1. Milhouse Hostel – Buenos Aires, Argentina
You’d heard about the Milhouse since at least Salta. Everyone you met on the gringo trail recounted how crazy this place was. The Milhouse was known for its parties: foam parties, stoplight parties, toga parties, white parties, black parties, mud parties, candy parties, political parties, panty parties, port parties, part panty party part port parties.
You got there on a Monday, and had the opportunity to experience Milhouse’s famous Monday Night Party. You got drunk because you drank drink specials early in the evening and followed a group of co-eds to Pacha or Baby O or Niceto or Frere. You partied till the sun rose and came back with one of them and hooked up on the street and the lobby and the hallway and the elevator and the dorm room. And you had the experience that everyone told you that you were supposed to have at the Milhouse. And because that happened you felt redeemed, like you really are the world-class party traveler you’d always hoped to be.
2. Ukelele Hostel – Montevideo, Uruguay
Months ago you met some Icelandic TV stars in the Chilean desert. You’d sand-boarded and drunk dozens of pisco sours. You didn’t think you’d run into them again, but there they were sitting on bunk beds in your dorm room. They’d crossed the continent filming their antics for a Reykjavik network’s website. If their web show was a success then they’d get on TV. Being famous in Iceland isn’t that big of a deal. There are only 100,000 people — that’s like being a local celebrity in Green Bay. But you found these girls more fun than anyone you’d met, because they’re getting paid to have fun.
You drank gin and tonics with your old friends and talked about what you’d seen in South America. You discovered that you’d stayed at the same hostels on numerous occasions, often a few days behind each other.
That night they took you on a bike tour of Montevideo. They’d never been, but they enjoyed pointing out things they’d just made up… this is where the reindeer feed in the winter… this is where you can drink as much fruit punch as you want… this where the locals come for free massages by the mayor. Icelanders have always been known for their imaginary tours of Uruguay.
3. Yak Temi Hostel – Ushuaia, Argentina
Everyone said this was the closet you’d ever get to partying in Antarctica. After a week in the Tierra del Fuego wilderness, you could use an epic party. You checked in expecting the place to already be bumping, but the only people in the common space were a Canadian couple in their mid-60s drinking a bottle of red wine and sharing a cheese platter. This was not the kind of excitement you’d anticipated.
Rob and Deb were waiting around Ushuaia to see if they could catch a cruise to Antarctica. The trip would cost a few thousand dollars, but if they found a trip last minute they’d be able to save a few hundred. They’d been all over the world, but had waited all their lives to see Antarctica. They’d come all this way, and would be devastated if they couldn’t get there, but if they didn’t book a cruise in the next two days they’d have to give up their hopes of ever seeing the frozen continent.
But they were optimistic. “Oh I think we’ll get on, and the boat will be great, we’ll see penguins and icebergs. And on the last night they have a soiree on board that they call “The Southernmost Party in the World”
4. The Tiger Paw Hostel – Medellín, Colombia
Domenico and Jean had never played beer pong before, but they were winning the Tiger Paw Hostel’s weekly beer pong tournament. Things got heated when your teams each had three cups on the table. Domenico yelled insults in Italian, Jean hurled swear words in French. You made up disses in English, then made fun of them for not understanding what you were saying. They called you a cheater for not making eye contact as you pitched the ping pong ball. That’s not even a rule! You accused them of breaking the rules by moving their elbows over the table. They weren’t over the line!
After a tense game, they beat you and your teammate Rosalia (who by the way wasn’t doing a very good job defending your cups). They shook your hand and said that though the battle was fierce they appreciated your tenacity. You congratulated them on their stellar rookie performance.
Your best friends in Medellín had once been your greatest adversaries.
5. Stone Of A Beach – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
You spent your waking hours drinking caipirinhas on the rooftop bar and falling asleep on the beach. Who would have thought being drunk all day could get tiring? By the fifth day, you’d given up cachaça for long walks through Rio. You’d leave after breakfast and get home well after sunset. You didn’t talk to too many people, but sometimes they’d talk to you.
The first thing TJ mentioned was he had a knife the size of your forearm. The second thing he mentioned was his recent procurement of a pair of brass knuckles he claimed to have purchased from a notorious international drug lord on a bus from Manaus to Sao Paulo. You were skeptical. What kind of international drug lord takes the bus?
