Converted: How Santa Catalina Changed My Life

Calm down – I didn’t move to the monastery down the street.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa
Santa Catalina Monastery –a city within a city for 450 years. I can see the side of it from the balcony.

Rather, my thinking has been “converted” in terms of housing.

Finding a place to live is always a major part of a move. So, I have decided to live in hostels/hotels. While I can’t afford The Ritz like Coco Channel, the Hollywood Hills like Robert De Niro or various hotels like Keanu Reeves there are decent places available for reasonable prices in South America.

I am paying less to stay at the Hostel Santa Catalina – and liking it more — than I was in Loja or Machala.

The logic

Massive door in the front of the building.

Since I will continue to live on 180-day visas it makes sense not to get involved with apartments. I never want to furnish one again as I did in Loja. Disaster, really as I was there for four months. But I did make friends with Agosto and Darwin, so that makes it all worth while.

I’m also over B&Bs and sharing a flat.

The first two weeks in Arequipa reminded me of why I avoid the suburbs. I break out in a red rash and get itchy just thinking about it.

With the Internet, it is easy to make a reservation, use the place as a base, and suss out the other hostels in the city. Check in for a week. If it doesn’t feel right, move. With one suitcase, a carry-on, and a handbag it doesn’t take all that much. Long-term stays are also eligible for considerable discounts.

The other perks are that the room is cleaned, the sheets are washed, and the utility bills are paid. No deposits, no leases, no having to give notice. The angst of “finding” a place has disappeared. Give me the hostel life.

The must-have list

  • Safe
  • Central
  • Clean
  • Strong wi-fi
  • Desk
  • Natural light
  • Private bathroom
  • Kitchen privileges
  • 24-hour hot water
  • No audible kids, dogs or evangelicals.

The plan

After Canada, I want to move to Barranquia. It is a tropical city on the coast of Colombia that I have always wanted to visit. So why not live there? And the bird that Bella – my great-grandmother – gave me when I was five years old goes with me. It is battered and chipped and cracked, but it doesn’t matter. We bonded.

The bird is with me

If I find a place I really like there I can go to Panama for a weekend and stay for another 180 days in 2020. Then again, I might just decide to move to Uruguay.