Friday, October 4, 2013

Once Upon a Hostel

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month'sBlog Carnival, please get in touch with me in the comments, and I'll let you know how you can start participating! 

I spent Christmas in Istanbul, which is weird. The only signs that much of the world was currently celebrating were some lights and a lot of very creepy Santa robots. Christmas Eve my friends and I found a mass in Turkish, English and Italian. We exchanged gifts on Christmas day and ran around the city looking for peppermint, which we never found...not even in Turkish Delight. It was my first ever Christmas away from home and I was a little disappointed, missing my family, and sad about the upcoming goodbye from my then boyfriend. 

We decided to go to bed early as we all had buses to catch the next day. We met our hostel roommates, a West African, a Frenchman and an American who was The Hostel Guy (every hostel has one...a guy who came and just never left so now they work there). In our rickety metal bunks we all tried to shut out the bar music and settle in to our over-heated room. 

Around 3 am we were rudely woken up by a returning resident - he loudly and drunkenly slammed into his bed, fell over, finally climbed up to his top bunk and collapsed. We tried to still our startled hearts and return to sleep. 

Fifteen minutes later we heard the sound of a chainsaw being used within the sticky mud of a swamp. And by this I mean the drunk man was loudly, moistly snoring. He would pause for a few moments and then reach deep into his chest and pull a loud rumble through his mucus filled sinuses and deliver it to us all. Then he would seem to stop breathing for much longer than anyone should, until he hacked his way back to the land of the living with a grunt that shook the walls. Five minutes into this and my bunk-mate was giggling. Five minutes more and we were all becoming worried that the next snore would be his last. "Maybe we should turn him over?" I suggested.

The Hostel Guy, who was in the bunk under him, stood up in only his undies, rake-thin and bearded, and nudged Drunk Guy. "What the bloody 'ell?" Drunk Guy pontificated. "'re snoring a lot dude..." "Yeh, well, ok."

Ten minutes later we were all wishing the man would just snort up his nasal passages and be done with it. Instead Hostel Guy skipped the waking up part and just flipped Drunk Guy on his back so we could all stop worrying about him choking to death. This made absolutely no change. My Travel Buddy nudged his feet a few times to wake him back up. He muttered some curses. Nothing we were trying worked and in the sort of telepathic conferences that sometimes happen when random groups of people meet in dire circumstances, we all came to the consensus that we wouldn't be sleeping that night unless Something Was Done. 

"Maybe we could just move his mattress out into the hall?" Someone suggested. I don't remember who, but it wasn't me. My Travel Buddy spearheaded the effort - "lets just all pick up his mattress and move it! Come on!" She carefully climbed down from her bunk. The Hostel Guy was in. Frenchman stood up, also only in white-tighties, but no one was complaining about his near nudity at the moment (or probably at any other moment, in fact). My then boyfriend (fully clothed) climbed down to help. The West African refused to get involved, stating that he thought it was a bad idea, and I stood by as witness.

Now, moving a sleeping/drunk man without his consent is probably a bad idea. However, you take people that are frustrated and sleep-deprived enough and they will find a solution to a noise problem, no matter how ethically ambiguous it is.  The Intrepid Problem Solvers placed themselves around the mattress, their shoulders just coming to the bunk bed frame. They slowly eased the mattress from the frame, pausing when Drunk Guy snorted particularly loud. Finally it was off the bed frame - I snapped a photo and almost died of asphyxiation from trying not to laugh. The Problem Solvers carried the still sleeping man and the mattress to the doorway and realized - it wouldn't fit. They slowly lowered it to the floor and stared down at the Man. Now what? 

Suddenly, the Manager arrived.
"What is going on here?!" He whisper-yelled. The Problem Solvers looked like kids caught stealing. "Uhmmm..." French guy spoke up, "He was snoring so loud and we thought..."

The full weight of how bad of an idea this was fell on all of us.
"Would you like it if someone did this to you!?" The manager actually yelled. Drunk Guy woke up. "Waazzz happening?" 
"You tell him!" The manager glared at the group. The most awkward silence I have ever encountered followed.
"Hey man," Hostel Guy took one for the team. "You were snoring really loudly and we thought you could just...sleep somewhere we thought we could move you..."
"Yeah ok." Drunk Guy got up. 
"How would you feel if someone did this to you?" The manager asked us again, glaring. Then he left, the Drunk Guy swaying after him. 

All was quiet. And in our shared crime, our diverse little group had bonded and we went on to traipse across EurAsia together. Well, not the last part, but there was a real bond.

If you enjoyed this bit of frivolity, check out other stories from the Reach to Teach series by following this link here!


  1. This is one of many reasons why hostels are so great! They provide a number of instances that can be extremely irritating when you are living through them, but the best, laughable stories afterward. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for the laugh! And for a picture of the interesting side of hostel travel!

  3. Great story! Really funny!

    I grew up with 2 brothers and a boisterous sister, we would do stuff like this all the time and I know that feeling when you get caught!

    I don't suppose you have the picture you snapped? Now that would be worth a look.

    1. I'm sure I have that photo around somewhere - but with all the near nudity/whitey tighties involved I didn't think my PG blog could handle it, haha!