Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Hostel in Marathon: La Loma del Chivo

Raisin and I walked into Marathon, Texas, population roughly 450. Having seen and experienced dozens of small towns about this size, there was no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary. However, West Texas has a few tricks up its old dusty sleeves, but we didn't know that. Not yet.
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After walking into town and sharing a few treats at the Burnt Biscuit, we headed for the library. I got some work done while Raisin took a nap outside (Just for the record, she hates libraries for the simple reason that she must wait outside.). From there, we hit the grocery store, The French Grocer, and while choosing cans of beans and bars of Snickers, our fates would become intertwined with the Hill of the Goat.
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A man named Daniel Eaton noticed I was traveling (with a huge backpack, it's hard not to.). He was nice enough and recommended I check out a hostel a few blocks away, even offered to drive me. He told me its name fast, then repeated it slowly: "La Loma. Del Chivo." I declined the drive but made it out there anyway.
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This is what I saw:
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The fairyland quality of this place is the first thing that hits you. I could see the bright colors from several blocks away. We didn't find anyone at first, and because I'd had a short conversation with Ali on the phone, Raisin and I made ourselves comfortable in the above abode.
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There's a lot of construction going on. I have taken a couple of shots of places that are pretty much done, but many more cool buildings are on the way.
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The owner and manager do not call it a commune, but as far as definitions go, it basically is. Three people live and work there, 20 hours a week, in exchange for a monthly stipend and all rent and utilities paid. Their job ranges from welcoming clients, answering the phone, working in a garden, managing building projects, and general clean-up.
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The above building is a bathroom. Just an FYI. If you want to put on a princess dress before entering, that's up to you.
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This is Mike. Give him a good look over. He's probably the smiliest, laughiest person of the three, and for good reason: he lost much of what he had spent his life earning in the economic crunch and has made a home here at La Loma. He has three dogs, his own place, and contributes by doing lots of stone and building projects.
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This is Ali. She greeted me on the phone and made me feel at home before I even got there. She's not actually sitting in La Loma in the picture (she's in another wonderful place in town, a B&B called Eve's Garden), but she is an animal lover. (Her dog Piper runs all over La Loma and played a sort of Big Brother-Big Sister role for Raisin.) Ali is a total sweetheart and loves the quiet of West Texas, a stark contrast from her native Houston. She's figuring life out from the safety and security of a small town, and even invited her best friend Brian from Houston to experience some of the same.
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This is Jerot. I'm not even sure I'm spelling his name right, but I know it ends in a 't.' He too is figuring out what comes next in life, but for the moment, he's doing great. His dad and brother came out to visit him and after his dad left, Jerot was charged with taking care of Logan. Logan turned 16 while he was there and thoroughly enjoyed his visit.
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This is Billy, La Loma's new mascot. It makes sense, obviously, to have a goat, but it makes even better financial sense. I think it's a ride-off.
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I had a great week and already miss it. I shall return, hopefully to some of the same faces, in the future.
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Until next time...
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1 comment:

Juanito Hayburg said...

I stayed here on 16JUN2011 while pedaling on my Trans-Texas Bicycle Odyssey, and it is fantastic! The structures, the friendliness, the people, the humanity, all so wonderful. What is tragic is that I did not stay long--there were no headwinds on the following day, so I pedaled away! But I'll return!