Hostile Hostels (2)

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
St Christopher's Inn, Little italy

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 15, 2011

We sought refuge at the nearest hostel called St Christopher's Inn. Juliet, the owner and sole employee, was an "African woman" (she seemed reluctant to tell us exactly where) with a softened accent as she lived in many cities across the world. She'd been successfully running this hostel for 5 years, making a "decent living". She was curious about us arriving unannounced at her house/hostel before 9am so she asked where we'd just come from (we suspect she knew the answer already). Apparently we weren't the first, and probably won't be the last ones, to arrive traumatised from RK. She encouraged us to lie on her proverbial couch and offload about her competitor's trangressions. She also did some sharing and revealed that apparently RK provides accommodation for ex-convicts and ex-mental patients! We're all for rehabilitation but not in the same place when I am vacationing. It can so easily go wrong, and at best, kills the mood. It was clearly frustrating for Juliet that despite this, RK gets good online hostel reviews and has a similar rating to her hostel, yet she's "trying to do the right thing". 
It seems the right thing according to Juliet was running the hostel with an "iron first". Before accepting our money, she sat us down, gave us a 10 minute lecture about the do's and don'ts in her house/hostel and then made us read and sign a paper version. We tried our best not to laugh because it seems she too had been traumatised, but in her case by backpackers. She felt the need to clearly lay down the law. My house, my rules! Understandably so because after all, she is effectively a single woman letting strangers into her house. So initially we abided and kept a low profile. 
But it wasn't long before claustrophobia set in - she was always around, watching our every move. She insists on serving everyone breakfast. That's approximately 20 at full capacity around 5 seater kitchen table. The rest have to wait their turn in the living room, frustrated and itching to get on their way. It quickly becomes a frenzy as she juggles taking your drinks order, dishing out rations of peanut butter, jam and butter and oven-refreshes Subway loaves from the padlocked freezer. We understand the need to be thrifty but surely there is a less labour-intensive way to achieve the same end? So again, we left after just one night. She had a two-night minimum policy but she waived it for us fellow Africans. But alas, she had overbooked herself. In the end she offered us a single bunk-bed to share but still expected us to pay for 2. Eish! This drama and claustrophobia meant we were out of the streets again. Well, if we have to be homeless, I guess San Diego is the best place for it. Apparently many homeless people migrate here and benefit from the average year round temperature of 22 degrees Celcius. Everywhere was booked up!

So that day we met up with Lindsay and A.J. in Corronado, went to the Padres baseball game, then hung out at Lucky D's playing cards until the early hours until Jacob left at 5am to catch his flight, then we could chill his bed for a couple of hours. Oh, the life of the glorified bum!

And yes, we did some touristy stuff in San Diego after all...

A day trip to La Jolla beach where we swam with sea otters and amused ourselves with spotted seaside squirrels; visited the USS Midway museum which is a retired aircraft carrier with talks by retired navy personnel who shared their favourite sea storied (like hiding from the enemy in a submarine for 70 days on the seafloor, filtering water to drink and rationing supplies); Seaport Village was cute was lots of one-of-a-kind shops including a mesmerising hot sauce shop; and we also met up with James, a Couch surfing ambassador, who very kindly showed us around Balboa park and his new home turf, and let his pick his brain about how best to present ourselves. Hopefully soon we'll be official CS-ers!
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