The air was suffocating, but it was salty and delicious. Even though she was drenched in sweat she was cheerful after the long day and a half of travel, the freedom of no longer being in an airplane cabin for fifteen hours. The cab from the airport had been jangly. She felt jangly. So much moving about. A deeply foreign land, a place she’d always dreamed of visiting, and was now simply stunned by the reality of actually being here in a vast, mountainous, ancient place with a heritage dating back thousands of years, down here at the bottom of the Earth, a land removed from the turmoil of the Northern hemisphere. The countryside she viewed from the car had been exquisite, rich, deep forests of evergreens, a line of mountains always to her right, inland, and the ocean, an immense swath of dark, roiling blue extending to the horizon, dotted with a few yachts, and some colorful fishing trawlers always to her left.
She arrived at the hotel which was located near the rocky edge of a promontory overlooking the blue-gray ocean. A thin porter wearing a red jacket, a man in his late fifties, she assumed, helped her with her luggage, and she entered into a large lobby with a vaulted ceiling, and a mezzanine level above the front desk. It was a dark lobby, Spanish Baroque style, frescoes along the walls and in the high ceilings above. It felt tired, she thought.
She approached the desk, her bags in tow. The hotel clerk, a tall, thin man who appeared to be gassy and annoyed, looked down at her, his long nose pointing, and his eyes staring narrowly with what appeared to be a growing suspicion.