My husband, Peter, and I landed in Mexico again, and we did what we have done in the past. We bought an enormous cake.
It’s nice to have a cake in the house. I have discovered it is not necessarily a good idea to eat cake every day, as it eventually makes my clothes too small. But I do like cake, and I especially like Mexican cake, and more than anything, I like giving cake away.
We love the folks who work at this hotel. When I say “hotel,” you might be thinking of some swanky place with long hallways and bellhops and a concierge. This would not be where we are staying.
Our hotel has only seven small apartments. We stay with Jorge, the owner, and Lulu, who cleans our room twice a week, and Pepe, who mans the front desk, and Pedro, who is the waiter in the small restaurant, and Daniel, who is the cook. On busy weekends, Jorge will bring in an additional waiter or two. And when all the rooms are filled, Lulu will get some help – sometimes from her granddaughter, Bianca, if she is off from school.
Finally, there is Fabricio, who does not work for the hotel but is hired by Jorge to paint. He is Jorge’s artist-in-residence, and sometimes he comes with a son and occasionally his daughter. It is a mystery where they could possibly put more art, but Jorge has endless ideas he wants to see painted on wood and ceramic, and he keeps this family busy painting together on the roof.
We see these folks nearly every day. So, shortly after we arrive, we buy a cake for our hotel family in Mexico.
It is a little too easy to buy cake.
The cake shop is just a block away from our hotel. It does not sell anything but cake. You cannot buy a piece of cake. I asked the woman behind the counter once. She looked surprised and possibly a little offended.
“No,” she told me, in no uncertain terms.
This shop sells only whole cakes. They sell every variety imaginable, and they sell a lot of them. The huge display case, which rounds the corner, is filled with three shelves of cakes. The wall cooler, which goes from floor to ceiling, is filled with cakes. And the back room (which I sometimes get a peek into when the door swings open) is filled with gas-fired ovens and more cakes.
“What do you think about a carrot cake?” Peter asked me when we arrived. Peter likes all the cakes, but he is not as fond of tres leches as some. (I love tres leches, and the cake shop has six varieties.)
I ordered a carrot cake and picked it up the next day. We cut it into pieces and gave everyone at the hotel a slice. Then we each had a piece, and there was still plenty of cake for later.
“Gracias!” Lulu says, tucking her cake away to take home with her.
“Gracias!” Pedro says, eating his cake immediately.
“Gracias!” Fabricio says, his paintbrush in hand.
“Everyone likes getting cake,” I said to Peter.
“Uh-huh,” he agreed, eating his cake.
Getting a piece of cake in the middle of the afternoon adds some unexpected sweetness to the day. Peter and I don’t speak enough Spanish to know how to tell these people how grateful we are, how at home we feel, and how much their everyday kindness means to us.
So we give them cake. And cake seems to be understood by everyone.
Till next time,