Welcome to the Hotel Los Angeles

Montevideo, Uruguay
November 2011

“I’ve stayed in worse places,” I tell Karimé. “There was one with a bucket for a shower. … And there are no barnyard animals outside.”

There is no air conditioning, just “ventilation.”The Hotel Los Angeles is a huge concrete building on the Avenida 18 de Julio downtown. Our room is dull and institutional — two single beds on opposite sides of the room, with hideous wallpaper all around. I’m not tall, but my legs hang over the end of my bed. There is no air conditioning, just “ventilation,” as the desk clerk calls it. Ventilation is a tiny window looking onto a concrete wall. It’s a hot day in Montevideo, about 30 degrees Celsius. On days like this I’m glad I don’t know what the temperature is in Fahrenheit. “We’re working on it,” the people in reception tell us about the air conditioning system they plan to install. They are all very nice and efficient, except for the main guy who serves breakfast.

“It’s just for one night,” Karimé sighs. “We’re just going to be here to sleep.” When the lights go out, Karimé is out cold. Across the room, I lay on the brick-like mattress staring at the ceiling. I’ve got a sore throat. I hope it’s not a cold coming on.

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