10 years ago, just about as i write this we opened our doors for the first time, with quiet but great anticipation, humbled, tired, happy.

The contractors were asked to leave two days prior so that we can put in two days of good cleaning before we allowed guests to join us. The day of the “end” of construction was not when when ile de pain would be “finished” but rather: “can we lock the doors, do we have water, do we have power” determined the “start” of ile de pain. We are still “building”, a decade later.

Thesen Island was in full construction. Rubbel, dust, debris from demolition covered the area. A dirt road allowed heavy trucks to “race for time” in the building effort. The sales center stood out like a holiday home in a battle field. The old Oyster company was the only existing business around besides the business of re-building Thesen Islands. The old, mostly deconstructed or broken down buildings which now is The Boatshed, The Parking Shed, The Dry Mill looked nothing like they are today – almost unbelievable is the creativity, the vision, the tenaciousness to make all this happen. At the end it is always people and their capacity that can only make these things happen. It is not force, it is not luck alone, and it is certainly not money that creates such perpetual beauty and amazement. Money receives value via the creativity and focus of enlightened individuals. Money would be laughed at was it not for these amazing humans.

Back to Day 1. We had a big oven, a credenza to display everything else that did not fit on the bread rack. We had a few refinished tables, that the workers used during their lunch hour, who built the boats in the same building years earlier. At 7 am we were ready. We did no advertising, nothing but focus on making bread, cleaning, is the tiny most simplistic kitchen en-place for the first guests. Size clearly did not matter.

By 8 am no-one had arrived. Was it the dust? Was it the ‘remoteness’ of Thesen Island? Was it the noise? Do people even know that they are allowed to drive onto Thesen Islands? Was it the fact that we did not want to advertise our appearance? We did not ask questions then. “Get baskets and fill them with bread, we are marching into town”, was the order. “If the town does not come to us, we will come to the town”, was the happy muttering as we packed the few companios and baguettes that we had. Two types of bread.

As we are about to march out the door two men arrive. They had parked the car just beyond and walked over a heap of rubble straight to the building. A “German” and an “Italian”. They had heard that “their” bread was available here. With smiling faces and few words and a few loaves under their arms they disappeared over the rubble while other guests started to come through the doors…

We never had to march. But the intention was enough…With love and gratitude to this wonderful place we live in, this beautiful and creative person Liezie, to her family, to my family, to all the people who helped us make this happen, to our co-workers whose daily effort makes everything possible, to all the good people who bring us the best that nature shares each day through the back-door so that we can engage in the most beautiful act of nurturing ourselves and as a result all of our guests who come daily (some of them more than once), weekly, holi-daily, or just once. These “guests”, the extension of our family, are the ones who make the choice to be good to themselves and entrust us their moments in time and the responsibility to feed them with beauty, health, and happiness. It is our privilege.

With deep reverence and utmost gratitude to all that is. M

“gloria in excelsis deo”

- to my mother and father, my sisters and brothers.