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About L’appel Du Vide
There exists a psychological phenomenon in which perfectly sane people, with no desire to die, find themselves faced with a steep cliff and experience a strong desire to leap. To jump from their safe vantage point into the unknown. This phenomenon is so common in fact, that the french have a term for it: L’appel du Vide – Call of the Void.
Read more here.
This is a story of how I gave up. This is a story of how I threw in the towel. This is a story of me being a bad budget backpacker. This is the story of how I pointlessly threw away money.
But its not a bad story. This is not a story of an awful night in Egypt. This is not a story of getting robbed or harassed. This is not a caution story of being safe while traveling. But it could have been.
This is a very boring story and sometimes that is a good thing.
But let me back up a little bit. I was in Luxor, Egypt. I had just finished my three day cruise down the Nile and I was spending another night exploring the many ancient ruins throughout Luxor. The company I arranged my cruise through had offered to book me a hotel room for the night, but I had rejected that plan and done my own booking in both Aswan and Luxor.
Things had turned out okay in Aswan (with the exception of a rather large burn from the shower pipes), so I was confident my hotel in Luxor would be great. The reviews on trip advisor were positive and as I approached the door I was happy to see it was in a great location.
But, when I got to the hostel there was a sign on the door saying it was closed due to electrical issues. Since I had prepaid they gave me two options: they could refund my money or they could give me a better room at their ‘sister’ hotel for the same price. Without anywhere else to go and still holding my bag in the middle of the street I agreed to the new hotel.
When I walked into the hotel I instantly felt ill at ease. I am used to small, slightly less nice hostels. Places filled with young backpackers and second hand furniture. A little dirt and disorder isn’t enough to send me packing. This hotel was different. First of it was huge, and empty. Then is was run down…peeling tiles, dim lighting, creepy old people.
I asked to see the room before I agreed and was led past a dirty, empty pool to an elevator/death trap. My room was in a secluded outside corridor overlooking the pool/ scum hole on the ground floor. When I entered the room my attention was immediately drawn to the decorative mold accents covering the walls as well as the shifting light patterns thrown by the lone light bulb over in the hallway.
A quick inspection of the bathroom revealed that additional burns would be in my immediate future. It was bad, but it wasn’t the worst i’ve dealt with. I was exahusted and just wanted to be done. I put down my bags and told the hotel person that I would take the room. As soon as he left I realized that more than 10 min in this room would be too much and decided to leave for lunch. It was then I discovered that my room didn’t lock. Beautiful.
I took my valuables and went to lunch to decide what to do. As I ate I thought about the long hours of night the stretched ahead. Second after second, minute after minute of sleepless night. Hours spent staring at the moldy ceiling, painfully slow seconds of listening for intruders in the silent corridors, countless occurances of wondering what the weird scrapping noise was….
I knew I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. I knew I had already paid, but I reasoned that they couldn’t stick me with a room without a lock. I would go back and ask for my money back and I would check in to some fancy hotel with a pool and a resturant and maybe some wifi. I felt happier just thinking about it.
I spoke with the front desk and they insisted on showing me some other, “better” rooms. Carrying my bags I was led through dark corrider after dark corrider. The first room I was shown was slightly better but apparently did not have a working toilet. Oddly enough I had to explain to the hotel staff why this situation would not work for me. The next room had ground floor windows that wouldn’t close. Again, I felt myself in the odd position of justifying why the room wasn’t acceptable. After a few more rediculous rooms, I was done. I told them I wanted my money back. I wanted to leave.
Of course, they refused to give me my money back. It was only $25 but I was still frustrated. Why should I pay for this room I was clearly not going to use. For a moment I doubted myself – maybe I shouldn’t just throw away $25. I was about to go pay a lot of money for a room when I already had a
perfectly good room right here.
But then I imagined myself alone in one of those lock-less, toilet-less, moldy rooms and knew I had no choice. With a personal vow to rip them a new one on Trip Advisor, I exited the hotel and walked a block to the amazing Luxor Hotel.
Twenty minutes and $60 later I was by the pool, beer in hand. I had never felt so good. The sun was shining, the pool was clean, and my door was safely locked.
In all probability I would have survived my night in the Sixth Cirlce of Hell Hotel (Note: Not the actual name), but I’m not sad that I spent the extra money. Sometimes its important to trust your instincts. Sure the mold and dark was bad, but the real dangers were the questionable locks and empty hallways. Never be afriad to spend a little extra money to ensure your own safety. Had I wavered over an additional $60, this post could be a very different story.