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Palace Nights


            The long flight from Sao Paolo in a small plane to Buenos Aries through a barreling thunderstorm was finally over. My nerves were jangling after traveling 18 hours that day -New York City to South America. This storm had been following us since we flew over the Amazon jungle. I was exhausted, grateful and excited to have arrived. Our small aircraft required we step onto a rolling staircase on the tarmac, instead of pulling up to a gate. When the hatch opened, the air was thick with fist sized drops of pounding rain. I pulled my blue pashmina that has been around the world with me, over my head and stepped out into the deluge. Then the mad dash to the terminal thirty feet away. Now to slog through the lines at immigration, get my luggage and head to the hotel. This was a business trip and my company had booked my room. I hoped it was a comfortable one for my three weeks stay.

            Almost two hours later, I was speeding through the boulevards of this charming city. Buenos Aries translates to “Fair Winds.” The downpour and the late night outside the car’s windows, obscured any of view of its glamourous architecture. We finally pulled up to a very modern looking hotel and several of the staff ran out with umbrellas to escort my weary bones and drenched suitcase to check in. What I longed for most- to dry off and a bed. Any bed.

            I was greeted warmly by the desk manager who saw I was soaked from the rainstorm and on fumes. He handed me an odd-looking brass key. It looked like something from a fairy tale. Not the typical magnetic card to press against a panel in this contemporary monolith I had walked into. I looked at the key and him quizzically. He smiled and said “We are over booked due to the storm, so we moved your reservation. We have two parts to this hotel Madame. You are staying in the original building. It was the palace of a princess. I hope you find the room satisfactory.”

            I was led through a long maze of sleek teak corridors with recessed lighting. Elegant and minimal. Then to a tiny elevator with a golden cage and sliding door. It seemed totally out of place with the rest of this state-of-the-art edifice. When we arrived on the 4th floor which was also the top floor, I stepped out into a very different place indeed. A different time even. Soft plaster walls glowed under rose gold sconces, shining dark wood floors with antique rugs met my tired feet. The bellman gestured I use the metal key I had been given. Hearing the click of the lock’s old tumbler, I opened the door. I have traveled quite a bit for work and for pleasure and I was expecting the usual beige on beige masculine set up I had stayed in so many times before. Instead, I found myself in a jewel box. The medium sized cream-colored boudoir had a king size bed piled with white quilts and pillows. The pearly headboard was tufted silk. A blush velvet chair with matching ottoman sat in the corner. An exquisite wooden vanity with a tiny bench and gold flecked mirror reflected the joy on my face. An ornate, ancient armoire stood between two beautiful black iron casement windows framed in ivory drapes that pooled on the floor. Then I noticed that the ceiling on either side of the room sloped into dormers and there were skylights above me. The rain was pattering away on the panes and in this comfy space, it sounded like a soothing concerto. A graceful chandelier glowed quietly from the center of the room, The bellman saw my delight and wished me a good night. I was suddenly very grateful for the storm that landed me into this exquisite chamber.

            After, hurriedly unpacking a bit and hanging some clothes in the armoire, I headed to check out the bathroom. It was just as stately with an enamel soaking tub in the middle of the room. White walls and gold trim on just about everything. I felt like I walked into a wedding cake. It was all oddly ostentatious and simple at the same time. Understated- but stated for sure. Everything looked like it belonged in its place. A clear glass vase of fat calla lilies stood on the sink’s ample marble top. This was indeed princess territory!

            I slid into that steaming tub for a long restorative soak. Listening to the storm batter the windows and skylights of the little palace, I had been so blessed to find myself cocooned in. I always pack my most comfortable sleep wear for my time on the road. I reached for a white cotton nightgown and melted into the bed. As tired as I was, I would not let myself fall too quickly asleep. I wanted to relish the sound of the rain on my sloped roof. Flashes of lighting illuminated all these hand-picked treasures that unexpectedly surrounded me. The chandelier’s crystals catching the light of each strike. The maelstrom outside was raging. With every clap of thunder, I sunk deeper under the heavy quilts feeling safe and snug behind the sturdy walls of my palace.

            Next morning, I opened my eyes to beams of sunlight slipping through the drapes onto the silver carpet threaded with gold. The storm had passed and left a serene blue morning sky in its wake. Heading to the windows I gently pushed them open to let in the early morning breeze. I was greeted by window boxes bursting with red geraniums dancing under my nose. They had ridden the tropical storm out with me. Leaning out, I gazed at the drying cobblestone streets below. Resting my elbows on the generous sill, I watched this beautiful city awaken and begin its busy day. My thoughts turned to the princess who long ago, must have stood at this very same window, after weathering a storm too.

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