Otro mundo

collage It’s funny how things sound far more special to me when spoken in castellano: ‘cinco estrellas’… better than five stars I reckon. And it was. I don’t know if I ever stayed in a truly luxury hotel before. Certainly I’ve never been fortunate enough to step inside the famous London luxurious such as Claridges, or the Ritz. But there we were, me and C. for 24 hours in the Alvear Palace, Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Carlos said, ‘Es un sueño.’ And it was for me too. I could tell that neither of us were used to that kind of place because it was the little extras that we loved the most. We were like children giggling and laughing at the small luxuries, snapping photos once the room door was closed and the butler (yes the butler) had left us alone… alone together at last, in a world away from our worlds of plumbing problems and broken gas boilers and email and phone calls, where every member of staff seemed to wear gloves, and room service came complete with a  trolley table with a hot compartment under for the food and red roses above pristine white linen. What did we love the most? Well, here are some of the things we delighted in:

The whitest crispest bed sheets we have ever slept in. We returned from the bar to find the room a beautifully prepared cocoon: soft lights, slippers on freshly laid white mats next to the bed, the bathroom returned to its immaculate perfection… we slept like two angels on a fluffy cloud.

The silence once the bedroom door was closed.

The flatscreen TV above the jacuzzi bath, that we could even watch from the separate glass walled shower.

The dolls-house-sized silver spoon to put saccharin in the coffee that came with a miniature silver tier tray of chocolates better than Galaxy, in the bar.

The stairwell that curved down the eight flights below our floor like a precious work of art.

Carlos’ favourite: the Alvear Palace slippers, which he is wearing now we are back home and I don’t think he will ever take them off.

The Hermes soaps in their deep green cases… and they look great in our little bathroom now!

The weather forecast that appeared before bedtime, printed on a card telling us that today would be cloudy on Sunday. And it is.

The long clear plastic bag with the Alvear Palace logo that was hanging outside the bedroom door this morning with  ‘La Nación’ newspaper inside.

The shiny marble floor in the bar that would have been so perfect on which to dance the tango ‘Café Dominguez’. We both wanted to push the tables aside… maybe another time.

My favourite: to be able to go back to sleep after breakfast, because they gave us a late checkout, in Carlos’ arms,  on a mountain of feather pillows, knowing that nothing in the world could touch me for a few more silent hours.

And in between the quiet hours, we talked. Oh how we talked of our journey together so far, and of our dreams for the future. We understood more of each other’s current preoccupations, trivial worries, bigger fears. We stopped off our familiar path and saw things from a fresh perspective. We celebrated the luxury of our surroundings, but remembered that we can be happy anywhere. We said that 24 hours in such a special place is enough, any longer and maybe it would cease to be as ‘extraordinary’.  We said how important it is to take a little time out, to look at our world in a new way: and if it can’t be in the Alvear Palace every time, it can be a walk in a peaceful park, a train ride to Tigre, even a night in Carlos’ place instead of mine. A change. A pause. A breath.

Later it was as if we had to surface slowly. We walked through the hotel’s revolving golden doors into Plaza Francia, past the market stalls. I bought some fingerless gloves of Alpaca. We passed the Recoleta Cemetery, drank a free hot chocolate outside the Village, ambled towards Las Heras to catch the 59 bus home. Suddenly we had to think about whether we had ‘monedas’ for the ‘colectivo’, whether we needed to buy anything to eat, where the nearest bus stop was. Reality washed over me and I felt tired. Carlos said, ‘It’s because you relaxed.’

Now we are home, drinking mate flavoured with orange peel, Carlos watching Boca Juniors’ score popping up on the portable TV, me recording our journey on this page.  Outside it is chilly. The skies are grey in Buenos Aires tonight. The occasional train rumbles by below and breaks through the hum of the city. It is never silent in my apartment, but my head feels calmer than 24 hours ago. I am thinking a few things through, trying to understand what my current path should be, trying to listen to my heart all over again. Silence helps. Stillness helps. Space helps. And for 24 hours that is what I have had. And I am grateful.  Following your heart is easier when you can hear it speak. I have to learn to keep hearing, whether there is silence in my life or not. And I have to notice my fears, because it is they which drown out the voice of my heart. Recently my fears have been shouting louder again, but tonight they are only whispering, and that is a huge relief.

IMGP9919And so, to keep a smile on my face for as long as possible and to record a happy moment in time, here is a photo of those slippers, back home, and on the feet of the man who truly helps my fears to whisper again, and my heart to sing.

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4 Responses

  1. So glad you had a good time and a time to step outside, reflect, recognise all that you have that is good. You have each other, and that love will keep you both in feather pillows anywhere you happen to be, if you let it.

    Hugs to you both –

  2. Yep Jo my precious sister, you are right. If I let it. And I must. Thank you for being with me every step of the way.

    Your big sis, SC

  3. It sounds like another world, indeed. One in which you and Carlos had a chance to rejoice in all those small (and big) luxuries, have fun, relax. Hmmmm. A good, precious memory, indeed!!!

  4. I’ve only admired the Palace Alvear from the street. Thanks for the peek inside with your detailed description. I will never have a 5-star hotel experience, but had the feel of it through your writing.

    I live where I have total silence in my apartment about 99% of the time. It is my haven in the third noisiest city in the world.

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