Hell week LTI Costa Caribe Resort - Margarita Island

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LTI Costa Caribe Resort - Margarita Island

Tues Feb 3, 2009

What, no physical grope when entering the country? Have they learned something about tourist relations since we were last here in 2005? Perhaps so. They haven't learned much about scheduling incoming flights; as two Air Transat flights land at same time, thereby jamming up customs as the two lone officials struggle to cope. That much hasn't changed since our last visit.

I knew we were in trouble within 30 minutes of arrival. We are herded off to a very late lunch at 2:00PM as our rooms aren't ready and we follow one of the staff like children on a museum outing down and around to the poolside restaurant. As I walk into the net covered
dining area I am forced to duck as some black bird going about warp 5 almost drills me in the forehead. Thankfully he deeked one way and I the other. Hate to think what the result would look like if both of our guidance systems were thinking alike. Back and forth these birds fly over and around our heads - above the tables and when given half a chance and landing and walking around on the tables. Has anyone down here heard about Bird Flu?

I try to eat the 'warm' hamburger and the dead greasy leftover stubs of French Fries while ducking every few minutes from the fast movers flying above. There were hotdogs but I'm not into eating lukewarm, tan coloured 'boiled' hotdogs too much today. Wait - make that any day.

We find our room on our own as the resort map is useless. If you took orienteering in Scouts it will come in handy. Our room is about the size of a bus shelter. We paid for an up grade so I guess the other rooms are like living in your car?

Our door out to the balcony won't lock. Our friends below us on ground floor however feel that this is unsettling as they find their door doesn't lock either - as they sit watching people walk by day and night.

Rusty old LG, hole in the wall air conditioning unit - the type you see in an old movie keeps us awake. It's either stay cool and not sleep because of the noise or be hot and toss and turn if you turn it off. Flip a coin.

This place is listed as a four star. We paid for a four star resort - we get two star instead. Sitting by the pool I hear a conversation concerning Thomas Cook pulling out of this country after this season. If true - good for them. Nolitour in Canada - take note!

Wednesday Feb 4, 2009

Wake up and cannot move. Seriously. The bed is like concrete and my back is now shot. Try to get up for a hot shower to find there is no hot water??? Run water forever - still ice cold.

Start noticing the lack of maintenance about the place. The metal rings behind the taps float around not doing anything like keeping the water from running behind the tiles and behind the wall. Note to people who like to work around the home: you have to see how they lay ceramics at this place - they were either all drunk or had no concept of how to do it. Not trying to be picky - just an observation. If you fall down on the little things in life - the important stuff isn't getting attention either.

I swam most of the day. After seeing the lunch when we first arrived, I wasn't about to partake in a second filming of a certain 1950's Hitchcock film again.

Spousal unit tells me food was exactly the same as before so I wasn't missing any new experience. I could live without the smell from there...

Dinner was interesting. There was 'something' in a food tray that our friend asked a staff member about. She was told it was (sounded like) 'glop something' in Spanish. It looked as foul as the name - sort of like drywall compound that wasn't mixed properly - sort of
chunky. I had some 'beef meat' or whatever they called it. Is there a 'fish meat' category? Anyway, it was after this meal that my spousal unit's world dropped out of her colon. There are no Mexicans or Aztecs around so it must have been some African slave's revenge or something that got into her and wanted out. Many Imodium moments from here on in.

Not much in the way of entertainment at night, although with one half of our couple down for the count we called it an early but restless night.

Thursday Feb 5, 2009

Both of us now want to go home - desperately. She's in and out of washroom every 10 minutes, my spine is damaged from the bed but I finally figure out why there is no hot water. Some dufus has put the 'H' handle on the cold pipe and the 'C' handle on the hot pipe! It's a slap yourself in the head moment. I'm so happy I don't even insult anyone's ancestors this time.

Our safe doesn't work so we report this to the front desk person today. Keeping all our money and passports divided up between us is fun. Our friends below can't receive calls into their room but can call out. Someone overhears us at the pool says that's better then their situation - their phone doesn't work at all.

