Category Archives: Personal

PLANKING, SUNGAZING & VACATIONING

For 2 years straight – without a break – we worked  on our new baby ‘El Jardin’, so it was time for vacation. We closed the restaurant for 2 weeks and took off to Isla Mujeres and stayed at El Milagro Beach Hotel and Marina for a week. No Facebook, no newspapers, no blogs, and no make-up; just a good book with my feet in the sand.

island

Fresh fish and lobster was on our daily menu. And so was a sunset, something we miss in Playa del Carmen.

One of the many magical sunsets.

One of the many magical sunsets.

View from the end of the pier towards the Marina.

View from the end of the pier towards the Marina.

Honza soaking up the sun.

Honza soaking up the sun.

The spot where we spent our days reading and drinking.

The spot where we spent our days reading and drinking.

Relaxing with Tiger and the parrot.

Relaxing with Tiger and the parrot.

Me paddle boarding during the sunset.

Me paddle boarding during the sunset.

Fresh lobster prepared on the grill.

Fresh lobster prepared on the grill.

Red Snapper prepared on the grill.

Red Snapper prepared on the grill.

A magical Sunset.

A magical Sunset.

Another magical sunset.

Another magical sunset.

Another sunset with the rising moon.

Another sunset with the rising moon.

Gazing at the sun within an hour after sunrise, or an hour before sunset was an exercise Honza had practised regularly when we still lived at Hacienda El Sol in the Ejido.

sungazing1

Sun gazing has been practiced all over the world in various cultures and religions for thousands of years, charging the brain to its fullest potential. The need for external energy in the form of food will disappear, and psychic abilities like telepathy will increase. You start with 10 seconds, while standing barefoot on the ground (which has to be dirt, mud or sand) and daily increase that period with 10 seconds until you have reached 44 minutes gazing into the sun. The practitioner then needs to walk barefoot for 45 minutes daily during a period of 9 months, so that the energy gained from the Sun can be transmitted to the Earth, and one can become completely enlightened.

sun-eater

Honza is able to gaze into the sun for 15 minutes already. I’m not anywhere close to that, but we’ve both been inspired to continue this practice. NASA has confirmed the success of Sungazing, and since then this practice has received more attention. Here’s an article about the subject .

Something else that Honza has initiated is a practice called planking. plank

Again, you start with 10 seconds and increase that period daily with 10 seconds until you have reached 4 minutes. You can find various schedules on the Internet, but this is what we used. And we started with 1,5 minutes, because this plank position was already a part of our yoga practice.

Why would we be planking if we practice yoga? Well, I stopped teaching yoga shortly after we opened El Jardin, because my plate was too full. I continued to practice at home and I regularly take a class with Arielle Thomas Newman at Yoga by the Sea, but my practice has become gentler with more focus on breath and meditation. Still, I like to have a strong and muscular body, which would require hours of strong power yoga. I don’t have the time nor the inspiration anymore for such a vigorous practice.

With this 4-minute exercise you receive an intense workout for your entire body. Especially the muscles on the upper gluts and hips have increased noticeably. And that’s exactly what I needed for my next Halloween costume. Photos will follow in my next blog.

To get into the Halloween mood I’m showing the costumes from previous years.

2008 Honza's 1st Halloween dressed as the Mexican Katrina and her partner

2008 Honza’s 1st Halloween dressed as the Mexican Katrina and her partner.

2009 For Sara Moen's 40th birthday we all dressed up with a '80s theme.

2009 For Sara Moen’s 40th birthday we all dressed up with a ’80s theme.

2009 Herr Doctor Frankenstein with his bride.

2009 Herr Doctor Frankenstein with his bride.

 

2010 Fallen Angels.

2010 Fallen Angels.

2011 Pirates of the Caribbean.

2011 Pirates of the Caribbean.

2012 Chico & Chica Galactica.

2012 Chico & Chica Galactica.

2013  The famous Mexican dead couple.

2013 The famous Mexican dead couple.

2014 Pink Fantasy.

2014 Pink Fantasy.

Last year, 2015, we skipped. This year? Honza’s costume is based on the Gandalf character. My costume is inspired by Super Power Girls. We can’t wait!

