An Unusual Treatment at La BananeWednesday, February 06, 2013Ryan Mach
I prefer staying at hostels when I go out of town alone because I don't really feel comfortable sleeping inside the hotel room without any living company. My previous solo escapades forced me to spend a night or two inside a room all by myself. First was during my solo trip in Legazpi and the second was when I went solo in Boracay. Both stays were possibly the loneliest experiences I've had so far. While I enjoy every peace and quiet I get from spending some alone time inside a silent space, the absence of noise can be painfully deafening and an unpleasant reminder that going solo does have its drawbacks.
I was able to mingle with the hostel guests all right, but I also had an unusual experience, which I'm calling an adventure, with one of the hostel staffs. It started with an inquisitive greeting ("Yes?" instead of "How may I help you?") when he saw me standing near the gate of La Banane. He was sitting on the steps in front of the reception area. At first I thought he was a she, because he wore a dress (and a revealing one at that). His deep and husky voice soon told me he wasn't a woman. Right from the get-go, I could sense his indifference toward me.
I didn't quite understand why he would try to push me away by deliberately telling me that the room I reserved the day before my arrival in El Nido was no longer available. He strongly suggested that I should check out a different inn, a run-down and cheap one not far from La Banane. It turned out that he wasn't telling the truth about the dorm room being occupied as I got a bed after talking to the receptionist.
I don't know his name but I remember how he'd look at me every time I'd see him inside La Banane - the look of contempt, almost belittling and condescending, was always apparent on his face.
On my last night at the hostel, I was invited by two German lads to join a group of Dutch guys having a late-night drinking session at the front yard. More guests came and joined afterwards. I saw him lurking at the door. He probably got curious when he saw me, a lone Filipino guy, talking to foreign guests, laughing and just having a good time. At one point, he even approached us and stood there for a moment and left without a word after a few minutes later.
He was the first person I interacted with at the hostel and he was also the last one I saw before I left. He was sleeping on a bench near the door. It was 530 in the morning, he was deep in slumber - he woke when I creaked the door open. I apologized for the noise I created. He merely grunted and went back to sleep.
I consider this unusual interaction an adventure because it was like being in a battlefield of different sort of emotions - anger, pity, confusion and what-not. Despite the condescending treatment, I never did once flare up, sign that perhaps I've grown more mature. I'm proud to say that it's a battle I've successfully won.
It is true what they say that we'll have a better understanding of ourselves and others when we leave the comfort of our homes and experience the world firsthand. Solo travel is indeed a big departure from the usual routine and becomes an opportunity for learning, having fun and seeing things in a brand-new perspective. I'm pretty sure I'll meet someone like him again in the near future but I won't be worried because I simply know what to do.
I think I do.