Cost: Large room: 32 soles / Backpacker’s room: 30 soles
Where: Av. Larco 189
My bedroom is curved, the curve following the corner of the block. Outside is one of the busiest streets in Miraflores, which means that to get to sleep I would be better served counting cars than sheep. The shower is hot and spacious, a welcome change to the narrow cubicles I’ve had to compress myself into so far.
Upstairs there’s a large open terrace from which you can watch the flat white sky. There’s a table tennis table up there too, and in a side room three computers with internet. But like all hostel computers, the keyboards are from a different epoch, meaning that they are either devoid of recognisable letters, or the settings have been changed in such a way that writing an email address requires lengthy detective work.
Next to the computer room is the bar, with views to the high street and lots of expensive comfort food options.
I sleep well enough, although the mattresses cannot compare with those of Eco Packer’s in Cuzco, and the breakfast is good, mainly due to the variety of breads on offer. Up till now I’ve been eating thin discs of hard air for breakfast, accompanied by a solitary square of butter. But here there is brioche, brown bread, bread with seeds on, and on the tables full bowls of jam and marmalade and butter. You can buy scrambled eggs and other such luxuries but I never don’t, because it’s always demoralising to pay for something which I could make for a tenth of the price in 4 minutes. The staff at the hostel are warm and seem to appreciate my speaking Spanish – I always get a dedicated hello on walking up the stairs. There’s a travel agent who sits at a table and stares into space.
The nightlife is curious. They try a bit too hard. On my last night I decide that the time was ripe to be sociable. So I went upstairs and ordered two gin and tonics (it was happy hour) while trying to work out how to break into the circle of people sat around the big table. They were playing ring of fire, organised by an English guy who’d apparently been employed by the hostel to ‘augment fun’. I found a way in to the circle when I realised that a friend from Arequipa was part of the game. She introduced me to a dreadlocked blonde-haired boy called Eddy who was, like me, heading to Huaraz. I expected him to say something like ‘we should go trekking together’, as social etiquette demanded. But he didn’t, which I thought was a bit strange and quite rude. The more we talked the more I got the sense that he was a bit simple, and so I forgave his earlier crassness.
After helping Eddy buy his bus ticket online (he couldn’t manage it by himself) we went to socialise again, finding that the troupe had moved outside and were playing ‘around the world’, a game in which you run around the table-tennis table and hit the ball when it’s your turn. You drink if you muck up. It doesn’t really work with 20 people.
While I was standing to one side chatting with an intense American about something intense, the Englishman in charge of augmenting fun passed me a scrap of paper on which a number was written. ‘For the next game’ he told me, slightly desperate. By this stage I’d decided that I didn’t particularly like the people there or the constant succession of games, and so I delicately extricated myself from the intense conversation and escaped to the computer room. When I later heard my number being called out from the bar I huddled over and pretended not to exist.