Sometimes the second time around shows you something better.
That is the case at The Wandering Paisa, a Laureles hostel where I’ve spent a lot of time lately, at first because Dave told me he wants me to write profiles on the best hostels in Medellin and beyond, and now because I like hanging out there.
The first thing you notice is the location.
It’s less than a block east of Carrera 70, one of the city’s best nightlife districts, and just three blocks south of the Estadio metro station. You know when you’re in front of the Paisa because of the big sign outside.
When you step inside the friendly staff will greet you, whether it’s Alejandra, Gisela, Susana, Tatiana or Yesenia, and sometimes the owner, Brent, although you’ll probably mistake him for a backpacker because of his laid-back demeanor and West Coast accent, the result of his upbringing in Seattle.
The hostel has seven bedrooms, five of them dorms, two of them privates, along with a patio with several hammocks. All the rooms are clean and comfortable.
If you get a dorm, try to get in Argentina, which has its own bathroom and is right next to the big balcony that overlooks the street downstairs.
Just past the kitchen is another patio, just before it the bar, which is where you can have a lot of fun.
The bartenders, Diego and Joanna, are really nice and keep the party going on nights with special events. The best of them is the karaoke night, typically the first and third Fridays of the month.
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I kept losing track of the words. I probably sounded like a punch-drunk boxer. Maybe I deserved to bomb it, after telling Brent that my biggest complaint about the hostel is that the owner can’t sing.
The weeks with no karaoke, there is an open mic night on Saturdays. And every Tuesday there are free salsa classes with an instructor the male guests drool over, and some of them even pay her for private lessons. Too bad she has a boyfriend, fellas.
On Thursday is the language exchange, which, like the karaoke night, draws lots of locals who want to interact with foreigners, who want to practice their Spanish.
But the best night I’ve experienced at the hostel was the St. Paddy’s Day party, a grand party that drew 80 people or so and included some wild games of beer pong.
Needless to say, a lot of the attendees were good-looking girls, one of whom I tried to introduce a socially awkward backpacker to, while later in the night one of my buddies was trying to ingratiate himself with her, only to get stuck in the friend zone, something that used to happen to me a lot in my younger years.
I actually came up with a new verb for it at a later language exchange event.
“Look at him,” I said to Brent, “friendzoning again.”
Brent and I both laughed, and it is anecdotes like that one that will make your stay a great one.
Another good one:
A bunch of the travelers I met last month convinced me to go to the fútbol game with them. I was so busy with work at the time, I hadn’t been following my favorite team, Atlético Nacional, so I had no idea we were on the way to a Copa Libertadores game.
Copa Libertadores is the South American championship, the tournament that determines the best club team on the continent. Nacional — which won it in 1989, becoming the first Colombian team to win an international tournament — played Club Nacional from Uruguay.
After taking a beating for the first 75 minutes and going down 2-0, Atlético Nacional finally scored, then tied the game two minutes into extra time, prompting a big celebration among the home fans. Sometimes a tie feels like a win.
I had other great times with Adam, Ana Paulina, Celine, Dave, Joaquin, Noah, Orley, Pablo, Sarah and Shira, a group that represented seven countries: Australia (Dave), Chile (Joaquin and Pablo), England (Adam and Lloyd), France (Ana Paulina and Celine), Israel (Shira), Sweden (Orley) and the United States (Noah and Sarah).
One night we went on my friend Maria’s pub crawl, which included a thrilling series of flip cup that my team won, 4 games to 2.
Prior to having fun with them, I met other great people at the Paisa, who have become good friends, and I continue to make new ones when I go to the events.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the place is how well Brent and his staff balance fun and relaxation.
Most hostels have one of two reputations: mellow or party. The Wandering Paisa is both.
There are events on specified nights, and otherwise, it’s just a place to relax, where you shouldn’t have a problem getting a good night’s sleep.
I’m making a trip to the coffee region soon so I don’t know when I’ll be back at the Paisa. All I know is, when I do go back, I can relax, party or get in on some friendzoning.