Tighter than Miami‘s security check, the Hotel Del Rey’s 6’3” apes posted at the doorways frisked and scanned us before we entered the hotel’s bar, Key Largo. After being checked we followed a small path to the bar’s back entrance. Like in a saint’s nightmare or a horny American’s wet dream the bar was literally overrun by oversexed, need-to-get-paid Latin women. Entering a place like this ones ego triples exponentially; eyes, smiles, winks, bodies turn to you, greeting you with the thickest air of sexual tension. As you may have figured these girls are not of the hard-to-get kind; they are prostitutes, legally working as one of Costa Rica’s main tourist attraction.
When you’re tired and need an extra pick-me-up to have a good night with your lady take a shot and you’ll be standing in attention again.
I arrived in San Jose a week prior tonight. Visited Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Quepos, did the normal touristy adventure tours: ATVs, Canopy Tours, White-water rafting, Hanging bridges, tasted the best of culinary delights from various cities, flown in Cessna’s across mountains, battled lizards for dropped food, imitated Gecko’s sounds, met distant foreigners and talked the usual teasing of countries’ policies and opposites, slithered up and down and around steep mountainsides in a low-powered 4×4 SUV, and finally, accosted by beautiful women that make a construction worker’s whistle seem like child’s play.
Once entering the Key Largo we make sure not to make eye-contact with the many patient girls waiting to be swept off their feet for an hour and $100 bucks; we head to the bar where we find a laughing Grandpa has his arms around two twenty-something girls. They sip their drinks and bob their heads from the actual thrust of mirth. We sit far enough from the glee group and in view of the live salsa group that’s performing. On stage, two very attractive girls dance in-synch while singing into mics; the red, yellow and green lights shine on their sweaty skin, adding to the licentious atmosphere. We order two Pilsens, take out our Romeo & Juileta Robustos, light them and fill the air with a thick smoke of Cuban tobacco while we wait for our friend, Frank, to arrive.
In front of the stage a sixty-something year old Latin man dances to the music. His wet unbuttoned shirt reveals his sagging chest and stomach. He’s smiling, dancing salsa with what looks closely like a man in a pink outfit. Her cheeks are sunken, her jaw and high cheek bones are pronounced, and her thin black hair is pulled tightly back, the loose strands in the back flow like air-conditioning streamers behind her as she whips dramatically to the tempo of the drums. Her skirt rises exposing her pink thong as she is twirled and pulled back into the old man’s arms. They dance happily amidst the young girls flirting to the fat and old American men at the surrounding tables around the dance floor.
Below is a sneak peek of what lies in the Hotel Del Rey in San Jose, Costa Rica. Cameras are not allowed, hence the pocket cam and it’s poor camera orientation
We had read about the hotel on the internet while stranded in our hostel with nothing to do in San Jose for the first night of our trip. It was one of the first things that came up when searching: “San Jose’s nightlife.” Seeing that almost every link contained Hotel Del Rey we went out to it to quench our curiosity and find out why the reviews of this place read: “A must-attend if you’re in Costa Rica,” “An experience like no other,” “Be a king for a day or Week,” “Slumming with the Best.” We didn’t expect it to be so ridiculously surreal – a bestial sex candy-land. We were humbled.
The hotel is conveniently located a bit off the Main Street, situated at a corner. It stands stoic, looming a facade of purity in its neo-classical form, a dull pink body drapes the old concrete walls with white hoods on top of each window. A red neon light flickers atop, reading: Hotel Del Rey. It looks like any plain hotel from the outside. As we walked through the swing glass doors we were instantly transported.
Silently we scan the area. We don’t say anything to each other but act like we belong here. The lobby is populated by about thirty prostitutes; they sit, either resting or waiting for their next job. Trains of girls walk pass us, smiling and waving. We head to a section of the hotel where it’s less congested; out of awkwardness from the so many looks and whistles from the many tight panted, bulging tanned bosoms and wet, plump shocking red lipstick girls, that we nervously played about twenty games of slots before venturing into the lioness’ den at the bar. After having our coins ritually sucked up into the non-payout machines and our brims overflowed with glances and caresses from transient fingernails, we decide to have one beer and try to assimilate into the crowd of Viagra induced zombies looking for their hour fix. That beer turned to six, a pack of cigarettes, three shots of Jack and a middle-aged American man named, Frank. We talked with him while catching glimpses of one of the most beautiful girls in the country cut through their competition to sit and wait for their next appointment; and we try to concentrate on what he’s saying while girls stand next to us feeling our groins and winking or placing their arm around our necks to play with our hair and ask, “Want a date, baby?” “My girlfriend and I are very nice, don’t you think?” “Three for one, honey.” We’d laugh with them buy them a drink but weren’t tempted to actually go with any of them.
