Discover the Magical Retreat
Shortly after the purchase of their Utila home Julia opened Fruit Shake Village beneath it. Neil returned on vacation from teaching in Los Angeles and was impressed by Julia's enterprising spirit. He helped expand the tiny kitchen two years later into its present form. The house itself was raised a foot to relieve the customers from constant head-banging on the beams, and the seven large windows were opened. Neil caught the building bug which he says bites harder each year.
1998 saw the rise of the Treetanic bar, conceived merely as a large "crows nest" the Treetanic was enlarged into the bow of a ship, caught in the three great mango trees standing high over the front yard.
The JadeSeahorse was decorated continuously by Neil's flea market purchases in L.A. and from objects Neil and Julia returned with from trips through Honduras and Guatemala. The "Jade" of JadeSeahorse refers to the fabulous Mayan stone so deeply revered by ancient and modern native peoples of Central America. The Seahorse, equally fascinating and unique, was Neil's obsession for years before coming to Utila, and the marriage of the two distinctly independent yet alluring forms of nature reflect the union of Neil and Julia themselves, attractive opposites whose bond remains as firm as their original vision of JadeSeahorse.
Over the years Julia increased the reputation of the restaurant by adding exotic recipes to the menu, and she raised the girls Tempy and Juneil while her husband was suffering among the L.A school children.
Construction and landscaping began immediately upon Neil's arrival each vacation including spring and winter breaks, and abruptly ceased with his departure, but the business of pursuing the lempira never ends on Utila, and at times Julia let it be known that this separation was more effort than she could support, so in 2000 Neil responded to a life-threatening demand and happily resigned from teaching to work at the creation of Nightland.
Walking through the JadeSeahorse gate feels like climbing onto the shore of an island within Utila. The architecture and landscaping relates a history of experiments whose purpose seems to add up to no more or less than to call attention to itself. The adult visitors can occasionally resist the urge to run about yelling and pointing...and this is what the "about us" is about, our ongoing work to attract the unsuspecting tourist to our amazing little island of Utila.