Wednesday, May 23, 2007

La Paloma

La Paloma is a coastal ghost (ghoastal) town clinging to the edge of Uruguay. It has the dehydrated air of a failed experiment in touristifying a naval base- its a place you only go in summer, and the last summer here happened sometime in the sixties. At least that was how it felt on the gusty Autumn afternoon we arrived. Everywhere lay the remains of deserted buildings and aborted construction projects. Concrete bones and bare brick exoskeletons- it seemed fitting that the centrepiece of town was a dilapidated and rotting whale skeleton amid a decorative garden full of dead or overgrown plants. Just in case anyone ever decided to repair the display, there was a cluttered collection of spare bones on the roof of a nearby building.

Typical hotel

We checked into the only hostel open. A depressing lodging at best, at least in these wintery conditions. The bathrooms were a prime example of misconceived pragmatism- I imagine when the various elements arrived, the builder just looked at the white cube that was the bathroom and said something along the lines of: "Just get these things in that room and plumb 'em", and then left the work experience kid in charge. The impractical result was a bathroom with the toilet in one corner, the bidet all the way in the other corner, a little sink in the other corner, and a pipe protruding from the wall, leading to a showerhead which sat precisely in the centre of the room. No shower curtain could be of use- the walls were the shower curtain and everything in that room- your towel, your clothes, the toilet seat and toilet paper- would be soaked by the time you finished up.

The naval base

The one thing the bathroom did have going for it was the door. The door, because it was a normal size door and the only door in the whole place not designed for and built by little people. I named it 'Headache Hostel' because unless I walked with my head tilted to one side I constantly crashed into arches and overhangs. The two redeeming features of the establishment were the breakfast of pastries and fresh fruit, and the charming host, who somehow got the idea that Angie spoke perfect Spanish. The host was so nice that when we checked out of his hostel to move into a hotel down the road, we had to tell a lie and say we were leaving town.

The strange beach

1 comment:

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