No-Star Hotels Have Their Own Special Charm

Spiders and Jacked-Up Hippies
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Up the Amazon
When my cargo ship cruising up the Amazon got delayed for four days, I passed most of the time in front of the fan in the tiny lobby of the Rio Branco ($6), a hostel in Manaus, Brazil. The temperature and humidity in this Amazonian metropolis made it near impossible to do much else. While shaving in my room one evening, a spider about the size of my fist began to crawl down the wall and onto the mirror I was using. I slowly backed away and yelled to a German traveler across the hall to come and check it out. A few travelers came in together.

When we approached the spider, settled in the corner, it surged at us. Startled, we all jumped up onto the beds, and were immediately embarrassed by our gutless instincts. The 12-year-old boy at the reception desk then entered the room with one of those cartoon-version poison sprayers and began to fill my room with toxic vapors. After a 10-minute chase and enough toxins to give us a Chernobyl-like glow, he eventually removed one of his flip-flops and killed the spider with a side-arm throw. I didn't have much trouble falling asleep after that, thanks to the chemicals.

Grounded in Goa
I went to Goa, a hippie resort town on the west coast of India, to participate in the famous New Year's celebration. The Ball may drop in Times Square, but Goa is home of the Acid Drop. Most revelers stay for a few weeks (and in some cases, a few years), so local hotel proprietors have gotten a bit spoiled. No one would rent me a room for less than two weeks, and most had nothing for under a month.

I spent an entire day searching for accommodations before I found some extremely "sedated" travelers (I won't mention any names, in case they decide to run for public office someday) who didn't seem to mind that I slept on their concrete floor for nearly a week. In fact, I don't think they even noticed.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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