunk on the opposite side of the room.
As I went to pull the string to turn the fan on, the door to the room opened.
I heard a female voice in a sexy Latin accent declare, “You are een my bed!” Indeed, I was in someone else’s bed and due to the intense heat, I was also in my boxers. On all fours. It was, in a word, awkward.
I looked back to the doorway to see a stunning, scantily-clad Portuguease girl. Her hair sparkled in the light, she glistened in sweat. She was clearly not very happy with me at that moment.
Meanwhile, as the other residents giggled in the dark, one of the guys sang out “Bam chicka wow wow. This is like the beginning of a bad porno movie…you are een my bed.” That certainly made the situation less awkward for all.
I am pretty sure that in my week in Mendoza I slept about 7 good hours – for the whole week. As soon as I got to my next stop I got a private room and slept for a day. It was the best sleep I’d had in my life, but I didn’t have near as much fun as I’d had in Mendoza.