Even though this guy was allegedly heavily armed, you didn’t feel uncomfortable criticizing his arsenal. As an American traveler, he was convinced having weapons was a necessity on the “mean streets of Rio.” You said that weapons only attract violence. He said they protect you from people stealing all of your reais.
- “But, what if the mugger had a gun?”
He thought for a second. “You’re right, I need to get a gun.”
6. Exxes Hostel – Salta, Argentina
You met a 55-year old park ranger at the communal dining room table. After pounding through several liters of Quilmes and table wine, you walked to an empty club. David told you stories about the 95 countries he’d visited. Chasing grizzlies through the Canadian bush. Swimming across the English Channel. Breaking himself out of an Angolan jail cell. Getting wasted with the governor of an oblast in far eastern Siberia.
You wondered if you’d ever be able to tell stories as wild as those. Most of yours have to do with getting drunk and trying to hit on girls on dance floors. Stories that were fun in the moment but don’t impress old men.
When David came back from the bar, he filled your glass with whiskey, and said “drink up.” After slamming his drink back down, he smiled and walked over to a circle of women half his age. Within five minutes one of them was gnawing his face.
7. El Lobo – La Paz, Bolivia
In the Israeli restaurant on the first floor, you ate hummus and drank beers with college-aged Bolivian girls. Afterwards they invited you to a bar folklorico. The band played a violin, a pan flute, and a guitar. It sounded like you were walking through a Starbucks. You were drinking pitchers of chicha that tasted like Sunny Delight. It was disgusting. There were bar snacks. Instead of peanuts, they had bowls of coca leaves for you to chew on.
You were surrounded by Bolivian girls. They pulled you onto the dance floor. They showed you that each Bolivian folk dance correlates to a specific region. The Oruro do-si-do. The Potosí two-step. The Cochabamba shuffle.
You got winded and sat back down for more coca leaves. The cutest girl, Francesca, sat beside you. You told her how much you enjoyed the music, and thanked her for inviting you out.
She asked what you thought about Revolutionary Socialism.
You laughed “Socialism? Hmm, I guess I oppose it… But not for the reasons most Americans do.”
You smugly told her that you disagree with socialism because you disagree with Marx’s fundamental idea of Dialectical Materialism. You don’t think all ideas stem from physical realities.
This was the smartest thing you’d ever said in Spanish. She didn’t seem impressed.
8. Hostel Inn Iguazu – Iguazu, Argentina
Last night you’d put down the most gin and tonics you’d ever had in one sitting. You finally got out of bed late in the afternoon, but had done yourself the service of briefly waking up at 7 to bring remnants from the free breakfast to your room. You were the only person in the dining hall eating hard-boiled eggs and cereal at 3pm. Cesar was sitting across from you reading Foreign Policy magazine. He was a Cuban who’d been managing a bar in Iguazu for two years. He still rented a room at the Hostel Inn, because he loved meeting new people.
He took you down the street to get a coffee, where he showcased his miraculous talent. He could tell where anyone was from before they walked up based on their clothes. British guys wear three-quarter shorts. Germans wear ugly shoes. The French wear stripes. Australians wear day-glo sleeveless shirts. After years in tourist towns, Cesar was an expert at determining where people were from.
You asked if he could tell where you were from.
“Well, you’re wearing Rainbow sandals, so you must be from California.”
9. El Viajero – Cartagena, Colombia
You were already completely wasted. So much rum, so much coke, a little aguardiente, six or seven Aguilas. You partied so hard at El Viajero that the employee on duty kicked you out (which really means he just asked you to kindly take the party outside “because some of the guests are trying to sleep”).
Your group of international maniacs ran through the park where you’re supposed to be able to find sloths and iguanas and monkeys, though none of you had ever seen any of them. Someone heard there was a Cuban bar that was supposed to feel like “Old Havana.” You didn’t want to pay the 12,000 peso cover, so you slid behind some paying customers into the belly of the bar. The bouncer saw you, but couldn’t leave his post so he just glared at you and tried to call for back up. You ran onto the dance floor and swung between different old ladies. You moved along to rumbas and salsas until the bouncer eventually forgot about you.
You sat at the bar buying rounds of cuba libres for anyone willing to drink them.
