In search of a story: heat and ashes

When the developers of Danza del Sol in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, didn’t sell enough apartments to recuperate their investment, the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara bought it to use for conferences and guest housing. I was an employee of the university, and we were offered generous discounts  on short-term rentals of  the suites.

When my husband’s cousin Ricardo and his brand-new bride Veronica came for a visit from Mexico City, Danza del Sol seemed like the perfect place for weekend sightseeing. It is a resort hotel decorated Mexican hacienda style just outside Ajijic, a thirty-minute drive from our house in Guadalajara. We, two couples and three kids, ages 10, 12, and 14, loaded into the cars and took off.

We were pleased when we saw our suite—living/dining room with stone fireplace, kitchen, two bedrooms. It was a cold night, so we were pleasantly surprised to feel that the apartment was warm and cozy. Although the fireplace was swept clean, I thought a recent tenant must have enjoyed a wood-burning fire, but when I placed my hand on the hearth, it was cold.

We were hungry, so we left our suitcases and headed to the village of Ajijic, thinking that later we would have the concierge make a fire in the beautiful fireplace, and we could sit up playing games, snacking, and exchanging family anecdotes. We were mildly curious about the warmth of our suite when all other parts of the complex were much colder, but we had other things to talk about, so we gave it no further thought.

When we returned, our suite was not just warm. It was uncomfortably warm. It was hot, in fact, and there was something in the air, so much that it was hard to breathe. We wondered if housekeeping had plumped up the sofa pillows, stirring up a dust cloud, but it was a feeble explanation for the choking, stinging sensation that reached into our lungs and made our eyes burn sting. The heat became unbearable.

Veronica and I got back into the car with the children Andres and Ricardo to went to talk to the concierge. Within a short time, we had an upgrade—a three-bedroom apartment with two of the bedrooms on a mezzanine. It was lovely. There was no extra charge. Andres and Ricardo told us that the concierge turned a little pale and had a strange look when they told him what we were experiencing. They thought it was odd that he asked no questions, nor did he make any move to check it out for himself.

We resettled ourselves happily into our upgraded apartment and spent a restful night. The kids were happy that they didn’t have to sleep on the couches, which was to have been the arrangement in our original rental. They had their own bedroom.

Still curious about the other room, in the light of day, relaxed and rested, the men went to check it out. My husband Andres, a medical doctor, believed there had to be a scientific explanation for the heat and ashes. The concierge said little, and he again had a strange look on his face, but he opened the suite and allowed them to check adjoining rooms and spaces as well to see if there might be a water-heating system or even one of Jalisco’s famous underground thermal water deposits that would be a start at explaining the heat, if not the dust, or ashes, or whatever it was in the air after we came back from dinner.

That was it. We relaxed in the lovely outdoor lobby space. The kids swam in the pool. Then it was time to return to Guadalajara. It was disconcerting, but we might have filed it away under “weird unexplained things.” However, a few months later Andres was chatting with some of his colleagues, and Danza del Sol as a getaway hotel came up.

“It’s okay,” said his colleague, “but avoid Suite —.” (I don’t remember the number, but at that time Andres knew that it was the number of the first suite we had been assigned a few months before.)

“Why?” asked Andres, trying to hide the fact that he had turned a little pale when the suite number was mentioned.

“We were in that suite,” said the colleague, “sitting in the living room. Suddenly, the heavy glass top of the coffee table literally flew off the base, barely missing my daughter. We asked to be moved, of course.”

I went back to Danza del Sol after the heat-and-ash incident to work a number of university conferences. There were no further incidents for me, nor did any of our guests speak of strange goings-on. They seem to be related to particular spaces within the complex.

There are quite a lot of stories about Danza del Sol that I haven’t taken the time to verify or investigate further. Some are about freak accidents that occurred during the construction, possibly coincidental or possibly provoked by even older spirits. Our experience took place in February, 1982, but the paranormal website, which I might have dismissed as just a freaky sensational internet thing had it not been for our own brush there with the dark side, as well as a few standard hotel reviews mention strange goings-on as recently as 2012 and at several points in between.

I still have no comforting narrative to explain that heat and the ashes (or whatever otherworldly thing it might have been)—not common dust particles—in that suite.



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