photo by aidan lynn-klimenko

"It's all about keeping two turkeys in your freezer, for emergencies."

We got off the ferry from Baja in Mazatlan and were met by a wall of humidity. By the time we had Sandy off the boat and loaded up with the four of us, the sun was on its way down and we were experiencing the least glamorous part of being in the tropics: soaked shirts and dripping brows. We needed showers and a place to stay.

In the flurried afternoon we spent in the port of La Paz before boarding the ferry, we caught wind of The Funky Monkey Hostel in Mazatlan. Having little else to go on, we set off.

Having not budgeted for hostels, we told Salem, the owner, we couldn’t afford much but we were willing to trade some photo or film work for the use of showers and a place to park the van for the night.

I’m not exactly sure how it happened: if it was the Thanksgiving dinner Salem cooked for us, the water park he brought us to, the beds in an air conditioned room we slept in, his parakeet ‘Captain’ who was as friendly as a dog, or purely his warm Texas charm, but somehow Salem got us to stay for four or five nights.

Salem gave us the best break from vanlife we could have asked for. I don’t think any one of us really knew just how much we needed it. As much as we enjoy living out of the van, the routines of functioning with and around each other get tiring. Little things like having to pack and unpack your sleeping bag each day or having to wake everybody up by opening the sliding door to use the bathroom in the middle of the night wear on us little by little. As liberating as living in the van is, it comes at a cost. Salem saw this, and offered us a chance to take a breath.

Having never stayed in a hostel before, we had to break it to Joel that this was a diamond in the rough. See for yourself at