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Seduced by the Jungle

It was 1983 when my friend Molly called from New York to say she was home from Cancun where she’d gone on a last minute junket with a friend. She sounded giddy, bursting to tell me she’d met someone. His name was Luis Felipe. He was a Mexican entrepreneur and they had spent the entire week of her vacation together. “One day he took me to the property he owns south of Canun. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, 600 acres in the middle of the jungle with nothing on it except for banana and cocounut trees, and a mile and a half of deserted beach.” I could hear it in her voice. It was not the last time she’d be seeing him.

“He told me the first night we met, Molly I’m gonna marry you. And then I’m gonna build a house for us on that land. I have a dream. You’ll see. It will all come true.” Soon she called again to tell me that she was moving to Mexico and would be moving in with Luis Felipe. I thought she’d lost her mind, selling her condo, giving up a job she loved, moving to a foreign country to live with a total stranger she’d met three months before in a bar. She didn’t even speak Spanish. I was afraid I’d never hear from her again.

Luis Felipe was true to his word to her. He had a house built for them on his property at the edge of the sea. There was no electricity, no neighbors, nothing but a stretch of jungle and beach as far as the eye could see. When she went to Cancun to shop, Molly called. Not once, but frequently. She sounded happier than I’d ever heard her sound. “Come visit, Julie. Bring the boys. You can have the guest room and the kids can have their own casita behind our house. Stay as long as you can.”

It was only when I saw it for myself that I knew that she hadn’t been crazy. at all. I had been the fool not to understand. Their life together in the jungle on that deserted beach is what paradise is like. It is the land itself that does it to you, with its singular scent of damp tropical earth in the forest and light breezes as you get closer to the sea. There is no night at night ecept for the moon and stars, and the only sound the crashing of the waves and the chorus of frogs from the jungle. There is a magic even in daylight, walking alone on that deserted cove. It seduces you into thinking this is where I too would want to belong.

My upcoming book, As Far as the I Can See, tells the whole story about the year I lived and worked on that property and discovered disturbing secrets about my friends and truths about myself.

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