Not simultaneously, but almost.
We knew someone important was staying at our hotel because security got crazier than normal. The security guards multiplied and the not so secret police (the ones dressed in black, sporting sunglasses in the middle of the night) got meaner and ubiquitous. No one was allowed to use the parking lot (guests and personnel coming to our hotel had to be dropped off--preferably while the vehicle was still in motion--along the already blocked highway); cars were forced into impossible detours; pedestrians were sent back and forth depending on the mood of each guard they found on the way (one might say yes you can walk down the road; the next one might say, no you can't and send you back). It was 110F outside. Our grocery bags had to be checked at the lobby and we had to carry our passports wherever we went.
So whoever was coming, was big. We endured the preparations patiently. Our internet connection became painfully sluggish and unreliable (it always is); emailing or receiving a picture took the system several hours of trying, crashing, trying again.
A few days later it was all over.
That's when I decided to visit the hotel spa to have a much needed pedicure, which much to my delight is given to you as you lay horizontal on a stretcher, as if you were having a medical examination.
The pedicurist tells me that the president of this other nation arrived four hours late for his massage appointment. That she waited from midnight until 4 am when he finally showed up with an entourage of body guards and an array of crackling and beeping radios. That he lay in this very same bed I'm lying. That my bum is exactly where his presidential behind was just a few hours ago. I know what kind of massage he likes; how he likes his scalp rubbed and his back stroked; I know how sore his neck gets from shaking diplomats' hands and memorizing speeches. I know he falls asleep if his earlobes get gently pulled and that when he does, he curls up, like a fetus.
I don't know this man. I have never seen pictures of him. I don't know what he looks like. All I know is that he is a president, that based on the amount of bodyguards, he must be afraid for his life and therefore must have enemies, and that must be why he needs tenderness. A whole four-hour block of it.
And since I've seen both sides of the country, I wonder which route the president's driver took this morning on their way to the airport: the left route with the pretty, clean, empty, made-out-of-marble fantasy city, or the one to the right, the real one.