PAULA'S 5Oth BIRTHDAY INVITATION

It’s no secret that 2014 has been a rather interesting year for us. We gave up our home and business to bring Amarte Maroma  back to life, only to be kicked out after 3 successful months.

Oh well, c’est la vie.

For the next 3 months we were homeless, our belongings stored at too many different locations and bodega’s, trying to make sense of it all. Finally, at the end of the summer we found a new home for ourselves and shortly after a new business opportunity presented itself: El Jardin.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. As you may remember, we had made a New Years wish; asking the Universe to help us find a bigger place and one a bit closer to the sea. The Universe gave us a little detour, because if it wasn’t for the experience in Amarte we never would have seen the value of El Jardin, and at this moment in our life that’s where we need to be.

Then sometimes these lyrics from Bob Marley pop into my head:

“Don’t worry about a thing.

Cause everything little thing gonna be alright.”

So what’s happening at El Jardin?

Flyer El jardin

We’ve moved the weekly local market to the Saturday afternoon, offering people an opportunity to do their local shopping in the weekend. And we moved the monthly Bazar to every 1st Sunday of the month. The atmosphere is always great, old and new friends meet and I sing a few songs. Here’s an impression of those afternoons.

Taking pictures with a tablet

Taking pictures with a tablet

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We’ve renovated the existing construction that held the pump, gas and water tanks that took up a lot of space, and moved the equipment up, creating an area for sinks and storage space. I know it looks scary when you suddenly find an enormous pile of construction material in the middle of your beautiful garden, so Honza was happy to only see the end result and that was shocking enough for him.

A big pile of construction material

A big pile of construction material

Starting to mount the walls

Starting to mount the walls

Last finishing touches.

Last finishing touches.

We’ve improved the stage even more and had the existing wood treated and the result is marvelous.

The existing wood removed for treatment.

The existing wood removed for treatment.

The treated tropical hardwood starting to be replaced.

The treated tropical hardwood starting to be replaced.

Don Jorge's son learning the trade from his father.

Don Jorge’s son learning the trade from his father.

The floor is finished and we are tired and dusty, but happy!

The floor is finished and we are tired and dusty, but happy!

The same talented carpenter created a beautiful addition to our existing table, so we could fit more than 10 people on our table.

The reason why we needed to expand the table is because we were booked for an event, and that is one of the core businesses of El Jardin. A group of 13 French people had booked the table for a sit down dinner to welcome the New Year. They were familiar with Honza’s cooking skills and my French repertoire, and they were not disappointed.

Our carpenter created a seamless addition.

Our carpenter created a seamless addition.

Paula singing to her French speaking guests.

Paula singing to her French speaking guests.

The only eventful situation that presented itself that night was a power outage in the neighborhood, but within a minute the lights went back on. Except in the house, which we have promoted as a vacation rental. Our guests would return to a dark house with no running water. The next morning I assessed the situation. Nothing a seasoned property manager couldn’t handle. Except when it’s the 1st of January. I was so tired from working 2 months straight getting our place ready for guests, and the previous day having worked from 7 in the morning till 2 at night, I just broke down in tears. Oh well, shit happens. We gave them back their money and they left with a smile.

Another event we hosted was the yearly Christmas dinner for our company Star Condos.

Instead of choosing a fancy restaurant Honza insisted on cooking for our Mexican family and they were thrilled, cause Honza’s typical cuisine is well known with our team.

Posada 3

Honza's famous caserolas

Honza’s famous caserolas

And Paula sang a few Mexican Boleros.

And Paula sang a few Mexican Boleros.

The last event we hosted was one for the charity organization Good Intentions

They teach English to Mexican children and offer them possibilities to develop themselves creatively and spiritually by giving art and yoga classes. Of course Honza cooked up a storm for 50 children. Giving back to the community feels good. Here’s an impression of that afternoon.

On their way to El Jardin - community center.

On their way to El Jardin – community center.

Creating art, pictures and drawings.

Receiving instructions for the art class.

A beautiful drawing.

A beautiful drawing.

And another one.

And another one.

Yoga class.

Yoga class.

Honza ready to serve the buffet.

