by Lydia Linton Pontius (Nov. 2014)
I love bringing new people to La Selva Mariposa. They are usually very reluctant to stay in the jungle and of all the places I have been, this may be the most difficult to describe. When they arrive, they always have the same reaction … speechless for a moment and most often I will hear the word "magical" uttered. Once they realize that everything about this place is made by hand by the owners, staff or local artists, it becomes even more impressive.
I have had the pleasure of staying here on several occasions throughout the years and every time I think there is no way this can get any better—but Lou and Moe surprise me with new additions all the time. It is the most amazing use of space I have ever seen. There are only a handful of rooms, but winding through the property are waterfalls, aqueducts, swimming pools, temazcal, Jacuzzi and garden on the roofs, observation areas, game rooms, dining area, workout room in the trees, hammocks, and paths to explore full of little surprises.
The latest addition was the new dining area and our host, Julio, explained that the table and wooden sink were made by one of his relatives. Moe and Lou were on vacation in the States while we were visiting, and left Julio and his wife, Beatriz, to run the show. Julio has worked at La Selva Mariposa for eight years and he takes so much pride in the place that it was as if the owners themselves were showing us around. His face beamed as he greeted us and, as he guided us, you could see his pleasure as he explained that his grandmother had made certain hammocks. Her work, by the way, is extraordinary.
Another addition is the rooftop Jacuzzi, which is really large—not prefab but made by hand. I must say it is the perfect place to be at sunset! You are in the trees, listening to the birds settle in and watching the jungle gain a soft glow. There is a seating area and shower for rinsing off before hopping in the Jacuzzi. Bring a glass of wine and let your troubles disappear.
We were delighted to be spending two nights at La Selva Mariposa and took advantage of its location to do some great sightseeing. It is located in Macario Gómez, which is halfway between Tulum and Cobá and about an hour from Valladolid. Along the road are several local shops and cenotes. There is also the Punta Laguna reserve not far away, known for its spider monkeys.
I find that this is the place that I can finally unwind when I am traveling. When the sun sets the jungle is so still and so dark that you are simply lulled into a state of relaxation. I can't put words to it but it is as if Mother Nature embraces you here.
Each room is equipped with WiFi and I give special kudos, in every review of this place, to the quality of the linens and the incredible showers!!! And there are several pools so you are not sharing with all the guests. The pools are always shaded so the water is cool and very refreshing. Everyone is also always surprised at how much cooler the jungle is than they expected. The dense tree cover keeps it from being blistering hot. Another worthy note is that the mosquitoes are not as prevalent in the jungle as they are near the beach with bordering mangroves.
Breakfast is always a highlight at La Selva Mariposa; Lou and Moe create some amazing meals to start your day. I have to say I was a little concerned about this with both of them away. Beatriz did a great job of stepping up to the plate and providing two wonderful breakfasts for us. Moe took the time before she left for the States to translate all her recipes into
Spanish and taught Julio and Beatriz how to prepare each one, of course giving them the liberty to make changes.
Being a little way from Tulum, the meal options are limited, but they have refrigerators in all the rooms so you might want to stop and get some snacks. There are a few local restaurants and the food is great. We chose to have tacos our first afternoon at Rancho la Cachimba, owned by Julieta and Jorge. Their daughter Brenda also works there and she speaks some English. You have to love a place where the kitchen is open and right out front. As we walked up we were greeted by Julieta, who held out her hand and in it was a tortilla with fresh cochinita for us to taste. SOLD! We enjoyed some great home cooking and a cold cerveza—ahhhh, finally we felt truly like we were in Mexico!
The Riviera Maya is famous for its beaches and Caribbean Sea but you are really missing out if you don't venture into the jungle! It is an entirely new world and to do it justice you need to put this magical place on your MUST-SEE list.