According to NASA, a black hole is “a great amount of matter packed into a very small area … a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out.”
A black hole. Anything but an empty space, yet invisible to the eye as no light can get out from it. A spot on description of my experience at Billabong Gardens, the Newtown hostel where I’ve spent the past three and a half weeks.
Moving to another hostel in another neighborhood today was like waking up from a dream. Where did the past three, almost four weeks go? What did I do?
My frustration started piling up last week when I was sick, resulting in a realization of something needing to be done asap if I wanted to survive in one piece. Thus, here I am, in yet another hostel, this time in Surry Hills.
And finally I can breathe again.
It feels like it’s been a while. It’s been an interesting month, that is all I can say. Having arrived in Newtown on Friday, January 13 (fittingly…?) thinking I’d stay just for the weekend, especially considering my first impression that was everything but good, I can’t get my head around how I managed to get through almost a month there.
Sucking up all my energy and inspiration it was like a black hole. Belongings, too, for that matter; my bikini bottom was nowhere to be found this morning when I was packing up my stuff.
The room was a mess – have a look for yourself! As if it wasn’t crowded enough thanks to its ground plan and interior, it was packed with stuff and sweaty as a sauna. Most mornings I’d wake up looking like I’d participated in a wet t-shirt contest or ran 10k, but no, I just slept in a room where the air stood completely, utterly still. Not even a shower would cool you down for more than five minutes; after that you’d be back to normal.
If the room was bad, the kitchen was even worse. Entering the dining area and kitchen was like walking into a boiler room. Everyone had their own boxes of food, both for the fridge and for dry foods, and their own set of a mug, plate, bowl and cutlery. What was yours was not actually yours, however, as people would just borrow each others’ mugs to have somewhere to pour their Goon at night, which most likely meant the mug would be gone forever. (For those who don’t know, Goon is the super cheap wine that comes in 4-liter boxes and costs no more than 10 dollars, i.e. 7 euros. 7 euros for 4 liters of wine, that’s crazy! And, if you ask me, disgusting, too, but it’s got its fans.)
The common room would welcome you with a sauna-like heat and humidity, making it almost unbearable to stay in on a hot day. That being the only place to hang out in unless the dining area and the outside seating area counts, there wasn’t much space to get your own space, if you know what I mean, which is something that I value and need a lot.
Why in the world, then, did I stay there? I guess I got comfortable. Comfortable in the chaos that was our room and once I’d met Isabel, a super sweet, absolutely lovely photographer/designer from Germany, I had found a friend, and all of a sudden the place wasn’t as bad as it had felt at first. Sharing a bunkbed we became like a married couple who’d do everything together: work, shop, cook, eat, do laundry… The only difference was that on top of all of that she’d go out most nights, too. She’s crazy (but in a good way).
Having stayed in Newtown for almost four weeks I feel like I did not see much of the place, which leaves me thinking then what did I do? Well… I worked on the blog, oh the hours that I worked on the blog because of every little technical thing that potentially could go wrong actually, not surprisingly, doing so. I edited and re-edited my CV (all those versions…), took my RSA certificate (Responsible Serving of Alcohol; one that you need if you want to work in a bar or restaurant) and applied for a few jobs. I had my first job interview and revised my dreams and put them on a board (that feeling of accomplishment!!) – goals, I’m coming for ya!
We celebrated Australia Day, long-haul traveled to the beaches of Bondi and Coogee (it takes forever to get there from Newtown) and did a day trip to Wattamolla Beach in Royal National Park. To not let things run too smoothly, however, I made sure to be sick for a week, too, in addition to which I went to a two-day coaching event on the weekend. Giving me the chance to reconnect with the real world, the ambitious world, the event was the last push that was needed to get me out of that black hole also known as Room 14 at Billabong Gardens… It had started to show signs of binge eating.
Lastly, although I have a tendency to make it sound like I’m a retired grandma who goes to bed at 9 pm every night (wanting to be an early bird, I wish I did), I did have a few crazy nights out amongst all the sweaty nights in.
I was never planning to stay in a hostel, but when does life ever work out according to our plans? Never. To be fair, though, it is a good way to meet people, never mind that being with a backpacker disclaimer. Not always, but most of the time. You don’t have to worry about being alone, which for some might be a salvation, while for others it can turn into a burden.
Well, I gave it a go and now I know. This hostel feels a lot more like “me”, but I hope it’ll be the last one I stay in in Sydney. If not else, then for my continuously growing amount of luggage.
Note to self: honeymoon phase is o-v-e-r. Time to get shit done!
Learning by doing, always,