Monday, September 22, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Survive a Nasty Motel - Made it to Manaus, Brazil, Gateway to the Amazon

Hello from the urban jungle of Manaus, Gateway to the Amazon. Arrived here in Sunday night from Porto Velho after an easy 1 hour, 10 min. flight.

This city of two million is a bustling metropolis with plenty of lodging options available.

Yet, on my first night here, I stumbled into a place so unsavory that I am inspired to share my Motel Survival Techniques.

I hope you won't need these techniques, but just in case, here is my Top 10 List - all of which I have tested.

1. Shower with your shoes on - the floor may be dirtier than your feet!

2. Drip dry instead of using the towel - if you can call that stained rag a towel...

3. Sleep with your clothes on - to limit contact with the bedding and get up in a hurry

4. Pack your toiletries tightly in plastic bag so bugs won't get to them

5. Close and secure any open windows - prevents thieves, mosquitoes and smoke from entering

6. Find a secure place to hide your valuables. Get creative!

7. Lock and barricade your door

8. Investigate mysterious sounds - cautiously!

There was such a ruckus in the hallway at 11 p.m. that I pressed my ear to the door to investigate. No real danger: it was just the couple down the hall loudly having sex.
That's when I got suspicious about the nature of my hotel and developed these new tips:

9. Review price structure of hotel - I was told if you leave by 8 a.m. the hotel costs $30 reales; leave by noon and it costs $50. I now believe this rate structure was designed for overnight business. And I don't mean clients for jungle tours!

10. Preview the room and analyze furnishings before paying - I always see the room before I book it. But in this case, even after viewing the room, I was too tired to notice at first the huge mirror over the bed was smeared with fingerprints and that the pillows were coated in thick rubber and covered with think pillow cases.

One of the joys of adventure travel is spontaneity, which is how I wound up at this particular place. The downside is, if you don't research your lodging in advance by reading books, websites and reviews, you could wind up needing these tips.

Of course, as lodging goes - this does not qualify as a true nightmare in any regard!