Hospedajes, or residencials, are a type of boarding-house/hostel. They are generally the most economical form of lodging (besides camping), have shared bathrooms and thin walls. Guests may be foreign or domestic tourists, short-term borders (like teachers), or locals in town for business. The rooms are part of a family home, and, unlike other family-run places we have stayed, the home and rooms share the main entrance, kitchen facilities, etc. Each hospedaje we’ve stayed at in Chile has had a different feel and each has been an interesting experience as we stay in someone’s home. The first few we have stayed at have been very welcoming, and though facilities were shared, we at least had a bit of privacy and were left to ourselves when in our rooms. After this last one though, we are ready for a change. First of all, we were a bit turned off by the fact that guests must pay for the use for the kitchen (apparently standard in Coyhaique, though we have not seen this anywhere else). More than one shower a day will cost you extra, as will sitting in the living room.
The spirited abuela who is the owner, while friendly and helpful, is also loud and we can always hear her squawking away in the kitchen or hallway. On the second night we were in our room and she knocked on the door to see if another guest could use our tv. It was an odd request, however I didn’t mind giving up the tv, but having this lady knock on our door like we were relatives rather than paying guests was a bit annoying. Much later that night I had trouble falling asleep due to the two guys upstairs. Through the thin walls I could clearly hear them pop open beer cans and yap away at their jolly conversation. I contemplated going upstairs to ask them to be quite, but really didn’t want to get out of bed, and didn’t want to upset them. Finally I could take it no longer (it was one or two in the morning already) and when I heard the voices stop and footsteps coming downstairs to the bathroom, which was next door to our room, I got out of bed and waited in our doorway for the beer-pisser to emerge. He was a bit startled to see me standing there when he opened the door. I smiled and asked if he was in the room above mine. No, he shook his head. Sure you’re not, mr beer breath, I thought to myself. I innocently said, in Spanish, “Oh, sorry. You know, there are two guys up there talking so loudly I can hear every word they are saying.” He gave me a guilty look and I said goodnight as he headed upstairs. The chatting ceased. Then, it started again, but this time it was just one man on the phone. But thankfully that soon ended as well and I was finally able to fall back asleep.
Noisy people aside, Coyhaique is mildly interesting. This town is the center of activity for the region and is thus home to several banks, pharmacies, a hospital, and the central plaza even has Wi-Fi, though I don’t think many residents actually own laptops. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of “big townness” is the two big grocery stores. These supply everything from produce, canned goods, lots of beverages, bakeries, sundries, Christmas decorations, meat, cheese, and huge sacks of flour. The man I sat next to on the bus ride here told me that every few months he and his wife come to Coyhaique to restock on their food supplies. (This particular time he was coming to town for a minor operation at the hospital, which unfortunately had to be rescheduled due to the public service workers’ strike.) I saw many other people pushing around completely loaded carts who must have been doing the same. Matt and I didn’t buy nearly as much as these people, though we did enjoy the selection after the last couple of days in the middle of nowhere. Plus Coyhaique is set admist beautiful scenery, so despite a noisy guesthouse, it wasn´t too bad.