26 October 2007

Room 0

The title of this post refers to the number of my room at the SLH Katie and I stayed at in Tupiza. I have been reflecting on this strange occurance, that a hotel would actually have a room 0 (on the third floor no less), and it seems to me that when you're a backpacker, a traveler, you always stay in room 0.

Room 0 is the cheapest possible room at the cheapest negotiable price in one of the cheapest countries one can visit in relative comfort without serious risk of violent robbery, kidnapping, or terrorist incidents. Room 0 comes with free Internet, free breakfast, free advice, and a towel. Room 0 costs $3/night at the most, but the Israelis will still ask for a lower price while insisting it be "nice". Room 0 never has a private bathroom, and the public bathroom will seldom have hot water if it has water at all (this will cause the British to swear in amusing ways). Room 0 usually has an attached restaurant where you can eat "local" food at the lowest prices at the lowest acceptable level of hygiene. There is also a kitchen if you want to cook for yourself, a friendly travel agency with unlimited tours to local rock formations, and a TV lounge full of pirated DVDs and Eurotrash. Room 0 is a little dirty, a little insecure, and is unlikely to have a window, a trash bin, or furniture. Room 0 is for people who identify with its enumeration: those who seek through travel the perfection of a circle while at the same time knowing they are worth precisely nothing. It is a room for humble people, people who don't complain, people who don't like to stand out, and people who don't mind (or even enjoy hardship. It is a room for losers, stragglers, strugglers, avoiders, deadbeats, bums, vagabonds, hobos, castaways, outliers, refugees, and connivers. It is a room for ciphers, for travelers, for backpackers.

I have to make a pronouncement: backpackers are scum. They are, as a people, constantly poor, always cheap, frequently dirty, smelly, sweaty, tired, drunk, high; they are stretchers of the truth, tellers of tales, procrastinators, do-gooders, do-badders, womanizers, men-izers, scam-artists, coin-clippers, cracker-eaters, meal-skippers, job-quitters, without ambition, without regret, without remorse, without a plan, and without a clue. They are readily identified by the shorts-conversion seam in their quick-try trekking pants, their dog-eared copies of Lonely Planet/Rough Guide/Footprint (NEVER Let's Go), their mottled appearance, their cunning eyes, their ruthless haggling, their cheap handicrafts, their ugly dreadlocks, their miscellanious piercings, their miscellanious accents, their stereotypical T-shirts from countries you haven´t visited, their lack of change, their backpack covers, their group-mentality, their group scorning, their eccentricities, their bad habits, their reasons for traveling, their lack of reasons for anything, their lust for the Internet, their Canadian flags, their annoying vegetarianism, their love of a cheap drink, a quick laugh, and an easy time. Backpackers are disgusting, dodgy, unreliable, flaky, suspicious, spontaneous, opportunistic, advantage-taking, disconntected, listless, grungy, cynical, unimpressed, disagreeable, pedantic, crabby, sick, diseased, fatigued, in debt, friendless, homeless, penniless, and Australian.

Backpackers are annelids that crawl across the Earth in their own slime, looking at the highest things but stuck in the lowest depths. They are, truly as I said before, scum.

But I am proud to call myself one of them.

No comments: