Tag Archives: budget travel

No- Name Hostel

India opened its arms to me as if I were a lost child. I arrived an interesting mix of wide-eyed and broken, yearning for answers to questions I didn’t even know how to ask. The months leading up to my trip rocked my world, changing what I thought I knew about art and community and perception. I sought courage in my decision to flee to the complete opposite side of the planet as an emotional refugee, a blank canvas, and an eager explorer without a plan.

The weeks went on and I slowly recovered my sense of self with just enough missing pieces to be filled in with the love of others. I longed for the tribal support that fuels the first chakra and roots the soul, and that longing was what opened up my heart. By living with an open heart you attract the right people into your life and that couldn’t have been demonstrated more beautifully than it was by the people of No Name Free Hostel in Goa.

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It began the night of the cancelled jam session. I was walking the Arambol beach with my tap shoes in hand, searching for a place to feed my belly with food and my soul with music. Each spot was blasting trance, but I persisted, determined to find the right destination. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the beach at the last little bar that I could rest.

The music coming out of Seahorse was quirky, to say the least, but it was live. That was all that mattered to me. I sat there eating my chana masala and watched the crowd dance like whizzing electrons as the guitar/drummer duo sang about nonsensical things. They made me laugh, and they energised something deep in me, shouting, “DANCE, dance!”

I inhaled my food and stormed the dance floor equipped with my instrument of choice — my feet. It was love at first jam! The crew had never played with a tap dancer and I was beyond thrilled to fill another pocket of my soul with this tribal oneness.

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At the end of the gig, the guitarist, a tall Danish guy with circular glasses, made the announcement about No Name Free Hostel. I learned that the whole crew that night were from this same tribe. They built this place together in Keri, a quiet piece of paradise on the sea, located just north of Arambol. I knew right then and there that I would be joining the circle in some capacity when the timing was right.

The following week brought the end of my stay in Mandrem. Heartfelt goodbyes and soft tears accompanied me as I packed my belongings and fueled my scooty. With the sun waking up in the Goan sky, I dropped my shades, turned the key, and drove north. I knew my destination but the dull scratching of nerves and anxiety persisted in my guts. Would this group remember me, embrace me, welcome me, love me? Would I feel the same oneness I felt at Seahorse? Am I fun, cool, worthy, happy? All of the things that had bothered me in my past had still been there. All of the questions and fears and shortcomings that had always tortured me have never gone away. But this time, for the first time, I didn’t let my fears influence my decision to live and to be loved. I kept my shaking hand on the gas.

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My arrival was a flood of warmth and instant comfort. I was greeted by a tall, skinny Indian man who I’d met at the bar. He had wild, young dreadlocks and all the qualities of an old friend. The next two faces were that of a beautifully ethereal French woman who co-founded the hostel, and a spritely girl from Italy with a buzzing smile.

The little pixie gave me a tour of the grounds with heart-warming pride and enthusiasm. She walked me through what would soon be the cafe, a means of potential income for the hostel  which would allow it to remain free for drifters like myself. We talked about the vision of the hostel, about how they want to create a space for people from every corner of the world to come together and express, share, create, learn, and build. The small, eclectic group of founders are pioneers of this new type of hostel and they are currently relying on crowd-funding and generous donations to stay afloat. As we walked through the rest of the land (and they have a large chunk of it) I was greeted by volunteers fixing bunk beds for the shared bedroom, an adorable gang of kittens who sleep in their garden, and artists decorating the walls with colourful depictions of their imagination. The whole place seemed to be alive and everyone could feel it. From that moment on, I knew I belonged.

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The rest of my time at No Name is a blur of music, food, and art, complemented by its diverse crew. Some I would see again at the end of my trip only to be greeted as if I had never left, a privilege reserved for the best of friends. Faces come and go and love may blossom in this community by default, but the remarkable thing about them is their ability to embrace each person who walks through the door. When you step on this land you do not feel like a guest in someone else’s home, you feel like family. The knot in your stomach loosens its grip and you feel safe. You feel love.

 

Written by Allie Pizzo, and edited by Sarah Hirsch.

