Volunteers’ Hostel

The Espaanglisch organization I work for is very small and is run out of the home of Tia (Aunt) Carmen, the aunt of the director, David Mercedes. Occasionally, volunteers stay in other, nearby hostels but, mostly, everyone stays here. The house is a 3-storey building with 2 classrooms, a kitchen and bathroom on the first floor and 4 volunteers’ bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. The third floor has Tia Carmen’s apartment and an outside area where clothes can be hung out to dry. The 2nd floor bathroom has a shower but no hot water so we all use the first-floor shower, which has some kind of electric heater embedded in the shower head. When you flip the switch, it will take the chill off the water which makes it very usable. Actually, I’ve found I like to turn it off for a minute or so before I get out of the shower at night because it helps cool me down for a better sleep. While the night air here is usually very pleasant, our rooms tend to heat up during the day and don’t really cool down until the middle of the night.

Tia Carmen is a little younger than me and her husband died about 8 years ago. She is a ball of energy except that, about 2 weeks after I got here, she tripped and sprained her ankle very badly. Since taking care of this house is a big job, requiring going up and down stairs, her sister Anna came to stay with us. They are nice ladies and I think they have enjoyed having someone more their age in the house. We sit and chat but the conversation is limited by my Spanish. Carmen gets frustrated with me sometimes and tells me I don’t practice enough. She’s right but she underestimates the amount of energy it takes to teach and learn Spanish at the same time.

The kitchen is small but everyone has a spot in the fridge and a shelf for their food. Many volunteers cook but I’ve found the kitchen very hot and crowded and have eaten out all meals except breakfast, for which I have oatmeal or granola with milk.

For a single room, we pay 100 soles (about $40) per week. Sharing a double is only 85 soles. Each of us drop our laundry off at the local “lavenderia” which will wash a load for about $2 USD. If you want them fully dried too it’s about twice that amount. We mostly ask for “semi-seco” (partly dry) and then hang them on the roof to finish drying.

I often eat lunch at the “Menu restaurant” next door, which you’ll see in the video below. A menu restaurant is one that offers a full meal for a single, fixed price. It includes an appetizer (usually a soup), an entree (usually a choice between 3 or 4), rice and some other vegetable or beans, juice and a simple dessert (e.g. a banana.) These restaurants are usually in someone’s home. The family next door serves lunch in what is their garage at night and the food is always good. It costs 4 soles which is about $1.50 USD, quite a bargain. I like the family which seems to include at least three different generations. The other lunch patrons are usually very friendly to us too.

Video: Hostel Volunteer in Trujillo

The Espaanglisch Hostel

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