Life in a Little Room in a Big World
At an age when my peers are driving nice cars, making a dent in their mortgages and raising families in front of widescreen HD TVs I’m sat typing in bed in a three by four metre room. It is the only room in my current home.
The two small windows are shuttered shut and have remained that way for almost two weeks. The shutters are painted green with a brown border matching the door. Beyond each is a mosquito net which may or may not do their jobs effectively. It is difficult to tell because the open to the elements 16 by one and a half inch gap above the non functioning air conditioning unit renders the mosquito nets redundant.
Small black marks on the wall, some made by me, are testament to this inadequacy as the squashed body found under my shoe is evidence of another insect invader.
There is a wardrobe on top of which are placed two bottles of beer, the only flat surface other than the floor and a small bedside cabinet but that has been colonised by my girlfriend who is sleeping in a single bed pushed up against mine. Yes, this small space is shared with another.
There’s a rush mat above the two single beds, a smudged mirror on the wall and, to our left, a door to a grotty bathroom. There is a foot deep gap above and below the door affording poor privacy and when it rained two nights ago the roof leaked rainwater onto the bed, the electricity failed and the water in the bathroom stopped working.
Through the walls I can hear the neighbours coughing and talking softly in a multitude of languages as they begin their morning.
We rent our home by the day and though we will soon move on it will be replaced by another similar sized, similar fitted room of varying cleanliness and charm.
It would be easy to feel like a failure living in a room like this were it not for the door through the cracks of which I can see the shapes of our neighbours and fellow backpackers.
Were I to get up now and walk through that door I could sit in a courtyard in warm northern hemisphere January sunshine. In a couple of minutes I could be swimming in the Red Sea.
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This piece was first published in an older version of our blog which included the following comments:
said: “Sounds like Plato’s “Cave” with the shadows seen through the cracks. Uninspired rooms always seem to have inspiring surroundings, if you can look past the room.”
– we replied: “This is often very true. Uninspiring rooms also spur us on to be good tourists and spend more of our time outside going to see and do stuff. To be fair this accommodation had its good points (cheap, good wifi, an excellent vibe and outside communal area) which I’ve downplayed to suit the mood of the post.
said: “Your post really made me smile. Long term travel can be a bit of an interesting trade off at times. Squalid accommodation but in the most fantastic places!”
– we replied: “Glad I made you smile, Tom. I feel a bit of a fraud at the moment as I’m replying to this comment from a rather lovely room in Avanos, Cappadocia. The trade off here may be staying indoors and enjoying the room instead of venturing outside.”
said: “I have gone past the stage where I can stomach the basic accommodation. The problem with that though is your traveling budget soon runs out. All about what you want at the end of the day and what comes first. Comfort of a room for the night or extra days to travel.”
– we replied: “Hi Natalie, Looking around the very nice room we’re in today I totally understand where you are coming from. Though we will still choose the extra travel days over extra comfort I could easily get used to this.”