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In the Everyday with Claudia Muñoz + Punta Caliza

September 06, 2018

A few months ago my friend Ana and I went to Isla Holbox in Mexico - its a little island north of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula that is part of a nature reserve and is separated from the mainland by a huge lagoon.  It is a car-free island and most people get around the island on golf carts or bicycles.  Basically, its a magic place.  We stayed at the most beautiful hotel, Punta Caliza, and fell in love with the insane beauty of the hotel and the family behind it.  It is made entirely of concrete and western red cedar grown by the Muñoz family in rural Mexico almost 30 years ago, and is designed to bring the water right to your door.  It is the most simple, beautiful design with hand-loomed natural Mexican cottons on the bed, a traditional thatched roof and the feeling of a Mexico that is both ancient and new.  We loved becoming friends with Temoc and Claudia, the son and daughter who run and helped design the hotel with their parents.  Claudia was still in school for architecture when her father asked her to design the hotel.  Claudia herself is a magical being, here are some pieces of her story ~
all photos are film taken by Ana Kras
in Claudia's words . . . 
My family and I have always been travelers. I was born while my parents were traveling and have always been moving from one place to another. The one thing we love more than traveling is meeting people and showing them the places that we love. 
The way it happened with Holbox was kind of magical. We all fell in love with the place the second we got off the ferry and we decided this was the place we wanted to start growing roots in. At the time I was still in Architecture school and my dad gave me the chance to design the hotel myself. Being honest, I was too scared to do it. I was only on my 3rd year at university and a hotel meant a lot effort -both financial and emotional for my family, so I came up to Chavo and Magui, both my teachers and architects that I admire and ask them to partner up with me to design Punta Caliza. 
It was a long process. I've always believed that construction is kind of heroic. When we designed and built Punta Caliza, we were building a dream that started 27 years ago, when my parents planted the first red cedar to make sure they had a way to provide for their family. 
The land where we designed the hotel was difficult. Some distance away from the beach and surrounded by constructions and mangrove, where construction is prohibited, we decided to create an aquatic landscape on its own for the hotel. The only condition we had in mind was that we use a lot of wood, for the architecture to be a tribute of mayan culture, and for the hotel to be a platform of mexican design. I worked with artisans from the region to create unique objects to be displayed at the hotel. From tables, bed linen, plates, hammocks, chairs...everything in the hotel is handmade and respectful of traditions. 
As for my inspirations for aesthetics, I admire the works of Peter Zumthor, Studio Mumbai, Pezo Von Enrichausen and David Chipperfield, among others. I love how they create atmospheres, more than just spaces, that are respectful of their time and place. The way they work with textures, lights, and shadows. How everything feels almost solid rock, demanding to be felt. Architecture that tells a story. 
Are there any books that have changed your life or that you want to share? 
The ones that have stuck with me for a while are a book of poems by a spanish guy named León Felipe. It's hard to find the translation of his poems in english, but "Versos de Caminante" has some of my favorite poems and words I try to live by, especially "Romero sólo".
A hundred years of solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez. I love how Macondo could be just about any small town in any latin-american country, and how magical García Marquez's writing is.
Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit were the ones who turned me into a feminist and made me realize how amazing and empowering it is to be a woman.
And whenever I'm feeling down or trapped, I re-read The little prince. I always find new things in that story and always inspires me, so I guess that's my favorite book. No matter how simple it is.
Do you have any daily practices that ground you? 
I've kept a journal since I started architecture school. At first, it was just random notes and homework or things to do, but for a couple of years now I've been really into it. I make myself write at least 20 lines a day and keep it with me at all times.
I always make time to play with my dog, no matter how busy I am. He always makes me laugh no matter how awful things may seem. I also try to watch the sunset every day, it reminds me how small we are. I like feeling small. 
What is your beauty routine like? 
Since I moved to the island I pretty much just exfoliate, wear sunscreen and brush my eyebrows. Makeup seems like a city thing to me now. I still braid my hair every night cause that's what my grandmother used to say...I guess that's just a Mexican thing...I don't even remember what it is supposed to do. 
How has the change been moving from Guadalajara to Holbox? 
It's been tough. Guadalajara was the first place that really felt like home to me. I moved there on my own when I was 17 and left with a group of friends that feel closer to me than even my family does. It was loud and fast and there was always something new and exciting do to or someone to hang out with. Something completely different to the island. I guess I need to learn to slow down here and just go with the flow.
What are some places in Holbox we can't miss?!  
-Punta Mosquito and the adventure that it is to get there
-Sunset from the pier
-People watch at the main square
-The Hot Corner
-Punta Caliza
Thank you for being the best, getting in the pool in all of your clothes to take photos and for taking us to the hot corner, we love you! 

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