Tag Archives: casa amarilla hotel

Hotel Complaints…people are strange!

It’s no secret to anyone who has followed this blog for a short while that we are the proprietors of the Casa Amarilla Hotel in Mompos and of course we are in it for the thick and thin of it, complaints, warts and all. So, when I was recently shown a list of the most irregular and unusual hotel complaints in Wanderlust Magazine, I thought I would skim through some of the most bizarre complaints which we have received in the past few months. Here they come in no particular order.


At times, I am sure I behave like Basil Fawlty

  • The heat in Mompox it is very, very hot and humid

Hint: it’s hot in Mompos, in fact, the whole region is hot. Cartagena is hot, Monteria is hot, Valledupar is hot, Santa Marta is hot…it’s the Caribbean. Every author of every guidebook to Colombia writes of Mompos’ soporific heat, how did this escape their notice?

  • Nosotros llegamos Un día antes de la fecha de la reserva y no hubo nada de interés para ayudarnos

“We arrived a day before our reservation and no one wanted to help us.” Actually, we called seven hotels, and bear in mind that this was during high season, and none had space. This makes me remember of one guest who arrived 10 days after his reservation and was angry with us.

  • Se fue la luz, entonces, nos quedamos sin aire acondicionado

“The electricity went out and so there was no air conditioning.” Yes, take it up with the crooks at Electracaribe please, we live and die by this company on a daily basis. We do our best with a generator, but, what can you do in the middle of nowhere?

  • Un poco alejado del centro pero en mompox todo está cerca

“The hotel is a little outside the centre of town but in Mompos everything is close.” Then pray tell, why the hell did you write this?

  • Al estar al lado del río, el calor es insoportable

“Being beside the river, the heat is insufferable.” Actually, most will agree that there’s a breeze by the river and it is in fact cooler. I thought this was common knowledge?

  • La mayoría de los libros disponibles en la pequeña biblioteca, están escritos en inglés

“The majority of the books available in the little library, they are in English.” This is due to more English-speaking readers prepared to exchange books. I suppose this is cultural, hardly something you can complain about.

  • The staff was friendly enough but it seemed as if they were only being friendly because it was a learned behavior, not because they genuinely were happy to help. 



I am glad though to have never received any of the complaints listed below. Although, we did receive hate mail from a person who was too fast to  reserve online on Booking.com and not actually read the large text about where we are located, we are in Mompos, not in the Dominican Republic? She accused us of trying to cheat her out of her money.


Basil doing what he does best


The sheets are too white
The sea was too blue
Ice cream too cold
Bath was too big
Girlfriend’s snoring kept guest awake
Guest’s dog didn’t enjoy his stay
Hotel had no ocean view (in Mayfair, London)
There was no steak on vegetarian menu
Waiter was too handsome
Mother of groom wasn’t given the honeymoon suite

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Casa San Rafael or Mompos House No.3

We finally managed a holiday this year, the first in 2015, and only five pitiful days in length. For obvious reasons our priorities have changed and time needs to be carefully organized and compartmentalized! But, what can I say, we also skipped off to Mompos for a few days to check in at the Casa Amarilla and to see how some essential restoration works are progressing with our Casa San Rafael or Mompos House No.3.

The fachada or external facade of the Casa San Rafael or House No.3

The fachada or external facade of the Casa San Rafael or Mompos House No.3

The San Rafael house found on the corner of the Albarrada (in front of the river) and the corner of the Plaza Santa Barbara – exactly across the square from the Casa Amarilla – has been a long work in progress. More will be explained and described in “the Mompos Project” but, rest assured, three years of legal wrangling over property titles, some shady deals done in the past by former owners and further strife have left us wringing our hands and shaking our heads on many an occasion.

We estimate that we've done abou half of the rooftop restorations for Casa San Rafael or House No.3

We estimate that we’ve done abou half of the rooftop restorations for Casa San Rafael or Mompos House No.3

So, it has been slow going. San Rafael, so-called as it is located on a stretch of the Albarrada known as the Albarrada de San Rafael, is perhaps the most imposing and opulent house in Mompos and the lot measures over 1000m2 of colonial ruin. The task of restoring this monster is quite tremendous and overwhelming. But, it’s heavily in our favour that we know our workmen well and over two houses have been able to put together a robust team of architects and hard-working able-bodied Momposinos.

An archway in the Casa San Rafael or House No.3

An archway in the Casa San Rafael or Mompos House No.3

Since the house is quite daunting and some of the rooftops are up to 17m in height it’s important to go about this project of Mompos House No.3 in a measured and careful manner so not to get carried away and keep an eye on expenditure which could very easily spiral out of control.

We are stocking up on wood and other materials for construction

We are stocking up on wood and other materials for construction

Empty for more than 30 years when we took the Casa San Rafael it must have been home to a large portion of Mompos’ bat community, thousands of pigeons, vultures and who knows what else. I know that the immediate neighbours are happy to see work underway as this will inevitably lead to less wear and tear to their homes from plaga. One neighbour even stopped by to point out where, as a young boy, he used to sit and watch episodes of the Flintstones (los picapiedras in Spanish) in black and white on the town’s first television.

As we stripped back the layers of plaster and ill-advised coats of paint we have found architectural anomalies, hidden archways which have been bricked over, bodegas, former spaces for safe boxes and perhaps the most interesting item, a splay of cement used to seal the well which was closed up on September 20 1977.

How coincidental that it should have been sealed on my first birthday. Should I read something into this?


