Posted by: Jena Davison | October 25, 2009


These days I feel as if I am existing more in a fictional plot than in real life. In my last post I briefly mentioned some of the guests who have stayed here, like Hugo the zookeeper. Truth be told, everyone I have met here has some sort of interesting anecdote to tell or background to reveal. I am constantly surprised by every guest who walks through the hostel’s front door. They are straight-up characters; I could not make them up, or their stories for that matter, even if I tried to the best of my ability.

Perhaps a creative writer or movie producer’s dream of a character is El Diablo Tranquilo ‘s German chef named Uwe. He is a straight-up dirty, smelly, stoner hippie, who has been on the road for more or less 20 years. With an overgrown gray mustache hugging his upper lip, he creatively concocts dinner daily with a limited budget and spliff in hand. His deep German accent is constantly interrupted by violent, lung-heaving coughs that are laced with smells of tobacco and marijuana. His shoulder-length hair is aged and greasy. Everyday, I try to prod him for more information, but he insists his stories are not important and that I must experience everything for myself to really understand anything he could possibly convey to me through conversation. He most recently spent three years cooking in northern India, a place where he says you can survive with merely a pint-sized bag and a drive for adventure. When I asked him which country he first fell in love with, he thought for a moment and replied, ¨Greece.¨ Soon after, he nonchalantly mentioned that he lived on a Greek island for a few years doing God knows what.

Then there was Malia, an outspoken model, electronic music producer and travel writer from Los Angeles who came to Uruguay to scope out the beaches in an attempt to locate the perfect place to launch her business plan. She is hoping to open a camping hostel meets outdoor music venue in the woods somewhere on the Uruguayan coast. There she will build sustainable yurts that will be painted by local artists and will throw colossal parties weekly or monthly. It sounds like an interesting concept. We exchanged contact information and I hope she keeps me updated on her plans and progress. Eventually our conversation took a more personal turn and she opened up to me about her upbringing. I found out that she has lived the life of an orphan because she was ultimately abandoned by her mother and left to her father, who ended up spending the majority of her life in jail.

Just yesterday, an upbeat British couple (Natalie and Rob) checked out. The lovebirds met on the Internet and have been dating for ten months, although it seems like they have been dating for years. Just prior to their love connection over the web, Rob spent a year in Thailand working for a NGO that assisted tsunami victims. And yesterday morning, a French couple (what’s with all the couples?) headed to Montevideo to witness the Uruguayan presidential election, which are taking place today. After some basic interrogation on my part (what? I’m a journalist…), I found out that they, too, are travel writers. They used to work for AOL in Paris, but have since launched a travel site in French called Trip Teaser. Sadly, it is all in French, so I do not understand anything, but it looks pretty cool.

Right now two young woman from Northern Ireland are staying here en route to Argentina where they will be working on an eco-farm. When I was talking with one of them named Katey two nights ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they are both…professional fire dancers. They travel all over Europe to put on shows for all different types of audiences.

What more, the setting where this story is unfolding is like a 3-dimensional postcard. Two days ago was one of the most beautiful days here in Punta del Diablo. After my morning shift, I scaled some sand dunes nearby and ended up on the far left end of one of the beaches. I fought the wind to lay my sorong flat on the sand, secured my headphone’s earbuds in my ears, and took a deep breath. Though I love the sound of the ocean waves tumbling onto the shore, this time I decided to drown them out with an eclectic mix of music that could respond to my changing moods. I mindlessly made curley-cued shapes in the sand with my pointer finger as I peered up at the whispy clouds above. I let the grainy sand crumble in my hands and then sift through my fingers. At one point I sat up and noticed that I was literally the only person on the entire beach; for that moment in time, I had my own private paradise. I observed my surroundings and spotted long trails of dog paw prints crisscrossing with trails of human footprints. I noticed how the wet sand was mosaic-d with hundreds of thousands of iridescent seashells. I was, and am, truly overwhelmed by the beauty and tranquility here. I feel as if I have been spoiled to the point where I may never be able to live happily in another place again. It would not surprise me if I was shaken out of this dream at any moment, but for now I am going to rest safe and sound knowing that this is, in fact, real life and I am merely in the process of writing my own life story.


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