Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Snapshots of Costa Rica (3)

Ramada ramblings
I'm still here at the Ramada, the last survivor from a starting field of over 200. One by one they've thrown in their chips and headed home. I have won by default. Yippee.

You should never trust a hotel which uses maroon as a theme "accent" colour. A hotel which is actively paying tribute to maroon is a no-go area.

But maroon is everywhere at The Ramada, thoughtfully cheering up the background beige with splashes of 70s joie-de-vivre. Occasionally these sprightly tinges slip into crimson and burgundy, but on the whole it's maroon.

The Ramada has been my home for ten days. I know lots about the Ramada. I know the shift patterns, the name of my cleaning lady and how long it takes to get served at the hotel bar, which is called "Fiesta".

A more inappropriate name I can't really think of. Fiesta is the kind of bar where airline pilots and travelling salesmen come to slump and get drunk after a hard day at the wheel. Except they can't get drunk because it takes too long to get served. Maroon is everywhere.

Every night we do our best to get a beer and the staff do their best to master the till. They peer down at the display screen as if they've never seen it before in their lives and struggle to find the enormous button saying "beer". On Day 8 they tell me I can't put my beer on my room because I haven't got a ticket. I've never had a ticket. I have no idea what they mean by a ticket and I certainly didn't need a ticket on Days 1-7.

I have a mini-tantrum and the manager agrees that just this once I don't need a ticket.

My room I quite like. It has a view of the swimming pool and also a derelict 1970s amphitheatre. There is hardly any maroon and the mini-bar is the best I've ever seen - truly useful items such as toothpaste + toothbrush, razor, Doritos, Snickers bars, Alka Seltzer and M&Ms. There is a coffee-maker, a large desk and 97 cable channels. Pretty dammed perfect.

Money is an alien concept at The Ramada. Simply put, they haven't got any. The cash machine busted early on Day 1 and hasn't been fixed since. Reception never has any money. Nor does the casino. Howard tried to cash out $200 from the casino the other day and threw the whole building into a subprime meltdown.

I check out in a few hours and in many ways I'll be sad to leave. The Ramada runs at its own gentle pace, lulling you into a rhythmn of inactivity that is strangely addictive. And I will miss the maroon.