Honza ready to serve the buffet.

My fellow yoga teacher.

My fellow yoga teacher.

Soaked from a tropical shower.

Soaked from a tropical shower.

So what’s planned for the near future? Since we’re still in the process of obtaining our licenses to legally open our doors, we can’t tell you when we’ll be able to serve you your 1st glass of wine. But we can tell you that Wednesday the 21st of January we’ll open our doors to celebrate Paula’s 50th birthday. We’ll be using the formula that has always worked in the past: Honza cooks an enormous buffet and you bring your favorite beverage of choice. Of course you can count on our famous DJ Greco to heat up the dance floor. And you know we like to start early, like 4 in the afternoon.

I had an idea for a picture for my 50th birthday invitation, but so far I’ll share with you the one that our friend Gary Wendt created for me 10 years ago.

The famous original from 10 years ago.

The famous original from 10 years ago.

Sometimes Honza and I feel overwhelmed by the idea that we’re opening a restaurant, as we both know from experience what that entails. But then I think:

“Don’t worry about a thing.

Cause everything little thing gonna be alright.”

We're back in business.

We’re back in business.

 

 

 

 

 

THE KEY TO A FABULOUS HALLOWEEN COSTUME

Most of our friends, especially the ones in Playa del Carmen, are very well aware of the fact that my husband and I love to dress up for Halloween.

My very 1st encounter with Halloween began in the year 2000 when I had just moved to Playa. I had found a nice dress, which I still have, and a French make-up artist had taken care of my make-up. My friend LaVonna had turned the villa behind restaurant Da Gabi into a horror house and we all had a spooky ball. I do have pictures of that event, but that was before the digital age, so they’re all stored in my mother’s cellar. However, a few months later I was asked to organize a big birthday bash for a friend of ours on the rooftop his penthouse. Besides many musicians and performers I had also invited that French make-up artist. This time I asked him to use the same colors but less spooky. I imagined myself some sort of a sea goddess. I do have a picture of that event with my dear friend Joyous, may she rest in peace.

2000

The Mexican festivities of the Day of the Dead are a celebration of the deceased, to honor our loved ones who have passed away. Here’s a link to a nice article about this ancient tradition.

The next Halloween event that I remember having dressed up for is the one just 5 days after hurricane Wilma in 2006. Since there was not a green leave to be found in our paradise I asked my friends to come and dress in something green. I had braces at the time (believe me, it’s totally worth it), so I placed green sparkly sequins on the metal fixtures.

2005

The year after that my friend Malonie was living with me and we had a ball preparing our fantasy costumes. In theme with the shamanic trips we had made to Peru we had created  a deity from another world.

2006

In the year 2007 I found myself in cold and windy Holland during Halloween. Summer love had turned into serious love, so what to do? I suggested to my little niece and her friend to go trick or treating, so off we went with our scary costumes. Of all the people who answered their door 9 out of 10 asked with complete surprise, “So, what do I do now?” I answered with a low, spooky voice, “The kids get a treat and a bottle of wine will do for me.”

The hat that I had bought that autumn in the Hague was going to be used for the following Halloween when Honza finally decided to join me in paradise. This was the 1st year I found out that Honza enjoyed dressing up.

2008

Before we moved to the following Halloween there was another dress up occasion when our friend Sara celebrated her 40th birthday and asked everybody to dress up ‘80s style. Thanks to our hairdresser Doranna de Bartoli we were able to transform ourselves into ‘80s pop stars and we won 1st prize. Actually, that was the only time we won a price together, because usually by midnight we’re long gone from the party scene.

2009-40

Inspired by Doranna’s talents we creatively found our next characters. The bride of Frankenstein goes porn, with her creator, the mad professor.

2009

And then we found some wings and wigs and created the next set of characters; the fallen Angels.

2010

Living in the Caribbean inspires to dress up like a pirate, and after the 3rd Johnny Depp ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ box office hit starring Penelope Cruz, we knew what to do. Days and weeks of sowing and hunting for the right accessories and we had a new set of characters.

2011

It’s not a secret that Honza and I believe in the existence of a galactic space family. With the date 21-12-2012 in mind we thought it appropriate to dress up like ‘Chico & Chica Galactica’.