If you are interested in No-name Hostel, please watch this video to find out more about what they do. They also run a crowdfunding page, if you would like to donate.  If Allie’s story about Arambol has inspired you, you can also check out one of Sarah Hirsch’s articles on the town, or about her Christmas spent there.

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A Word of Gratitude

Sitting down in a small independent coffee shop in Fayetteville North Carolina, the sun has been steadily growing stronger since my coach from Atlanta, Georgia, arrived at 6:30am, till at 8:30am it is already burning the back of my neck. This is the first chance I’ve really had to write for a few weeks, and there’s something I have to    get off my chest.

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Early morning in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Since being invited to America last summer and booking my flights in November for the best deal, I had patiently been awaiting my adventure with no small amount of trepidation. In all honesty, I had never really thought about going to the States at all, or at least it wasn’t on the top of my list. However, when a couple of very good friends I made whilst working as an au pair in Rome invited me out, I suddenly couldn’t get it out of my head. Originally the idea was to spend the summer up in Maine with one of the girls, where we could relax and pretend to be in Rome before travelling down to North Carolina to celebrate with the second friend at her wedding reception.

Within months those plans had changed, the wedding reception had been postponed and the first girl had accepted a position with Cityyear with Americorps and was due to be in San Antonio, Texas half-way through my journey. ‘Road trip?’ I said. ‘Road trip.’ She agreed. So the plan changed. A month in Maine, a week long road trip down to Texas with my friend and her wonderful mother, a week in Texas helping her to explore and settle into the new flat, then a three week journey by myself back up to New York City for my flight home.

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The harbour in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at sunset

So I’d like to say some thank yous. Firstly, and probably most importantly to the Flanagan family. In the time I spent with them they treated me like a family member, making me feel absolutely at home and welcome in the time I spent with them. They taught me about American history and current politics and culture, drove me hours to show me amazing sites such as Salem, which had been a dream of mine since I was a child, and Boston, where I was surprisingly not hated automatically for being from the wrong side of the pond. They introduced me to their friends and family, who it seemed were just as happy to meet me as I was to meet them finally, after having heard so much about them, although looking back that may just have been typical American hospitality. This family provided so much for me and treated me so well that I will be grateful forever, and never forget my time there.

Secondly, a word of thanks to the strangers. Thank you to the bartender in Boston who poured me a large glass of free whiskey after I looked upset when he asked me what I thought about Brexit. Thank you to the Flanagan’s family members who hosted us on our trip down, I learnt so much from you and you showed me such kindness. Thank you to the Turkish man in San Antonio, who teared up and thanked me heavily when I returned to his store to ask him if his family was okay the day after the coup in Turkey started. Thank you to the bus driver in New Orleans who refused to let me leave the bus station until he had confirmed that I knew exactly how to get to my hostel and that it wasn’t too far. Thank you to the Jack Black lookalike from New York City who took me out that next night, got me drunk for free and regaled me with stories about his travels in south and Central America. Thank you to the couple from Kansas who invited me out with them and took me to see one of the coolest blues bands I’ve ever heard. Thank you to the Brit/ Aussie who got drank hurricanes with me on my last day and talked to me about such deep things? Thank you to my couchsurfing host in Atlanta who provided me with a double bed and silk sheets and explored the city with me, I had an amazing time with you.

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The Civil Rights walk of fame, Martin Luther King Centre, Atlanta Georgia

Thirdly, a word of forward thanks, to the friend hosting me here in North Carolina, despite having a busy household with a beautiful Siberian Husky and a new puppy. Thank you to the family friends in Virginia who have been looking after my backpack for a month to save my poor shoulders, and who will be putting me up for a few days next week. Thank you to the couchsurfing host in New York City who is just as excited as I am to show me the city and see it from a strangers eye

Finally, thank you to the family and friends I have back home, who have provided me with the life skills and character to be able to get through the difficulties of travelling. It really is rough sometimes. Sometimes you are there, sitting in a hostel, craving a conversation with someone who really knows you, a hug from someone who feels safe, a coffee with an old friend. You guys have given me the foundations, now I’m learning to build for myself.

 

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A dark storm approaching on the beach at Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Base Camp

Written by Bethany Naylor

Read about my final arrival in New York City here!

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