Ah, Hotel Las Vegas. How I’ll miss your bleach scrubbed tiles, and how they so forcefully reverberate every single noise throughout your entire structure: every child’s frequent scream, every ounce of television in the room next door, every conversation yelled in Spanish in the lobby, every prostitute adventure taking place in a room down the hall rented for an hour in the early morning. How I’ll miss your overpriced rates—more than a Motel 6 back in the states! How I’ll miss your toilet that doesn’t quite flush, which gets interesting when you have two sick people all night long. And finally, how could I forget the sweet smell of fresh cigarrette smoke wafting through your air conditioner ducts?
I don’t quite understand why this hotel is even mentioned in the guidebooks. We arrived yesterday in the old historic section of the city, sick and tired, and we stumbled about with our luggage through these weird Cartagenian streets with their different names for every damn block trying to find the two hotels listed as cheap in our guidebook (we have grown accustomed to the logical numerical address codes of everywhere else in Colombia). They weren’t cheap; in fact, they were the most expensive of any of this trip thus far, due to the fact that rich Colombians are now on vacation and are flocking to Cartagena. We finally just gave in and booked a room for 2 nights, to recover from our sickness and then find some cheaper accomodations in the less savory parts of town. After one night at Hotel Las Vegas, however, we had to say chau chau.
Fortunately, we went to bed very early because we were exhausted, and thus got in some much needed sleep before the really loud noises transpired. But there was constant noise. You could hear the conversations and televisions of people next door, which was enhanced by the fact that the Colombian couple next door had to shout out every single thing they said. Then there was the ubiquitous child that shouted out every few seconds somewhere down the hall. There always has to be a shouting child here, somewhere. They all shout, high-pitched, angled just perfectly to annoy all non-Colombian ears. Then the two employees in the lobby constantly talked all night long, and someone would enter and walk up and down the halls, yelling another conversation to them, and all of this would echo into our room perfectly due to the entire structure being tiled by some genius.
The pinnacle of the night, however, was when we were awoken in the early morning to the sound of some other Estadounidenses talking out in the halls. As we could hear everything perfectly, I can give a fairly good account of what transpired: they didn’t speak any Spanish, and had apparently been led to this hotel by an English speaking Colombian guy, who probably gets a small kickback for it (we were led to this hotel by the same guy, as a matter of fact, and only accepted because it was one of the ones in our guidebook we were trying to get to). These Americans had picked themselves up some pootang in some bar or club somewhere, or perhaps even on the street. So, they each rented out a room, apparently for an hour, and at the end of the hour, the receptionist came down the hall and banged on the door telling them to “check-out”. One of the guys came down from his room and talked to his friend out in the hallway, telling him to hurry up (“Hurry up, motherfucker! I don’t want to wait out here any longer, motherfucker!”). Then we listened to him talking to his ho about getting her e-mail address (translated between them by the Colombian guy), etc, so that she could write what she had been telling him earlier so that he could look it up. These were not conversations that we were straining to hear, nor wanted to. They were right down the hall, speaking at high volume, as apparently every one in this hotel must speak. The one guy kept telling his friend to hurry up. Apparently the other guy was going for 6 times with his ho.
At 5:30, someone then put on their TV at a volume so high that it was unbelievable.
Anyway, so my advice to you is not to stay in the Hotel Las Vegas when you come to Cartagena, unless you really enjoy listening into the lives and times of other travelers. We’re moving down to the Getsemaní neighborhood, where rates are half that of the old city, even though it’s a mere few blocks away. Our new hostal has a nice big courtyard with plants, and hopefully no prostitute visits in the middle of the night.