I have spent a lot of time in San Josebut had an extra day and night to spend in the city. As such, I looked for ideas as to what I could do that was a little bit out of the ordinary. I wanted to write a story on San Jose, but was lacking creative material.
A night at costa rica’s famous brothel
For those who do not know the laws of Costa Rica, prostitution is a completely legal trade, and one that is quite prevalent, especially among foreign travellers. As long as a girl is of age, has proper identification listing when her last medical examination was, prostitution is a common, if not endorsed, trade in the country. Thus, the majority of women in the trade use massage parlours, strip clubs, and hotels like the Hotel del Rey as not only their office, but their source of protection.
For the record, I want to state that I am in no way neither condoning or endorsing prostitution in this post. As I step through the glass doors of this famous hotel my heart races as I know that everyone outside the doors, as well as inside, thinks they know the reason I am there.
I walk to the reception desk as a pre-season NFL game plays on the television and smoke hangs gently in the air above wooden tables and green casino felt. As I register in the book of the hotel I can feel eyes upon me, both from foreign men and the women that sit grouped together at tables smoking cigarettes.
I check into my room and enter the huge space. As the digital clock on the nightstand beside me flickers to remind me that the evening is approaching I feel my stomach rumble from hunger and know that I have to come out from my hiding spot to find food and drink.
Why did I come here?
My journalist curiosity has driven me to spend a night among the weary. I leave the hotel with my head down, hoping no one will recognize me, even though I am in a foreign land, or perhaps just hiding my shame.
When dinner ends, I race up to my room trying not to look around the scene which is starting to build in activity in the hotel. My two sides begin to fight with themselves as they always seem to do in these types of situations.
It is telling me that I can still write an article about this place without going downstairs. I pack up my computer and breathe deeply before dipping the electronic key back into my pocket and sneaking out of my room quickly. I walk into the main lobby of the Hotel del Rey and again feel eyes upon me. Everyone seems occupied. A couple of young women sit at the bar flirting with a man no older than A table of older men, obviously American are sitting to watch the Sunday NFL football games decked out in their team gear.
I scan the scene quickly, without trying to look like a target and decide that the casino is probably my best bet for seclusion. Stunning, nearly all of them.
I wonder what gets them into this. A friend of mine told me that the majority of them are girls trying to get themselves through university.
I would watch from a distance, like a bad journalist, until it was time to run and hide in my room for the night, alone. The older men sit at the tables with the women, laughing, touching, flirting, drinking, while the young guys head right to the counter at the Rey with their girl and head upstairs.
The bartender is the most beautiful woman I have seen in my life. I sit and order my drink, the 7 year special reserve, and sip it gently while wondering what she must think of all this. Does she get involved?
I turn them down politely while joking shyly with them that I have no idea what type of companionship they are talking about. I take the last bit of my drink and thank the waitress and wish her a good night.
As the elevator doors begin to close I hear a shout to hold them. A man enters with a girl on both arm. He thanks me and then asks me where my girl is.
As the elevator doors open on the 3rd floor and they say their goodbyes as I continue to the 4th. I slide the key into the electronic reader and look at my big empty room.
I am shaken by the realization of why some men engage in this: the world can be a lonely place sometimes. As my eyes begin to weaken I hear the sound of a woman faking her pleasure and a man announcing his own in a room nearby. I roll onto my side, place the pillow over my ears and attempt to shut the noise out.
I wake up at 6 in the morning pack my bags, and head out of this infamous hotel. In the lobby, it is business as usual.
Prostitution in costa rica