It makes me sad that, time and time again, people seem to choose dishonesty for personal gain rather than risk any kind of genuine communication. – Jill Myers
Today began like any other day, socializing among new and old guests alike, the joys of hostel living, but storm clouds were approaching that came without warning. Just as with quickly changing winds what I was about to experience was both shocking and disappointing. Earlier in the day I went to visit Krista at her hostel and I picked up a new hat. Who could have guessed this one piece of clothing would alter a fracture a friendship. Later in the evening after I had returned to my hostel Marc was sitting at the far end while I was engaged in a conversation with a few guests and staff members. Through the ramblings of various conversations he yells down to me, “head or stomach?” Unsure what this comment was in reference to I ask him what he’s talking about, and refusing to answer he just incessantly continues to ask the question again and again. Pausing to try to find an explanation for this out of place question I finally say stomach and return to my conversation, but keep an eye on his face as he just nods his head. Several minutes later as I am coming out of the bathroom he confronts me alone and asks me why I am wearing a hat for another hostel. Surprised by this, I tell him I wanted a new hat and since our hostel didn’t sell merchandise and we had great relationships with the other hostels I chose to purchase this. Once again he posed the question to me, “head or stomach?” Tired of this confusing game, I ask him what’s going on. He tells me that because of what I am wearing he is going to force me to choose because he is going to punch me as hard as he can in either my head or my stomach. At first I could have chalked this up to sarcasm or some type of joke, but it wasn’t until staring him back in the face and seeing the pure hatred he had to inflict pain upon me that I knew he was dead serious. Even as I momentarily looked down he had already had his fists clenched, and continued to ask me, “head or stomach?” I couldn’t believe what was happening, and since we were 15 or 20 feet from everyone else it was just the two of us. I tried to talk him out of whatever intention that had caused such anger in him, and finally he walked away. This was truly the most disappointing moment that I’ve experienced, especially looking directly back in the eyes of someone that had true hatred in their heart and wanted to hurt another person over a hat. The uneasy feeling continued even after I returned to my conversation at the opposite side of the room, but I knew already that this single moment had now changed everything.
After a night struggling to sleep, I’ve come to the realization that I am ready to leave San Juan. Not because I was running away from a situation, but because I was ready for a change and the previous night’s experience was a testament of this fact. Thinking that cooler heads would prevail the next day, there was no apology from Marc, but a reiteration of his feelings. I knew without a doubt that if it weren’t for the fact that we had twenty or so guests all within viewing distance of where this confrontation took place, he would have forced me to choose and then would have hit me as hard as he possibly could. Over a hat. No longer feeling safe in my own hostel and seeing that greed and power was already slowly beginning to over take this previous friend that shared a passion for others by raising money for children’s organizations, I could see that this once paradise has now become something I was ready to leave.