There's this place in Georgia, near a little coastal town called Brunswick. Hidden in the woods about 11 miles off the highway is a magical little place called The Hostel in the Forest. Once you find the nigh invisible driveway, you drive blindly for 5ish minutes on a tiny path that winds through the woods until you see it. The camp. A beautiful, peaceful, magical little place full of dirt paths winding through geodesic dome houses.
The porch of the common area is the single most inviting place I have ever known
I am writing about the Hostel in the Forest today because I am missing it dearly.
I have been there twice, one in 2008 and then a year later in 2009, and each time I have felt the impact of it on my entire being.
I went in 2008 with my friend Sarah, who is currently living the perfect hippie life as an herbalist in San Francisco. I don't really talk much to her now, and if I could find the words I would tell her it is because I am so proud of her for committing to her dreams...and that I'm ashamed to meet her eyes because I can't say that about myself yet. I'm getting there, though.
The beautiful SarahWe stayed in Elmo's Bunk, a treehouse lifted up by tall posts. In the morning, when we woke, we found that a chicken had laid an egg on our doorstep. The egg felt like a gift, and in a moment of overindulgent hippie symbolizing we chose to see it as a gift from all nature in general, thanking us for taking the time to come and reacquaint ourselves. And then we ate it. Hey, it was delicious!
The view from Elmo's Bunk
I wrote this, in our bunk:
It's hard to describe this place, as it already seems so natural to me. Like something you see everyday, its many details escape the title of extraordinary. I know I will miss it greatly when I leave, but at the same time I know it will feel like I never came.
I am laying belly down on the bed, staring out the plate glass window that makes up one wall of our cabin. I feel like this is all there is or ever was, to walk among the giant spiders, to strip down and plunge into the lake, with young nubile bodies. We are fresh and hopeful, full of love and energy, playing plinky guitar and creating drum circles out of arms and hands.
I am down for adventures.
-In Elmo's Bunk at Forest Hostel, 8.1.08
I am down for adventures. Man, am I down for adventures.
When I came back in 2009, I came with Corey. We were only a few months into our relationship, but I already had the distinct suspicion that he was the one I had been searching for..but he had to pass the Forest Hostel test. For many years now I have been feeling myself stretching and molding to fit this ideal life I have in mind, full of words like self-sustainable and organic. I needed to know if Corey could mold with me as the changes take place, and taking him to Forest Hostel proved to me that he could. We stayed in the Dragon's Lair this time, and connected so deeply together in the land of the giant spiders and the beating drums. We spent hours on the octagonal dock in the middle of the little lake, swimming and canoeing and talking. Feeling the little nibbles of tiny fish that could swim into the netting of the dock. At the vegan dinner, he tried a bunch of foods that he never would have ordinarily given a chance, proving that he had an open mind. We made a circle with all of the staff and guests, holding hands, and each took a turn expressing our thanks for something in our lives...we both thanked life for each other.
Inside the Dragon's Lair
Running barefoot down the dirt paths past the gardens and the chickens, wearing a bare minimum of clothing, there is a large sense of peace. The type of feeling when you feel no guilt, no worries, no insecurity and no fear. Every where you turn there are little pieces of art, little painted signs and stones, dreamcatchers and garlands; these are all of the people that have been there before you and the sense of community from past and present overwhelms you. If there is ever a place of true and unadulterated validation, the Forest Hostel is it.
The mirror reads: "Remember you are a golden shining eternity."
If you want to make some music? Make some music. If you want to go swimming? There's a pool AND a lake with canoes. Do what you want. Every night the entire staff invites the guests to help them prepare a 100% vegan dinner made of vegetables grown on their land. Every morning eggs are collected from the chickens and left in a basket in the kitchen so that guest can make a scramble if they'd like. The showers are all outside (in varying degrees of privacy) with Dr. Bronner's Shampoo for all. And everything (everything!) is decorated, beautiful, adorned in peace.
In the common room there is a place for music, with guitars and drums and a piano.
The pool is murky and filled with tadpoles, but beautiful just the same.
There are chickens EVERYWHERE! I loved it!
You can also see the extensive recycling center here.
You can also see the extensive recycling center here.
As I grow older I place more and more value on getting out of the consumerist lifestyle. I feel guilty everyday because of my eating habits and my spending habits and basically every habit that I have grown up with as normal. I maybe be 'normal' now but I am definitely not right. I dream of a day when my hands have created everything I eat, where if I want to eat meat then I will hunt and kill the food myself. I want to eliminate waste, I want to raise my kids with an inherent respect for everything that lives and for the world we all live in. The Forest Hostel is an inspiration for me, and Corey and I are planning to escape there the weekend after our wedding, as a preliminary honeymoon of sorts.
I can't wait to get back and breathe it in, to feel the happiness of people living a guilt-free existence. I just can't wait.