Walk to pool and run my hand along the cement on the sides of the staircase and scare myself as I run my hand along a foot and a half long lizard. You call them Iguana's but I call them prehistoric. They are everywhere here including under your poolside chairs and over top of you on the wooden slats by the pool. And this brings up a sore point with me concerning one of the other guests. Here I am sitting there reading when an Italian gentleman notices one of these lizards up above both of us. What does this nimrod do? He proceeds to throw cups of water on this creature with most of the water hitting me. Now I'm no lizard lover or world wildlife fund nut, but I do figure it's never a good thing to upset things that can bite you right? Besides my book and I are now wet. I'm 6'2 @ 220Lbs. and he is 2/3 of my height and about the
same weight. I think he said, 'scusi' when I stood up to let him know I was unhappy. So much for today's entertainment.

I should note here that we had signed up for a 4x4 trip the next day at $50US each and one look at Spouse tells me it's (she) is not looking good for tomorrow. Her dinner was tea and bread and I risked the chicken and had some rolls. I must add that the 'butter' wasn't butter - it was the saltiest Margarine I have ever had the misfortune to try. You could melt snow on your driveway back home with it. And then they put it back into the freezer every night and pull the same tub out the next day, (frozen solid) - and every day until its empty or has enough germs in it - which ever comes first.

Friday Feb 6, 2009

Hoping spouse won't need an IV soon because of dehydration! So much for the 4x4 trip as I could hardly leave her alone - so our friends went, as this was their first visit to this island. Their trip ended up as a 'Margarita Island Vehicle Survivor' contest in the end. They started out with six vehicles and ended up with four. Everyone hot, sweaty and crowded together and it wasn't even a Club Med swinger event! First one truck wouldn't start and of course there was the usual standing around looking at it for 10 minutes 'hoping' it would start. Later after transferring the victims of poor maintenance from this first vehicle to another truck  - a second truck decides that its clutch has had enough. Much 'looking' at the problem before the obvious jamming more people into fewer trucks happens again. As our friends were telling us this story, I had a flash back and pictured them looking like they were stunt doubles on that old TV show, 'Rat Patrol'. Lucky for them the bungie cords and duct tape held the remaining hulks together. We figure we made a good decision not going on the trip, as spousal unit would have had to hang her butt over the tailgate for most of the day. I'm thinking that wouldn't be an option she would go for.

Sat around the pool watching the pool bartenders in action. Wait - make that lack of action. There is a swim up section to the bar. Many guests line up at it. Staff keep their backs to this section and only serve people who get out of the water and come up and around to THEM. Interesting concept of a swim up bar. Sort of the reverse idea to the movie, Field of Dreams I.E. 'If you build it - they will come'. In this movie on this island, the idea is, 'If I don't look at you - I don't have to get off my backside'.

I note that the guy cleaning the pool doesn't start until 9:00am or later. Hard to clean a pool when people want to swim but he gives it the old school try for all of 20 minutes and then proceeds to hang out at the bar with the bartenders - also ignoring guests as well.
Must be a written policy. Meanwhile back in the pool - bugs and stuff float around in the non-chlorinated water.

Interesting pool lighting. Pieces of string holding most of the light covers on with some covers hanging half off. Looking but not touching, I see exposed wires behind what are now plainly non-waterproof covers. CSA or UL labs would faint seeing that. Hydro inspectors must be related to fat pool cleaning guy.

Dodging lizard under lounge sofa again - he actually looks appetising compared to the smell coming from the poolside restaurant. It must be the hamburgers I smell. I 'hope' it is the hamburgers, as any other explanation would require crude thoughts as to the source of smell.

Every day brings the same menu here. The same burnt hamburgers, the same (now) grey boiled hotdogs, the same cold, over fried French Fries and the same washed under tap water salads, (catch my preparation warning on that last item?).

Another glorious day in the sun and a non-glorious day in the main dining room. No seating to speak of. I guess it would help if they fixed the other end of the restaurant they have blocked off, (it had no roof). Never saw a workman all week working on repairing it. Must have been the pool cleaners other job? Like everything in this country - things are started and never finished.

Quite a few tables out in the square at night for dinner as they have no more room under the bird netting. Great - now the buzzards and black birds have more room to dive at you from a greater altitude. Can bird droppings hurt you if they fall from about a thousand feet?
It splatters real good is all I know as another tee shirt of mine bites the dirt. What the heck are these birds eating anyway, the stuff is like acid when it hits your clothes? Oh wait, I think I know what they're eating...

