2013 Isla Mujeres-Dinner at Hortencia’s

May14

I wrote this in my travel journal the morning after we had spent a very special evening:

As you know I have been traveling every year to Isla Mujeres since 2005 and I can honestly say that last evening was the most precious of a string of pearls that I call my Isla Memories.  I have seen the saying “Mi Cusa Es Su Casa” on many ceramic plaques.  I have purchased one for a friend and another one sits at my own front door.  But I have never truly understood the meaning until last evening.

I have written in the space about our dressmaker friend Hortencia: how she will allow you to select a pareo and when you return the next day, have a sun dress whipped up and waiting for you, matching shawl and all.  I have also made reference to her children and her adorable grandchildren.  We know Hortencia well enough by now, to know that she and her husband have worked hard to raise their family and to provide in a manner that all parents hope for. 

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I have imagined Hortencia in her kitchen, as I have caught glimpses of the lunches that she has packed for her family, so that they can have a nutritious meal right at the store and not interrupt the flow of shoppers or disappoint anybody if she is not on site.  Last night I got to see Hortencia’s kitchen. 

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It is truly a perfectly planned room, set away from the rest of the house with only a doorway in and out of the outdoor space that sits at the back of the house.  This way when Hortencia is cooking for her family (who all still reside with she and Papi), she will not heat up the rest of the house. 

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She took the day off from the market stall yesterday, to do what we understand is a rare thing indeed.  She stayed home to watch over a pot of love-her own mole recipe.  The chicken must have simmered for hours as it was so tender, not in a stewed way but a moist, baked one. She served the casserole with a beautifully flavoured rice, her own guacamole, homemade tortilla chips, pickled peppers and huge stacks of tortillas.

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The meal was absolutely delicious by any standards, but in truth, it had nothing to do with the taste of the ingredients because you could literally taste the love-the love of us, her Canadian friends, the love of her family (standing at a separate table so that we her guests could sit around her big dining table), the love of her Island and her country.  

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The evening passed with jokes and stories animated with huge gestures to get the point across.  Simple English was spoken by Hortencia and her family.   Simple Spanish was streamed through Sister #3, Miguel, Dona and Paula all having worked hard to immerse themselves in the romantic language.  And thank heavens they had, because their contribution to the enjoyment of the evening for us all, was immense. 

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We are a pack of travelling pet lovers and are all missing our babies back home.  Hortencia’s household is shared by two adorable Chihuahuas and a muscular and handsome pit bull.  So many of us got our canine snuggles in with the Chihuahuas nestling their noses under elbows and the pit bull guiding Sister #2’s hand back to the spot on his chest where he loved to be nuzzled.

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At some point in the evening Hortencia’s son got out their huge family album to walk us through the faces and history of his family.  We too, went back through our archived photos on our digital cameras to provide images of our huge family assembled for a recent wedding.

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We were reluctant to leave, but the kids needed to get to bed and all the adults obviously put in very long days.  We thought Hortencia might be tired but she laughingly admitted that she was “frio” (chilly).  Not surprisingly, we Canadians thought that the weather was pretty much perfect. Brother K gallantly offered his Winnipeg Jets jackets which she graciously accepted. 

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We hadn’t known what to bring that would be a gesture of gratitude for the hospitality.  We didn’t want to insult the family by brining food, so we amassed a huge bouquet of flowers and toys for the grandkids.  How do you adequately thank someone who wants you to truly feel as if their home is your home?

Kath’s quote:“The home should be the treasure chest of living.”Le Corbusier

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Love-that is all.


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4 Comments to

“2013 Isla Mujeres-Dinner at Hortencia’s”

  1. Avatar May 14th, 2013 at 2:15 pm Victoria Says:

    How wonderful to get a glimpse into Hortensia’s home. What a wonderful model of love and graciousness.


  2. Avatar May 15th, 2013 at 5:29 am Jan Says:

    I have to laugh as I read about that special night as that was the night of a VERY special ride back to El Cento for us (and another couple). A ride that puts huge smile on my face!


  3. Avatar May 15th, 2013 at 6:22 am Ann Says:

    How wonderful! Our relationship with our Isla family has so enriched our experience too!


  4. Avatar May 17th, 2013 at 4:55 pm Beth Says:

    What a beautiful story! We love Hortensia. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.


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