Coast to Coast: A Road Trip
* In the city
* City people
* Dragon's Lair
* Fun and Fake
* First Impressions
* New Blog
March 23, 2005
St Augustine, Florida
Leaving the glitzy modern Orlando we decided to take a trip to the oldest city in the US - St. Augustine, which was founded by the Spanish in 1565. It was a nice place but was predictably touristy. It still made a pleasant change from elsewhere in Florida. I spent the day by myself and visited the fort. Apart from that I just read on the grass in the sun. It was very agreeable to have some time by myself and to just relax (travelling is all hard work you must remember). We also took a Ghost Tour walk in the evening which quite quickly became repetitive, predictable and fairly boring. We had planned on staying two nights but the hostel had mucked up our booking and we had to leave after just one. However, this opened up a new opportunity. We asked the manager (a rather dreamy and peculiar hippy type) who was called Cap'n Conrad where we should go instead. He told us of a rather intriguing place called the Hostel in the forest. It sounded quite strange and new age to us. He mentioned skinnydipping several times and told us of a communal circle in which everyone gave thanks. It sounded strange.
At first we decided not to go to the Hostel, it sounded a bit too new age and hippy-like for our tastes but Conrad pointed out to us that being young travellers the whole point was that we should be open-minded. So we decided to give it a go. The hostel is a very strange place. For one there is only one sign which has it's back to you as you drive past it. Consequently you miss the turn (as it also just looks like a dirt track) and you necessarily have to pull two u-turns to get to it. "We don't advertise said the girl who showed us around. It's a word of mouth thing - we don't want, you know, the wrong type of people here".
Worried we retreated to our room which was called 'The Dragon's Lair' which had a badly carved wooden Dragon's head outside. Soon it was dinner time and time for the 'Circle of Thanks'. Everyone had to hold hands for what probaly was about 40-45 minutes. People were thankful for a variety of things; it being warm (fair enough) or for today having eaten the worst orange they've ever had (strange and rubbish). Later in the evening we played a lot of pool which much to our annoyance we had to pay for which can only have lined the greedy anti-capitalist hippies' pockets.
In night we went out canoeing on the lake. This was a real laugh as two of the people we were out there with (a couple from West Virginia) were as cynical about the hostel and the circle of thanks as we were. Later I talked to a guy named Tim who was probably (in terms of his views and opinions) was probably the most inflexible guy I've ever spoken to. He kept on insisting the country was screwed and it was evil. He saw everything in black and white. I asked him about this ambiguity. 'Do you not think the fact that Saddam Hussein no longer rules Iraq is in some way a good thing given that in the 80s he gassed thousands of Kurds (his own innocent citizens in the North)?" To which he infuriatingly replied: "Ah, but who gave him the weapons? The US".
I have to admit that in retrospect Conrad was right. It is best to be open-minded. Although a few things about the hostel in the forest I didn't like - it was certainly one of the most interesting days we have had so far.
Richard, Richmond, VA, 23rd March
Posted by Richard on March 23, 2005 01:19 PM
Category: East Coast USA
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