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Published: January 4th 2016
Neither one of us was ever a manager of a hostel before but now we can check that off our list of things to do. Upon arriving at our next workaway experience we were sent a picture from the owner of the hostel, Oliver, with a hand pointing to a key and a message that read I will not be there when you arrive but let yourself in, this is where the key will be. So that's what we did, we let ourselves into the place we would run for the next few weeks, without the real owner anywhere in sight.
Our job was simple, clean and wash the sheets after every guest and make sure all the beds were made for any incoming guests. Keep the bathrooms cleaned and make sure the kitchen wasn't a mess. And lastly and most important, check new guests in and collect their money for the reservations. The hostel name was Surf Eat Sleep, and that's about all you could do here because of the bare bones amenities and atmosphere of the hostel. There were only 4 rooms, 2 bathrooms a kitchen and a common area. No wifi, only a radio and a TV
that looked like it had been there since 1985. But all of that lead to more interaction with everyone at the hostel and that was a refreshing change from having our heads always buried in our iphones, iPads and personal devices.
During the first week, the hostel felt like our home since there wasn't any guest until the weekend. We woke up the first day, cleaned the entire hostel, made all the beds and then sat back and waited for word from Oliver about any arriving guests. In our spare time that first week we enjoyed the quietness and solitude of the hostel while cooking most of our meals, studying Spanish and surfing. When our first guests arrived for the weekend, we already had plans to head north to a small beach town, Viña del Mar, to run a half marathon.
There is nothing to really say about Viña del Mar other than the coastline that we ran the half along was incredibly beautiful. Both of our goals were to finish the race under 2 hours and I can say that our goal was accomplished. After crossing the finish line we cleaned ourselves up and headed to Valparaiso,
about 15 mins southward. Valparaiso is a tiny port city located 90 minutes west of the main city of Santiago. It's streets were dirty, some buildings looked as if they've been neglected for years and the crime rate is apparently pretty high. However there is a certain charm to this town. Built on the hillside, all of the houses are brightly painted different colors and there is an absurd amount of street art. At first glance it looks like a free for all for graffiti artists but then you realize the graffiti has been embraced and most of it is street art, depicting the culture, government and history of this unique port town. We only got to see a small sample of the street art but we could see why this town attracts artists, musicians and creative people alike.
We arrived back to Surf Eat Sleep the way we left it....empty. Aside from having to do the sheets of all the beds that guests slept in over the weekend and cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, we were back to having the place to ourselves. Kristine would meet another couple at her Spanish school from California who were driving their
renovated Ford econoliner van from San Fransisco to Buenos Aires. There they would sell it and then settle down somewhere in Chile. Kristine, desperately wanting to be a host for the first time as a married woman, invited them to our home....err hostel, for a BBQ. We had a nice dinner with our new American friends, George and Jenine, drinking wine and trading stories of the places we've seen so far. We would eventually see them again about a month later in Argentina.
After a quiet and laid back week and a half of Spanish lessons and surfing, the guests started to arrive. The first guests were Germans named Basti who was making his way south to Torres de Paine national park but first wanted to learn surfing in Pichilemu, and Nico, a 20 year old traveling around for 6 months and practicing his juggling skills. Two Brazilians, Philipe and Ricardo, who were there to surf as much as possible. An American named Dan who was from Santa Cruz but originally from Sandy Hook, NJ....also there for the surf. And then there was Sam. Not a guest at SES but was there as much as anyone else. Sam was
a Hops farmer from Yakima, Washington and in Pichilemu to learn Spanish so he could speak with his coworkers with more ease. We would spend the next 10 days surfing in the morning and then meeting up after Kristine and Sam were done with class, get empanadas, explore town and then finish with either a BBQ or head out to a restaranunt as a group. It was a unique group of people and a good time seemed to be had by all during those 10 days. It was a good way to end our stay in Pichilemu.
With only two days left before we were leaving to make our way towards Argentina, the owner finally arrived. Oliver had finally made it and just in time for us to hand over the money and the key. He was probably the most trusting person we've ever met. He had never met us before but trusted us to run his hostel for 3 weeks. We were glad to have been able to meet Oliver since it didn't look like we were going to earlier in the stay. He was incredibly friendly and nice and we hope our paths will cross somewhere in
the future. Pichilemu will definitely missed!
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