“You’re my first tonight,” she turns to me smiling. I try not to envision her yesterday or last week and the many sweaty fat, horny Americans that pummeled themselves on her.
Frank stayed with us for the night talking about the girls he had and the ones he wanted that night, the many times and different girls one can have in one day, the guys and the genius of the Hotel’s owner. My friend and I played it cool during the conversation but the remnants of our crumbling innocence fell and shattered with the going-ons of this establishment and their patrons. But we made it through, drunk and unscathed and enlightened to a completely different world of eroticism. As we called it a night, Frank held on to his date’s hand as he walked with her to the elevator, he told us to meet him after we finished with our trip into the exterior of the country. “I’m spending five days more! And I’m not gonna go anywhere,” he said. “So if you want, come back here, get a room and I’ll buy you boys more than dinner. Have fun guys and I’ll be here.” As he squeezed the tall, slim “stacked” red-head and ran his hands down her back.
And now that’s where we are. Back in San Jose. Waiting for Frank to meet us.
Data about sex workers
While there are no official statistics, based on Schifter’s research, he estimates there are between 10,000 and 20,000 sex workers in the country, and 25,000 to 50,000 sex tourists who visit each year, 80 percent of whom are U.S. citizens.
Grandpa and his two girls had left. The girls on stage still sing about Costa Rica’s night. The girl/guy in the pink dress sits chatting with another old man, mirroring his dancing shoulders. He/she corrects his step and shows him how to move the shoulders to the rhythm of the music. We’ve been asked for about ten dates and five drinks. About twelve different girls have sat in the empty stools next to us – the turn-around rate for that stool is about ten minutes – with no response from either of us the girls just move on placing their bait elsewhere.
We’ve booked a room for the night unsure if it’ll be used just for sleeping. We had talked about getting a girl for the night, but only got to the point of reminiscing on the “hot girls” we saw the first night we arrived at the hotel.
“Did you see that tall brunette?” I asked my friend while standing on a tree-top ready to zip-line across canopies to another tree. “She was a stallion!”
“I know!” My friend said as he looked down the 200 foot drop and back at me. “If she’s back there again I’m not sure what I’m going to do. It’s so tempting, it’s amazing.”
In shorts and sandals, unattractive and undesirable as tourists we sit smoking our cigars and drinking our third beer. Looking into the crowd of perfumed heads and bodies, and white and brown skin, and broken English and bad Spanish; we wait for Frank to take us on his sordid carpet ride of the Central American flesh racket.
Through one of the corridors of the bar, my friend had inadvertently turned his head and spied on Frank walking through.
“Hey,” I heard, while I felt a nudge on my arm.
I turn and see a tall, Colombian, with fake breasts and an hour glass figure walk in with her arm in Frank’s.
Her name is Sam. She’s 21 from Colombia. Looks like she works-out for a living. Her ass is tantamount to one of the girls’ asses you find in skin mags and postcards from South Beach. Black long hair, deep abyss eyes, and white chocolate skin.
After a few drinks, and uncomfortable stares. I begin to talk to her in Spanish. Out of the three of us she “seems” to be warming up with me the most.
And out of nowhere it came out: “Care for a date?” I ask in Spanish.
“Sure, sweetie.” And then it went from there.
Frank was handing me half of her bill. 50 bucks. He told me he would pay half if I went with her. The rest I had upstairs. We went through the back elevator, talked to the bouncer, he asked her for her ID and me my room number.
He pushed the up button and the brown doors opened. Standing next to a prostitute is an odd but natural thing. Smelling her perfume. Glancing down her backside, looking at her skin, it felt like I knew her. I made her laugh, she made me laugh. She was witty and beautiful. It’s like I’ve known her for many years. I grew up with her and we we’re friends back in Medellin. I went to school with her and finally started dating. And now we are in Costa Rica going back to bed to make love and sleep off the drinks. It felt like that but that was only the pitch she sells. I’m the $100 American. “You’re my first tonight,” she turns to me smiling. I try not to envision her yesterday or last week and the many sweaty fat, horny Americans that pummeled themselves on her. I smile back and admire her tight voluptuous ass. She’s my date for tonight. Plain and simple…I’m going to hell.
Photo: Latina Visions