Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hotel Yeneka

     Through a friend I found a small hotel in downtown La Paz, Mexico. Walking into the courtyard the first time has a similar effect on everyone. Eyes wide, mouth open, a touch of vertigo. Every surface is jammed with the flotsam of Baja. If it’s old, funny or just plain worn out the second generation owner, who everyone calls the Doctor (because he is a doctor), nailed it to a wall or hung it from the rafters. Although there appears to be little room left, he’s still buying and building stuff. The palm horse, many of the metal sculptures and some of the crazy furniture are the doctor's. Howard Finster (Paradise Gardens), Calvin Black (Possum Trot Doll Theatre) and Ferdinad Chevalm (Stone Palace of Fantasy) are similar unruly inner visions made tangible over a lifetime. Often considered crackpots, until they expired and the price of their work soared, their compulsive souls listened to the whisperings of the unconscious unheard by most. Hotel Yeneka, YNK to backpackers, is a forty year work in progress.
     Only a compulsively driven atypical mind, and that's meant as a compliment, could turn so much junk into a place of interest, much less one people would want to stay overnight in. I’ve been here a few days and watched people walk in look around, laugh out loud and then trip over their own feet. So much stuff crammed into one area has a highly disorienting effect. It’s random, yet orderly, charming and disturbing and simply the best example of controlled chaos I’ve run across. It would be simply terrifying in an earthquake. A large hairy monkey used to live at the hotel, but died and is now stuffed, the permanent passenger in a Model T going nowhere.  In all the layers of once useful items, including antlers and whale bones, there is a sense of history, like unearthing an old landfill. The objects are carefully displayed like precious relics and by employing a strategy of incredible density they curiously become a treasure not to be overlooked.

                   Hotel Yeneka
                   1520 Madero
                   La Paz, Mexico

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