Hostile Hostels (1)

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
RK Hostel, Little Italy
What I did
USS Midway Museum

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, July 14, 2011

It took forever to fall asleep that night. The bed was rock-hard. It hardly budged under my weight yet it creaked like crazy with even the slightest move. Add to that the noise pollution of planes coming in to land at the nearby airport, trains honking their horns throughout the night and the chitter-chatter in the wee hours just outside our window. It was especially disturbing to overhear a Southampton lad confess to his mates that he bottled one of his (ex-)mates for sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. He showed some remorse and wished he'd rather just given him a shiner but "you know what it's like". Apparently they did!
It's surprising that we managed to get any sleep at all. Most of the time I was just getting annoyed, staring at the oversized flat sheet messily tucked into the bottom of the top bunk. It really should've been a fitted sheet! All the while I couldn't help wondering who might be looking into our window. It half-faced the terrace with blinds that were too short by at least a foot. No wonder then why we were up by 7am and left before the (alleged) breakfast! 
You see, all wasn't rosy during our stay in SD. Us free spirits booked from day to day at Lucky D's and when the weekend came they were already fully booked. Doh! It was Pride weekend, don't you know! Online checks revealed that the only hostel with availability was RK Hostel. And slowly we discovered why...
Approaching the place up the steep hill, it looked presentable enough. It was in the quaint neighbourhood of Little Italy, after all. But just inside it became apparent that it was still a work-in-progress. The labourers were also the receptionists, and the reception office was actually a CCTV control room. The only redeeming feature of this place was our Eritrean receptionist who fist-bumped us when he discovered we were his African brethren. You don't get many travelling Africans for obvious reasons, so coming across two at the same time is a very special day! We got "upgraded" to the 4-bed dorm room for the price of the 8-bed but later we discovered THAT was the room they were busy DIY-ing.
So we got settled, explored the USS Midway museum at the pier, returned, had a shower and explored the so-called hostel. The only other soul we came across (twice!) was a middle-aged lady. Twice she bummed a cigarette and twice I told her I didn't have any. The first time she ignored me, avoided eye contact but then turned back to ask for a cigarette. Even if I had one, lady... This same lady was in the kitchen later when we prepared supper. She popped her head in and asked how long we were gonna be. She returned sheepishly later with what appeared to be her hungry husband who probably wanted to know "Where's my food, woman?!" It seems we were to blame. But, hello! This is a commnunal kitchen, or rather it's supposed to be. He told us off for taking our time in the kitchen when "others also need to use it". Later we discovered that this couple LIVE at this hostel. We caught a glance into their room. They had a dressing table with ornaments and clothes on hangers. There are Permese in the U.S. too? Permese - not someone from that mystical land of Perma. It's a Lee-sim to describe people who live permanently in temporary accommodation and, as in this case, become territorial. You may recall that this term was coined in New Zealand.
The annoying thing is that the kitchen was totally not set up for communal use - the stove was flush against the wall. It was tiny with one fridge and one sink. To say the kitchen was poorly equipped would be an understatement. It was NOT equipped at all - a few plastic forks in a tub, 3 wobbly plastic plates and a couple of equally wobbly pans. Despite a notice that read: Complimentary tea and coffee, there wasn't any in sight. So I asked my Eritrean brother for some. He scratched in the "Staff Only" area, reappeared with hot chocolate and then disappeared. Er, ok, we can do hot chocolate. But... where's the cups? Back to the CCTV room to get paper cups! And they'd been open for a year already?
Moral of the story: Avoid this place like the plague! This is a halfway house trying to jump on the backpacker bandwagon. Two different target audiences with totally conflicting moods and agendas.
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