2012

Last year I decided to recycle a costume. The white lace of the bride of Frankenstein had faded to a yellowish cream and was perfect for a sexy dead bride in the character of the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.

2013

We’re still a little short on cash, so this year we’re recycling again. Now what’s the key to a fabulous costume? Honestly, I don’t really know. I try to be creative and I go with the flow. Sometimes I start with a wig, sometimes with a dress, or another year with a specific color or theme.

But I do have the key to a fabulous place: EL JARDIN.

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We’ve started with the cleaning process and have placed the property on airbnb.

2

We’ll keep you posted, but we can tell you that as of December we’ll start to host the weekly eco-market on Thursdays.

Happy Halloween!

Mayaluxe

SAM 1

SAM 2

ZenziCindy

PAULA AND HONZA GO RAW & GLUTEN FREE!

The 1st experience we ever had with a person on a gluten free diet wasn’t particularly a positive one. A middle-aged couple, guests at our former B&B, had requested a gluten free breakfast for the lady. She struck us as an unhappy and bitter woman who found it hard to enjoy life, and we were happy when they left. We jokingly said that her diet must have affected her state of mind; grumpy because she wasn’t allowed to eat all the yummy things in life like cakes and cookies, and bread, pasta and cereals.

Breads

Little did we know that less than 3 years later we would voluntarily embark on a gluten free diet. Now why would 2 healthy, life-enjoying people do such a thing? Sure, we eat very healthy with only local and fresh produce, but there’s always room for improvement, especially when growing older and small health issues arise. We contacted an old friend from our hometown The Hague who is a rawfood, detox and regeneration coach. Take a look at his Website. The 1st consultation is free. He was very helpful when Honza came down with Hepatitis after our road trip through Guatemala, and he was cured pure with diet and herbs. This time Ray suggested we leave out gluten containing products and create a diet that consists of 75% raw food.

Raw Heart

As health conscious people we had become aware of the dangers of wheat, so the choice was easy. The problem is not so much wheat itself, but it’s the hybridized versions that they have been developed since the 1950s and they contain toxic components.  For example sodium azide, a known toxic. This hybridized wheat also contains new proteins that are foreign to the plant and to our body, like gliadin and glutenin. They are difficult to digest and often create an immunogenic response eventually leading to a number of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. If you want to know more I suggest you read this article.

Sometimes we miss a slice of bread from our all time favourite German baker, and we will certainly serve his bread in our new restaurant, but the switch wasn’t that hard. We live in Mexico, so corn products are easily found, like tortillas or the crunchy totopos that accompany a very tasty Mexican dish: Guacamole.

guac

For Honza it was easy to modify one of his Czech dishes channeled by his mother; fried breaded cauliflower. Instead of frying he put them in the oven; wheat flour was replaced by corn flower; and the bread crumbs with grinned tortilla chips. Voila!

Cauliflower new style

Cauliflower new style

Of course we don’t live on vegetables and fruit alone. A tasty snack should always be part of a healthy diet. So, Honza came up with a raw chocolate truffle. Ingredients: fresh coconut water, 100% pure cacao, coconut oil, almond butter (finely chopped up almonds) and dates. Rolled into balls covered with sesame seeds. Voila!

truffel

Needless to say that Honza is feeling very inspired to try out all kinds of new recipes for our restaurant. It appears that we’re taking the slogan ‘Healthy but Tasty’ to a new level.

So, how’s that going, our new restaurant? Well, pretty good actually. We’ve covered pretty much all the details with the owner and we are ready to sign the contract, but there’s still one thing missing; a little starting capital.

MATTHEW 7:7  ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE

We asked here and there.

Come on honey, Pray!

You’ve got to put your heart into it. Pray!

And we asked our guardian angels and the Universe for help.

Maybe this will work!

Maybe this will work!

Anyway, so far no luck. This morning one of my yoga students (71) made the wise remark that help might come from a very unexpected place (…) Then on the other hand, if the Universe has other plans for our future, we’ll soon find out!

WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR – THEN WHAT?

Finally! We’re free!!!

