We met up with Perlman and Rodrigo Hernandez later that evening for the grand opening of Hernandez’s newest restaurant, Aldea Corazón (“village of the heart”). The restaurant looks like many others on Fifth Avenue: crowded with Europeans and sun-kissed tourists, but once I walked through to the back of the restaurant, it opened up to a sacred Mayan garden. This grand opening did not revolve around food or drinks. Rather, it was a spiritual time for the restaurant and its owner. On the street were Mayans dressed in traditional attire performing a dance of thanks. Once this part of the ceremony was complete, we walked into the garden. There, Oscar Bolivar, a peaceful soul who is studying to become a shaman, performed a ceremony by the cenote — a fresh-water sink hole surrounded by limestone that Mayans considered to be sacred. He later translated the ceremony, telling me that he was asking the spirits for forgiveness for not keeping the cenote sacred all these years. He also informed me that it had taken over a year to clean up this area that once was a Mayan temple. He was very happy that the water in the cenote had come back, although it was not yet the pristine color that it once was many years ago. Bolivar was pleased that the fire that had been burning all day had stayed light despite the afternoon downpour — meaning the spirits are present and that they have forgiven the people.
After this truly moving experience, Michael and I headed over to Da GiGi Ristorante on Fifth Avenue for what the locals consider to be the best Italian food in Mexico. We received a warm welcome by owners Nadia and Philippe. Their restaurant is located on Fifth Avenue at the end the tourist strip and at the beginning of Little Italy, where more than 500 Italians have migrated. Under the guidance of chef Johnny Fontanili, we were served the most amazing Italian dishes I had ever consumed. Feasting on homemade pasta made with the freshest ingredients, Michael and I enjoyed a romantic dinner.