Investigative journalism


The intrepid reporter in the photo is named Tania Negrete, but her friends address her with the modest moniker Super Tania. The nickname comes in part from her efforts as a journalist, and two exposés she wrote for Chilango magazine about hoteles de paso.

For the uninitiated, an hotel de paso is of the hot-sheet variety, with rooms usually rented to short-timers, such as the errant party to a not-so-holy matrimony, people who live with their families (and hence lack privacy), as well as established couples looking to spice up their routine. Mexico City is crawling with hoteles de paso, and Super Tania tested the mattresses and dipped her pink-and-white body into the Jacuzzis of literally dozens before filing her stories.

In a hotel on the highway to Cuernavaca, she found the plushest room, known as “The Beach,” which included sand poured over the floor, a pool, a hammock and a skylight. This one cost more than $100 U.S. for a few hours, while others, of the bare-bones, cracked-mirror variety, cost as little as $7 or $8. Tania says that in the cheaper hoteles de paso, there is often evidence of the previous tenants – solid, liquid or congealed – as well as carpeting that has “more hills and valleys than the Sierra Madre mountain range,” and shower curtains whose stains suggest a map of the world.

The Hotel Oslo, at Lázaro Cárdenas and the Viaducto (on the fringes of a dodgy neighborhood known as the Colonia Buenos Aires) is where Super Tania suggests one can find – forgive the expression – the best bang for the buck. Spacious, impeccably clean suites with Jacuzzis and mirrored ceilings can be had for a little over $50 (that’s a daily rate, not for three for four hours). Apparently, some actual tourists have been known to stay in the Oslo.

Here, Super Tania is depicted in a watering hole called El Golfo de León, on Calle Velázquez de León in the San Rafael neighborhood. She is once again hard at work, doing investigative research for a story for Chilango about cantinas. Ultimately she will need to produce a guide to 20 or 30 of them. Her research over the last couple of months has been to say the least intoxicating. She promises her editors that, after just a little more diligent exploration, she will be able to file her copy.