I am in Porto Velho, capital of Rondônia. I will wait until tomorrow to judge better. Almost everything is closed on Sunday. I walked from the Oscar Hotel, where I am staying, to the Madeira River. The only places I could find open were outdoor restaurants that had probably recently evolved from guys pushing carts. There were plastic chairs and a kind of buffet. It is always hot here and humid, so I stayed away from the mayonnaise potato salad. Other things were okay. I would not get fat if I lived around here.
Near the Madeira River is a museum of the railroad. The Madeira-Mamoré Railroad was built 1907 – 1912 as part of a deal the Brazilians made with the Bolivians when they took over what in now the State of Acre. One of the purposes of the railroad was to link Bolivia with the wider world. The railroad was abandoned in 1972, when roads and waterways made it uncompetitive.
One of my colleagues told me that the Oscar was really nice. I have to wonder about his points of reference. Suffice to say, it is no Marriott. It is clean and functional, but not as nice as a medium priced hotel such as a Days Inn or Comfort Inn. I think there must be a great potential market here for hotels. Even small U.S. cities have a several decent hotels. And they have chains, so that you can know what sort of standard to expect. There is a dearth of good, medium priced hotels in Brazil and a dearth of good hotels in general outside big capitals. We have the usual suspects (Marriott, Sheraton etc.) in big cities and Choice Hotels in a few secondary cities, but you are soon down to Ibis, and in many places not even that. I wonder if there is something that discourages hotels in medium markets.