Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Limit

As I wrote in the last blog, our family just finished a long vacation.  We were planning on going straight from Egypt back home, but I made a mistake with the flights and booked a return flight for a day too soon.  When I got around to trying to fix the problem, the airline didn't have 5 seats available on the next day's flight anymore.  Also, the only road route into our hometown was blocked by landslides, so everyone was trying to fly in.  That meant, the prices for flights were at least 4 times normal.  We decided to just stay in the big city for a few nights until the prices went down and we could afford to get back home.

Chris and I wanted to stay for cheap and, since our family has stayed in some pretty cheap places in the past, we looked for the very cheapest hotel we could find where there were 2 large beds and breakfast for 4 people.  We found one in the budget tourist section of the city.  It cost about $15/night for the room and breakfast.

Just a few months before, we had stayed in the same area at two different hotels.  They sure couldn't be called fancy, but inside they were relatively clean.  Our first one was the Cottage Ganga Inn.  It cost us $30/night.  In these kinds of hotels, the hotel staff sleep on the floor and couches in the lobby.  We woke them up upon coming home late so they could open the door and let us in.  There was an elevator that took us up to our room with two large beds.  The shower had no curtain, but there was a shower and a bar of soap and a few one-use tetra-packs of shampoo.  There were towels and only a few small holes and stains on the sheets.  We ate breakfast at a little chai stand nearby where we enjoyed potato fried bread and sweet, spiced tea next to outdoor urinals -- without doors -- that men came and used while we were eating.  Classy.  After we'd stayed there a week, we found out that there wasn't a card machine, so we had to pay with cash.  Also, I discovered that Ganga means cannabis.  So, there's that!

The next time, our room and amenities were similar, but we were staying on the 4th floor without an elevator.  Smyle Inn.  It cost us $25/night and included breakfast.  We had breakfast on a little rooftop terrace where the kids got excited because we got a muffin each day.  The hardest part of that stay was that they were cleaning the sewer right outside the door of the place.  As we left the hotel each morning, we had to hold our breaths and walk past a huge pile of poo.  Fun.

So, we thought, what difference could $10 make?  Well . . .  to start off, we had just gotten off a plane at 2:30 in the morning.  We paid for an extra night at the hotel so that we could go there straight from the airport.  We arrived at Mohak Palace at 4 AM and woke up the staff.  They started telling us they had a triple room -- but I paid for a quadruple.  So, the guy behind the counter sent me with a porter-type guy to see the room.  Up 3 flights of stairs.  Past a large pile of dirty sheets.  Past another pile of dirty dishes.  Carrying a sleeping Lucy.  It was a triple.  I quickly told him, "No, that's not what I wanted."  So we went up another flight of stairs.  It was a quadruple.  As I looked around the room, my heart sunk.  The sheets were filthy.  The warm blankets looked as if they hadn't been cleaned or changed in over a year.  There were no towels, no shower, no soap, and no drinking water.  But, I was exhausted and there was no other choice.  At least there was enough room for us all to lay down.  "Okay," I said and walked back down the stairs to wait for Chris.

As they were working on the paperwork, Jed and Abe started crying and fussing.  They wanted to lay down.  So, the porter took me back upstairs with the kids and luggage while Chris finished the paperwork.  I reached into our luggage and took out our dirty beach towels.  I covered the bed with one of them and spread the other on top of the kids.  It was then that I saw the pillows.  Under the cases, the once-white pillows were dark gray-brown.  Yuck!  I told the kids to go to sleep and set up the other bed.  Chris came in and realized we had no clean water.  Then, he couldn't find his filter.  As we tried to fall asleep without blankets, we chatted a bit.  We agreed that this place probably wasn't where we wanted to spend the next few days.  Also, Abe's birthday was coming up.  Probably we should find somewhere else.  Maybe splurge and stay somewhere that felt like a birthday celebration.  We fell asleep thirsty, but laughing.

In the morning, that is 2 hours later, I was awakened by a worker pulling garbage cans of laundry up the steps.  He was having a loud conversation with his mother.  In the room next to us, it sounded like there was a group of about 20 college students throwing a party.  Our door handle was jiggled multiple times until I got up and flung the door open.  A sheepish local guy apologized and ran into the room next door.  After we got out of bed, Chris went out to find us some water.  As he did, I talked to the kids.  I asked them what they thought of this new hotel.  "It's okay," said Lucy.  "It's good as long as we're together," said Jed, the Philosopher.  "I thought there'd be more people with Mohawks," pipes in Abe. 

I paused, trying not to laugh and to collect my thoughts.  "Well," I said, trying not to sound too excited, "this place isn't what Daddy and I were expecting.  We thought we'd like to find another place to stay for Abe's birthday."  The smile that spread across Jed's face said it all.  "Really?"  "Yeah, buddy, why are you smiling?  Don't you like this place?"  "Well, I didn't want to say anything, but it's pretty bad."  Bless them.  None of them begged to leave, but all of them were ready when we headed out of the hotel that day.  We took Abe to a hotel with an indoor pool so he could go swimming two days in a row.

Well, we figured out the limit for our family.  We'd like a place with clean sheets, soap, filtered water, and towels.  It costs more than $15/night.  Now we know.

Sadly, we don't have any photos of the Mohak Palace.  I do have a video, but it takes too long to download those.  But here's a photo of the place we moved to.  Complete with birthday present Light Sabers!

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