Rio Dulce sounded like a cool place to spend New Year. The Hotel Catamaran sounded good from the Lonely Planet – somewhere where we could chill out for a few days.
Booking this place had been THE most complicated of all accommodations for this trip although the girl I dealt with via email has been quite prompt and precise. Being it over New Year, we had to stay there for a minimum of three nights. Originally we’d only planned two but changed things around to fit in with their procedures.
Most places (even those less advanced than this!) will take email or internet bookings through a credit card. A couple of places had wanted faxes with a signature and credit card details. But not the Hotel Catamaran! I had to WIRE them money for the total amount for accommodation. This was not cheap at around 70 quid a night – at least double what they normally charge (and we pay!), just for staying with them over New Year. Having not ever wired money anywhere before, then this took me an hour one lunchtime from work – and of course Barclays charged me 25 quid for the “service”. A few days later the money had definitely left my account but didn’t reach the hotel until over a week later – but they did let me know when it arrived.
After all this effort, and reading the blurb in the guide book and on the internet, we were expecting good things from this place.
We were made welcome on our arrival after our long bus trip from Honduras. The guy on the desk wanted to take a swipe of our credit card – interesting, thought this place had a phobia of plastic! Then he saw that we’d paid (“Phew! A lot of dollars!”) and said it didn’t matter.
We were shown to our bungalow, which we have fondly referred to since as a shed. The bed was big and we had mosquito screens on the windows. There was a balcony overlooking some yacht moorings on the river. We had a fan and air con! The shower was reminiscent of those more basic ones we’ve used on narrowboat holidays. Behind the bed it was filthy and covered in dust. The rest of the shed wasn’t that clean either but it was acceptable.
Dinner was between 7-9pm and as it was nearly “last orders”, we hurried over to the restaurant. It was empty, apart from a couple of ladies wrapping napkins at the tables. And there was the most awful “Benny Hill” music tinkling in the background. It was funny at the time.
We were offered a glass of wine by Mrs Misery – it didn’t take long for her to get her nickname! And we ordered fish soup and steak. It was OK, although I struggled with the slimey “eyes and scales” in the soup. The isolation and “Benny Hill” tunes drove us quickly from the restaurant to the bar. The bar also, was empty. People go to bed early around here!
We had to buy “beer tokens” at the reception and then use them all of 10 paces away the the bar. The person who served us did not speak. Perhaps they were tired too?
Oh hold on! Some people returned on boats but soon disappeared. And then the guy on reception told us that the bar closed at 10pm and we’d have to move to some “nice tables outside” with our remaining drinks. This place is odd. And the bar closing at 10pm is not good when it’s New Years Eve tomorrow….