San Juan del Sur, Nicaraguan Hell Vacation

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I stumbled down the hot street looking for rooms when suddenly a gate opened on to a large property and I peeped in. I pushed past the garden fixture, a young teenage fella hired for general property duties, towards a frazzled woman of about 60, wiping sweat off her forehead and giving the fixture a look for letting me in.

“What can I do for you?’ She was a Brit.

‘I’m looking for a room,’ I said, dropping my suitcase. She looked me up and down, asked me a few pointed questions, then walked me back to a room in a house two houses back from the first, each with a pool.

Thus was the beginning of the worst holiday I’ve ever had. My first Airbnb and my last. I surveyed the room: art deco, clean. We agreed on $45/night, but I was disappointed to learn that I would be sharing the house with her disgruntled husband, an inveterate television watcher, late night snacker, ball scratcher.

Any question I asked him he directed back to his wife. I asked for a key to my room, but there was none. She said, ‘Well, just hide the things that are important to you.’

Easier said than done when you have a suspect roommate, whom I was soon to meet. I dove into my bathing suit and went out to the pool, where I was introduced to a disheveled woman in her seventies from Chicago with a humped back, and a distended stomach the likes of which I had never seen. But for her long, tangled gray hair, you might have thought she was pregnant due to the protrusion of her stomach, accentuated by stick-like legs that reached, crablike, to suck and the ground towards her. She ground her teeth and smoked beside the pool.

I bumped into her in the hall the next morning and my good morning wasn’t exuberant enough because from that moment on she ignored me. I didn’t exist. It was weird. When I sat outside, she’d pull her chair around to make sure her back was to me. In the kitchen, she turned her back, when she walked out the door, she walked right by me. When her son visited with friends, she did the same. She was unbelievably childish and it became a real pain in the arse for everybody.

The house was super noisy; you heard everything and you had little privacy. Every time a door shut, it slammed and rattled through the house. Every door also squeaked. I asked my host why they didn’t oil the hinges and she said she wanted it that way so she knew what was going on. I wound up slamming my door harder, just to ease her mind.

‘Oh I feel like I’m in between the two of you, now I feel awful. I don’t want to be in this position,’ said the host one morning. ‘I just feel awful.’ She then patted my arm and said ‘be the bigger person.’

Later, she and I were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee (although it was a bed and breakfast I had yet to get any breakfast) discussing alternative medicines. She spoke of her chronically upset stomach (viciously throwing up for hours my first night there), her constipation, along with her dazzling display of varicose veins.

‘Urology,’ she said. A blank look formed in my eyes. ‘You know what that is don’t you?’

‘Uh, yeah?’

She explained urology. ‘It’s when you drink your own urine.’

‘Oh,’ I said. Okay, look normal now, I thought, thinking back to the orange juice in the fridge.

‘It’s very good for your health because you’re drinking your own bodily fluids.There’s nothing wrong with it.’

Did I say there was? Okay, time for a swim.

She couldn’t take the situation with the other guest anymore and feeling forced to choose, stopped talking to me; the guest was a snowbird, after all. There was silence from the host as she dusted while I made coffee. No “How’s your room? Do you need a towel? Are you having a good time?”

It was awkward and I rued having paid her for the week because there was no way I was getting a refund. Mostly, I resented them when they sat around smoking dope and didn’t even offer me a toke.

The host was obsessed with money, or lack thereof. Her husband opened up to me about how much money they owed. I was somewhat relieved when she stopped talking to me because she pissed and moaned about money constantly: the downturn in tourism, their loans, her daughter’s expensive school in France, the houses. She was so self-absorbed.

The people who stayed at the fourth house on the property were unhappy. They were up on a bluff and they had no air conditioning for the perpetual burning sun, and no screens for the wind that brought dust, delivering massive gobs of brown sand to every surface inside. The floors were sandy.

The guest had to go to the doctor because of a bronchial infection. She was coughing up great gobs of yellow… let’s not get too descriptive. She couldn’t get any rest, either, because there were chickens right under her window that woke her up every morning at five. Not to mention the dogs that barked next door. When she asked the host about getting the house cleaned, she said:

‘Yeah, if you want to share the expense of that.’

‘How much would that be?’

‘Eight dollars.’

Yes, in spite of her avowed devotion to spirituality, she was cheap. I couldn’t wait to leave. It’s hard staying in a place as a guest where the hostess is pretending you’re just not there.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

4 Comments

  1. As a former innkeeper of over three decades I can honestly say that nobody belongs in a hotel more than this reviewer. If the picture posted at the top of the page is supposed to horrify me it doesn’t. I see what looks like a tidy place with a cool dog just ready to be petted. And the host lives there (remember the whole “sharing concept” that Airbnb was founded upon?) why didn’t you just tell her you hated the place and were leaving? I probably would have asked you to leave myself. An innkeeper develops a keen sense of who is going to be “trouble”. And sometimes allowing someone unhappy to stay ruins the experience for everyone else there. This host has very good reviews and looks like a nice place. I would stay there myself.

    The reason you were probably ignored was because people can tell when you don’t like them or are disgusted by their looks. I would have ignored you too. Not only are you cheap but mean to boot.

    Not sure what you hope to gain by posting this. If I am supposed to feel sorry for you and your “awful” experience I feel just the opposite. My heart goes out to the poor people subjected to you and your attitude.

    My partner always tells me that the three rules of life are to be kind, be kind, be kind. Obviously in practice this can be very hard to do. Nonetheless we should all strive to treat each other with kindness. Remember you won’t always have that flawless 30 year old millennial body you do now. Even you will get old.

  2. A strange Airbnb where you wander into a property and negotiate rent directly with the owner….

    And you expect others to share their drugs with you?

  3. Nice prose. Write that for you 1st-semester English class?

    Number one: people who don’t want to put up with the quirks of other people don’t belong in shared-home listings, no matter how cheap they are. Get a hotel room or a whole place listing.

    Number two: You found this place walking down the street and you agreed to a price outside of the platform, so this wasn’t even rented through Airbnb. Basically, this whole story is a bunch of “number two”.

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