Here I am minding my own business and actually try some of their food. Something that looked like beef I believe - well it was dark brown/black colour anyway. Third piece down my throat got about 85% of the way. Nope - not going any further. Banging on chest or
drinking water wouldn't move this sucker. Felt like the Giza Pyramid stuck in there sideways. Air is a good thing and NOT over rated. The 'nurse' across the table, (my spouse's girlfriend) looks like she's cracking her knuckles getting ready to do a procedure on me. I retired, (very quickly) to a dark pathway out behind the restaurant. (People with sensitive stomachs move on). The Uranium like pellet, (that's what it looked like) was ejected into a bush with extreme prejudice as I wouldn't give them the pleasure of dying here. Another good dinner moment on the island.

Oh GREAT... they've rented out their resort for three days to some south American business group called 'Zoom' or something. They proceed to have a private party tonight on the beach with a live band and recorded music by a DJ at about 900 decibels. If I hear that song 'YMCA' one more time I'm gonna... Thankfully at midnight someone pulls the plug. Of course we paid for a beachfront 'upgrade' for this. Sigh. Where are those 'bandito's' the armed beach guards warn you about when you need them?

Saturday Feb 7, 2009.

Can we come home now? Please? The Hanoi Hilton is looking better everyday. Can I have Mr. McCain's room please?

I failed to comment on the fact that all week I have had to jam my water shoes under the end of the bed's rollers. We found out the hard way the first night what happens when you sit up in bed to watch TV and lean against the headboard. We almost fell between the screwed to the wall headboard and the bed, which had rolled away from the wall a good two feet. My $12 dollar water shoes did double duty as a bed stopper this week. Trust me, the bed wasn't moving around because of something we were up to...

It was also a 'no tea cup' day today but there were lot's of spoons however. There was 'warm' water for the tea you 'might' have been able to pour - if you had a cup. Wondering what exactly is IN the bacon? Bread? Surely that can't be bread? Is this an indication of how fatty the bacon is? Whoa - it's barely cooked to boot! I eat a banana for breakfast. We now joke about the Jenny Margarita Diet plan! I swear if I see Valerie Bertinelli down here I'm gonna kick her.

Speaking about diets; is it a 'law' down here that local or South Americans guests ALL believe that they can wear a string bikini no matter what their size? Ever see string tied way too tight around sausages? I think I have retinal damage.

No margaritas at the bar today or yesterday either. Someone remind me what the name of this island is? Seems there is a world shortage of Tequila. Wait? Didn't I see shelves of the stuff in the mall in town? Wouldn't a manager worth his salt drive into town to get some?
He must be too busy bumping knuckles with the staff and chatting with the maids I guess.

Noticed the limping dogs, one of which looked like it was shot in the hind leg. It wanders around the pool area and then over the little poolside bridges right past the bar staff and into the poolside restaurant. The staff here don't seem to mind too much and of course, they turn their backs on the dogs as well. Nice to know the guests get the same attention as the dogs.

Want to know how bad the inflation is here? Buy something like a single Kit Kat bar at the store near the main dining hall and you'll part with four dollars US.

We had our first of the A La Carte dinners tonight - in the Italian restaurant. We had fun smirking to each other as the staff turned away quite a few Brit's wearing shorts. Yes - they have a dress code here even if the food makes you ill. Perhaps there is a dress code for their hospitals as well? Our friend - my golfing buddy,  had pasta with seafood in it. Did I tell you he likes extreme sports? He 'rented' this offering for about four to five hours. He and his spouse were in the units below us and I could hear him barking along with the dogs outside most of the night. Over the air conditioner...

Did I mention that the coffee here blows? No? Well it does. Funny considering most of the world's coffee beans come from this region.
They wouldn't know a good cup of coffee if it fell on their heads. I've tasted better brake fluid, (Really), (Don't ask).

Sunday Feb 8, 2009.

Two sleeps and we're home! Thought I'd never say that phrase while on vacation.

My friend, (Mr. Pasta and Seafood) looks like he's been dragged through a lawnmower and shot out the back end. Flow through food bites three out of the four of us so far. I feel like someone is hovering around me waiting to put my torch out and vote my stomach off the island as
well. It's hard to figure out where the danger lies and what you can do about it. I keep drinking lots of alcohol believing it has a cauterization affect on my stomach lining. It's as good a theory as yours! So far it is working for me.

