Honduran dollar… dollar … dollar … dollar
After the bridge, the mulatto drove on for a few more minutes making three turns and we were at a large plaza. We drove around three sides of the plaza and then I saw the Palace Hotel just off on a side street, the same hotel the immigration man at the airport had recommended.
I winced, some palace!
In my arrangements with Ramirez, I hadn’t given much thought to hotel accommodations. I had taken it for granted that there would be a decent hotel around for me to lodge during my stay but none of the hotels I had seen so far was anywhere near a three-star affair much less a four or five-star. The Palace hotel was a two-story affair that looked like it needed some maintenance work but so far, it was better than the other hotels I had seen so far. The mulatto headed straight for it.
The compound was deserted as we pulled through the gates and stopped in front of the hotel building. The mulatto hooted the horn sharply twice and two Latino-looking men came hurrying out through the glass doors of the place. He helped them carry the gun box and my suitcase in.
“Is this with me or Mister Ramirez?” I asked the mulatto in the hotel foyer.
“With you, sah,” he answered.
“All right, how much?”
The brown-skinned man gave the matter quick though and there was a brief gleam of greed in his eyes like he was tempted to inflate the price, but he seemed to change his mind quickly and the gleam vanished.
“Fifteen dollars, sah?”
“Dollars, Honduran? I asked.
It was a cheap ride but I didn’t have the inferior Honduran Currency on me. “Alright, twenty dollars American.”
The mulatto grinned widely in appreciation. Going by the ridiculous exchange rate of the US dollar to the Honduran dollar, I’d actually given him more than an eighty percent tip on each Honduran dollar.
He bowed slightly and left.
A slim youth that looked too white skinned to be Spanish was behind the high marble counter to one side of the nice looking hotel foyer but an attractive Latino lady in her late twenties, dressed in a neat blue skirt and white top stood close by, looking more in charge of the situation. She stepped forward with a welcoming smile.
“Welcome, sah,” she said in English.
“Mr. Ramirez has already booked accommodations for you. If you will follow me, please.” She gestured towards the wide stairs leading upstairs. The two men had been joined by another one now and they were already carrying my stuff up the stairs.
As I followed the woman upstairs, I realized that the place wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was much better on the inside than it looked on the outside.
There was still no sign of other guests as we got to the second floor and the whole place was very quiet. The lady and the men were moving across the landing to the next flight of stairs.
“Wait,” I said quickly.
They stopped and look at me.
There didn’t seem to be much sense in my climbing several flights of steep stairs on a regular basis. I pointed up and down the wide hallway indicating the rows of doors then looked at the woman.
“Isn’t there a nice enough room I can use down here.?” I asked.
The woman shook her head firmly and waved a hand.
“These are cheap rooms but upstairs is where the important people like Mr. Ramirez’s friends stay. There are air-conditioning and color TVs upstairs but not here. Mr. Ramirez booked you a suite.
My suite turned out to be really nice indeed; a good-sized living room separated from the bedroom by a wide archway, a private balcony, a neat bathroom with a working shower. The furniture was good and the bed was large, the air-conditioning worked as did the color TV, the thing even had satellite TV.
This trip could turn out pretty good after all, I thought.