The restaurant has no walls. Palms trees and candles open up to a sand floor, an open-air bar, a series of handmade wooden tables topped with tamales and margaritas. Lights were low, to conserve electricity, casting a crimson glow on faces and through glasses of rum. There is laughter and chatter in dozens of languages in hundreds of voices that all said the same thing: we are alive. We are here. We are happy.
The aromas of spices and meat and hops are distilled by salt water and the smell of tropics. When a breeze picks up, it flutters light white curtains in make-believe windows and curls strands of hair around damp necks, providing welcome respite from the Caribbean heat.
The sand floor eases into an open beach, hammocks strung across palm trees and rustic chaise lounges sinking into the sand. A man in white linen reclines on a couch, stretched along side a dark woman in a luxuriously tight yellow dress. They shared a bottle of wine, balancing glasses between thumbs and forefingers, sharing the secrets of a look and a touch.
Beyond the reach of the restaurant smells and sounds, the ocean laps at the feet of dancers, dipping and twirling to the sounds of a salsa band propped just above the sand. Staccato trumpets and slow, sultry bongos. Voices low and passionate, songs of love and lust and nights spent dancing in the Caribbean night. The moon is almost full, an undulating reflection from each wave that slipped ashore. Small toes leave small divots in the sand as revelers revive old romances and begin new ones amidst the din of the sea and the pulse of the Latin rhythms.
After a dinner of fresh, handmade pasta and mojitos at Posada Margherita, arguably one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever been to (and not just because it sits on the beach and is decorated in a distinctly southern-Italian-countryside fashion), we headed to La Zebra for a night of salsa dancing on the beach as the moon rose to begin its journey across the sky.