We arrived in Cusco which is absolutely beautiful and unlike any other place I have been before. We booked a hostel that turned out to be a bit uncomfortable for me because it was cold and it had no windows and the floor was creaky, and since we have to stay in Cusco for a couple of weeks because my credit card was forged and they send the new one here, I wanted to move. However, the people there were amazing. We met a super cool British couple who became our friends, and we also met a group of young Israelis that had returned from a trek.
Full disclosure, I was never eager to run into Israelis half my age who are out of control. But these guys were awesome and sweet. They gave us tons of tips for the city and the rest of our travels and we just hung out and talked, and I really enjoyed meeting them. So much so that I told Avri I felt a bit guilty for avoiding the Israeli hangouts, and that I had misjudged them. So the next day when I went to look for a new hostel, I ran into even more Israelis who recommended one, and I was happy with their suggestion. We went to check it out mid-day and it really was nice, and more important, quiet. There was a young guy there and I asked if he recommended the place and he answered a definitive yes. I asked if it was a party hostel and he said no, it was totally chill and he said the owner even hangs out with them and he’s cool. I made a reservation for the next morning.
When we got there, the woman at reception said she was sorry but the room was now occupied and she didn’t know when they would leave, so I should better go to a different hostel. I was mad and said I had a reservation, insisted that the room was empty yesterday and my reservation had been confirmed. So then she said: “Oh, yes, the private room is available. But you know, there are only Israelis here and they are very loud so you might not want to stay here”. Note that I had been speaking to her in Spanish. When she said this I got very angry and clarified that I, too, was Israeli and asked if she had anything against us. She said she was sorry, she had misread the situation because of my Mexican accent and if we wanted the room we could stay. She did repeat the part about the noise, but to me she was a hater and a liar and I did not listen.
Biggest mistake e-v-e-r. From the moment we got there, there were dozens of people hanging out in the area outside of the rooms. I convinced myself it was because it was early, and at night it would be ok. It was not. It got louder, there was a guitar, blasting music, and worse of all — smoke. They were smoking all kinds of things indoors and I repeatedly asked them to at least open the window which they did only for a second and then closed it again. They wouldn’t stop screaming and laughing. Avri asked them to go outside, or quiet down but these people just stared at him. At 3AM he asked them again to be quiet, to which a girl responded “but we are in the hostel”. We felt angry and stupid. After all, the woman did try to warn us, but I brushed her off because she lied about the room and insinuated negative things about the guests.
I tried ear plugs, podcasts and deep breaths but I did not sleep. I started planning how in the morning I would be the one to wake everyone up. That, too, was stupid because at 6AM they started at it again. I left early to look for another (3rd!) hostel and when I found one, I went back to nightmare hostel to tell them we were leaving.
I was planning on yelling at the owner because she allows them to do whatever they want, and I assumed she loved it because one guest brought another so it was a constant cash flow — but it still was not fair for us. I was anticipating a heated argument with her but when I started to complain, she kind of broke down and said that she was sorry, she knows it is out of control and she feels helpless against them.
I was shocked. She told me that they don’t listen to anything they say and they don’t follow the rules she makes them read and agree to when checking in. She said they leave all their garbage all over the place (I saw this) and the cleaners have to clean several times a day. She said that one brings another and another, and that sometimes they let friends in that aren’t even staying there and let them take showers, use the facilities and leave. And every time she confronts them, she gets laughed/yelled at.
She said that last year, a guy stayed there for 3 months. At one point he physically attacked her son, so she called the police. But when they got there, the guy told the police that her son had been stealing so the police flagged her as a liar and has ignored her since then. I told her that I’m sorry for all of that but I saw her husband hanging out with them, drinking and smoking. She confessed that her husband is an alcoholic. He sometimes manages to stay off the bottle but not with this environment, which he encourages.
So where does that leave her? Who knows… I talked to her for a while, gave her some ideas and pointers on how to deal with arrogant, disrespectful and rude people, and tried to explain that her kind and humble manner is not something they will respond to. I hope she is able to turn this situation around but, as she put it, it feels like a plague.
As I write this, I feel the anger and disgust occupy every cell in my body. It was horrible to see first-hand all these stereotypes materialize and become very real. And it’s not fair because there are a ton of really nice, healthy and respectful travelers who I also met and hope to continue meeting. And part of me understands that they just got out of 2–3 years in the army and they have a lot of shit they need to get rid of. But not like this, not taking advantage of people and not acting like that and never paying the consequences.
Oh, and just as a side-note, I have to thank them for my first South American migraine. Lesson learned and moving on.