Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mexico Diary # 1: Super Mario

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

Mexico Diary # 1: Super Mario

Words cannot adequately describe the hotel I stayed in on my first night in Cuernavaca, but I’m going to attempt to do it anyway so here goes: My first impression of The Hotel Suites Paraiso was: BROWN! I walked out of the brown reception, treading on the brown carpets, up the brown stairs, along the brown corridors and opened the brown door into my brown room: the ceiling was brown, the walls were brown, even the bed covers were brown. Everything was brown. Now try to think of something else that comes in various shades, tones and hues of brown, and, well, let’s just say that we’re starting to get there – you’re beginning to get the picture.
“Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll stay her just for one night and move tomorrow.” I took my sandals off to take a welcome (and much needed) shower only to discover that the carpet was sodden. I was wallowing in half an inch of water.
I was feeling very tired by now; you know that peculiar tiredness where you feel that you are floating – the point where sleep is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity It was in that state that I went to reception to complain but the commissionaire, who I SWEAR was the spitting image of Benny Hill, when he did that Chinaman character – remember? The one who was a politician who had “an erection every morning” and “Came in search of Knowredge” – “Did you find it?” asked Henry Magee “Yes – it’s in East Angria!” Well HIM. Only you have to imagine a Mexican version, complete with pencil moustache. At this point I wish to state that I ALWAYS adored Benny Hill and, unlike St Peter did Jesus, I NEVER denounced him, even when the going got tough in the politically correct 1990’s.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the comedic doppelganger refused point blank to leave his post. As he wasn’t the only person at the desk frankly I couldn’t see his reasoning. He gestured that I had to take up my complaint with the porter. “What’s the point in showing the porter?” I shouted “What’s HE going to do about it?!” Nevertheless I took the porter to my room – where he too refused to see my problem. He began to get my point though, when I grabbed his hand and forced it into the smelly damp carpet underfoot.
We went back to Senor Hill, who STILL refused to budge. Don’t forget that they were expecting me to stay in this rat hole for 6 weeks, which represented a lot of money to me, and, I’m sure, to them too. I asked for the name of Benny Hill’s superior but he wouldn’t give that to me either. By now it was midnight, I’d been up since 4.00 am, my flight had been delayed 4 hours; I’d negotiated my way out of the busy airport with the inflexible 5 roll template and the drive from Mexico City wasn’t much fun, so here we are presented with one of those “guess what happens next” situations… find out after the break.

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Completely at the end of my tether, I forcibly dragged this very big – he’s Benny Hill don’t forget - man into my room and demanded to be moved. He finally agreed to change my room for an equally brown ,but happily not so wet, room.
In the morning I wrote a note to his boss giving my contact details and asking her to ring me if she wanted an explanation as to why I had felt it essential to quit her hotel. Needless to say, I’m still waiting for that particular call.

So you can imagine my pure delight when I came to the Hotel Posada San Angelo. Whilst I fully realise that ANYTHING would have beaten the Hotel Suites Paraiso, I could immediately see this was a really smart set up, everything was ship shape. There is a beautiful mural of Mexican birds surrounding the reception desk, each bird drawn and coloured differently. The manager, Mario, introduced himself. I have to say that I liked him on sight. He looks EXACTLY like the ‘Super Mario’ cartoon character seen in numerous games beloved by my son Tom, among millions of other teenage ‘yoofs’ with nothing better to do than pratt about on their Gameboy all day. I well remember travelling all around the Greek islands with Tom staring at that infernal gadget, trying to get him to look out of the window of whatever car, boat or train we were in at the time, but to no avail.
Mario’s similarity to his namesake really begs the question “Who came first?!” The answer to which must remain one of life’s unsolved mysteries because I haven’t the nerve to ask him.
I DID have the nerve to ask him the price of the room however, and was delighted to hear that he was happy to match the price of ‘Shites Paraiso’ as it shall be affectionately remembered from now on.
At one point in the proceedings I pointed to a sign which read “We ♥ all tourists”. I asked him if indeed this was true. “Si Signor!” he said replied - very enthusiastically. I burst out laughing, which made him laugh too – in fact we both chuckled for quite a while over that one – but I guess it’s one of those moments where ‘you had to be there’.

My room is charming, it’s quite small but adequate and, I think, rustically artistic – if that makes sense. For example the sink is hand painted with flowers and the surrounding tiles are all hand painted – very simple but delightful nonetheless.
However there was no fridge which I thought I would really need to chill beers, milk etc. (in that order) over the next 6 weeks. Mario agreed that he would sort me out with a fridge, so I left it at that. The next day I was presented with an ice bucket. “Mario that’s not a fridge!” I exclaimed – rather ungratefully. “Tomorrow” he said by way of explanation. The next day I went up to reception. “Where’s my fridge?!” I demanded. He produced an ice cooler - a small box affair like the one you take on picnics. “Mario that’s not a fridge!” I said. “It’s from my house!” he exclaimed by way of explanation. I felt awfully guilty. I was naturally touched by this - still no damn fridge - but touched nonetheless.
My next mission is to get a kettle – as my old Mom used to say to me: “the trouble with you is that you are never satisfied – it’s want want want with you!” Even so we’ve already looked it up in the dictionary and Mario tells me that he’s on the case. Something tells me that Mario’s house is going to be pretty bare by September 1.

Martin Cheek 04.08.05.

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

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