Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I can't find your booking: Stories from A to Z

Forrest kept track of our progress as we traveled, telling me which towns we passed and how far we were from Coquimbo. He had no WiFi on the bus but had downloaded the map earlier to his phone. 

“I follow along and can tell where we are,” he explained. I get lost when I turn around and have never been able to read or follow a map. That was Bruce’s area of expertise and apparently his son inherited it. 

Our bus stopped in towns along the way, when people got on or off. Forrest and I often disembarked to stretch our legs. I always checked with the driver to see how long we had. I was paranoid about getting left behind. 

It was dark when we arrived at the Coquimbo depot. Good thing Forrest had been following the route, since there were no announcements like on the chicken busses in Guatemala. Not only that, but the Guatemalan drivers and their ayudantes watched out for Bruce and me and would signal when it was our stop. 

We had no such care on this trip. On my own, I would have regularly asked the bus driver what town this was. Not my independent son. He liked being in charge of his own destiny, not relying on someone else to guide him to the right place. 

We collected our luggage and noticed a few cabs parked nearby. As in Santiago, the drivers waited for us to come to them rather than soliciting our business.

Our hotel was called Enjoy Coquimbo. I had reserved an apartment on for one week. Our driver knew the place, and we were on our way. 

He asked if we were there for the eclipse and offered a few suggestions on the best places to see it. If the day was cloudy, he said, we should go to a higher elevation. He handed me his card and offered to drive us to the best spot. 

Reaching an elegant, multi-story, modern hotel, he announced our destination: “This is Enjoy Coquimbo.” He parked at the front curb rather than pulling up through the circular drive and letting us off at the entrance. “I can’t drive up to the door,” he said without further explanation. 

We unloaded and paid him what he asked. 5000 pesos. When I expressed surprise and questioned the fare, he replied, “This is what it costs.” Since our Santiago driver had charged 3000 in the city, 5000 seemed too high. 

All right then. Your card’s going in the trash.

Hauling the luggage up the circular drive and into the hotel, I couldn't wait to leave it in our apartment and walk around all week light and free. Just a few more steps and this long day would end. Forrest and I could check into our rooms then get food. It had been ten hours since breakfast.

At the desk, an attractive young woman dressed in the highly tailored uniform typical of Latina hospitality workers greeted us with a smile. I gave her my name and said we had a reservation through

 After a lengthy computer search, she asked my name again. She frowned and searched further. “I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to find your booking." 

I showed her the email from and one from the owner, Israel. She looked it over carefully, made a few phone calls, then said, “This is Enjoy Coquimbo as your email states, but you’re not reserved here. Your building is down the street.” She explained where it was and how to get there. “It’s not far. You can walk there easily.” 

By then, my brain had stopped accepting Spanish and nothing she said made sense. Patiently, she tried again, using gestures while repeating the directions. I shook my head in confusion.

Forrest, on the other hand, listened attentively, although his Spanish skills were quite rudimentary then. I was too puzzled, weak, and exhausted to find my way anywhere. Just please let me put my luggage on a cart, get on an elevator, and go up to a room and lie down. 

The desk clerk--sweet, kind, young and pretty--smiled at Forrest. “If you wait a few minutes, I can get someone to take over here, and I will show you the way to your building.” 

I was grateful for the help and Forrest clearly happy to chat a bit longer with this cute girl. Occupied with impressing her, he took my awkward, heavy duffel without the usual complaints. I kept the large, easier-to-manage purple suitcase.

Seeing Forrest and the girl chatting and laughing together, she practicing her English and he with Spanish, cheered me up. I wanted nothing more than for my youngest son to meet the right girl and be happy with her forever. 

She led us around the outside to the back of the hotel and pointed to a bunch of buildings two blocks down. “It’s there, at the end of that street. Do you see it? If you think you’re okay, I better get back to work.” 

Forrest said yes, he sees it, no problem, thanks so much. The girl wrote the number of our building on a piece of paper along with her name and phone number, “in case you need anything during your stay in Coquimbo.” 

We thanked her and parted ways. I followed Forrest. I still had no idea which of all those buildings was ours. How did he know? And why had they listed it by the wrong name? And why hadn't they provided the right address?

Along the way, each high-rise had its number visible on signs in front. Ours was next to last. It was gated, with a security man in a little building. We approached him on foot with our luggage, and he watched us suspiciously. Where is their rental car? Where is their taxi? 

It was quite dark, nine p.m., and felt like midnight. 

At the window, I gave my name and that I had reserved an apartment through He looked at his book, turned the pages, looked at me, and said in Spanish, “I don’t see it.”

I stared at him in shock. He checked again, found a different book to thumb through. "No, it's not here." 

I opened my phone to the WhatsApp messages exchanged with the contact person, Israel, which thankfully were in Spanish. I showed the guard, and just like that he reached behind him and grabbed a key from the shelf, handing it to me. 

"Apartment 615," he said and gave instructions on how to open the security door, then take the elevator up to the sixth floor where we would find our apartment. 

Israel must be the jefe grande. Praise be to Israel. I was cheered and encouraged. Finally!

Forrest was no doubt thinking how much easier couch surfing would have been.


  1. Hi Karen - thank goodness for Forrest's laid back style ... and your sense in keeping your bookings to hand ... I hope the hotel was satisfactory and you were able to get some good sleep - cheers Hilary

  2. I have to admit I'd be very nervous getting the wrong name to the building and the wrong address. I'd be suspicious and leery of going ahead. But so far it seems like it worked out for you. I hope the apartment was nice. Looking forward to reading more.

  3. I would have beenin freak mode, I think. No food, long bus ride a d hubby would have to take over. Glad you found it.

  4. I can imagine what I would have been like with that long bus ride no one knowing about the reservation, and it being 9pm. I would have a shut down mind, too.

  5. I can feel just how exhausted you were. My body was tense reading this!


Comments are welcome!