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Reisverslag Hotel California
31 maart 2017
Hotel California is, like most of us know, a famous Eagles song from 1977. I always thought it was about some hotel in California, and happily sang along with the lyrics without spending too much time investigating what it was all about. This changed when we were on our whale tour in Guerrero Negro. We shared our boat with a Mexican couple from La Paz. We chatted a bit about our plans, and they said we had to go further south than La Paz (the ferry goes from La Paz, so not our intention). They mentioned lots of reasons, but one of them was that the famous Hotel California (from the song, you know, “Welcome to the hotel California, … “ they said) was there. REALLY? Interesting. It sounded plausible. Baja in the 70s, I can imagine it was quite the hippie place, full of Americans smoking away. So, it could be. Right? But, we weren’t planning to go there, so I forgot about it.
Until a couple of days later my mind got tickled about Hotel California again. We just got over a gigantic mountain of which the blog that we were following for guidance said: “This is the biggest climb on the entire Pacific coast including the US.” The guy was right, it was big. After we took about 4 hours to get to the top, we decided to try to make it to the next little village, Ciudad Insurgentes, where some other cyclists told us was a really nice hotel with good internet, warm showers, lots of space for the bike in the room and nice people. The previous night we had slept on a beach, so the salt water in combination with the sweat from that climb were definitely making that hotel sound like a really tempting plan. The paddle was long and we got there at sunset; Hotel Mission, our paradise. There was a note on the door, so while I walked inside to investigate, Leigh took the phone and translated the note. We both came to the same conclusion. The hotel was full! :(
Camping out would be hard, surrounding the village was lots of agriculture land, so difficult to find a spot to camp unseen. Further away in the desert it might be ok, but since the sun was setting and we are not too keen to be on the road in the dark with semi’s (vrachtwagens) driving really fast, and we were really tired, we had not really any other option than that other hotel we saw on the way; Hotel California. The looks from the outside were not good. But, maybe we were lucky? Both murmuring the Hotel-California song, we went back to check it out.
To make a long story short, the lady was nasty and unfriendly, she charged us double for what the room was worth (knowing the other hotel was full and where else would a tired cyclist go?), the room was dirty and so small that we had to park the bike with the front wheel almost in the toilet, and we had to spend half an hour putting toilet paper in holes in the wall so mosquito's wouldn’t eat us. And then there was the cockroach that hurried under the bed when we arrived. And, the shower turned out to be cold.
While Leigh was slowly accepting the situation, I got a little mad so I was ready to put the tent next to the establishment. But, Leigh calmed me down, said that we had only one option and he was too tired to care. We did, however, not eat at her restaurant, but walked for half an hour to eat in hotel Mission. Where indeed, the lady was super nice! That night, I dreamed about hotel Mission, how nice the rooms would be (really, they were ballrooms in my dream).
It wasn’t hard for Leigh to convince me the next morning to take a rest day so we could spend a night in hotel Mission. And it was almost as nice as in my dream, and the lady who runs it is just the best.
Every now and then on the bike we make up our own lyrics to songs. Hotel California has been one of the target thanks to this experience. It goes something like this: Welcome to the Hotel California. Where the rooms are small, the water is cold, what a shitty place. Plenty of room at the Hotel California. Cause everyone is too smart, to stay in such a place…
Anyway, I decided to get to the bottom of this Hotel California business. According to Wikipedia the Eagles said: “On just about every album we made, there was some kind of commentary on the music business, and on American culture in general. The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American Dream, because it is a fine line between the American Dream, and the American nightmare.” Also on that same wikipedia it says that it goes back to hotels in LA in general, determining the skyline. Nowhere does it mention the Baja.
So if that song is not about a hotel in the Baja, what were the Mexicans talking about? On www.hotelcaliforniabaja.com you can read the following (shortened by me) story; about how the Hotel California at the Baja was founded in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong, who lived in the 16 room hotel with his wife and seven daughters. Wanting the locals to believe he was Mexican, Mr. Wong changed his name to Don Antonio Tabasco but he became known as "El Chino," meaning "The Chinese Man" regardless. His looks might also have been in his way. He introduced ice from La Paz in 1950, being the first and only chance to get cold beer around, making the place popular. More things happen, and then one rumor by someone with no connection to any owners of the hotel, in the 1990s, states that the Eagles once owned it. This is not true. Also the present owners of the hotel, a Canadian couple, do not have any affiliation with the Eagles, nor do they promote any association. Despite this, many visitors seem to be mesmerized by the "coincidences" between the lyrics of the hit song and the physicality of the hotel and its surroundings. For example, Hotel California is accessed by driving down a long desert highway from either Los Cabos to the south or La Paz to the east. The Mission Church of Pilar is located directly adjacent to the hotel and mission bells are heard daily. Since the Church is so close it sounds like they are almost inside the hotel at times. Countless stories and firsthand witnesses relating to spirits and ghosts in the courtyard of the hotel. During the 'Hippie Era" of the 1960s and 1970s, people were know to easily grow their own marijuana in the extremely fertile land of the Todos Santos area and then roll them into "Colitas" which is a Mexican slang term for 'Joint" or Marijuana cigarette.
So I’d like to BUST the rumour brought to us by the Mexican couple that Baja owns THE Hotel California from the song. Still, it sounds like a nice place. Actually, it is more likely that we cycled along the hotels that inspired the song when we were passing through LA. And what about the Ciudad Insurgentes Hotel California? Well, let’s just forget about that one...
31 maart 2017 22:38 | Door: Dana Studebaker(aerobics in Mulege)
My husband and I were driving from Cabo to Mulege and got stuck in Insurgentes. The ONLY place to stay was Hotel California. While it was far from deluxe it was better than driving in the dark to Loreto so we stayed. The food was not great, but acceptable. This is just another Baja experience ...some great, some not so. The Hotel California in Todo Santos is much too fancy for a true Baja experience.....
2 april 2017 17:45 | Door: Phantasmo Tulum
A bit of humility will go a long way in Mexico. Perhaps instead of planning to assault your host who may be tired of dealing with arrogant tourists, you should relax and either move on or just accept that things will be a bit different than your usual western hotel.
Safe travels, and remember breath deep, and save the bear spray for bears and vicious dogs. Jail in mexico is a lot worse than you might realize.
2 april 2017 19:39 | Door: Wilma
Nog heel veel succes en plezier!!
2 mei 2017 19:22 | Door: Esther
Kwam deze vandaag tegen op nu.nl ;)