For the life of me I cannot figure out what the managers of the different sections do around here. They walk by stuff that is clearly wrong, defective, and sub-standard and it's a wave to the staff member and on they continue. They don't know what they don't know I guess. They seem to be ok on getting the grass cut, but items like fixing the bedside lamp with the exposed wires, (not kidding) seems to have escaped them as a safety hazard.

Oh yeah. Don't expect much on Sundays here. Half the staff are off to church or something. Which is all well and good - religion and all that. But the few people left working (non-believers?) look sullen as if smiling would crack their faces when you ask about where the forks are. I start crossing myself now when I eat - can't hurt.

But hey they have cups today! I get to drink more of their Jet 'A' fuel I which believe they call coffee.

They still haven't figured out that marking the water, milk and coffee containers would be sort of convenient for the guests. Saves having the little pools of fluids on the floor. Wait a minute... just 'look' at the floor I say to myself.  I now 'get' their system finally. Signs would be expensive.

I see lots of people walking around with water jugs. They have an interesting concept here. You get ONE big bottle of water when you first arrive. That's it. One. The jug, which you'll find in the noisy refrigerator, is so that you can constantly go back and forth to the bar for fresh water - all week. Want a tip? If you go to this resort after reading this, (extreme sport lover huh?) tip the maid every day a couple bucks. You'll get that bottle of water replaced that you've consumed, plus some extra beer. Be cheap with her and you'll 'enjoy' the exercise of a quarter mile walk with a jug a water.

I've never hated birds - until now. I woke up dreaming I had a .22 with me. Ok, the cold sweat is over.

Talking about birds... My spousal unit's friend - aka 'the nurse' - got bitten by a big parrot the other day. They have three or so up by the lobby area in the square. She likes parrots and didn't mind the bite; she blamed herself for 'crowding' the bird. I would have
taken one of those big plastic bats you get at sporting events like a baseball game to the darn thing, but that's just me. I guess some people have a different idea of what a souvenir is. Nurses are fun people.

Oh goody - tonight is our second and last restaurant dinner. It's Mexican food and it's located at the same outdoor poolside restaurant that serves the grey boiled hotdogs  - the one featuring the mach one blackbird appetisers. At least I think it was Mexican food? It's all a blur anyway as my heart wasn't in it and the other three gringos with me were going through various stages of gastric intestinal recovery while picking at their food in a catatonic like state. Forty-five minutes later I walked ( they shuffled) back to our rooms. Exhausted by the plainness of it all and exhausted by the boredom of it all.

Monday Feb 9, 2009.

Last full day!

Almost got hit by Michael Schumacher on a three-wheel motorcycle / cum luggage do hickey thing. Looks like something they would throw together in Vietnam. Cross between a Honda 125 and a golf cart driven at brake neck speeds that would make Captain Kirk proud. The
pathways are narrow and the cart wide - you do the math. They stare at you like you're the dumb nut who should know enough to stay off a public walkway. Move or die - you choose.

Shopping day for spouses. Off they head to town on the free shuttle... wait... it's only five minutes to the top of the hour and they see him driving away... For all the stupid times to be AHEAD of schedule! Taxi!

A side note to people who have never been here. The cars on this island are either all new small Ford's or Toyota's or all pieces of junk. There is no in between. We passed an auto junkyard when we were here in 2005. I looked at the junked cars in the junkyard from the bus window and then to the cars on the road. Couldn't tell the difference.

The taxis slam bang, (what are shocks?) over the potholes, doors don't open after closing, leaking gas, (which is ok if you like to get high) are some of the highlights of their cabs. On the trip home the spouse's taxi broke down. Other taxis stop and much standing around 'looking' at broken taxi now occurs. Someone, (God maybe?) did something under the hood that seemed to work. Much cheering and knuckle bumping at fortunate outcome. Spouse and her friend put up with all this as the Pearls I'm told, black ones especially, are well worth the added excitement. It is my humble opinion that shopping for Pearls has something to do with the 'female universe', which allows them to overcome such taxi insanity. Men are Neutral Zone nerd's - we don't understand such things.

Iguana time at the pool. I think it's the same one as a few days back. We size each other up. I think he's got a look on his dumb green lizard face that says, 'Stupid Gringo' as he sizes me up. Maybe it's the heat or lack of good food? Maybe he 'ate Italian'? (Grin)

Spousal unit has been packed since Friday morning. Not kidding.

