by Mari Pintkowski (Sept. 2013)
I wake slowly with a sense of floating and soon realize that Molly, one of our three dogs, is nudging our swinging bed, and I know it is time to open my eyes and think about today’s breakfast.
Lou has already touched his feet to the floor and, as usual, he is moving easily into his morning routines. I am grateful he is so alert first thing in the morning and so are the dogs. They are well trained, or should I say we are, and want Lou to take them out for a stroll on the sac-bes or paths, that surround La Selva Mariposa. Their playground is over two acres, one hectare, and yet they want one of us to accompany them, for they know at the end of the journey there is a treat waiting. You can already tell who sets the tone for our days and nights at LSM.
Lou stops to make the coffee, as guests often wander into the dining room, comedor, for a cup of fresh brew before their requested breakfast time. Just as I roll out of bed and greet the day with equally as much enthusiasm, he returns to the house with three small pineapples he picked in the patch near the compost pit.
Lou is the chef today; we alternate this task daily. I rush out to the dining room to freshen up the room and sweep away any signs of nighttime insect visitors. I know that there are six for breakfast today: four at 8:30 and two at 9:30. I smile and am glad no one wanted to eat at 7:30, our earliest breakfast seating. I set the table and breakfast bar noting that because we are serving a sweet entrée, we do not need to set out a plate of the cookies I baked yesterday. The breakfast bar includes cereal, bee pollen, chia seeds, two kinds of yogurt, a platter of different kinds of cut-up fruit, a fresh-fruit beverage, and fixings for coffee and tea. I check the time and know I need to head in to prepare the fruit plate and make the agua fresca/ juice for the day.
Lou has already begun to cut up the pineapple he picked earlier this morning. He turns the knife over to me and I continue to trim and slice each tropical beauty: papaya, mango, kiwi, mamey, banana and strawberry. The fruits vary with the season, but there are always at least seven to choose from. Lou hands me a pitaya, or dragon fruit, and shows me how he likes to serve this colorful fruit. We change places so I can reach the blender to make the fresh pineapple water with chaya leaves and a touch of vanilla yogurt. Since the piña is from our property and was picked this morning, it is extra sweet as we allow them to ripen on the plant. Meanwhile, Lou has sausage sizzling in one pan, scrambled eggs whipped in a bowl, cranberry-nut bread sliced on the cutting board, and is now mixing the ingredients for the infusion (see recipe at the end).
Since it is Saturday, Celtic Rock is playing from the Sirius Radio in the background and the dogs are back to sleep on their beds. I remind Lou that we have one vegetarian. He is on top of his game and has already planned for this. He comments how today’s breakfast menu would not be appropriate for the vegans that arrive today. I am the menu planner, and appreciate it when guests tell us ahead of time about dietary needs for breakfast so we don’t have to make last-minute changes. When planning the menu for the breakfast entrées, I also take into consideration the recipe contents and alternate a savory dish one day with a sweet item the next.
We continue silently with our separate parts to this morning’s breakfast. The fruit and juice are ready and the first two rooms will be arriving soon. Lou turns on the baby monitor so we can see when they arrive in the dining room, which is not located adjacent to the house. There is too much static to hear what is being said, so we just turn off the sound. The visual saves many steps for us and, at age 67, we need to conserve if we want to have enough energy for our busy day ahead.
I text our masseuse and she confirms that she will be here today at three to do two Maya clay massages.
Lou lets me know that the English couple has arrived, so I stroll out to greet them and show them where everything is located. I set out the juice, yogurt and fruit and invite them to help themselves as I fill the water goblets.
The other couple joins them and after brief introductions, I leave the four of them to get acquainted. Since the English couple in room #3 is headed to the beach to just chill and the other couple is going to Tulum ruins and then return early for their massages at three, I put on the slide show of the Tulum ruins and later switch to the Beach Clubs of Tulum.
Lou strolls out with a tray full of French toast, sausages and scrambled eggs with manchego cheese. After explaining the entrée, we both excuse ourselves and collect a few beach towels to put in the dryer, and go up to the garden to see if there are any vegetables ready to pick. I make a note to myself to pick arugula, lettuce and tomatoes for our evening salad. As Lou walks to the house to feed the dogs and get ready for the 9:30 seating, I go back to chat with the guests and answer a few questions about “our story” along the Mariposa Trail. This could take all day, so I give them the short version and show them the sample copy of the book I wrote a few years ago. “We even have copies for sale if you want to read the entire story,” I say.
John and Hillary excuse themselves and move off to prepare for their day and the honeymooners stroll in sleepily and follow each other from the coffee bar to the table. I introduce them and tell the new couple from Manchester that this young couple spent yesterday at one of the beach clubs in Tulum and may want to give a first-hand report on what they discovered. I remind them that the beach club slide show is on and that there is an article in the travel guide in their room that describes each one.
When I hear their questions and stories, I interject with a few suggestions. I can hear that they want to see both the ruins and chill at a beach club nearby. The beach club, Zazil Kin, works well for this and the fisherman’s restaurant next door has good fresh seafood and a fabulous Cuban band. Lou appears with their breakfast and he and I go back to the house to have our breakfast together.
Julio, the head housekeeper, and his helper are busy putting finishing touches on Room #1 for the guests who will arrive later this afternoon. Julio reminds me that his wife, Beatriz, will join them at eleven to clean the house and do the breakfast dishes.
It seems like everything is under control, so Lou and I sit outside by the Chichen Itza fountain and plan the rest of our day over a bowl of fruit and cereal.
He wants to fit in a bike ride and I am dreaming about a walk on the beach. I let him know that I will get the items ready for this afternoon’s massage at three and he says he will greet the new guests arriving after four. We agree to meet at our favorite beach club for lunch after my walk and his bike ride. He says he will put the bike rack on the car and only ride one way today, as we need to stop at the market and buy a few items, as well as pick up the laundry. It’s a plan! Vamos a la playa.
The fun thing about the life we have chosen is that each day is completely different. But the really beautiful and meaningful part comes from the fact that we are surrounded by interesting people from all over the world who teach us constantly how to pick up the thread of friendship and weave it into the present experience.
La Selva Mariposa, for us and our guests, has become a place where you come to rest, rejuvenate and share your story.
Recipe: Lou's Infused French Toast
Choose a loaf of fruit and nut bread and slice it into 2-inch pieces
Slice down the center so as to form a pocket for the stuffing
Mix: softened, large block of Philadelphia cream cheese, several spoons of your favorite marmalade, and set aside. Add a small amount of cut-up fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries, if you like.
Beat 2 eggs in a flat bowl
Stuff each piece of bread and soak in the egg mixture
Spray pan and fry French toast pieces. I often cook one side and cover. When it is almost time to serve, I flip the bread and do the other side with a lid on the pan to keep the cheese soft and gooey.
Sprinkle the top generously with cinnamon. Garnish with fresh fruit and serve! You can always consider adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.