Whilst working as a teacher at Eurosur, I had three days of the week free. I had thought about working in a hostel prior to coming to Paraguay. I had researched it extensively when I was in Argentina but nothing came of it. So, when I was told that there was a vacancy at Colonial Hostel, I jumped at the chance. I had stayed in this hostel when I first arrived in Encarnacion and it didn’t take me very long to start living there. Yes, it is a hostel, but I felt at ease and at home in it. I shared my dorm room with another guy, Sam, from Finland and he too had stayed at the hostel for a long time. I got along well with the staff – Marc, from Switzerland and Leroi, a local and knew the owner, Gladys.
I was conscious of my limited Spanish but also felt that by working in the hostel, it would improve. Thankfully Gladys gave me the job on the bases that I would improve my Spanish and in turn help others with their English. I worked seven in the evening until seven in the morning each day and got one day off each week provided I could find someone to cover me. I had never worked a twelve hour shift before and I had never worked in a hostel before so it was quite the experience.
Most days were fine, I was able to converse with backpackers, book them in and keep the system up-to-date. Friday nights however were another ball game as most backpackers would go out. Some would come back at three in the morning others at five. I remember there was one Friday night that I didn’t sleep. We hosted a music concert at the hostel and whilst the music finished at three, people continued to drink until gone five. At half six most people had left so I could lock up. I set up for breakfast, showered and set off to teach my class at half seven. This was the first time I worked a fifteen hour day and have to say, it wasn’t half bad.
Some days were pretty quiet with a only a few backpackers. I learnt the word for towel, soup and ice cream after a while. I was able to answer the phone and take messages which was also something. I met some interesting backpackers, some wanting to travel through Argentina others wanted to head to Bolivia. I met a German backpacker who had been travelling for the last seven years, going around the world on his bicycle. Another German friend and Russian joined him in Encarnacion and they were going to head to Posadas. I met a Australia guy who had been travelling for several years on his motorcycle with her German partner. Most people that stayed at the hostel, stayed for a few nights and then moved on.
I worked here for just over a month and what an experience. It wasn’t as daunting or as hard as I thought it would be. I managed to speak enough Spanish to get by and thankfully no dissatisfied backpackers! Sure, I could have stayed on longer but working everyday at the hostel and teaching meant there was little tight for me to do much else. It was good for the money and the experience but it’s not something I would do for three months say. So, for you backpackers looking to make some money, consider working or helping out at a hostel. In return they will let you stay for free and may even provide breakfast. It is great way to make or save money and to meet other backpackers.