One sleep until we leave! Pretty sad huh? Mind you, we ran across a young couple from Denmark who were leaving today after a MONTH here. I ask you; are Danes not the toughest people on the planet? Must be some Viking DNA that protects them. Perhaps they were on their
honeymoon and you know... they survived on Pringles and intimate encounters?

This place is like a roulette table. Half the people I met at the pool had been / are sick. You would swear it was a singles resort as every other couple - wasn't a couple. One half of the couple would always be between washroom visits. Pool to room, your turn honey - room to pool. "I left the light on in the washroom for you honey". On and on it went.

Tuesday Feb 10, 2009

Yippee, were leaving today! It's raining - in the bathroom! Spouse is sitting on the throne and water is leaking down on top of her. Is there no God? It's not supposed to rain here - it's a freaking desert Island for Pete's sake - it's certainly not supposed to rain 'inside'. No matter, we're out of here anyway.

We attempt to eat breakfast at the main restaurant. Bad idea - packed with nowhere to sit down again. What a sick joke this place is. We grab some biscuits and tea and head up to the lobby bar area. It's 8:30am and all the chairs once again, are still on top of the tables so we pull them down so have somewhere to eat.

Hundreds of people are leaving today and no coffee and no snacks as promised in the lobby area. The rain is pelting down and the water is all over the tiles at the entrance of the lobby. We watch as some German woman, (I think) has her feet fly out from under herself on
the wet tiles. Her feet are almost above her head as she hits the floor. She's lucky she didn't hit her head or break her back. I still can't believe she didn't need an EMT and transport to a hospital. That's gotta be one hellish 7 or 8 hour flight back to Europe for her.

Spouse is checking out when another guest runs up to the (single) check out staff member and reports her room is under a couple of inches of water. Staff member shrugs and says that there isn't anything she can do until after 9:30 when the manager comes in. Socialist work ethic in action. Hugo would be proud. Wait for it: Stupid Gringo's.

Spouse overhears conversation from guest that he had $150US taken out of his pants pocket in his room by a maid. I guess his safe didn't work either or he is very silly. Unverified, but not disbelieved. Should have tipped the maid. (Grin)

Bus ride to airport is uneventful - for once.

The airport is a joke! We line up for one hour and ten minutes to pay the outrageous near on $150US per couple to leave this h*llhole. THEN its another one-hour line up for the National Guard to 'hand search' every single suit case and carry on item. What exactly are they looking for NOW? Why would we bring drugs OUT of the country back to Canada so OUR drug dogs can find it?

Speaking of drug dogs; someone explain why they don't use drug-sniffing dogs? Anyone? It's not like they don't have dogs on the island! We could recommend a couple of three legged ones back at the resort that they could use... Just a suggestion.

Then we line up for the ticket counter for another few minutes and then we line up for another 30 minutes, (see a trend here?) for these guys to X-ray the very same suitcases they just hand searched. Huh? Of course the X-ray machine stops and starts every five minutes. Much standing around 'looking' at the problem.

Then the passport scanner blows a bulb or something and much standing around 'looking' at the blown bulb happens. Things 'fix themselves' if you stare at them long enough it seems down here.

It's almost over. Wait a minute... there... beyond the metal detector... are male and female National Guard members ...waiting for us. See the first line in this blog when we entered this country? Well they saved the best part of their dumb security system - to the END of
the trip this time. Oh goodie. The soldier runs his hands up and down my legs and into my crotch to check on something. Yeah, I'm married dude, I don't go that way. Should I cough for you I want to ask him? He wouldn't understand it anyway. As I bring my arms down I accidentally, (I swear) knocked the beret off of the female officers head - the same one who actually hand searched my suitcase I might add. Ms. Rodriguez, (I read her nametag) looked like she was reaching for a gun at this point. Almost home and I get killed by some crazy a$$ed chick who likes feeling up my spouse. She doesn't go that way either dear.

I get into the terminal alive. I still find it interesting that they have some lottery system for luggage. As your sitting in the waiting area until your plane lifts off - every five minutes they are calling people back to re-open their suitcases to search them all over again. On what planet is this considered a smart way to run a custom operation or security system? On Planet Hugo, I guess this makes sense. Maybe it's a
'make work program' for the National Guard - as in keep them busy and they won't have time to organise a coupe?

In the end, we out play and outlast them and make it onto the plane. 'Survivor Island Margarita' is now over! They win - we're never coming back.

Thanks for playing.
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photo by: PhinsAndGills