Imagine the palm trees swaying in the south of France, not with balmy breezes, but under the weight of snow. The Trevi Fountain spewing ice cubes, icebreakers on the Danube. It is insanely cold in Europe this winter.
My little corner of Portugal has escaped the snow, but not the freezing point on the thermometer, frost turning the ruas white in the mornings, the gato da casa looking for a nice warm room to sneak into. The sun is shining and Salir looks pretty as a postcard but feels like the inside of the refrigerator. When the winds howl over the cliffs from the Atlantic Ocean it is time to huddle around the heater to play endless games of rummy.
The cold was in the very marrow of my bones. My feet and hands lost all sense of feeling. I hadn’t taken off all my layers of clothes in days. We have to move our garrafas (bottles) of vinho tinto next to our heater to them get to “room temperature” so we can properly enjoy them while relaxing in our long-johns, sweat pants, at least 2 sweaters, socks and fuzzy slippers, muito chique loungewear for the Salir hipster. And that was inside the casa! Farto! I left for two nights to warm up at a nearby 5 star resort.
Upon arrival I cranked the thermostat up to tropical in my enormous room. Seven feather pillows, two more in the closet, a couch. I watch bunnies run past my French doors. Supermerchado supplies into the mini bar and the overpriced resort mini bar items put safely on a shelf, my vinhos lined up, two bathing suits in a drawer and I am unpacked. Off with the layers and on with my favorite little tie dye sundress let the thaw begin as I lounge on my couch with a complimentary fruit basket.
For three days and two nights I was able to swim in a big heated pool, use the Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. Have a huge buffet breakfast (some of which makes it back to my room for lunch) and the run of this huge resort, just me and the staff and about 5 other guests. It was like being a princess in my own castle, the staff begging to do something for me because they were so bored. The entire time I had the pool to myself, I still used my swim cap even though no one was watching, I am a good pool citizen.
At night, I would enjoy a gourmet jantar (dinner) from the contents of my picnic I brought with me and drink my vinho tinto from the nice wine goblets thoughtfully provided by the same people that put the Book of Mormon in the nightstand drawer. I had my Kindle loaded with some new books, I also had cable channels. I watched a show about two guys who buy at auction the stuff in storage units left when the renter doesn’t pay the bill. It was fascinating and very sad at the same time. I had a George Carlin epiphany watching it; beware of having too much stuff.
Three days later, back in the casa, still warm inside from my resort get-away and very happy to be back in my tiny village. It looks like the Arctic will be blasting us for another week or two. But, I am all thawed out and ready; after all, it’s time for Carnaval. Besides, life in Salir is so much better than just five stars.