The pictures on Expedia always look just good enough. After checking the reviews, I’m normally fine with booking a cheap room. My thinking on this subject is based on my three assignments with the U.S. Peace Corps. While serving, one needs to become accustomed to leaving your permanent site, from time to time, and traveling to your Hub Site. Once there, you can go to the bank, shop for items you can’t find at your site, and often pick up your mail. Depending on the transportation options, you can return to your site, same day, or, if brave enough, stay and spend the night.
In Charlotte, the hotel was in a complex with two other chains. This came in handy. My hotel never answered the phone, when I called to request a pickup from the airport. I tried the hotel phone bank, in the airport, three times. I then used my cell phone and called seven times, from the shuttle area, just outside of the airport. Finally, I Googled the hotel, looking for a different number. That’s when I learned that my hotel was one of three on site. I called one of the other hotels. Success at last.
Having arrived early, I had a three hour wait for my room. I’ve waited longer, getting a bus out of my Peace Corps site, so it wasn’t really an issue. Plus, now that I just travel around, I welcome any unplanned block of time, to sort photos, post to a handful of social media sites, and answer email. Still, the longer that I waited the more the hotel began reminding me of a tv newsmagazine episode about the working poor, living out of hotels. The written policy about not renting to local residents or accepting cash, at the hotel, proved that I was on the right track. Finally, I was called to front desk and given a key. Once in my room, I thought, “It’s a Hub Site hotel!”
Much like my time in the Peace Corps, I only needed a room with a western toilet, shower (with hot water) and a bed with clean sheets. As a bonus, the tv shows were all in English. At five o clock, I walked downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant. The place was dark, with one determined guest quietly waiting. A family with a bunch of kids came in, looked around, and left. I soon followed and purchased a frozen TV dinner from the other hotel’s gift shop. My room had a microwave. I called it a night.
The following day, I took the Hickory Hop shuttle from Charlotte to Asheville. My driver said she could drop me at my hotel, for an additional fee. She then put the wrong street address in her phone. I told her Avenue and she said she never heard of that and put street. Then, according to my phone, she missed the exit for the downtown hotel. She got off and back on the freeway, missed the merge, and ended up going in the opposite direction. I turned up the volume on my phone. She turned hers off. Once we finally made it to the hotel, she seemed reluctant to let me leave the car. That’s when you know that you’re in Hub Town territory. Locals don’t even drive there.
Like Charlotte, I arrived before my room would be ready. The woman a the desk suggested a walk around downtown, while I waited. She told me to leave my suitcase, in a nearby office. She would txt me, when the room was ready. I walked around for an hour or so. Then, I made my way back to the hotel. The woman at the desk gave up on waiting for housekeeping, to clean my room, and switched me to one that was ready. I grabbed my suitcase and made my way to the elevator. Inside, I saw the housekeeping note. Like most Americans traveling, since the start of COVID-19, the lack of daily housekeeping in hotels is the new normal. And, like any good Hub Town hotel, the towels in your room, at check-in, are all you’re ever going to get.
Once settled into my room, I noticed the phone. I immediately sent a photo to my friend in Raleigh. Her reply was “Jacaranda hotel!” That hotel is located in the Westlands area of Nairobi, Kenya. For volunteers with a little extra funding, we would stay there. After checking in, I would fill up the bath tub with hot water. Once the tub was full, I would leave the hotel and walk to the nearby narrow two story shopping mall. I would ride the short escalator to the second floor and buy a bar of soap and then walk back to the hotel. The month of sponge baths, with cold water, would be replaced by a long hot bath. It was my favorite thing to do in Nairobi.
As much as I have enjoyed this trip down Peace Corps memory lane, would I recommend these two North Carolina hotels? If you’re a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, hoping to relive your Hub Town experience, book now! For the rest of you, don’t even think about it. Bad reviews are there for a reason and (maybe only) Ghetto Girl Travels should be all about that life! Next up, Boone, North Carolina!
XOXO 😚— GGT