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve been more than grateful for having found a little peace and quiet amid the whirlwind of events that have taken place in our lives. Nevertheless, carrying the responsibility of two big dogs and a recently renovated house – including the obvious electrical and water teething problems that such a refurbished structure will present – is no small thing, even for a seasoned property manager. After two months we are more than happy to leave these daily – and sometimes stressing – duties behind.

Considering aforementioned situation and other business related duties, it took a little effort to get into the mood to celebrate Honza’s 64th birthday. Still, after lunch I was able to secure us a spot at a beauty salon where we both could be serviced at the same time. For his birthday Honza wanted to receive a pedicure from a sweet Mayan girl, something he never had experienced before in his life, and he wanted turquoise nail polish on his toe-nails.

No private pool as a birthday present this time.

Honza and his Pool

No $X$ Jeep as a birthday present this time.

 

Jeep

This year it was simply a pedicure at a salon where the big boss had ordered the girls to play music from Tiesto, and Tiesto only. We personally prefer Armin van Buren, but they’re both Dutch, so what to say?

1st pedicure

Hairy Leg

Polished

That same afternoon, right after that aesthetic and fashionable splurge – and one that may even start a new trend – we headed to the address where we are about to open our new restaurant. Indeed we have found the perfect spot to start a new adventure and continue to live our dream. It’s a beautiful garden in downtown Playa del Carmen that every Playa peep knows as the Garden of Eating.

Sign

View Entrance

Stay tuned, because we’ll open soon! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life after Amarte – What's next?

Let me be blunt. Moving all your personal belongings in one single day and storing them in 3 different locations is not an easy thing. The details over why it was crucial to move everything in one single day I will divulge in my next book. And then, moving our tired selves to 3 different house sitting addresses over the next 3 weeks wasn’t effortless either, and that’s putting it mild.

But finally we’ve found a temporary sanctuary of peace and tranquility for two entire months. As dog lovers we were even more thrilled when we found out that this safe haven came with 2 gorgeous canines; a white King Poodle and a brown mix of some undetermined race. The owners of the house – old Playa friends – had recently renovated their home-to-be, but for the summer they had planned to spend some fun time their 2 young children in Canada, visiting family and summer camps, so for the both of us it was a win-win situation.

This is Jelly. She likes to pose, as you can see.

This is Jelly. She likes to pose, as you can see.

This is Ritva. As soon as I took the picture she tried to pose like Jelly.

This is Ritva. As soon as I took the picture she tried to pose like Jelly.

After one week the pressure pump broke down, so the faucets and showerheads produced nothing more than a few drops of water. Since the owner had insisted that we use his maintenance guy (and we are the kind of people who respect those wishes), we hopefully waited 3 weeks before we finally decided it was due time for our own Star Condos guy to buy $51 Pesos (some 4 dollars) worth of material and fix the problem temporarily.

Sure, we used the garden hose to wash ourselves, because it was connected to the street and had normal pressure. It actually made us feel as if we were vacationing on a camping site. A refreshing shower next to a banana tree while waving to your friendly Mexican neighbours, I think there are worse things in life.

Our temporary shower under the banana tree.

Our temporary shower under the banana tree.

We moved into this house on the famous day that went into the Mexican history as: “No era Penal.” If you don’t care about soccer, like us, you have no idea what that phrase stands for, but for some reason we had been caught by the World Cup fever this one year, so this is what it was about. http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28082629

That morning we went dressed in orange pants and green shirts to watch the game. It was close to 11 o’clock in the morning.

Dressed for the Mexican Dutch soccer game. May the best win!

Dressed for the Mexican Dutch soccer game. May the best win!

Three minutes before the game started a police officer screwed of the plates of my Beetle that was parked perfectly in front of the Dirty Martini, but nevertheless along an illegal yellow curb and gave me a ticket. No matter how much I pleaded and proudly showed my green Mexican shirt, it was to no use. How could I expect anything else from a female cop? In fumes I drove home and changed my shirt to an orange one. Guess what? We won!

We Won! That will teach them to give me a ticket!

We Won! That will teach them to give me a ticket!

Party at Zenzi!

Party at Zenzi!

