The guy was a revelation. In a hostel full of cheerful and horny backpackers, there he was with his bald and wrinkled face. And yet he outclassed everyone with his appetite for life.
I'll never forget getting up one morning and walking to the hostel pool on the patio in the middle of the building. It was all quiet. Everyone was still asleep after last night's party. It was just me with my tired eyes, sipping coffee. And then this guy. He was whirling around the cooker in the shared kitchen, flipping a frying pan with maybe a million eggs dancing in it, smiling and swaying and probably whistling. When the first overnighters began to crawl in, he would call them to him and serve the surprised anonymous roommates a breakfast that we could hardly have prepared ourselves at that moment.
No, he wasn't a chef, just a guy who'd had enough of it all and decided to switch gears and start over and do better with his life.
He just decided
I don't even remember his name anymore. It was 2016 in Tulum, Yucatan. I was having as much fun there as the other people with me who were still in their twenties at the time. A carefree autumn in the tropics. We'd contemplate by the pool in the morning or hike, eat some exotic treats in the afternoon, then hit the beach for beer and music and sunshine, and party in the evening. When one day this particular guy came along. It wasn't that anyone was questioning where the old man had come from, but it was clear that he was simply a stranger for us. After all, I myself now, just six years later, feel out of place in hostels, kind of like I always found it creepy when grown-up graduates went to proms a generation younger to dazzle 18-year-olds. This just isn't your habitat anymore, dude!
But that wasn't the case. This guy didn't come there to hit on anyone or give life lessons and brag about all he's been through. If he wanted to impress anyone, it was his old self, who, by all accounts, hadn't impressed anyone in a long time.
On the first night, he got to know everyone there. He went around the tables and talked to everyone for a while. Not intrusively or nastily. He just flowed into the conversation. And so we gradually learned that this guy had worked hard for decades in some Canadian, perhaps oil company. Perhaps he was making enough money and supporting a wife he'd probably lost - not that it matters anymore. What matters is that he realized he wasn't enjoying this life. And that now he's just gonna do what he likes. And he started by going to Mexico to backpack alongside the youth.
One day he cooked eggs for the whole hostel, another day he went on trips with the others, and in the evening he discussed with everyone around him. And he was always laughing. And even though you could see that strange sad light in his eyes, he seemed enojoying his new life.
So do what you enjoy, even if it's complicated
One day, after I had left our hostel and moved a few hundred kilometers further south, I was staying in a remote cabin near a popular lagoon, and suddenly this old man appeared. He arrived with a hippie girl 40 years younger than him on a scooter, both of them high as a kite. He was laughing all the time that night, and a little in the morning, but that was also the first time I'd seen him rather grumpy and exhausted.
That's not important. The important thing is that he kept doing what he enjoyed. And that's my pathetic message to all of you for the new year: do your best to do what you enjoy. Even if it's complicated, last two years even more than before. But it's still worth a try. And even if it doesn't work out, at least you'll have something to remember and talk about when you suddenly show up on the doorstep of a hostel as a 70-year-old man.
Thank you, folks, for reading. I hope you enjoyed. If you want to contribute so I can keep delivering this kind of content, you can do it so by buying me a beer here. I also appreciate if you can share this story in your social media.