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Eleanor Roosevelt’s Teeth

I may not smile frequently, but when I do there’s an exhibition of gnashers that, were they slightly longer, more protruding and indeed visible, would not be dissimilar to those sported by Eleanor Roosevelt. Fortunately, I too underwent a ubiquitous period of orthodontic treatment in my teens and was spared the abuse of possessing a jawline containing what are routinely referred to as “English Teeth”. So imagine my surprise when I was coerced into receiving dental treatments here in Bogota and was, just a few minutes after entering, crowded over by an orthodontist, a surgical dentist and an oral rehabilitation specialist.

Not my teeth!

Not my teeth!

The word “chronic” was used on far too many occasions by all parties.

There is a click in my jaw, the gums need work, there are some cavities but what provoked a description as “chronic” was related to none of the aforementioned conditions. No, apparently I had and have been grinding and chomping my teeth chronically in my sleep. So much so that I am now going to have to wear a bite guard each and every night for the rest of my life. I can only imagine this romance killing device as better resembling the mouth guard that I had to use in my school days as a rugby player.

So be it.

A conversation struck up between myself and the rehabilitation specialist as he took casts of my bite, and in-between discussions surrounding the elegance and the beauty of Kate Beckinsale’s smile (I suppose some people make references to English footballers, others to writers, those in the dental industry presumably to an English actress famed for her perfect teeth and smile), I was able to edge in a question to find out how long he suspected that I had been grinding my teeth so ferociously. Presumably this would be something he could put a number on.

The answer, when it came, shocked me.

Seven to eight years. Given that I arrived to live in Colombia February 2007 it doesn’t take a double first in Maths to work out when this all began.

I would assume that the grinding has increased in recent years with more stress involved in running my hotel in Mompos, the Casa Amarilla, from afar. I suppose that the added pressure of being a permanent freelancer (aside from 12 days read this: A return to freelance!) and wondering from whence would arrive the next pay-cheque and offer of both gainful and significant work. And of course, presumably the period pre, during and post the arrival of my son have ramped up stress levels too. Only, this stress is not manifested externally it seems. It is only on display for dental experts alone.

Dare I suggest that such physical distress has been brought about by the pace of life, starting a family and running a business in Colombia?

It’s indisputable that life is hard here in Colombia. Earnings are scarcely enough to cover living expenses and the tricky nature of doing business (paperwork, formal and informal) take their toll on your patience and are often so time consuming that you want for nothing more than to throw your hands up in despair and damn the whole process.

Giving a reading of "Was Gabo an Irishman?"

Giving a reading of “Was Gabo an Irishman?

But, I’ll wager that my pangs of anguish have come after the midway period of my tenure in Colombia. Why? Principally, I think because my knowledge and understanding of Colombia has increased to such levels that I can no longer ignore certain socio political issues in the country. I recently co-edited and contributed two stories to a non fiction anthology entitled: “Was Gabo an Irishman? Tales from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Colombia” and in which I submitted a piece about the relevance and routineness of conversations about the actions of the paramilitaries in the country. Paramilitaries, Bacrims, Rastrojos, Urabenos, and Clan Usaga…call them what you will in their most recent bastard evolution. At a book reading the other night, I admitted that this was the first time that I had ever written anything of this nature, drawing light on a very real and still very common occurrence.

So, I think that not only having studied political science here in Colombia, having covered a great deal of the contemporary problems as a foreign correspondent, having completed the first draft of my novel: “The Mompos Project,” having worked on “Was Gabo an Irishman,” I can safely say that there have been two distinct periods to my time in Colombia. There’s the first half during which I was far more in tune with travel and cultural reporting and willing to push politics to one side preferring other topics and now, this new period where, as a resident, a tax paying citizen and someone who cares profoundly for his adopted homeland, I can no longer stand by idly as a damaged elite and a morally bankrupt society continue as if nothing is afoot.

As I pick up my draft of “The Mompos Project” this coming week and start the painful editing process, it’s with these thoughts in mind that I will make any changes. Although, given the severity of some of the issues addressed, I may have to be seated at my desk with my newly delivered mouth guard in place for fear of provoking some serious tooth attrition. Better to have Eleanor Roosevelt’s teeth than those belonging to a long-term user of amphetamines, don’t you think?

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Flojera Total!

Last year’s blog post to start the 2014 was a lament at having sat around until March before getting stuck in to the year. Fortunately, things have started sooner this time around, perhaps due to various obligations and necessities which you would all be familiar with if you had listened to Episode 80 of Colombia Calling, “Was Gabo an Irishman?” So, this time, despite being more punctual, I offer you a blog post that is entitled Flojera Total!

The Casa Amarilla Hotel in Mompos

The Casa Amarilla Hotel in Mompos

I spent the whole Christmas season running my little hotel, the Casa Amarilla in Mompos. It was a phenomenal season and looks set to continue well into 2015.


The cats of the Mompos cemetery

My time was spent guiding in Mompos and writing for the mainstream media in addition to completing some chapters of “the Mompos Project“. So far I have received two rejection letters for my book, but, I remain positive that the document will be finished in coming months and I will find a publisher or I will self publish.

christening in Mompos

My godson’s christening

We had the wonderful honour of being named as godparents to little Juan Felipe seen here at his christening.

Howler Monkey

The afternoon’s entertainment in Mompos

It’s amazing how much joy a howler monkey on the cables in Mompos can bring!

Casa Amarilla

A wonderful garden shot in the Casa Amarilla taken by Carlos Mario Zabaleta

Sometimes, you get so overwhelmed and overworked you need to step back from it all and weigh up what you have. Just looking at this beautiful image of our internal garden in the Casa Amarilla reminds me that we have a great thing going here in Mompos.

There you have it, Flojera Total!

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