Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Hotel Trinidad

I've slept in some pretty strange places.

I don't mean when I've been camping although that might qualify too as I've pitched tents everywhere from inside a ruined church to on the side of a sand dune to a field so waterlogged that an anchor would have been more use than tent pegs.

No, I mean in hotels. I still shiver with disgust when I think of the hotel where I spent the night after crossing from Thailand in Laos. The walls were encrusted with a greasy grime, the floor was home to a whole nation of cockroaches, the mattress so appalling that I wouldn't have slept on it if I could have boiled it in disinfectant. There was an "en suite" facility. Sort of. A half built wall hid a sink and a shower that would have been condemned as a health hazard by the most louse-infested rat in the filthiest sewer on the planet.

Another time I shared a twin room in a high rise in Hong Kong with a guy from Dresden. His snoring wouldn't have been such a problem had the room not been, in total, six inches wider and about a foot longer than the combined sizes of the beds. It had no windows and broken air-conditioning and was entered – with extreme care – through a door that could only open to a wide crack. The beds must have brought in with ship-in-a-bottle ingenuity. This room too was en-suite. A curtain, reached by climbing over the beds, led into a three foot square room where you could sit on the toilet but only by wedging your knees under the sink.

Other accommodation has included a large, near derelict and – apart from me – entirely empty building in China; a Pakistan dormitory with sixteen rope strung beds crammed into a space suitable for six; a gorgeous, modern luxury hotel with palatial rooms in which the only six rooms – of about six hundred – that were occupied, were occupied by our party.

Without question though the weirdest ever was the Hotel Trinidad in Merida, Mexico. The guide books seemed to think it rather squalid but I loved it. It was like the inside of a psychotics head brought to life. From the moment you walk in past a glass cabinet filled with dismembered parts of baby dolls and a life size cardboard cut-out of Charlie Chaplin it’s clear that this is not an ordinary place. There are surrealist paintings on the walls, a stone fountain and half a dozen cellophane butterflies in the lobby, and an inflatable batman on the stairs. After that it starts to get weird. I could describe it in more detail but I'd rather just include the poem that I wrote about it at the time. At first glance it's a piece of random gibberish. Only those in the know will realise that it's no more and no less than a simple and accurate description.

Hotel Trinidad

Cellophane butterflies above the stone fountain;
Dismembered dolls fill the cabinet.
Reaching for sanity's climbing a mountain,
But we can't leave the valley quite yet.

Arms, legs and heads on a separate shelf -
Where did the torsos all go ?
Charlie Chaplin in cardboard admiring himself
It's clear there's something we don't know.

The inflatable Batman who stands on the stairs,
Wobbling with each passing breeze,
Is surrounded by cupboards that might just be coffins.
This psychotic place is diseased.

Torsos and fish net painted red white and blue;
A bowling ball stands on a plate;
A wraught iron pedastal supports one pink shoe;
Under the water a smiling cold face.

Rows of tights filled with sand have been nailed to a board
Above glass jars full of debris and dust.
A rocking horse body is missing its head
It seems a betrayal of trust.

How did we get here ? I can't be quite sure.
When will we leave ? I don't know.
Through the cracks in the mirror I watch my reflection
And realise there's no hurry to go.

And lest anyone doubt the truth of the claim that this is a descriptive poem, here is the photographic evidence...

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