Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hostel in the Forest

This week Josh and I went to Hostel in the Forest with our friends Julie & Brandon. This place is meant to be an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My ever unique friend, Mirek, told me about this place and he endearingly calls it, "The Hippie Forest." I could not have named it better myself.

Brandon and Julie are 2 very experienced campers and I think I bit off more than I could chew going on this trip with them. They laughed at the number of bags I had for the short time we would be staying. (I believe it was 4 bags along with two comforters and clean pillow cases). I took it with pride knowing that I would be prepared for anything that came our way. They would thank me later...

When we arrived in the woods it was steady raining. We were welcomed into this dingy dome shaped cedar shingled covered building that smelled of body odor and musk. A barefooted girl with very long dreads and armpit hair gave us the tour as well as the "do's and don'ts" for the weekend. She showed us where the bathrooms were located, which was: find a tree.....and if you have to do something more important, there is an outhouse where you put sawdust over your "droppings" where it turns back to the earth and is then used as fertilizer for their garden. Ask me how excited I was to eat dinner there after hearing that tid bit of news. I cringed when she got our linens out of the laundry room and carried them under her hairy armpit to the hut where we were to sleep. Thank God I brought my own.  She also told us without batting an eye that the lake was "clothing optional." 

There is a community fridge, but the rule is to label what is yours. Anything not labeled, its fair game for  the taking. Beer is allowed but it must be poured into one of their mason jars before consuming. I soon realized their mason jars were old glass bottles and jars with the labels ripped off. I tried really hard to stomach it, but all I could think about was whoever used it last probably didn't wash it very well. If you saw the people around this place, you would be scared too. I was a good sport and blocked it out of my mind as I drank the first beer, but later when we went to wash our jars, my fears were confirmed. For washing, there was a tub of slightly lukewarm water with a few old suds in one side of the sink and a tub of cold "clean" water for rinsing.  There were dirt particles floating around in the clean side. For the remainder of the trip, I did not drink anything unless it was from my personal water bottle that I am SO glad I decided to bring.  

We decided to check out the lake which led to some hiking trails. Sure enough, there was a naked couple doing cannon balls off the dock in the middle of the lake, in the rain. I was in disbelief and feeling very sheltered at that moment. Josh had to tell me to quit staring. We hiked about two miles through some thick brush
in the rain and had to dodge BANANA SPIDERS. They had those webs connected from branch to branch right in the middle of the trail. I made sure to hang back so that someone else could catch the web first. I can honestly say I do not know what I would have done if one of those things had gotten on me. It probably would've involved me shucking clothes, screaming, dancing around, and crying all at once. 

One neat part of the forest was the glass house. It was a yoga room with windows surrounding it and a huge mural painted on the floor. Incense was left up front to use at your own convenience. I gladly lit some to mask the musty smell of the place and we all practiced some sweet yoga poses. Even the boys. Goes to show what all can be done in a place with no technology. The rules state that if you are found using your cell phone in a common area, you will be thrown in the pool. The pool is green with lots of tadpoles. 

We wandered around a bit more and found the art room. It was filled with every kind of paint, chalk, marker, colored pencil, sticker, face mask, fabric, etc, imaginable, but there was nothing to on which to draw. So..... we used the floor. There were deep philosophical quotes all around, so Josh decided to add to it with one of his own. 

Before dinner time I opted to wash the forest off of me with a nice outdoor shower. It was a great idea, but I don't know what made me think that the water would be warm. It wasn't. Still, I felt so refreshed afterwards. 

In our hut, there were two rooms divided by a wall. Julie and Brandon's room was called "The Turtle," and ours was "The Mushroom." Speaking of mushrooms, there was a mushroom workshop going on all day at this place. I really have no idea how one can spend an entire weekend at a mushroom retreat, but there was a crowd of about 8 people who were loving it. 

A vegetarian family style dinner is cooked nightly by the staff at the hostel and the guests say thank you bywashing and drying the dishes, putting away the food, and sweeping the floors. When the dinner bell rang, we gathered on a big screened in eating area, held hands and formed a large circle. At this point, the staff led us in a moment of silence to listen to the forest followed by everyone going around the circle to say where they are from, and tell something for which they are thankful. I came very close to saying that I was thankful for a hot shower at home, but I quickly decided that some may take offense, so I decided to be thankful that I stayed free of banana spiders on our hike. Dinner was salad with honey vinaigrette dressing, veggie chili, and gluten free cornbread. 

After dinner the four of us took a stroll out to the lake to sit in the stillness and look at the stars. In the midst of the peacefulness, one of the staff members decided to go for a naked night swim all by himself like it was no big deal. It really wasn't because we couldn't see anything in the dark, but I would never have the guts to A) go swimming by myself in the middle of the night B) with no clothes on, knowing that strangers are hanging out on the shore. These people are wild and free and it is definitely enlightening to be a part of their world. Thank goodness it was only for one night. I am not cut out for such things. 

When it was time for bed, once again my over packing came in handy. I double pillow cased the pillows and had a big fluffy comforter that smelled like home, not like musk. Once I finally settled in, I fell asleep to the night noises of crickets chirping and frogs croaking. That part I love. I didn't stir again until the rooster crowed to wake me up. crowed all morning long until the whole forest was awake. I forgot to mention that there are ducks, chickens, and roosters everywhere. In the kitchen there is a basket of eggs for the taking. Everything is extremely self sufficient. 

For the morning we brought eggs, bacon, veggies, and cheese for Josh to make his famous breakfast skillet. The hard part was finding a clean skillet. We were offered one that was coated with burnt brownie crust from the night before. One of the staff members handed it over and said, "This one should be fine....just scratch it off" Thanks but no thanks. 

All in all it was time well spent- good wholesome fun. I can't say that I would love to do it again.....but I can check that one off the list! I don't mind camping...its camping with other people's germs that I am not fond of. Next time- it will be in a tent with a fire.

And here we are leaving. This is how a night in the forest make you feel...