Cochinita Pibil w/ Greens & Pickled Onions

FRITZ TRAVEL JOURNAL DAY 5

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Frtiz and his wife, Maria, have been coming to ZAMAS for years.  This year he copied us on his letters to loved ones and he agreed to let us reprint here for the inside scoop from a seasoned Tulum Traveler.  Muchísimas Gracias Fritz!

Yesterday it occurred to me that there is a single, specific reason that I am so very comfortable in Tulum. It's a re-dux of early 'seventies Santa Cruz, my salad days. At that time SC was an organic, hippie halcyon, full of friendly, healthy young women who threw my already active libido into overdrive. The town featured surfers, musicians, all manner of artists, organic gardeners, and seekers.

Governor Reagan had not yet closed the state's mental hospitals, turning Pacific Avenue into another world altogether. It was Tulum foretold. I've seen more white-boy dreadlocks in a week here than in a year in Walnut Creek.  It's not a bad thing. This place is magnet for yoga, art, massage, exercise, and all kinds of creative endeavor and entrepreneurship in addition to being the loveliest spot we know. As a bonus, it's the tropics, so the hippies bathe regularly, a vast improvement upon their northern brethren.

Cochinita Pibil w/ Greens & Pickled OnionsBut it also has something that old Santa Cruz lacked: Mexican soul. 

The mestizo culture, Mayan, Aztecan, Hispanic, passionate, profound, and proud is felt everywhere, in the Mayan locals and in the immigrants from other parts of the republic. It's felt in waiters, shop keepers, entertainers, dive-guides, and passers-by. The warmth is not just the climate, it's the culture.

As to matters culinary: yesterday chef Laura roasted cochita pibil (Yucatan suckling pig) all day in the domed pizza oven.

Low and slow, as God intended when He created barbeque. By noon the fragrance was beguiling, by dinner, intoxicating. Served with pickled onions, sautéed greens, and corn tortillas, it made me a happy boy indeed.

Beach report: yesterday was overcast and windy, we had the whole beach to ourselves for the morning workout. Mother Ocean slapped around for 20 minutes and we bailed. Today: nice, Surf's up, by Caribe standards, but glassy. Great swim.

Dan has been wanting to show us his new beach property 20 minutes down the coastal road. We are outta here.

Elise Maria Samantha at ZAMAS

FRITZ TRAVEL JOURNAL DAY 4

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Frtiz and his wife, Maria, have been coming to ZAMAS for years.  This year he copied us on his letters to loved ones and he agreed to let us reprint here for the inside scoop from a seasoned Tulum Traveler.  Muchísimas Gracias Fritz!

Today is the first of our trip with full sunshine; Tulum so far having taken pity on my poor, carcinoma-prone gringo hide. We finished our morning salt-water immersion therapy session too late to enjoy the breakfast menu but are anxiously awaiting our torta de pollo as we tuck into melon water and guacamole.... Worth the wait, the sandwich is strips of grilled chicken on a toasted ciabatta roll with avocado, onions, tomato, chile, and some other succulent mystery flavor.

Last night the party started with Latin jazz at Zamas and continued in town. Dan hosted dinner for us and a few other guests, most notably Samantha, our new pal. Recently of NYC,  this class of 2008 U of 'Zona grad has found herself at loose ends when her month-old job at a local yoga resort suddenly vaporized. Dan set her up with lodging while she gets her bearings. Sensing, I suspect, a kindred spirit in Maria, she visited with us last night and joined us, splashing in the sea, this morning. What a doll, a Greek-Lebanese brunette with an unequivocal laugh and sharp intelligence to go with her great looks. If anyone can make it in Tulum with very limited Spanish it will be she.

Elise Maria Samantha at ZAMAS

We are fixin' to jump back into our books, García Márquez' biography is pretty thick but enormously engaging.

Besos pa' todos,

Fritz

Grilled Fresh Fish Fillet

FRITZ TRAVEL JOURNAL DAY 3

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frtiz and his wife, Maria, have been coming to ZAMAS for years.  This year he copied us on his letters to loved ones and he agreed to let us reprint here for the inside scoop from a seasoned Tulum Traveler.  Muchísimas Gracias Fritz!

Hi everybody,

Yesterday turned a little cooler, but still nice for swimming and the sea was very calm, one of the few days in which to break out the snorkel gear for use on the Zamas beach. We did so and wore ourselves right out, what with recovery from the previous evening's festivities still in process.

Our days have started with my schlep to the restaurant for strong coffee to-go, that we enjoy on our deck with tropical fruit and terrific Mexican pastries, scored the previous afternoon in town. 

Pico de Gallo y Salsa HabaneroAfter a little workout and shower, we make it to ¡Que Fresco! (the hotel's restaurant) for breakfast #2. As always, the food is wonderful. Simple, clean flavors derived from impeccably fresh ingredients. As the Italians say, a seafood meal requires that your dinner had breakfast that day. Last night's snapper filet was marvelous and this morning's tomato and avocado omelet was even better, with black beans, perfect little chunks of succulent potatoes, corn tortillas, and the ubiquitous salsa fresca: tomatoes, onions, serrano chiles, and parsley. Spiced with judicious droplets of blazing hot salsa habanera, it made me a very happy boy.

 We're looking forward to toGrilled-Fresh-Fish-Fillet1night's band: Gabriel Palatchi's Latin-jazz group, featuring three of the sidemen from Camilo Nu. The day awaits.

La fiesta continua.

Abrazos,

Fritz

Camilo-Nu-on-the-Beach

FRITZ TRAVEL JOURNAL DAY 2

Buenos días,

The first day of our time in Tulum was an unqualified success. Cosmic events that require more discussion than I am capable of in this space and terrestrial ones as well filled our hearts with joy. Lots of exercise in our room and on the beach, a jaunt into town, and great company in our post-prandial festivities got our stay at Zamas off to a wonderful start. The day started off rainy, then cloudy, and then, 20 minutes into our beach time, mostly sunny and warm. After a provisions run, we settled in for the evening at Zamas. At Maria's request, Dan had said that they would be offering lobster that evening and, served with garlic, it was terrific. Featured musical artist was Camilo Nu, a flamenco/jazz/groove jam band. As soon as we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted with a smile and a wave by our buddy, bass player Gabo Gonzalez. After dinner, drinks, and dancing we partied into the night with the band and new friends. Guitarist/band leader, Camilo, whom we had seen perform but never met turns out to be a sweetheart, in spite of his severe Mestizo countenance. The new pianist, Argentino Gabriel Palatchi, is a blazing talent and another total sweetheart. Crazy eastern Washington state gringa, Margo, Belgian Karin, and drummer Ramon completed the all-star party cast. After cigars, Flor de Caña Nicaraguan rum, and much laughter, we said good night about 12:15, which is very late in the wilds of Tulum.

We are relaxing now with our late a.m. cappuccino and contemplating another day, our 24th wedding anniversary, in our favorite spot. Life is good.

Much love,

Fritz

P.s. Chilango is what denizens of Mexico City are called. Our musical pals here are generally Chilango.