Airbnb Nightmares

Jose and I have been pretty lucky people when we’ve traveled together. We’ve had rental cars crap out in the middle of some of the most remote areas in the country and magically we can still get them swapped out safely hours away. We’ve had windshields crack driving across Houston and have gotten them replaced without having to pay for any damages. We’ve locked keys in the trunk in the middle of the Smokies and have driven through snow-clogged highways in Chicago that scared us so much we thought we would actually die.

We’ve been extremely lucky people, and out of all places our luck ran out in Mexico. Not awfully, but in a substantial way.

Yesterday we were slated to switch out of our Airbnb in Guanajuato to transition to another space about a ten minute walk away. We packed up all of our things and wandered around with our backpacks and a bag of fresh laundry. I thought Jose looked pretty funny with his baby bjorn backpack.

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We had a few hours before check-in to our second location so we got lunch at a local taqueria and sat in a plaza. Jose called his family to check in and this ADORABLE kid named David came and started talking to me about his lunchbox. He didn’t even care that I couldn’t speak Spanish! He started climbing all over Jose and it was just about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.

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After our sit-spot staled and David walked away into the abyss with his mom, Jose and I thought we’d walk and go find the new Airbnb. The directions we were forwarded to were incorrect not once, but three times. As in we were getting three different addresses from Airbnb, Google Maps and then the lady in question whose home we were staying at. No worries. We found the location and waited outside until our host came home from work.

One time Jose and I were cooking in the house he lived in in college and we were making pasta. He boiled the pasta, drained it and then something slipped and the pasta spilled all over the floor. There was a palpable moment when we stared at it, didn’t say a word, and he just started filling the pot again to boil water. There was an acute decision made that though dinner was technically ruined for a bit, it wasn’t worth getting mad about.

The room in question at the new Airbnb was one of those silent moments where we walked in, looked around and both felt absolute despair. It was especially shocking because our host lived in a very fancy neighborhood where there was security outside of the community. The house was big and spacious and she had an office in the front room with a ton of reference books.

Our room, however, looked like it was decorated with furniture that was salvaged from the bottom of a ravine. Every single thing from the walls to the lamp shade were stained and filthy. It was the most depressing place I have ever seen. The Airbnb ad said that we’d have a private bathroom, a kitchen to cook in and breakfast included. The bathroom that was supposed to be private for us was, as the host explained, actually going to be shared with a bunch of foreign exchange students sleeping in a second guest room (the nicer one next to ours, go figure) over the weekend. She also told us our “free breakfast” was a promotion for her first few guests and we’d have to pay her more if we wanted her to cook. The deal breaker was when Jose asked her about the status of the kitchen and where to put our groceries. That’s when the host said that no one ever wanted to use her kitchen and we were not allowed to except for maybe a few hours on the weekend when she was out, but would we like to put our things in the fridge in the kitchen we’re not even allowed to cook in?

Needless to say, we gave her back the keys and left within fifteen minutes of checking in. This has been our one Airbnb snafu so far and we were almost giddy with the adrenaline of walking out and being forced to reroute plans. I bought churros and enjoyed the afternoon breeze in the park. As we waited to book a different Airbnb we decided to check out another baseball game up the street with enchiladas mineras and beers to mend our wounds for the day.

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The game was actually very eventful–the crowd was absolutely insane with music and whistles and there was a lady screaming in front of us and pounding beers, at last count she had at least fifteen cans littered around her. I nearly died at her play-by-play translations from Jose they were so ridiculous, most of which I cannot repeat here because my grandma reads this.

By the top of the seventh inning we had a new reservation confirmed on Airbnb until we leave Mexico so we headed out to get all checked in. Our new location is on top of a vintage movie theater, which is neat. All was going well as we toured the new space–lots of issues of the New Yorker lying around, a terrace with tables and lights to sit on, multiple living rooms and a library of both Spanish and English titles. Our room doesn’t have a window and it’s pretty hot, but it was the best we could do on short notice. Air conditioning is basically non-existent here, so what are you going to do?

The cherry on top of the Airbnb cake was that another booking we had in Los Angeles in one week when my brother arrives was cancelled by the host. So we had to find another whole-home rental for a handful of days over a weekend in the most populated city in the United States… Yeehaw.

In light of recent events we’ve decided we basically just need to keep our days packed and stay out as long as possible to avoid the heat of the day in our bedroom. We visited the Alhondiga de Granaditas, or the Regional Museum of Guanajuato. It was absolutely AMAZING and they had cards for me to read along room by room in English!!! Jose Chavez Morado, a Mexican painter whose work we’ve seen at Museo de Pueblo, painted multiple frescoes here that were absolute stunners. So incredible.

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The murals are extremely hard to capture but they’re incredible mechanisms to describe the rise and fall of Spanish colonialism. I was so thankful to finally have the English cards to understand all of the information in the exhibits because, in my humble opinion, Mexican history is endlessly fascinating and complex. Fun and dark fact: the Alhondiga building, as in the building for the museum, was constructed in the 19th century as a dry storage space to hold the city’s food supply. The first insurgents for Mexican independence attacked Spanish administrators at the Alhondiga. At one point in the eleven year war for Mexican independence, all four corners of the Alhondiga had the heads of the first four major insurgents hung on the exterior corners of the building, one head per corner, to warm away any further attempts to overthrow the empire. Now there is a lot of commemoration within the building to those four individuals.

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There was also a large folk art exhibit showing various significant scenes in Mexican history.

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Anyway, things are looking up! We’re sitting on the terrace with gorgeous string lights listening to vintage piano records. We’re off to Leon tomorrow to check out the leather markets and the zoo. We booked our new place in Los Angles and all is smooth sailing on that front. We found a few vegetarian places in town today and have steered away from meat so we’re both feeling better. Looking up, looking up!

-K

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