Spice Tree Munnar smells like vanilla.
Every day, in the best traditions of the English five-o-clock (a legacy of the colonial past), I go down for a cup of tea in the coffee-shop “300 BC” and, chatting with the waiters, study the varieties of local tea – after all, it is in Munnar, the pearl of the state of Kerala, that reminiscent of Sri Lanka and Nuwara Eliya, there are Indian tea plantations that adorn the local hills with neat trimmed bushes. And watch the staff roll out pizza dough or knead it for banana pie.
Banana Pie!!! Yes exactly. With three exclamation marks.
I discovered it at a stage when it was not yet a banana pie, but just a test for it.
However, it was already divine. Honestly, I usually don’t eat raw dough, but then, unable to resist, under the astonished looks of the staff, I ate a few spoons. Because it was very tasty. And she asked for the recipe. Although, perhaps the whole secret of the recipe is in Aruna, who cooks it with love?
Half an hour later, I’m eating a hot cappuccino pie and talking to Arun:
Are you going home to work? he asks
– I do not know yet. I think what to do.
– What do you feel like doing? Work or travel?
– Mmm. Probably work. But also travel.
– Then do a little bit of everything: work for a few hours, rest for a few.
– Yes, you are right. You just need to be more disciplined.
Someone told me that you write well. Please write so I can travel with you.
– Deal! and add him as a friend on Facebook.
– Would you like another piece?
– I think, yes…
Perhaps this is the most delicious banana pie that I have ever eaten in my life … for the moment of the Here and Now.
In my Here and Now, this Spice Tree Munnar paradise and 16 bungalows in the Munnar hills: twelve classic jacuzzi rooms, two honeymoon spa suites and two villas with private pools.
Spice Tree is a small, very small fairytale town, and to get somewhere you have to go up or down.
My Spice Tree day starts simple: go down at 7:30 for yoga, get up at 9:00 for breakfast in a restaurant. Find another unknown fruit and, of course, biscuits from Arun. Descend into the valley with a naturalist and explore the local flora and fauna. Rise at 12:00 to the Spa-center for an Ayurvedic massage. Sit after the massage for 10 minutes in a steam cabinet. Take a shower while admiring the scenery outside the window. Return to your pool villa.
Read a book on the terrace. Swim in the pool, watching the eagle soaring in the sky. Order lunch in your room. Dine on a terrace overlooking the Munnar valley, decorated with the turrets of a Catholic church like a small crown. Smell the smell of freshly baked biscuits. Go down after them to the coffee-shop, order a cup of cappuccino for them and, while waiting for the order, swim in the infinity-pool. To be honest, this is my favorite place in Spice Tree. The library and this pool.
This space is especially beautiful at sunset.
All 3 sunsets that I happened to watch in Spice Tree were different: when the whole valley was covered with fog, but the sun shone bright orange; when the sun, after long climbing out from behind the clouds, was soon reabsorbed by a large, monitor-like cloud; and when the swallows flew low and there was no sun at all, and only the orange light over the mountains betrayed the sunset that had happened.
I see off the sun, I listen to the silence, broken only by the singing of birds, and I am distracted only by the question of a Frenchman who has also chosen this place:
Do you work in the fashion industry? You look like a person who works in the fashion industry.
No, I’m writing. I travel and write. And now I’m still filming.
And enjoying the sunset and cappuccino, we talk about Renata Litvinova, who bought an apartment from him in Paris, about the intricacies of Ayurvedic oil massages and what to do in Indian ashrams.
Do you meditate there?
– Yes. What else to do in the ashrams?
— Well, I don’t know… Talk to people?
– And this too.
This time I didn’t get there. This is my first India.
Mine is the seventh.
My seventh India…
I pause as I watch the fading sun.
The Frenchman leaves for dinner, as if he felt that I should be left alone – in this silence, with my thoughts and with my Spice Tree.
I kept waiting for the icing on the cake on my three month long Indian trip.
So here it is – my cherry, more precisely – my tree of spices (as the name of the hotel is translated) – one of the best hotels I have ever been to.
Where I finally slow down and listen carefully to myself and observe the space around.
I go to the closet and take the first book that caught my eye. This is a photo album about traveling around Kerala.
I sit comfortably in my chair and, as I leaf through the album and read the headlines, I seem to grasp the essence of the experience that happened to me during these two weeks in Kerala and in the Spice Tree hotels:
“Day One – Journey”.
Day one – Travel: I explored the hotels of northern Goa, and, believe me, it is not easy to get out of Goa, but I still did it when I arrived in Cochin.
Day two – Culture: Spent a few days in Port Cochin for a photo biennale that was taking place there at the time. By the way, I already wrote about Cochin for LuxuryTravelBlog a few years ago.
“Day three – Rejuvenate”.
Day three – Rejuvenation: a week at the Ayurvedic hotel Sugati Retreat, which is my next article.
“Day Four – Relaxation”.
Day Four – Relax: This is exactly what happens to me at Spice Tree Munnar.
I scroll further – intuitively opening on the first page that came across: “It’s time to go home.”
It’s time to go home. I feel it myself.
I go up to my villa, put on a beautiful dress and go to a candlelit dinner.
The dishes of the local restaurant are a wonderful Indo-European fusion and, of course, traditional Kerala cuisine, which is rightfully considered one of the richest in India.
While I’m having dinner, a peacock appears on my bed.
The wizards at Spice Tree lay out towel elephants and crocodiles and patterns of leaves and flowers on my bed every day.
“Happiness is in small things” is written on the door of my room.
Thank you, Spice Tree, for this little happiness.