Author Cate Cook
The weirdest thing I found in a hotel room is a baby.
Yes, a little baby who slept in the bed of our hotel room.
But the dear little creature almost made me stop and spoil our vacation.
It was around 17:30. We had arrived at our hotel for five days of vacation. We checked in at the front desk and were given our room key.
Note that we were in a Spanish speaking country. I do not speak spanish and the young lady at the front desk spoke very little english, but it was not a problem for the check-in.
We found our room, opened the door and came across a tiny baby who was sleeping in the middle of the bed.
At first, I thought it was a big doll, with her little blond hair and pink cheeks. Her eyes were closed and she was totally still. I approached, gently stroked her cheek and realized she was breathing. It was a tiny baby, probably about 2 months old.
Once the shock passed, I took the phone and dialed the “0” to speak with the reception.
Me: “Here Mrs. Cook, from Room 127. There is a baby in our bed.”
Receptionist: “A baby? Ah, you want a cot? I’ll get you one?”
Me: “No, it’s not our baby, it’s someone else’s.”
Receptionist: “Ah, you want a bed for a friend’s baby?”
Me: “No, we do not know this baby, she should not be in our room, you must find the baby’s mother.”
Receptionist: “Do you need the baby’s mom?”
Me: “Yes, we just found the baby sleeping on our bed, it’s not our baby, so you need to know who left it in our room.”
Silence of the receptionist. At this point, the baby was starting to fidget and make small noises.
Me: “You have to find the baby’s mother and ask her to pick her up immediately, she’s waking up now.”
Receptionist: “I call baby’s mom?”
Me: “Yes, is there anyone else who speaks English?
Receptionist: “Nobody here English baby is urgently needed to call a doctor?”
Me: “No, the baby is just lost, she needs her mother, find the mother and tell her to come to the room 127 to get her baby.”
Receptionist: “Sick baby, I’m calling a doctor?”
At this point, the baby is fully awake and starts to cry.
Me (speaking very slowly): “Baby not sick Baby is hungry and needs milk. Mom left baby in our room Mom lost her baby I’m not her mom I do not know who is her Mom, please, can someone pick up the baby? “
Receptionist: “Mom left baby without milk so sick baby?”
Me (frustrated): “Can I talk to the director? There is a lost baby in our room and we need help urgently.”
Receptionist: “Emergency help for sick baby?”
Me: “Yes, call the director, it’s urgent, we have an abandoned baby who needs to be fed now.”
Receptionist: “Me, call emergency for sick baby?”
Me: “Yes, call right now, it’s urgent.”
Now the baby was starting to scream loudly and fidget with his little arms and little legs. I hung up and took the baby, patting her back and comforting her on my shoulder. Her blanket was wet and there was a stain in the middle of the bed. I gave the screaming baby to my husband and asked him to hold her for a minute.
I went to the bathroom and washed my hands, because I had been traveling for hours and I was feeling dirty. I went back to the room, took the baby from my husband’s hands and gently put my little finger in his mouth. She began to suck my finger vigorously.
We decided to bring the baby to the reception, so we took our key and went out into the hallway. In the background, you could hear sirens, but we did not pay attention.
Leaving the elevator and going to the reception, I saw a well-dressed young man in his twenties who was at the office. I approached him and asked him if he spoke English. I was very relieved when he said yes. I explained to him that we had found this baby in our hotel room. He did not belong to us and we thought he had been abandoned by his mother. I asked him to explain this to the receptionist. He spoke to her in Spanish and I saw her face relieved when she realized that the baby was not in danger.
I carried the crying baby to a cool, quiet place at the front desk and tried to comfort her. I still used the “little finger in the mouth” thing, which stopped the sound for a few minutes. Meanwhile, my husband, the translator and the receptionist were in conversation.
Suddenly, the doors of the hotel opened and four tall men came back, wearing green uniforms of official appearance. I noticed the weapons in their cases and the batons on their belts. I started to be a little scared.
Two of the men noticed me, sitting quietly in a corner. They came to me and snatched the baby from my arms. One of the men grabbed me, turned me around, put my hands behind my back and handcuffed me.
The other two officers approached the counter where my husband and the translator were silenced and astonished when they saw me handcuffed. Then they began to exclaim at the same time, explaining that there was a mistake and that I should not be under arrest, that I was only trying to help a lost baby.
Then another man dressed in a suit and carrying a black briefcase rushed to the hotel, followed by a girl in a maid’s uniform. She had tears in her eyes. I was still clad and handcuffed against the wall.
Later, the pleasant young man, our translator, told me the whole story. It turns out that the baby belonged to the young maid who had started working at the hotel the previous week. The management did not know she had a young baby. Her nanny had a last minute impediment, so she had to bring her baby to work. She had fed her and then let her to sleep in what she thought was a vacant room, and then began cleaning rounds.
But being new and unfamiliar with the big hotel, she was a little lost and mistakenly thought that she had left her baby in room 227, on the floor above ours. When she went to see her baby 30 minutes later and found the room empty, she panicked. She was afraid of the hotel manager – her boss – and did not want to lose her job, so she called her sister, who called the police. She had met the police as soon as they arrived at the hotel car park.
The man in the suit was actually the doctor who had been called by the receptionist to look after a sick baby. He took the baby from the policeman’s arms and handed it to the relieved mother, who was still crying profusely. Then the translator and my husband came to me because I was still handcuffed and they demanded my release.
Shortly thereafter, the hotel manager arrived and was informed by the police, the receptionist and the translator. The girl was sitting in a corner breastfeeding her baby who was still crying.
Because of all this, the manager offered us a superior room, as well as free meals and drinks for the duration of our stay. He apologized apologetically. I also received an apology from the police officer who had handcuffed me.
I was very worried about the young housekeeper. She looked like she was not even 20, she had been crying with her baby in a corner for an hour while the situation was being resolved with the police.
I spoke to the hotel manager and asked him not to fire the housekeeper and understand that she was just doing her best to support her baby. He listened to me with a marble face and made no comment.
The next day we were asked to go to the local police station to sign witness statements. We were escorted by the hotel driver, who spoke good English and explained what the police were asking us to sign. It was a statement that detailed what had happened, and that indicated that we did not want other measures to be taken.
On the way back, I asked the driver to take us to a shop that sold baby items. I bought shoes, a pink jacket and a pretty baby blanket. I had them packaged in a gift package.
The next night I asked the new receptionist – who spoke pretty good English – if the maid was on duty and said I wanted to talk to her. The girl appeared in the office five minutes later, but she did not want to look me in the eyes and still seemed very upset. Her eyes were red and I think she cried. She looked so young and vulnerable.
I gave her my package and an envelope containing a bundle of banknotes, equivalent to 100 Australian dollars. I asked the receptionist to translate and tell her that I was not mad at her, that I was sure she was a good mom and I wanted her to accept this gift for her baby. I told him that the hotel manager had promised me that he would not fire her and keep her job. On the back of the envelope, I wrote my name, my phone number and my email.
I asked the receptionist to translate: “Here are my contact information. Call me if you have problems or need help. “She opened the gift and when she saw the baby gifts, she split a big smile. I motioned her to open the envelope, and when she saw the number of banknotes, I thought she was going to faint! She kissed me with gratitude and even today I remember her smile – but I have never heard of her again.
Later, the receptionist told me that I had given her much more money than she was earning for two months of cleaning. I was absolutely shocked and would have liked to give her a lot more – because it was only the cost of a day meal and beverages for my husband and I – especially since we were given five free days. I learned a lot about inequality that day. This is how the strangest thing I ever found in a hotel room meant that I was almost arrested by the police.