When is a Motel not a Motel?

2010 Freda Rumford Vickery January 2010 Living in Mexico

By Freda Rumford  from the January 2010 Edition

No, this is not a conundrum, this is for real. When a traveller goes to a motel in Mexico for the first time it is an eye-opener. It is NOT a Super 8 or Quality Inn.

We had travelled quite a long way after an exhausting trip which included finding Sandborn’s Insurance Agency in Tucson and entering Mexico at the truck stop in Nogales. It was taking much longer than expected and after also passing through Mexico Immigration and Car Importation, time was getting on, our supply of money was dwindling and the road went on forever.

Eventually we arrived at Hermosillo, Sonora at about 5 p.m. and as it is recommended in the Sandborn’s book not to drive at night; this was as far as we could go. We had passed several motels on the way into town but were getting hungry having had nothing since breakfast. Eventually, we spotted a supermarket and decided to see if we could get something to make sandwiches.

We were in luck and found some great crusty rolls, bolillos, ham, cheese, tomatoes and a carton of milk so that we could make a cup of tea. Now the objective was to find somewhere for the night.

There were two or three hotels that had vacancy signs as we drove into town but now as we returned, they showed “No Vacante”. OK then, we’ll go back up the road out of town to the Motels we had seen.

It was quite a drive back but found one, Motel Auto Parador and drove into a very pleasant building complex with well groomed lawns and flower beds with a gateman who asked what we needed. Now the fun was on. Neither of us spoke any Spanish but the young man was smiling, very patient and extremely polite. With many gestures and much miming, he understood that we needed a room for the night. No problem, just drive around the circle road and he would meet us at the entrance to our suite. The price was 150 pesos for the night (at that time the exchange was 4.8 pesos to the Canadian dollar – so roughly $30, reasonable enough we thought).

We pulled into a carport with a canvas curtain and were invited to look at our room for the night. It was delightful, the curtains and bedspread were artfully arranged and obviously costly, the furniture a very fashionable Spanish/Mediterranean style and the bathroom even had a bidet. The young man, pleased with our comments, withdrew wishing us Buenas Noches.

My delight continued as I noticed the sewing kits by the bed and turned to humour when I saw the mirror over the bed. I always have to check out furniture and went to the large Spanish style chest of drawers. Goodness!! What was this?? It was a block of wood with decorations on it to look like a chest of drawers. The night tables were similar, the bed was extremely hard and turned out to be a thin piece of foam on a cement block, not the comfortable bed it seemed to be at first glance. The bidet worked but there were only two skimpy towels. Oh well!

My husband looked at me and grinned, “You know where we are don’t you “ he said, “In one of those No-tell Motels we read about”. Sure enough, I remembered that the Mexican senors like to take their lady love to “special places” and we had found one.

I then looked at the contents of the night tables, a menu for room service, and what was this now? Oh my Goodness!! The sewing kit was a condom!!

I then looked up at the mirrored ceiling over the bed and firmly announced, “Not tonight Josephine! I bet there’s a movie camera up there!” There was TV though, so we could make our sandwiches and tea, then relax on the bed with supper. OH, OH! The TV had several channels but all of them Bluevie or Playboy or worse! Good grief and no hanky panky because of the mirror? Surprisingly, after much hilarity we had a good peaceful night

and the morning came almost sooner than expected when we had to hit the road again. This was the only time we had ever been asked for our passport and somewhat reluctantly we had handed them over. Do not EVER do this, we did get them back without problem but it is dangerous to let them out of ones hands. Perhaps it is a good idea to have a few copies, but even then it could be dangerous to let someone have that much information these days. Much, much later, after regaling our friends with our story,

we discovered that most people stayed at these motels on their journey down to Manzanillo as all regular hotels are in the towns which are not easily accessible from the toll roads. Generally the motels are clean, the car hidden from potential thieves by curtains and they are staffed with security teams.

One word of advice: Should you decide to use one of these Motels, upon entering and paying the room rate, make sure you know just how long the room charge is good for. On another occasion, we were rudely awakened at 3 a.m. (after a 15 hour drive and an exhausting day) to a persistent person telling us on the room’s telephone “ that our eight hours were up” and we had to leave. She would not go away and kept phoning the room while the maid rattled the door until it was obvious we were not destined for more sleep that night and finally left. It seems that rates are by the hour, with the top rate being for 8 hours only. If you wish an entire night, make that very clear initially but be prepared to pay extra at the onset.

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