C. Cagnin

How I Finally Found My Passion At A Hostel In Colombia

After booking my flight, I almost canceled it again, thinking, “Screw the refund, I want out.” I was feeling a million and one emotions surrounding my upcoming trip to Colombia and could not for the life of me figure out why. I’ve traveled solo before, I’ve lived abroad, but why did this time feel so different?

During the world’s almost two-year lockdown, I realized internally I had become complacent and almost afraid of what was out there—something I had never really felt before. However, despite this feeling, I was more afraid of losing my passion for travel forever. My chest had become a permanent home to tiny miners, hammering away each night leading up to my journey. I knew at that moment I had two options: one, listen to other people’s opinions and stay scared, or two, shove out the miners and just pack my suitcase (my brain would surely catch up soon with what my body was doing, right?).

Upon arrival at Los Patios, I was greeted by a desk-full of friendly faces. There was still about three hours until check-in, so the rooftop and the Colombian sun would have to do. I sat there on my phone, idling through social media, a routine that felt almost a little too natural. This wasn’t who I was deep down. I’m an extrovert. I’m the one who stays too late at any party. I’m the woman who is curious about cultures and new people, so why the hell was I sitting on a rooftop on my phone?

Roommate after roommate unpacked, introduced, re-packed, and moved on from our small six-bed room during the stay. Friends from the US, Paris, the Canary Islands, all over, were eager to introduce themselves and soak up the hostel culture. Each time the door opened and a new suitcase wheeled in, I pulled back my curtains, eager to peep my head out and say hello. This was me. Lover of travel. Lover of meeting new strangers.

During the short amount of time there, I had created a routine I was happy with. The staff recognized us, the brunch spot on the corner greeted us with smiles as they had the morning before, and everything once again felt exciting and new. I was like a kid in a candy store- avidly staring at the backpackers arriving, the digital nomads tapping away, and the wide array of accents surrounding me. My passion had crept back in without me even knowing, and I was happier than ever. Hayley was back and ready for all that Colombia had to offer.

I could’ve chosen to stay in a fancy hotel, but why? Everything in the hostel made me feel giddy, from the shared bathrooms to the drunks in the street outside the window at 4 a.m.—passionate people, a building that felt alive, and all exactly what I had wanted in that moment. I found laughter through the strangers I met. I found creativity through the colors and landscapes I saw. I found a love for myself I was missing—a love for the woman I was when I was free, in her element, and back roaming the globe.

Was I glad I listened to myself and went? OH YES. Are hostels just for youngins? OH NO. What we all have to realize is that we’re all human. We all have passions. And if we’re lucky enough, we may just find a hostel full of people who share the same passions as we do. If you’re lucky enough to find that, hold on for dear life, and when you return back home, remember the woman you were when you were holding on.