Lighting up the Gaslamp in San Diego

My forehead drips with sweat, I’m on my hands and knees, and my arm is starting to tire. There’s an odd smell in the air and I feel like this might never end.

I’m living in a brothel. I’m down to my last $20 note. You do what you gotta do.

All of the above is rock solid truth, but I’m certain not what you were thinking sicko. I’m working at USA Hostels San Diego. And not in my usual gig of social media and blogging but blood, sweat, and tears housekeeping. To maintain my dignity, I tell myself I’m doing it for the story. Who am I kidding? My dignity is long gone. I’m doing it because my second budget is shot. Done and dusted. My first budget was long gone when I cancelled my flight home in January.

So I find myself in San Diego, California visiting a good friend from home. I find myself shelling out $40 a night for a dorm. I find myself missing $10 a night Central America. I find myself knocking on the manager’s door and asking what’s up with this job thing.

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To explain a few of the above literal embellishments, USA Hostels San Diego did once house the sordid tales of SoCal’s ladies of the evening. And of course, cleaning is sweaty, stinky, and occasionally muscle straining.

There are 24 hours of work a week, that is four hours a day with one weekly day off, in exchange for a bed in the staff room, the hostel free breakfast, and free laundry.

The work varies from kitchen cleaning, special tasks, laundry, activity hosting, general cleaning, and my personal “favourite”, cleaning the bathrooms. It is the moments spent alone in the bathroom that I question everything I’ve ever done in my life to get to this point.

Activity hosting is not so bad. “Hey guys, let’s go eat some $2 tacos and drink some $2 beers and talk to each other.”

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I am only here for two and bit weeks. Any longer and I would quit in some kind of rage involving flying Windex, and pancake batter would surely end up over someone’s head.

I sleep on what is known fondly as the “suicide bed”. Not for obvious morbid reasons, but it is three stories high with a ladder so steep, one foul step and it’s all over red rover. And not an iota of air conditioning reaches this slumber cot of Hades.

But by all reports I survive the suicide bed, build so called character from cleaning, make a few friends, and even some tips running happy hour on my last night.

On my final morning I climb down from my bed up yonder, I hug my new hostel friends from all over the globe goodbye, and I shudder as I move as quickly as possible from the bathrooms. I haul my heavy backpack onto my shoulders before passing it to a smiley face. This warm grin belongs to a driver named Lauren. The hostel has arranged my trip to LAX with The Hostel Hopper, a trendy van transportation company. Hop (see what I did there) into one of their vans and they’ll get you from A to B in southern California (think San Diego, Disneyland, Santa Monica).

They’ll also throw in free wifi and super, super friendly staff. Check out those California smiles. I left it a wee bit late to be getting to my flight. I soon find out the driver Lauren is not just a driver, but she started up the company. She knows her stuff and gets me to the airport with time to spare.

You know those moments that stick with you? And the people? The whole “it’s not about the destination, but the journey”? This was one of those days, and one of those trips.

Hasta luego San Diego. Buenos dias Barcelona.

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