Tipping the Maid

$395 A NIGHT for a room at the Ritz-Carlton and not a penny for the hotel housekeepers who make sure that the clients have the "superb service" they are expecting ["Housekeeper for a Day," Oct. 9]! What a sad commentary on those who could afford to share. I hope your readers will follow the author's example and vow to leave the housekeeper some money.

Ann Johnson

Falls Church

WHAT KIND OF person spends $400 a night for a room but finds nothing in his wallet for the person who picks up his dirty towels? Hotel housekeepers are among the hardest working of the working poor and deserve recognition. Even that rather mingy $2 could have helped had it been multiplied by 14.

Carol McCabe


New Orleans, Playing On

ENJOYED YOUR ARTICLE on the relocation of New Orleans musicians ["Nawlins Music: The Beat Goes On," Oct. 9]. To research where New Orleans musicians are playing in the Washington area, go to www.prjc.org, the Web site of the Potomac River Jazz Club, which has been promoting traditional jazz in the Washington/Baltimore area since 1971. It lists several gigs coming up that benefit New Orleans musicians.

The Federal Jazz Commission has been playing New Orleans jazz at Colonel Brooks' Tavern in Washington for 25 years. The band currently has the house band clarinet player from New Orleans' Fritzel's sitting in until he can return to the French Quarter.

Hopefully many of the dislocated musicians will be able to return to the Big Easy for the 22nd annual French Quarter Festival, April 21-23. It is held outdoors on 15 stages throughout the Quarter, including Jackson Square, Woldenberg Park, Royal Street and Bourbon Street. Unlike the Heritage festival, it is free and draws about 500,000 people to hear more than 100 bands from New Orleans and elsewhere.

Charles Enlind


Spanish Lesson: The Last Word

I WOULD LIKE to explain the pronunciation rules in Castellan, since what is mentioned by different readers is not correct [Message Center, Oct. 9]. Spanish is my native language.

All words in Spanish have one of their syllables accented. Words are classified depending on which syllable the accent goes.

* Agudas are all the words in which the accent falls on the last syllable. For instance: Colon, Cancun, volver, saber. All these words are agudas because the pronunciation is stressed on that last syllable. Note that some of those words carry the written accent mark (like Colon, Cancun, Bogota, jamas, jabali) and others do not.

And here comes the rule: Every aguda word that ends on a vowel or a letter "n" or "s" gets a written accent mark ("tilde" in Spanish). The ones that do not end on those letters, even though they are still agudas, do not carry the written accent mark. Examples: comer, mejor, volver, sentir, vivir.

* Graves are the words in which the accent falls in the next-to-last syllable. The rule is completely the opposite of the other one: All the words that are graves but do not end in "n," "s" or a vowel do not carry the written accent mark. Examples: inutil, solo, album, facil, and also martir, quinto, juntos, sitio.

* Esdrujulas are the words that are neither agudas nor graves, meaning the ones that have an accent on the syllable before the penultimate. In this case the rule is very simple: Always put a tilde on that syllable. For instance: musica, pelicula, democrata, articulos.

The word "Cuetzalan" is not Spanish, but if I have to say it in Spanish I would pronounce it as an aguda word, and since it ends in "n" I will put a tilde on it: Cuetzalan.

Castellan grammar is quite complex, but once the rules are understood it is very easy to use it. I hope this helps you understand Spanish a little better.

Robert Rossi


Travel Q&A & You

TO THE FAMILY who wants to visit Colorado for hiking and white water rafting [Travel Q&A, Oct. 9]: I encourage you to look into the Durango area, in the southwestern corner of Colorado. You will find all you need and more. When you want a day off from all the trekking, take a train trip to Silverton, a great old mining town in the Rockies, or drive to the wonderful Indian ruins of Mesa Verde.

Durango is a fun town to explore, with its Western feel, and it has lovely shops with items made by local tribes.

Susy Moorstein


FOR THE FAMILY that wanted to hike, white-water raft and mountain-climb in Colorado: You can't do better than Crested Butte in Gunnison County. Check www.gunnison-crestedbutte.com.

Robert Youker


Buenos Aires Fans

WE HAD NEVER thought about visiting Buenos Aires until we read Cindy Loose's article ["Buenos Aires, Always in Style," July 10]. The article so impressed us that we booked a trip within 10 days. We have just returned, and we love B.A. and the Argentine people. The city has everything: great sights, friendly people, super food (memorable steaks, Italian food and empanadas) at unbelievably low prices, and fine shopping, particularly for leather goods.

Early in our trip, we debated whether Buenos Aires was more like Europe or New York, but finally decided that it's uniquely itself. We hit most of the sites mentioned by Loose, and took a day trip on a hydrofoil to Colonia, Uruguay, just across the Rio de la Plata. The tourist infrastructure of Argentina is first-rate. Argentina has had recent economic troubles, but restaurants and shops are full of locals and tourists, and we found it a very safe city.

Barbara and Jim Beadles


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