We are independent travellers, crossing the lower section of Mexico.
It is March, the month of newly awakening flowers and foliage. We are bone weary after an all-night bus ride and arrival in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of the state of Chiapas. We need a place to sleep. Badly. The bus depot ticket seller has directed us here.
Even the darkly tinted windows of the office make me wonder…this is a motel?!
However, the price is right. Cheap.
And this is when it should have hit me: you can rent a unit by the hour.
We knock on the office window to register. The window slides back an inch.
“No need to register,” says the husky voice within.
What? I think. No passport requirement? No name?
We are directed to a nearby unit with an adjoining garage; said garage door is open. If you look down the mini street of similar units, all garage doors are closed. Office instructions, in Spanish, direct us to close the garage door from within by pressing a wall button, then enter the unit via the side door.
Obviously, you don’t want anyone to identify your family car.
We step into the unit. Switch on lights. Glance around the room after a beam of soft red light bathes the interior. We notice no windows.
The room is clean, spacious. A king-size bed in the middle, facing a wall-sized mirror, dominates the room. Pale purple satin sheets peek from under a soft jungle-patterned bedspread. White cotton towels, twist-formed into a heart shape, sit atop the bedspread. Disney cartoon character scatter rugs on the tiled floor lie on either side of the bed.
Mini packages of mints are surreptitiously within reach on each bedside table. Overhead pot lights are dimmed. The furniture has fake wooden drawers and cabinets.
But the large flatscreen TV is real.
Plus, there is a discreetly curtained sliding window, hidden behind another wall mirror. It opens to the garage. A red button sits on the frame above the window.
The clean baño, with a full sky-light, features an indigo bidet and toilet, a multi-body sized glassed-in shower and more white fluffy towels. The toilet tissue is sweetly scented.
Impossible to use the internet because there is none. And you aren’t here to use it anyway. But there are mucho lists of adult movies.
Gone for the Day
Despite our exhaustion, we quietly leave and explore the rest of the city before returning to our lovenest. Famished.
We are hungry. Not with passion now but with empty stomachs.
No restaurant because guests wish to remain anonymous.
So, we phone our order to the officina: bottle of white wine, fried chicken, French fries, salad: American comfort food. We want a break from Mexican road food: burritos, tacos, enchiladas…
After a short wait, the red button above the curtained window flashes. Then, a loud buzz.
We slide back the curtain, open the window. A tray of food silently appears from the other side. We cannot see who delivers it. We remove the food. An anonymous she/he/it pushes la cuenta across the tray for cash payment por favor.
In Spanish, we read the accompanying note: please telephone the officina when we want dishes removed. We are to use the same buttons and buzzers.
I’m sure we were the only renters who remained all night.
But we had the best sleep ever. Bueno!
Love Motels in Mexico are known as hoteles de paso or ‘no-tell motels/hotels’.
These lovenest hideaways are a Mexican phenomenon that underlines a sexual double standard. These days many hoteles de paso have gone upscale: units with private swimming pools, luxury furnishings, high-end entertainment units, specially outfitted banôs.
Many love motels rely on young people who earn decent incomes but still live with their parents. These couples would never think of having sex in the family home, even with a bona-fide accepted spouse.
Gay, straight or mixed couples, and those involved in other diversions, also take advantage of these love hotel clandestine arrangements.
Finally, we understand these no tell motels/hotels are booked solid during National Secretaries’ Day in Mexico!