Tuesday September 10, 2013
Today we finally broke the curse of the ‘Outsiders as Backpackers’. There are two ways we found to penetrate this curse if you are a 31 year old married backpacking couple. One of them is this new fangeled concepts called ‘Joining in on activities’. I know, I know, it almost sounds too extreme to attempt, but trust me, it works. The other, is to find another backpacking couple. Age or marital status doesn’t matter as much here, but it seems that any couples that have put more than a year into their relationship kind of have the cruiser mentality of reaching out to ‘people of their kind’.
One group of friends I was introduced to were a younger Dutch group (plus one Californian). Matt and I had spent the day moving ourselves back and forth between the beach and the pool at our hostel. At the pool, on one of the occasions that we were trying to find comfortable positions in the lounge chairs that have long ago stopped lounging and now just lie flat, I watched a group of about four people playing volleyball in the pool. As the day wore on I could no longer find a comfortable position in the chair, and my now bright red bum needed a little break from the sun that I had been forcing introductions with since I bought my new suit yesterday. When a fifth person joined their game and now made the teams uneven, I marched over and asked if I could join. And guess what?, they said yes! Man, I should have tried this thing of asking to join activities for years now instead of just sending ESP signals and waiting to be invited.
The game was quite entertaining and I found out that I can serve very well, but I’m as equally poor at trying to return a serve. Or really, do anything with a ball that’s flying in my direction. But the points I was able to earn while serving kind of evened me out, and my teammates decided I was worthy of keeping around. Near the end though, the game wasn’t even concentrated on so much as scoring points as it was about staying in the sun. For as hot as it is during the day, this place can get damn cold at night and members of both teams would slink toward the well lit side of the pool as the sun dropped below the palm trees and cast shadows on the other half. Get that ball that’s headed toward the dark side of the pool? I don’t think so, I’m staying in the sun.
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Later that night after showering up and coming back out to the bar for dinner, we ran into the aforementioned couple. Hannah and Kyle are from London and had just started a six month backpacking trip across South and Central America. Like literally just started. We recognized them from our bus ride up from Lima, where they had just gotten off a plane two days earlier. We had a great time sitting by the bar and talking with them, us finding out where they were headed, and then finding out where we had already been. Plus talking to people with British accents? Those are just fun. Every time Hannah would say something like, “Excuse me a moment, I have to go wee”, I would just about double over because it was both hilarious and adorably cute at the same time.
As we sat around one of the benches, talking and exchanging information, one of the Loki staff members came up to ask if we were participating in beer pong that night. Yup, this was one of those hostels that had an activity going each night, and they were usually centered around drinking. After having kept to ourselves every night of this trip so far, I blurted out “YES!!” before Matt ever had the opportunity to stop me. Hannah and Kyle also agreed to play, I think all four of us expecting that we would be pitted against each other. Which would have been nice since I don’t think any of us has played in years. As far as Matt’s recollection goes, he’s never played. I had to remind him that, yes, we’d actually played a number of times in his friend Kevin’s basement, but he probably doesn’t remember because the game of flippy cup which we eventually evolved to, was much more fun. Which coincidentally, also happened to be the game of choice at Loki last night.
Since all of us were no longer familiar on the rules, we went to the rule board to check it out. For the laid back atmosphere this place administers, their rule board looked as technical as a rocket launch.
Did you catch any of that?
There were so many groups of people playing that night, that only a certain number of tables could be set up and others would have to wait for one to become available before having the chance to play. We took advantage of the little extra time on our hands and went to spy on my volleyball teammates, Wouter and Mark, who were busy drinking their defeat when we arrived. It was still enough to pick up a few tips though, before we were doomed to our own table to begin.
Luckily for us, our crazy French opponent in his crazy patterned pants, was very nice and more than willing to explain any rules that we were unsure of before we began. They weren’t out to wipe the floor with our asses, they were just looking to have a good time. Phew. I started to relax a little bit. That was, until Matt was pouring and racking up our drinks and I realized these were not the miniature sips of beer I was allotted as a dainty little girl back in our friends basement. Between the six glasses in front of us, we had to empty two of the nearly liter sized bottles in to them.
The game went much more quickly than I thought. But that might have been because as soon as our opponents went to toss, they got their first ball in and I was sent to chug (and I mean really chug) about five ounces of beer as quickly as possible. That will give you a good little buzz right there. I remember tossing our ball and getting about two into their cups, but mostly I just remember chugging beer, and before I knew it, the game was over. We had lost. Oh well, at least we could still get new beers at the 2 for 1 game price. After our defeat, we went to see how Hannah and Kyle were holding up.
Chug Hannah, chug!
Their game lasted slightly longer than ours, but they were soon out as well. Making the rounds, I went to check back on other members from my volleyball team.
Wouter and Mark watch as Gioia and Joss play.
And then to watch as one of our dorm mates, Renald, advanced to the next round.
It was kind of strange how we woke up that morning not really knowing a single soul at the hostel, and by 10 o’clock that night I was out fraternizing with half the people at the bar. Talking to everyone I’d met earlier in the day, and also walking up to random people that I’d never even looked at before, just to see how their night was going. Everyone was friendly and outgoing and more than willing to include us ‘old people’ in their conversations. Maybe backpackers are kind of like cruisers after all, once you finally get the courage to go up and say hello. Or, maybe you just need to ingest lots of beer. That helps too.