Without a doubt, Nilda makes her guests feel like family. You'll eat the same (mostly delicious) food she prepares for her own family; you may even hang out in her living room. The pool is quite large and clean -- a great bonus at what is otherwise a very simple, rustic little collection of rooms. Our little girls enjoyed playing with her grandson, Joey. The views of the surrounding jungle and nearby El Yunque are out of this world.
For $65 per night, we got a 2-room basement mini-apartment, complete with air conditioning, a fridge and stove. We couldn't make the stove work, but no matter. Honestly, my husband and I agreed that the room could have been a lot cleaner -- even for the low-budget price range. There was hair all over the floor when we arrived, a dead cockroach in the corner, and a thin layer of grime pretty much everywhere. We are not that fussy, but others might be...
Other reviewers have noted that staying at La Palmona means you're getting a "true" Puerto Rican experience." I agree. The flip side is that there are aspects of Puerto Rico that are not pleasing at all, namely the horrendous, mindless treatment of animals all over the Commonwealth.
I was horrified to discover that Nilda has two chained dogs off on the far side of her house. Most guests would never encounter them. Seeing a dog that is chained up for its life life always turns me inside out, but I do try to steel myself against the emotions when traveling in Latin America because i know it is a "different culture."
Still, as an animal lover, I cannot write this review without noting that I must hold to a higher standard a guesthouse operator who caters primarily to North Americans. Nilda's dogs spend most of their life on urine and feces-covered concrete. Their chains are short and their shelter is negligible. I got into a huge discussion (perhaps argument is a better word) with Nilda over this, in part because I found it so hard to rationalize in my mind how someone as kind and sweet as Nilda cannot realize that her dogs are suffering terribly.
Granted, one of the dogs, a German Shepherd, was very old, and that would account for its horrnedous physical appearance, but it was beyond cruel what this poor senior animal had to endure in his last days. He was emaciated and covered in fly bites and fleas. Dried blood covered one ear and he was clearly mostly blind and deaf. The other dog had a collar that dug into its neck and was on a horrendously short chain.
I'm not here to get into a discussion of cultural differences when it comes to animals and yes, I know that dogs are not considered pets or companions in much of the world. But again, because this establishment caters to North Americans and because many people would be as horrified as I was, I feel it is necessary to note what turned out to be a really depressing aspect of my stay in Puerto Rico.
Dog lovers: either think twice about staying here (or traveling to Puerto Rico at all!) or come armed with some good arguments about why it makes absolutely no sense to keep a dog on a chain in some lonely corner of your driveway. A dog on a 3-foot chain cannot "protect" your house; it is blind habit and bad tradition that allows this abuse to continue.
- Also Known As:
- La Paloma Guest House Hotel El Yunque National Forest
- La Paloma Guest House Puerto Rico/El Yunque National Forest