As an author I’m always looking for a good story, and when you see the humor in any given situation it gives enough juice for a funny twist on any chapter. Honza and I thought of a couple of funny before and after pictures.

Pool Before

Pool Before

Pool After

Pool After

The road to our house Before

The road to our home Before

The road to our home After

The road to our home After

So now, after one month of relative rest, it looks like we’re getting our life back on track.

We’re teaching the morning yoga classes at Palapa Suuk from Monday to Friday 10.30 to 11.30.

One of my old students telling me how happy she is that her favourite teacher is back.

Catching up with one of my old students.

We’ve been able to score ourselves a regular gig at La Cantina 38; every Tuesday I sing my favourite Mexican Boleros.

La Cantina 38

La Cantina 38

Singing Besame Mucho

Singing Besame Mucho

Honza filmed everything and I’m in the process of creating a video for my YouTube channel, but iMovie received an update, so this will take me some time.

AND… We’re preparing ourselves to open a restaurant!

Where…? What…? How…?

Next time!

WHAT HAPPENED AT AMARTE?

Indeed, what happened at Amarte? Why did we return to Playa within 3 months, instead of bringing Amarte back to life over a period of many years? Why was this dream so shortly lived? Believe me, we are still trying to wrap our minds around the whirlwind of events that has changed our lives so drastically. So, what did happen? Honestly, we don’t really know, and I wonder if we’ll ever find out. But we do have a few theories and rest assured that in my next book I will elaborate extensively about all the juicy details and interesting conversations that have taken place. I did find a video on YouTube a few weeks ago about Amarte, and when the credits appeared – around 6.40 minutes – a piece of information emerged that we had not been aware of before; there’s a secret boss…

As much as we would like to say that we’ve found ourselves in a classic Shakespearean drama, it was nothing but an ugly Mexican telenovela, a soap opera we didn’t think we signed up for.

It all went so incredibly fast. Imagine we didn’t even have a decent working Internet for the 1st 3 weeks. The 1st month we focused on opening beach club Lolita until the owner told us it was sold. We didn’t see that one coming. Let me tell you that it took a flexible mind to refocus on the opening of the restaurant Amarte, something the owner insisted on, despite the fact that high season had just ended and May is considered one of the slowest months of the year. Nevertheless, we pulled it of. The grand opening of Hacienda Amarte was a smashing success with close to 100 hundred guests – all personal friends – eating ‘a la carte’ and enjoying an incredible show with Jazz, boleros, opera and pop. And that was that. End of story. They had kicked us out. We didn’t see that one coming either. We produced and delivered, more than was asked for or expected from us, but it wasn’t sufficient and never would have been.

Opening Night

Opening Night

How awkward that this is the only photo we have of that evening. As if it never happened.

Honza said: “We’ve been had. And it was without Vaseline!”

Then I said: “Fuck it!” And then I cried. It was a relief.

But still, I’m Miss Practical, so the 1st question we asked ourselves was: what did we learn from this? Well, for starters, we never thought that we were capable of successfully running such a large enterprise. Anything else that comes our way will seem like peanuts after this, and it looks like a great opportunity indeed is crossing our path, something we never imagined we would do in our lives. In that way we needed this experience. And we learned that we will never ever work for somebody else again. What was I thinking? The walls of incompetency were ridiculously frustrating. I experienced first hand what it felt like to work in a hostile macho environment, where the authority of a foreign woman is simply not tolerated and outright boycotted. I do not wish to ever have to experience that again. It was rather unpleasant.

It’s a time of change. Change is good. Although the dream was shortly lived, we still lived it.

Here’s the full version of the promotional video we produced. It’s gorgeous!

It’s so sad to see such an incredible opportunity go to waste because of sickeningly inflated egos. These people need help. Be kind to unkind people; they need it the most.

Singing in the choir of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar was the beginning of my musical career. There was a line I couldn’t get out of my head: “Empezar de nuevo…” Start all over again. So, that’s what we’ll do.  I pick myself up, dust myself of, and start all over again. Yes, I’m going to add that song to my repertoire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESTINY – A LOVE STORY AND HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Do you believe in destiny? My husband and I do. And with the idea that the course of events in our lives are – in one way or the other – predetermined, our love story turns out to be even more interesting.

