Our New Neighbors

by Barb Eller  (April 2012)

Wednesday started out with blue skies, a few fluffy clouds and sunshine. We planned on a lazy day after dropping the laundry off and picking up some potatoes from the local grocery. When we got home, Patrick walked down to see our neighbors, Kelly and Laurie, to see if they wanted to join us for dinner Saturday night. He came back and said they were walking down the beach to a restaurant for lunch, and did we want to join them? I didn't feel like walking but drove down and met them there. Just as luck would have it,  the restaurant was closed so we decided to drive down a little farther to Almaplena, a new hotel/restaurant at Km 12.5.

Since Hurricane Dean hit Mahahual in 2007 we have seen many changes and new buildings everywhere. The town and homes may have been destroyed but people's hopes and dreams have not.

Monica and Andrea moved here a year-and-a-half ago from Italy (Florence and Monza) to build Almaplena. Isn't that a beautiful name? It means, "Full of soul." And they have put not just their souls but also love into everything. Their Web site says it all: Almaplena is pure escapism with a touch of charm. Monica and Andrea have found a way to put that cozy, intimate charm into everything. Each room has a private balcony, just a few steps from the crystal blue and green Caribbean.

As the four of us walked into the restaurant, Monica greeted us with her beautiful smile and open arms. She led us out to a table on the balcony so we could feel the sea breeze and listen to the waves roll onto the shore. We enjoy coming here for a meal as well as just stopping by for a beer. The hard part is choosing if I want something from the Italian menu, such as fresh fish in a lemon sauce, or pasta (with avocado sauceómy favorite), but then their Mexican dishes are just as delicious. Patrick always says "we will share" but it seldom works out that way.

Since everything is prepared fresh, Laurie and I knew we had time to go down to the water and roam on the beach. The sun was nice and warm and the sand felt so soft between my toes. The large, colorful pillows they had on the beach looked so inviting. Laurie and I had the same thought at the same timeó how nice it would be to have a margarita and lie on the pillows. Lunch was ready so we headed back up to the balcony.

The afternoon was so peaceful with the sun, sand, the sparkling blues and greens of the Caribbean, and good friends. Next time I plan on bringing my snorkeling gear; the water is crystal clear and I am sure to find some sting rays sunning themselves near shore. It wasn't easy pulling ourselves away, but we lounged around long enough. We thanked Monica for taking such good care of us and promised to return soon.

If you ever find you need to escape to paradise, then I suggest Almaplena. You can find them on FaceBook and their Web site: www.Almaplenabeachresort.com.