Hi, I’m Tam and it is a great honour that my dear friend, Jonathan, has named this hostel after me! I was born in South Africa and moved to the UK when I was 6 years old to live in a castle with dragons and tea so that I could get myself a British passport – a clever move of my father’s. With itchy feet syndrome starting at the age of 12, I would beg my mother for fancy trips abroad but had to make do with camping in the UK and a road trip in a Ford Sierra to France and Germany. Just before my 16th birthday I got an atlas out and planned a pretend trip around the whole of South Africa with my brother who is 2 years older. My parents were impressed and bought us the flights and so began my first 6 week backpacking adventure, looping South Africa from Johannesburg via Cape Town, the Garden Route and Durban. It was this trip and the adventure of not knowing what was going to happen next along with the fascinating people I met along the way that inspired me to want to travel more.
Longing to go abroad again my parents said that if I wanted to go anywhere I should work and save the money myself. In between studying, I had a part-time job where I saved every penny and went to live in Tennessee for a year as an exchange student. It was here that I met Jonathan (though this will forever be disputed!!). After my year in the US and having traveled around several states, I couldn’t wait to get moving again! Juggling 4 jobs for several months funded a 6 month backpacking trip with a friend from Beijing, through China and the majority of South East Asia then onto Australia, New Zealand and the United States once again.
Throughout University I didn’t stop and used most of my student loans going to places! The Maldives, Egypt, the Canary Islands, Morocco, Greece, Israel, Spain, Ireland, Jordan, Belgium and Hawaii to name a few. After working for a couple of years I decided I’d had enough with humdrum life and quit my job to take off for another 6 months of travel. I started in Mauritania and headed east through Senegal into Mali then south through Burkina Faso to Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon. I made my way to Ethiopia and traveled south to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
Since my last big trip I have been to a few other countries for short periods while I save for my next big journey which will be through Central and South America and finally Antarctica. However, working in a city and being part of the rat race to fund these trips didn’t seem conducive with my passion for travel. As a result, I left London and have just started work as a stewardess on super yachts in the Mediterranean – this way I can save and travel at the same time!
I have never stopped to count the countries I have been to because traveling for me isn’t about ticking off box number 76 of places I have been. I have a real passion for people and other cultures and my favourite thing about anywhere I go is seeing what the locals get up to, talking to them, seeing how they interact and trying to see as much of their true culture as possible, often off-the-beaten-track. I do have an ambition to see all 7 continents before I am 30 years old though, so I have 2 more to see and 3 years to do it! Life is awesome!
For anyone who loves to travel and talk about their experiences, then you’ll love staying at Castle Tam. Of all my friends, Jonathan has been the most interested in all my travel plans and truly loves to hear where people have been and where they are going. In my experience, the best part of staying at a hostel is the inspiration you get from other travelers – all those insider tips on cool places to see and things to do. I hope your stay at Castle Tam will get you excited about going out, exploring and seeking adventure and that you will leave feeling truly inspired to see more of our wonderful world
In 2006, Jonathan was like most Americans that had neither left the country nor owned a passport. He joined the U.S. Navy in June of that year but since he was still at University, he would not go to Officer Candidate School for another year. That fall he had an epiphany and decided there was no time like the present to see a little piece of the world before becoming property of the U.S. Government. He remembered that a girl from England had spent a little time in his small, redneck town in Tennessee and if he could befriend her, he might have a free place to stay in London. Although they had never actually met before it did not stop Jonathan from contacting her anyways and ever so subtly working in an invite to her house. With a fresh passport in hand Jonathan set off for England that November. Jonathan was fascinated enough by one of the great cities of the world but he was even more so entranced by Tam. She had already done so much and was only a little more than a year older than Jonathan. Unlike most people who talk about their dreams but never realize them, Tam would make a plan and would not let little things like a complete lack of money stop her from seeing it through. Sadly, after only ten days he had to return to the most beloved nation in the world and protectorate of freedom but it was too late, he had been bitten by the traveling bug.
Although he was studying Aerospace and had almost failed French in high school that did not stop Jonathan from applying for a Study Abroad program in Caen, France. Surprisingly he was accepted and headed for the land of baguettes and fromage, stopping into London along the way, of course. For four months Jonathan barely studied and spent his time traveling around most of Western Europe, a few of the Eastern Bloc countries and North Africa. He knew just a little more French than when he arrived but in all honesty all one needs to know is how to say Je veux du vin! After France he once again returned home to don the uniform and do his part in spreading democracy around the world.
After about a year of no traveling Jonathan thought he would give Central America a try and headed to Costa Rica where a friend of his lived and offered him free accommodation (notice a pattern here?). He spoke even less Spanish than he did French but that does not matter if you can say Donde esta la bano, por favor? It was a shorter trip then he would have liked but any time spent backpacking is time well spent. It was around this time that Jonathan started kicking around the idea of one day, in a post Navy life, he would open up his own hostel. After six months in the Middle East with the Navy where he got to see beautiful countries like Iraq in the dead of summer Jonathan once again flew across the pond to see his favourite Brit. He told her about wanting his own hostel one day and promised to name it after her since she was in fact the inspiration for all of his travels. After pitching a few names at her she proposed “Castle Tam”. It was fitting since Jonathan had assumed all British people lived in castles prior to his initial visit.
After another lovely trip to the Middle East Jonathan left the Navy honorably in February 2011 and headed back to Costa Rica. His plan was to spend nine months working at a hostel and traveling with the intent of returning to the United States that September just in time for football season. His second day in San Jose he encountered a leftist, lowly degenerate named Ralee…Riley…Ral(?)…playing guitar on the streets for banana peels. Jonathan, being the caring saint he is, decided to take Relay under his wing . Then, in March 2011 the unthinkable happened and the owners in the National Football League instituted a lockout, possibly dooming the 2011-2012 football season. Jonathan knew waiting around for a bunch of billionaires and millionaires to solve their internal strife was futile so he set out in search of “Castle Tam”. Jonathan asked Rori if he was interested in helping out with the project in exchange for a bed and since sleeping on his banana peels was not very comfortable, Ree-Ree jumped onboard.
The day after a drunken Saint Patrick’s Day party at another hostel in San Jose, Jonathan went to look at a hostel for sale in San Pedro, near the University of Costa Rica. It was a great location and the building had a lot of promise. After a border run to Nicaragua Jonathan made an offer and with a loan from his parents took over full managerial responsibilities April 1st 2011. Being an existing hostel it already had a name but on May 24th 2011, Tam’s 28th birthday, Jonathan fulfilled his promise and re-christened the place in honor of the girl who opened his eyes to the world of travel.