Imagine two soulmates who are destined to be together. Not only are they born in two different countries, at a certain point they even live on two different continents. Sounds like mission impossible, but you never know how life will magically enfolds itself.

Let’s go back in time a little and see where this love story starts.

Russian invasion in Prague in 1968

Russian invasion in Prague in 1968

Shortly after the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) Honza escaped the communist regime and choose the liberal and open minded country called the Netherlands as his new home. Eventually he found himself running a bar called Café 2005 in a neighbourhood that was known for the presence of many artists, writers and musicians, like the world famous rock bands Golden Earring, and Shocking Blue. In that same street my father, Eppo Harbrink Numan, had opened the very 1st Dutch barbecue restaurant called Charcoal, which became an overnight success.

Charcoal

Restaurant Charcoal in The Hague, Holland

Yes, that’s me in the foreground. I was around seven years old when that photo was taken. My parents and Honza knew each other professionally, but I was hardly in the picture at that time. Five years later my father opened another restaurant called Bajazzo, which made you feel like you walked into a chic Paris establishment during the 1900’s.

From Left to Right: Nico Molhoek, Wolfgang Bartos, Ronald Hoenderop, Eppo Harbrink Numan, Sir Talsma, Olaf Weissman and Roberto deLuca. In front:  Paula, sister Lucinda en brother Leonard

From Left to Right: Nico Molhoek, Wolfgang Bartos, Ronald Hoenderop, Eppo Harbrink Numan, Sir Talsma, Olaf Weissman and Roberto deLuca. In front: Paula, sister Lucinda en brother Leonard. Foto: Cees Zorn

It was around this time that my attention was drawn to this very handsome tall curly head, who would cast a friendly and flirtatious smile at me every time I passed Café 2005.

Cafe 2005

Cafe 2005. Foto: Cees Zorn

A few years later I had gathered enough courage to trick this recently divorced man into hiring me as his part time household aid, so I could iron his shirts, something he dreaded more than anything. You can find all the juicy details about how I eventually seduced him in The Queen’s Boudoir, the 2nd book in the Queen´s Trilogy. It was our little secret. Nobody knew about it. It was beautiful, the first time I made love to a man.

Honza 2005

Honza Mlejnek behind the bar at Cafe 2005

I have beautiful photos of myself from that period taken by photographers David Hamilton and Max Koot, but these are all stored at my moms. The only one that I could get my hands on from around that period is this picture from the Vrije School.

I'm standing top left with a white sweater.

I’m standing top left with a white sweater.

We hardly saw each other during the next thirty years, mostly because I was always traveling or living abroad. But seven years ago fate directed me back to Holland. I had decided to visit my family and spent a summer vacation in my home country, taking a break from a demanding consultancy job, and the hot and humid Mexican Caribbean. Well, that very first day in my home town I ran into Honza and when I saw him I simply threw myself into his arms. We were both completely surprised at the utter joy we felt seeing each other again after so many years, and we realized that our first secret adventure had created the imprint we needed to make this reconnection.

A romantic night in Prague

A romantic night in Prague

We also realised that we allowed ourselves to fall deeply in love, because we had nothing to loose. I had a beautiful home and a professional life in Mexico, and there was no way I would ever go back to a grey life where, “Act normal, than your’re acting crazy enough” is the norm. And Honza had a job he liked, together with a life full of responsibilities in Holland. We dove into our summer romance like there was no tomorrow. We enjoyed relaxed days in his Czech summer house in the mountains, and romantic nights in the cultural city of Prague. Well, you can’t just fall out of love, and soon we came to conclusion that we couldn’t live without each other.

At Honza's summer house in Horni Kalna

At Honza’s summer house in Horni Kalna

Even my mother visited the best son in law she could wish for

Even my mother visited the best son in law she could wish for

We’re coming close to the famous Seven Year Itch. It’s itching alright, but in all the right places. So far, we’re still shamelessly happy and in love.