10. Coconut – Canoa, Ecuador
The Coconut was great — you could surf in the mornings and lounge all day. There were always beers and good company. And today this dude brought over some weed. You walked down the beach and smoked it. This was the shittiest weed you’d ever smoked. You’d take a hit, feel high for like five minutes, and then need to take another hit. Frustrated that you couldn’t stay high, you walked back to the hostel and just lay down in a hammock. You struck up a conversation with the guy hanging next to you.
- “Yo, how are you doing?”
“Oh not so well.”
“Really, what’s going on?”
“Hmm, well last night I had this dream where wolves were after me, like they were chasing me around this plaza and I couldn’t stop them. So eventually I got up to a tower and was able to kick most of them down the steps. But then this really huge wolf, who now had wings for some reason, was flying directly towards me. I was scared, so all I could think to do was to clap my hands together tightly. Instantly his wings fell off and he fell to the ground. I guess ultimately the dream turned out well, but it’s still making me feel weird.”
You wished you could get what he was smoking.
11. Che Lagarto – Viña del Mar, Chile
You went with a group of hostelers that you’d partied with at Che Lagarto for the past few nights to a local music festival. The party was in a warehouse by the docks.
A DJ spun a crazy eclectic mix. Throwing on classic breaks next to Johnny Cash. Then he added visual clips from Weird Science and The Shining. You saw a French band, who sounded like Bloc Party. You were curious about their instrumentation. So you decided you’d just ask the guy who was playing it. After their set finished you walked towards security. You thought the key to sneaking backstage in a Spanish-speaking country is to just speak Spanish poorly.
- “¿Hola, do you speak Ingles?”
“Okay, I have a little Español. I work for a compania de music… Mi banda es playing, but I don’t have a wristband (point to wrist)… ¿donde get this?”
A little bit confused, the bouncer just waved you through. You didn’t actually think that would work, but for some reason it did. Now that you were backstage, you could satiate your curiosity and find out what kind of synthesizer that guy was playing. But then you got distracted by the open bar in the corner. You spent the next four hours drinking free vodka with VIPs.
12. Galerias 13 – Salvador, Brazil
You’d been in Salvador since Carnaval. The town had quieted down, but the hostel was lively. Megan had been looking for new inventive ways to get drunk. She’d been interviewing every person that walked through the doors of the kitchen to find out what drinking games they played back home.
A Swede walked over with a deck of cards. He tried to explain a game that his older brother taught him. Nobody really followed, but Anders said that “you’ll pick it up as you go along.” He shuffled the cards, passed them out, counted to ten, and then pointed to you. “Drink!” You had no idea what was happening, but you took a sip off your caipirinha.
Megan’s turn. She counted to ten and then pointed to Anders. He flipped his card to reveal an ace of spades, then said “Drink!” She took a swig off her Brahma.
Yumiko’s turn. She counted to ten and pointed to Megan. Megan flipped her card — ace of hearts. Anders yelled, “Now you both drink!” Yumiko and Megan cheered each other and finished their drinks.
At this point, it was very clear that nobody knew how to actually play the game. Megan asked if this Swedish drinking game was complicated to understand if you don’t speak Swedish.
Anders laughed and said, “Oh, this isn’t a Swedish drinking game, it’s just a prank my brother used to pull on me to get me drunk quickly.”
13. Rivendell – Lima, Peru
You came to stay at the Lord of the Rings-themed hostel because a girl you made out with in Arequipa said she might be staying there. After checking in you discovered she wasn’t around — there were just a few tourists and a bunch of murals showcasing someone’s undying love for J.R.R. Tolkien.
She chose that hostel because it was a few blocks from a bar where her cousin would be performing later. After drinking a few beers at the hostel, you felt confident enough to find her at the show. A poster out front called the night’s event: “Grunge Is Not Dead.”
You walked inside and looked for your girl. She wasn’t there either. Maybe she didn’t even come to Lima this weekend. You were disappointed, but decided to try and enjoy the music anyway. The venue was filled with long-haired teenagers watching other long-haired teenagers try to approximate transliterated Nirvana lyrics over sludgy guitar riffs and inaccurate drum patterns. Many people think grunge died with Kurt Cobain in 1994. But that’s not true — grunge died last night at a small bar in Miraflores.