“What is this place?” asked Kepa. All of the windows were shuttered and the door was locked. There were no other cars parked in front. “It seems… closed?”
Maite looked around, walking to the side of the building. “There’s a fronton,” she said. “I assume this must have been some kind of Basque place?”
Kepa pulled out his phone. “I guess we don’t have to keep guessing,” he said, doing a quick search. “It seems that this was a Basque hotel and restaurant, founded in 1893. It closed because of the pandemic.”
“That’s so sad!” said Maite.
“What do we do now? The light guided us here, but now what?”
“Maybe there is a way in through the back?”
Kepa nodded as they walked past the fronton and around the back of the building. A cinder-block wall enclosed a space behind the fonton and the restaurant.
“There’s a door over there,” Maite said, pointing to the back of the building. “Lift me up.”
Kepa lifted Maite over the wall. She jogged over to the building and tested the backdoor. It opened. She motioned to Kepa to go around the front. He nodded as she slipped in through the door. Within moments, she had opened the front door, letting Kepa in.
“Looks like it has been abandoned for a while,” said Kepa.
He flicked a switch. The lights stayed off. He pulled out his phone again and turned on the flashlight. Cobwebs filled many of the corners. They wandered into one room. The wall was bare and the floor was torn up.
“I think there must have been a bar here before,” said Maite.
“Whatever was here, there isn’t much left,” replied Kepa. He walked along the length of the wall, running his hand along it. There were various holes in the wall where something had once been mounted. Kepa shined his flashlight into one of them. An old photograph was tucked inside. He pulled it out as Maite came up from behind.
“What’s that?” she asked as Kepa handed it to her.
He shrugged. “An old photograph. Maybe from when this place first opened?”
The photo showed a group of people in front of a very different looking building, with a balcony overlooking the street. Men lined the porch in vests and white shirts while a few women were standing on the balcony, long flowing skirts falling to their feet. The sign on the building said “Iberia Hotel, FM Noriega Proprietor.”
“Wow,” said Maite as she stared at the photo. “Looks just like all of those saloons in those western movies.”
Maite handed the photo back to Kepa. She noticed how her hand had started to glow just as she touched Kepa’s hand, which was also glowing. Their ears filled with the same buzzing sound that they had heard back on Ellis Island when suddenly the room filled with a blinding white light.