Anniversary

Today, the famous Valentine’s Day – the day of friendship and romance – we hope to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary (the Super Bowl took over on our actual lustrum) with all our friends who happen to be in the neighbourhood. It looks like this is going to be the last big party we will be celebrating at Hacienda El Sol, a place we have been able to call home for the past five years and where we have thrown a few parties to remember.

A grand future lies a head.

Simply keep living your dream!

PAULA'S BIRTHDAY INVITATION

Felicidades Chica! Today is my birthday. Exactly 49 years ago I was welcomed into this world. I’m not going to celebrate this birthday with a big party. You can join me for a drink at The Dirty Martine Lounge, but no outrageous festivities are being offered this time. That may sound strange from the people who are famous for their lavish parties, with Honza’s well-known culinary buffets and DJ Greco’s fine dance tunes, but there’s a perfect explanation for that.

Party

The first reason is that in twelve days Honza and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary, and we had planned a big party for that special day. That is until we received a phone call from aforementioned DJ that on the 2nd of February – a date that also happens to be the wedding date of our King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima – the American Super Bowl takes place. That’s a real big thing here in Playa and we don’t want to boycott our own party. The only thing I know about American football is that they have a team that is called the ’49ers – there is that number again! – and that’s only because I’ve lived in San Francisco for a few years. Actually, it was the day after my birthday in 1989 that they won, but I have no idea from whom.

San Franciso 49er

The second reason is that next year I will turn fifty and that milestone asks for a major party. By now you all know where that party will be organized, so prepare yourself for a few days of festivities at Amarte Maroma. When I started studying with professor Mary Grogan, director of Opera Maya, I thought I would be able to sing the Flower Duet of the opera Lakme from the composer Delibes for my 50th birthday, but I have to admit that that dream is still far beyond my reach. I keep on dreaming and maybe for my 10th wedding anniversary or my 60th birthday I will be able to sing my favorite aria. Maybe.

FLOWER DUET – ANNA NETREBKO & ELINA GARANCA (LAKME DE DELIBES)

What is within my reach is singing with a Jazz band. Maybe Honza’s old time friend Milan Svoboda, a Jazz musician, and composer, conductor and bandleader, is willing to bring some members of his Prague Big Band to Mexico for a good bottle of Tequila. You never know.

milan svoboda

MILAN SVOBODA

And you never know if you will be drinking a glass of Tequila with us next year at Amarte Maroma. Wouldn’t that be nice?

HONZA AND PAULA'S NEW YEARS WISH

When the year 2012 turned into 2013 my husband and I made a New Years wish. We asked the Universe to help us make our dream come true: expanding the concept of our bed & breakfast ‘Hacienda El Sol’ and finding a bigger place for our venture, close to the sea.

Ask and thou shalt receive. Allow the Universe to do its magic; et voila!  Less than a year later an opportunity was placed right into our lap, allowing us to live a dream far beyond our expectations.

Honza had been imagining five cabañas where we could organize workshops, providing our guests with yoga, healthy food, concerts and cultural trips. You probably know by now that Paula’s dreams are more of a Galactic quality, so we were presented a little more than just five rooms.

The owners of the enterprise Maroma Amarte, located only 10 kilometers North of Playa del Carmen, had been thinking of retiring for a few years already. When – unintentionally – they found themselves at our dinner table enjoying Honza’s cooking and Paula’s performance, they also learned about our experience in the hotel and restaurant business. Long story short: a year after their first visit to our house in the Ejido they asked us to take over the management of:

– 24-room Hotel consisting of luxury bungalows in a lush tropical garden
– Art gallery
– Restaurant
– Yoga salon
– Holistic Spa
– Private Beach Club

Believe me, it took a couple of weeks before the magnitude of this venture started to sink in. I almost forgot, included is also a private villa with pool for our personal use, located in the middle of a biosphere, a few steps from the Maroma Beach that is ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Here is a first impression of Amarte (meaning: to love you):

The transition to this new location will take a while. It’s a complete new adventure, for all of us. If you want to stay in the loop how we plan to turn this place into the most beautiful cultural and spiritual center of the Riviera Maya, subscribe yourself to this blog.

That leaves Honza and I with one more wish for this New Year: Do yourself a favor and make a wish: Dreams do come true!