Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Hotels in South America span a wide variety of names and details. For the most part, you start with the core: a mattress. We’ve graduated from college and hold paying jobs, so the multi-person backpacker-style bunkers are not ever on our list, but they are friendly places to inquire into for places to eat or other places to stay when the towns are crowded. Even in the better places we stay, I sometimes long for the harder ground of the tent (Hanmi brought her mat, I’m fine without it) – due to mattresses in some places being quite worn and concave.

Moving up the scale, one can get a tiny room with 2 beds, or the larger single bed (the “matrimonial”) and a common hallway bathroom. Moving up still, you end up with an additional bathroom, which can sometimes be quite inventive as to how a shower is delineated (curtain and drain at the minimum). Construction standards are either very low or non-existent in this part of the world; you can find almost all manner of designs. However, a sink, mirror, toilet and shower are minimum (in Argentina, a boudoir is also common).

Our favorite places are the apart-hotels, of which we only stayed in one, over the Christmas holiday(see below). They are pretty much like a full-size apartment and can handle longer-term stays. We play house and make nice meals, watch some TV (in Spanish) and relax our sore legs.

I mention all this because almost every night is the same routine: We investigate a new town for a place to stay. Usually, we pick a place from our guide, which is destined to be full then ask them if they know of a good place. Also, the entire trip into or around town is a scouting operation. If we see anything that may catch our eye, we note it and possibly return later.

We catch two nights in the same place every 3 or 4, usually in a camp. We had a great pair of nights over Christmas in El Calafate, Argentina. The hosts there are Korean, which made the Spanish/English/Korean exchange between Hanmi and the proprietors quite entertaining for everyone. By the end of our stay, they were very excited for us to return, and invited us to live there. Oh, we’ll think about it, we said. It was good, but not Portland Oregon.

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