Finding Beauty in Isolation.
Introducing the magnetic, Carmen Ruiz de Huidobro.
My dear friend Carmen, Spanish by birth (and in her soul, through and through), but living in Los Angeles, shares with us what life is like right now practicing "safer at home". Carmen is the very passionate and creative founder of Españolita retreats - amazingly authentic travel experiences on one of her favourite Spanish islands, Mallorca. I was lucky enough to join Carmen on one of her retreats back in 2017 and it was as dreamy as you could imagine. Carmen is full of magic, she really is. A special soul. I am delighted to be able to share her thoughts here. I love this woman.
Name: Carmen Ruiz de Huidobro
Star Sign: Aquarius
Hometown: Madrid, but have called many places home.
Where do you live now? Los Angeles, and spend as much as time as possible in Mallorca!
Describe yourself in 3 words or less… let’s do this!
Describe Los Angeles in 3 words or less… multicultural sunny cluster.
How long have you been isolating for now? Since March 13th.
Who are you isolating with? Blessed to be with my husband Adam, and my children Olivia 8 and Bosco 3 in LA.
What about your friends/family in Spain? Well things in Madrid are grim at the moment. 900 deaths in the last 24hours in Spain. So tense…
my Mom is in a flat, my sister with her family in another flat, and friends in small apartments alone or some with kids (I don’t know which is worse)!
I know of sad stories all over the place... it makes me homesick. And the overall response of Spaniards with true solidarity really touches my heart.
What is the vibe like in LA? It started out as people not believing, then the usual panic empty shelves in supermarkets, but now it feels like people have really embraced the challenge and maybe in a communal sort of way I sense it all being more settled. I am not sure…
Do you have any tips you can share for sticking to, or starting a new kind of daily routine? I have never been able to follow routines. However my kids keep me on track, I cannot afford letting go emotionally right now, so trying to keep spirits bright at home, and some sort of discipline. I try to home school, art & lots of crafts…But our priority is to feel good, so I guess our routine is working on a good balance everyday. Let me be completely honest. It is not an easy task.
Do you have any daily rituals? I think I am turning everything into a ritual theses days. Making juice in the morning, I lose myself in the oranges. English breakfast tea made by Adam, it means waking up cared for. Cooking, really appreciating the process. Little craft projects and baking with Oli. Read in the sun after lunch- basically I try for siesta everyday. Hang laundry in the sun. Night books for the kids. And crying, every day I cry.
Tell us a bit about your work… I am interested in a lot of things. I started off working in art departments in films. My real passion.
Then children made it really hard, so I started focusing on them and on trying to connect to my Spanish heritage through things that made my soul very happy. Everything from artisans, to food to traditional craftsmanship and interesting creatives. I launched a project called Espanolita years ago which has adapted as my path develops. It started as a food stall in farmers markets in LA- Atwater Village, Hollywood, Studio City,.. catering and workshops. Then I got tired of cooking and wanted to document people and places. And then it turned into hosting guests in Spain. So now I focus mostly on organizing my own retreats, helping clients with their trips as a consultant, and as a creative director for soulful hospitality projects in Spain.
Are you finding more creative inspiration in this time? Inspiration is crazy now, however I am finding it challenging to materialize anything.
I have less resources to help me care for the children so my time is limited. However I am doing watercolors, and starting to dry herbs and gardening.
When not travelling, what other creative outlets do you turn to? I feel the creativity flow mostly when doing 2 things: Arranging flowers, working with natural elements; and space design, setting the mood of a place with objects and textures. I can do this endlessly. Also I am an obsessive online learner, so I am always taking online courses. I am now on a herbalist course, 1 Lightroom class, a communication course, and a finance one. Ridiculous, but eventually I get through all!
Do you cook? Do you have any recipes you can share? I am cooking all day long!! My recipes are classics from Spanish cuisine. Mixed with vegetarian options. Super simple, rice & vegetables, and the classic Sunday Roast. Scramble with anything and 'Pan con Tomate' with olive oil. A recipe on heavy rotation over here, lentils, and garbanzo stews.
What is on your stereo? I am fully devoted to my friend @koltcha on Spotify, the best playlists. Otherwise reggae, jazz and classical. And… don’t laugh... Hindustani flute songs for my kids sleep time, meditations, yoga etc..
Any podcasts you are loving at the moment? Uff all over the place at the moment. Same with books, I can’t seem to focus.
Have you still been getting out and about for movement/exercise? What does that look like for you? We were escaping to the mountains for walks but the access are getting closed. We have a little yard, and keep busy looking for bugs and looking at the bees, the little patch of green gives us life! Yoga at home with friends on zoom or youtube. Everyday some movement or exercise. The dance party with Ryan Heffington you and Lucy Laucht told me about.
What about mindfulness/meditation? Is there anyone you turn to in this time? Headspace for years, for me, the kids...
When this blooming virus goes away, where will you be travelling to next? I am really hoping to get back to Spain soon.
Otherwise, my list is huge and why not dream, in order of excitement:
but I am happy traveling anywhere always.
Are you a window or aisle seat kinda gal? Why would you be up in the sky and not want to see the view!
What 3 things are always in your suitcase?
Some sort of pareo/towel/shawl.
Moroccan babouches (I loose a pair in every trip)
What are your 3 favourite hotels in the world?
The Bowery in New York- romantic memories
Son Brull- Pollença next to home in Mallorca
and one in Sardinia in Porto Rotondo that I absolutely remember as paradise.
I am not a fancy hotel lover, I’ll take charm before design always.
Words you live by… words I would like to live by: be light
And lastly, who are you most looking forward to hugging when all of this is over?!! Mamá :(
**Photos by @lucylaucht