Busco El Hotel…17 de Agosto de 2008

It was still the evening of the 16th in Los Angeles when I arrived. “Saan po ang punta niyo?” greeted the admitting officer at LAX airport to my delight. “Argentina po,” I said smiling and added “but I’m staying here in L.A. for a night.” My flight to Santiago, Chile—which served as a connection to Córdoba—was scheduled at 3:55 pm the following day. I saw more minorities at LAX—Asians, Black Americans, Mexicans and more of those who looked like Latin Americans. The idea of a melting pot of races.

I would find out later on  that I boarded the wrong shuttle at the airport—it stopped at LAX Marriott Hotel and not at Courtyard Marriott Hotel where I had a reservation for a night. I was told that my hotel is just a block away so I considered walking.

I went down one block along Century Blvd but realised that my hotel was nowhere to be found, down another block on the side, towards the back of the street (which I found out later on, as I googled, is W 98th St) where hotels were towering only to find out that not one of them was what I was looking for. I have asked in one of the hotels but they couldn’t give me directions, either. It was around 9 pm already and I wondered if I would find my way to my hotel.

Few yellow cabs purred the street. I can’t remember seeing anybody but there was one car parked in front of a building where I had asked for directions. The man I asked didn’t know where Courtyard Marriott Hotel is. He doesn”t live there, I was told.

I started becoming nervous—or frightened—as I trailed the second block, and as I realised that the state’s crime rate was not something I had read about before traveling (or that the probability of me not getting mugged on the street or raped is not something I have calculated before leaving the Philippines), I saw a black woman with the braided hair walking the same direction that I was. I asked her if she knew the hotel and, like I had guessed (or was that blind faith dictating), she said that the one behind the street must be it. A sigh of relief. She asked me where I am from and what I was doing in California. Just before I got to reach the back gate of the hotel and just before she bade goodbye, she warmly said: “welcome to my country.”

A smile greeted me at the lobby. My reservation was confirmed. To my surprise, it hadn’t been paid in advance. I had to pay for it. The corporate office just arranged the booking. My manager was right about having me file for a contingency fund.

Finally, I found myself in my room—tired but as happy as a clam.



1 Comment

  1. September 14, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Thank you very much for that awesome entry.


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