The tone of my post today is going to be--at least in part--whining. And annoyed. And a little outraged. Let me explain:
It started last night around 10:00pm. Some sort of party was definitely in it's beginning stages in the hotel courtyard below. I had heard they were planning so-called Andalusian Nights "from sunset until sunrise" on Thursdays (every Thursday until the end of Ramadan?) but it was only Wednesday night. More than the background noise of glasses clinking and male voices we hear every night from the courtyard since Ramadan began, this had the distinct sounds of an MC'ed event. Microphone feedback, the works. We sighed. This happened last week, too, and the karaoke went on until midnight.
We turned out the lights around 10pm and went right to sleep. At 2:30am, however, I was jerked awake by the sound of someone singing--badly--in our bedroom. Nate was sitting up beside me. It had started a half an hour ago, he told me grimly, and he had already called down to the reception about it. Knowing how little good that did last time, I decided to go down and speak to them myself. Nate threw on some clothes and followed me down the stairs.
The following scene was not pretty. We made our displeasure known (read: Nate shouted at them and I told them how shocked I was at their complete lack of disregard for their only guests in the entire hotel) and waited in the lobby until the hotel owner's son (who had been fetched from the party in a hurry) came up and assured us they would stop the karaoke immediately. I was shaking as we went back up the stairs. I was embarrassed at being essentially forced into bitter complaint and outraged at their complete lack of regard for our us as paying guests and human beings. I was also worried that this was just the first of a run of parties leading up to Eid--the big holiday that ends Ramadan. Would these Andalusian Nights be of the same ilk? Were we in for sleepless nights for the next two weeks? And even more worrisome--I made reservations for my parents at this hotel! I can't expect then to put up with such goings-on. Not in the hotel courtyard! One cannot control once from the street or even the noise from neighboring buildings. If a neighbor hotel or cafe has held such a party it would have also been vexing (if not quite as close and LOUD). But the fact that the administration of the hotel, knowing that we, their only guests, are still here, still allowed this party to happen...it left a bitter bitter taste in my mouth.
Thus began my all-nighter. Oh yes. I did not go back to sleep. The girls has amazingly slept through this all but either their sleep had been disturbed OR they just picked a bad night to be restless but all three of them woke in the following four hours and needed tending to. Aya's issue was minimal. Emi, who likes to sleep with the light on turns it back on when she wakes in the night (after we've turned it off before we go to sleep), woke and found her lightbulb burnt out. She began to sob about it "not working." Luckily I had another flashlight on hand; Yumi gets one and I keep an extra in case Aya wakes and needs some sort of distraction to get her to back into her crib quietly. Yumi woke later and found HER flashlight "not working" and of course I did not have a spare for her. She ended up sleeping on the floor of bedroom. Me? I was awake through all of this. The last time I saw the time was 5:30am before I finally fell asleep for the first time since my rude awakening at 2:30am. I woke again at 6:15am when Aya woke but Nate nicely went to get her up an entertain her in the other room, giving Yumi and I an extra hour to sleep.
Later today I returned from our morning outing to the hotel owner sitting in the lobby. I decided to go straight to the issue and, after apologizing for some of us losing his temper and shouting at the evening receptionist Ibrahim, I directly expressed my displeasure about the party and the feeling that I should cancel my parent's reservation. She assured me that there would be no more parties. I was still shaken by the whole event but felt reassured that at least it would not happen again as long as we are staying here.
Sadly, the story does not end here. I reported the burnt out bulb when we deposited our key with the reception upon leaving for our morning outing. I was assured it would be changed. I was not surprised when I came back hours later to find it still unchanged. This is the hotel that you occasionally have to beg to get clean towels. I asked again when I left around 5pm to pick up the laundry. Oh yes, I was told. Right away. I came back an hour later. No change. I called down to the reception. Yassir--the hotel handyman--is out, I was told. Inshallah. I stewed. I thought about just giving Emi a flashlight and having her deal with it. She would not be happy and we would likely hear from her several times in the night, but shouldn't I try to be flexible? And then the bitterness rose in me again. NO! I will not accept this. I marched down into the lobby. No one! I searched and found two employees in the kitchen. I told them in no uncertain terms that I expected that light to be changed and pronto. But Yassir is out, I was told plaintively. What can we possibly do? I demanded to know if they had even called Yassir. No, they had not. Trying very hard not to shriek at them, I told them in a low and dangerous voice that they had better call him now. They did. No bulbs in the hotel, they reported after speaking to the missing Yassir (who, by the way, had been here all day). SO WHAT??? I shout. Okay, I gave up trying to be calm. One of you leave and buy a bulb and come back and get the ladder and install it (the ceilings are very high--no way to screw in a new bulb without a ladder). Okay, they agreed with a sigh.
Five minutes later one of them was at the door with a new bulb. He handed it to me with an apologetic smile and turned to leave. "The ladder," I said in a steely voice. The ladder was fetched and the bulb changed.
I still can't believe this place. We have had many days without incident here but when something like this happens I cannot believe they charge people to stay here. I LOVE the employees here and they have been very kind to us. But competent service? Hardly. I have not written about the little but frequent things--dishes "washed" in the mini kitchen that still are covered in food, multiple requests for toilet paper, no housekeeping on Fridays--but now I am feeling bitter.
Well, I warned you. I have taken a pretty ugly tone here. Mind you, I really do care for the friends we have made here and this will not effect how I feel or act towards them. But if asked to give honest feedback on the hotel I cannot give them high marks for their service. Am I expecting too much from a hotel that does not cater to Western guests? Should I be more tolerant? Is this poor service or actually a cultural issue? Would Arab guests find these situations tolerable? I dislike myself for being enraged over poor service but am I (or am I not) justified in this situation?
Well. Moving on. Our morning was fun. The usual weekly visit to the children's museum but we met up with friends from church there. And while I regrettably did not get my usual chance to chat much with the Jordanian employees, the girls had such a great time running around the nearly deserted museum with Amy's four boys. And Any gave us a ride back to our hotel--a huge plus due to how arduous it is to get back from the museum.
My lesson with Nisreen was, as always, a highlight of my day. I was embarrassed to hear that she had heard of our little altercation over the party noise last night. News travels fast. Of course, I desperately hope all these people are saying to each other "Yeah, I can't believe we/the hotel would even think of having kareoke at 2am when there guests trying to sleep only feet away..." but fear they are saying "Who do these people think they are, anyway?". Sigh. Nisreen was very understanding but is she really? How can she really understand when she was undoubtedly awake at 2:30am herself?
Our early evening errands were uneventful; laundry pick up, fruit, take-out grilled chicken and hummus, water. I slowly maneuvered the double stroller--filled to the max with 12 liters of water, one large load's worth of clean clothes, potatoes, cucumbers, apples, strawberries, takeout, and Ayame Little Pants--back to the hotel. Yumi on my back, Emi walking by my side. Dinner from 7:00-7:30pm and bed by 8:00pm.
Nate and I were getting pretty exasperated with the girls due to the fact that they do not listen to anything we say. We tell them 35 times to change into their pjs and they pretend they don't hear. We need to be better about giving then choices (do it by yourself or with help) or articulating the consequence if they do not make a choice and obey--and then following through. I just hate to have to issue a little threat each and every time I asked them to do something. The worst offender is Emi; she absolutely never responds to directions unless 1) there is a reward or 2) you attach at threat to the direction. This gets tiresome to say the least.
Other than the fact that I an exhausted and had several really bitter encounters today, it was actually a fine one. Really! You don't believe me?