Hotel Por Venir was, by far, the cheapest hotel I ever stayed in. It was five bucks a night (cash). While it was pretty much in paradise, the price was a combination of supply and demand (little) and lack of amenities (door locks, etc). I’m waxing a bit nostalgic as September gets rolling and this hotel is more memorable and special than most any other.
It sits as one of three building groups on a very small island. It wouldn’t take ten minutes to walk the circumference. There is the airport building, the official building (check-in and two shops) and the hotel. The island is more a passing-through way station than a destination. But it’s a pass-through from the wild to the untamed, so it’s an interesting place with interesting guests. Lots of stories and few barriers to sharing them. I had just sailed 1200 miles in a cement-hulled boat, and then dingyed the 10 miles or so from the “Swimming Pool,” a place of pure paradise in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.
There were no door locks, just a string you could hook from the wooden door to the wooden frame if you felt insecure. The pipe that played the part of the shower was beyond rustic but welcome actually, as I had just sailed for two weeks from St. Lucia to get to Panama and a shower not measured in seconds was a welcome, welcome relief. The food was five star — chicken and rice. And soda.
The fact is that I don’t get and probably won’t get time to just piss off with little direction and those times, though not so shiny when they first came round are the times that I a feel hold the most reward. Sure the Sanderson in London is great (and expensive) and memorable, but it seemed more like an experience anyone with little imagination and enough money could duplicate. It wasn’t “my” experience though I love the hotel.
I look forward to heading back out to some dusty place. I’m not sure where or when, but finding these gems and the funny times in life when dreams become real is pure magic.