South of the marina, on a quiet residential street in Mazatlan, Mexico, there’s a bright yellow house, now tattooed with a contemplative chimp gleaming through stylized red rays of sunlight. Google Maps will get you there if you have trouble finding the place, as it did for me. One should note though, that the Monkey is not in the guts of the city like most hostels. On the contrary, while it’s still very close to many things it’s perfectly far from noisy streets. But it mashes it a tad tricky to find If you’re looking for a hostel in a traditional location. When you do arrive, if you’re fortunate, you’ll be greeted immediately by Salem, the owner. Not that having the staff greet you is bad in any way, Salem is just one of a kind, and his nature sealed the deal for me.
I had been wandering in heat with heavy gear. I was dehydrated, and frankly I was a little scared that at the growing reality that I might have to pitch a tent near a lagoon I had passed earlier. I do that all the time elsewhere, but it’s a little more intimidating giving the factors of blonde, white, and confused. “Homeless and lost in Mexico” wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I was prepared for it if it came to it. Thankfully, I found the Monkey after a little effort.
“You made it!” Salem pranced out and announced, as if he were expecting me. Boom. He’s a wizard.
The Funky Monkey is amazingly homey. Absurdly clean, you feel welcomed right away. It’s colorful, full of art and great people, and it possesses an air that definitely sets it above the average backpacker’s hostel. There are traditional dorms with bunk beds and two fully furnished private rooms. The common areas are splendid, with a lower area for more lively activities, a middle area for the mellow guests, and a roof top and outdoor patio/pool for music and shenanigans. The patio opens to a communal park with long grass and basketball hoops. Salem also rents surfboards and bicycles for a reasonable price.
If you spend a few days there you won’t feel like you’re renting a bed in a hostel, you’ll feel like you’re renting a room in a house with people you’ve known all your life. There’s something happening nearly every day, and often times you can pitch in for some group shenanigans (dinner, boats, water park… the list goes on and on). At any given moment one can pick up an instrument and others will quickly follow suit. If you plan on staying for any given time, talk to Salem about working there. I found myself painting murals for my keep… and it was fantastic! I’ve also got to add that it serves as a gateway for greater adventures. I watched a handfull of travelers arrive without plans and then leave, invigorated by all the ideas shared at the hostel, on sailboats southbound or run off to Veracruz or Telúm.
Still not sold? Check out this video that Jason made, summing up his month’s stay… yeah, that’s the catch. Go for a few days… end up being there for a month because it’s fantastic.
But the bottom line is that it’s an amazing place. And tell Salem that his face is viscous. Just do it.