The Best of Both Worlds: The Beach And The Jungle

by Mari Pintkowski and Sherry Harvey

house at La Selva Mariposa
The clouds of swallowtail mariposas (butterflies) that surround us in the Riviera Maya are a signal that the rainy season is just around the corner. We wondered how this upcoming season would present itself. This is our third spring living in the Yucatan Peninsula and we are ready to greet each new day from our jungle lair, La Selva Mariposa, in Macario Gomez.

We marvel at each blossom that seems to open before our eyes as we gaze around the jungle from our third story dining room or while soaking in our outdoor tub. The magenta orchids and brilliant red and white bromeliads create a collage of color to delight any eye. We are visited each day by yellow, green and turquoise birds that flit from tree to tree in search of berries and fruit to wet their appetites. They create a concert of sound as they go about their task.

cascading Mayan waterfall
The cascading Mayan waterfall we created outside our living room is the last thing we hear before falling asleep. We wonder when and if the frogs will return to the pond to join the crickets in the evening serenade.

Our day begins with a walk with our dogs around our sacbaes (limestone paths) that wind in and out of the jungle surrounding the house. Today our guests have requested an early breakfast so that they can arrive at Coba ruins before the buses pull in. I head off to the comedor (dining room) located beside the cenote-style pool with a sturdy basket packed with dishes, colorful linens, and all the side dishes to enhance the
Mexican mini-frittatas
Mexican mini-frittatas Lou is preparing for breakfast in the kitchen. As the guests are pouring their coffee, I point out on the map where Coba and the near-by crystalline cenotes are located. As they sip on the freshly roasted brew, they watch a slide show on a small LCD screen of some of the sights they are about to encounter. Before long, Lou appears with a colorful meal fit for a Mayan king.

After breakfast we say good-bye to our guests and begin to make plans for the day. Lou thinks he will move the new fruit trees to a sunny location, and finish the table he started building last week in his wood-working shop. I have a plan to edit an article I am writing, and hang the bead sculptures I made for the trees along the jogging paths.

casita at La Selva Mariposa
We have found peace in the jungle, and space where our creative efforts can be fulfilled. We have lovingly built and decorated three elegant suites, that include king or queen-size beds, ceiling and floor fans, a mini-frig and coffee bar with lush tropical gardens and a pool just a stones-throw away. Our guests provide added stimulation and companionship. We have come to realize we ARE living our dream!

Spontaneously we decide to make a new plan and go to the beach to visit our friends who live at Punta Soliman in an oasis of their own creation. Upon arrival at their B & B, Maya Jardin, we enter a meticulously built wall that far surpasses the beauty of the Mayan / Toltec walls that surround the Tulum ruins. The bougainvilleas, hibiscus and other plants that hug the puzzle-like wall are sheltered from the dusty beach road. They have taken hold in the sandy soil and are filled with blossoms. Immediately we hear the trickle of the Mayan fountain and notice a joyful sound emanating from a nearby palapa. Several tables of hotel guests are enjoying a late breakfast.

As we proceed down the paths lined with colorful plants toward the house we are overcome by the natural beauty of the place. It doesn’t take long for Chloe, the house dog, to frolic toward us with a friendly greeting. Jeff and Sherry are not far behind. They are setting out the kayaks and snorkel gear for their guests to discover the mysteries for the reef after breakfast. Some guests are already sunbathing at the pool, listening to the tropical birds and the waves softly slapping the beach.

beach and pool at La Selva Mariposa
While Lou and I wait upstairs on the terrace overlooking this beautiful, quiet bay, Sherry and Jeff finish their preparations. We realize that this is a place to escape from the stress of daily life. The hotel’s four rooms are a tasteful mixture of artistic décor plus comfort including air conditioning, private refrigerator and coffee maker and a luxurious travertine bath. Here you will face the choices of spending the day with a good book in a hammock in the shade, walking the long white sand beaches that stretch beside the bay, or snorkeling in the crystal clear Caribbean.

Villa Playa Belleza
Jeff and Sherry want to show us the Mayan shower they are completing at their new project, Villa Playa Belleza. The local Mayan stones form a shower by the beach for rinsing off sand and salt after swimming or snorkeling in yet another peaceful bay. The shower is topped by a carving of Yumi K’aax, the Mayan god of the land. It watches over you as you take the winding garden path back to the pool and main house. At Playa Belleza, the lore of the jungle manifests at the beach just as the natural materials of the beach complement the structures of La Selva Mariposa in the jungle.

On our way home we realize that visitors to the Riviera Maya have access to the best of both worlds: the beach and the jungle. We invite you to visit and share our adventure in both worlds. Why not let us create a package that includes a few nights at each piece of paradise?

Mari Pintkowski lives with her husband, Lou, in Macario Gomez at their B & B, La Selva Mariposa. Contact them at and Sherry and Jeff are the innkeepers at Maya Jardin and soon to be open Playa Belleza.