Backpackers' travel chaos after clothes, passports destroyed in hostel fire

The group of friends returned from a boat party to discover all their worldly possessions had been destroyed.

A group of backpackers were shocked to discover their belongings had been destroyed when the hostel they were staying in caught fire, leaving them with no clothes and no passport to fly home.

A Portuguese national named Mafalda was travelling with friends around Central America and had attended a boat party in Guatemala, but decided it was "safer" to leave their items, including their passport, at their accommodation.

The travel vlogger said "it felt like the best decision" to leave their passports behind in case they lost it while out at sea. "There's no way we could have known" the hostel will burn down, she said in a video on TikTok where she documented the ordeal.

Mafalda and her friends only learned of the fire when they returned to the Mandalas Hostal in San Pedro La Lagun wearing only the bikinis they left in, and were forced to sift through the burnt remains for any salvageable items, of which there were none.

Hostel fire at Mandalas Hostal in Guatemala.
The backpackers returned to their hostel in Guatemala to find their belongings had been destroyed. Source: TikTok

Staff devastated after building 'severely damaged' by fire

Photos shared by the hostel show the blackened remains destroyed by the blaze which, according to hostel management had spread from the property next door. It's not known how it started.

A GoFundMe page set up by a volunteer worker who'd been working and staying at the hostel revealed the building was "severely damaged by a fire" but thankfully everyone got out safely.

"The fire demolished several rooms from the ground up," the volunteer worker revealed. "Due to the lack of firefighting resources in San Pedro, by the time it was able to be controlled by the community, the top two floors burned completely and the hostel had to be shut down".

Bedroom at Mandalas Hostel in San Pedro La Lagun, Guatemala damaged by fire.
Staff at Mandalas Hostel in San Pedro La Lagun, Guatemala said the building was "severely damaged" by the fire. Source: GoFundMe

Backpacker left with no passport of clothes

Mafalda has shared a series of videos on her social media detailing the extent of the situation which left her without a place to stay, a way home or clothes on her back.

With only a bikini and phone to their name, the group of friends were forced to "thrift everything new" to get through the rest of their trip. But the real trouble came from trying to travel home without a passport.

Mafalda said there is no Portuguese embassy in Guatemala, so they had to visit the Spanish embassy where they were given a "day document" in order to leave the country. Mafalda said her travel insurance only covered personal accidents, "and since I'm fine, I'll get nothing," she revealed.

Hostel fire
Mafalda and her friends were given a 'day document' from the Spanish embassy in order to leave the country. Source: TikTok

Hostel raising funds to repair damage

The popular hostel is now trying to raise funds to help restore the building. "The team is working closely with the guests who were staying at the hostel when the fire took place to sort out any personal belongings that may have been lost from the fire," they said.

"The crew is fighting for the employees to be able to keep their jobs and get things up and running again. I am humbly asking for your help in this journey of restoring the hostal to its previous condition."

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