I'd almost forgotten about it, actually (apparently I have a short memory for these things) ... but was forcibly reminded when I showed up in Santiago, Chile today. I'd made a hostel reservation online, as I've been doing all along, and blithely made my way from the bus station by metro to the address in my Lonely Planet.
There, I found a dark, derelict building with a chain and padlock on the door and boards on the windows. I double-checked the address -- yup, Catedral 2207, this was the place. I looked up at the wall of the building and could faintly discern lighter patches, spelling out "H-O-S-T-E-L" against the grime, and a lighter oval patch above; clearly there had been a sign for the hostel which had fallen off or been taken off.
By this time, it was getting dark, as my bus to Santiago had been very delayed at the border in a long, long line-up which didn't move for at least an hour. (The American guy I was chatting to speculated that they were all taking a lunch break; sure enough, on the dot at the top of the next hour, the entire crew came back to work and the line finally started to move.) It was twilight, and the neighbourhood of my erstwhile hostel was becoming quite deserted, and I didn't really fancy wandering the darkening streets of a strange big city looking for a place to lay my head.
So I headed back in the direction of the metro as I considered my options; a few doors down I saw a very welcome sign for the "Chile Inn Hostel" and rang the bell. Two very nice older women ushered me in and were happy to provide me with a bed for the night for 7,000 Chilean pesos (about $14). I realized after they showed me to my dorm room that, not only was I the only one in the dorm, but I was the only person staying in the entire hostel!
It's nice -- quite a bit more stylish than the usual hostel accommodation, for about the same price -- but it's rather spooky being the only one. I'm just hoping that at least one of the two ladies at the front desk stays here at night; if I'm completely alone in a big old creaky building all night, I just might develop a fear of the dark. And I don't think they provide breakfast in the morning, which is a South American hostel perk I've grown quite accustomed too -- even if "breakfast" is always too-sweet pastries with dulce de leche syrup to pour on top, and Nescafe instead of real coffee.
But at least it's somewhere to stay for tonight. Tomorrow I'll figure out a better option -- a few more people around to talk to would be nice. I enjoy solitude, but less so when it is thrust upon me unwillingly ... and hostels are more entertaining with a few loco Australianos around.