Hostal Zocalo - an experience
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Where I stayed
I am going to write a few short blogs on different topics so more photos can be fitted in, starting with where we are spending four nights, Hostal Zocalo. It costs £16 total per night for a double room with ensuite for 2 people including as much as you can eat breakfast, drinking water (to fill bottles) and internet access. You might be starting to get an idea of what it is like.
The position is great, right on the main square (Zocalo) in the old town, above and behind the ground floor shops so access is through a narrow shop selling and repairing mobile phones, providing internet facilities etc. It is so narrow that when there is a customer at the counter it is difficult to squeeze through between customer and glass display cabinet which stretches the whole of the wall
After that hurdle the wide marble spiral staircase leads to the first floor reception area, which appears quite welcoming as you cross the threshold on to the lovely bright poppy patterned tiles. Then the disorientation begins. Without understanding why, you suddenly feel as if you are on a boat as you quickly try to wobble your way to the desk, the ground swaying beneath you, accompanied by a weird crunching sound! The reason for this surreal experience is that the floor tiles have become loose and are not lying flat so they rise and fall and tilt as you walk, grating against each in an intimidating manner. It is entertaining to sit and watch the faces of newcomers as they go through this unexpected initiation.
The building was once the home of a famous poet and must have been quite grand in its prime but now it is in need of urgent attention. The communal spaces are architecturally attractive, but bedrooms are squeezed in the other half of the building. Our bedroom is very small with a tiny ensuite which has such a high step into it that there is a child's portable step to use if you can't make it without
And then we come to the people. Saying it is a mixed group doesn't start to describe them.
There is an older man from US who comes here regularly for dental treatment and is having 7 crowns fitted this time as well as root canal surgery, a middle-aged Italian couple, the husband appearing to have his whole body tattooed (I am saying “appears” for obvious reasons – some parts I have not seen!) but who is a superb cook and has been giving me tips, an attractive long haired blond woman who lives here permanently and looks about thirty but told me she is fifty, a strange women who is very tall and appears severely anorexic, never seems to talk to anyone but the tiny kitten, an English couple with 2 young children, and the usual assortment of younger backpackers from various countries. In addition to guests, the owner and his son are here, the son often covering reception, and they have a constant stream of visitors popping in and staying a couple of hours. So it is always busy and chaotic but surprisingly friendly and homely.
The kitchen is available to make drinks or meals, and the breakfast provided includes cereals, fruit, bread, yoghourt, spreads, omelettes and pancakes. All very good. The challenge is finding a chair, plate, bowl etc and preferably all at the same time!
Underneath the appearance of chaos there is a surprising efficiency
It has been fun here and although we will appreciate a larger room next time if possible, we are very happy to have experienced Hostal Zocalo. Oh, and tepid water for showers would be good!