Meet Gilad, He Sells Muffins

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 It all happened in Puerto Escondido, a small bustling Mexican coastal town, frequented by in-the-know travellers, Europeans, North Americans and surfers. 

One night not more than four years ago, three friends, part-time Puerto residents, after having a lavish Mexican dinner at a local restaurant, replete with copious bottles of beer (and in one gent’s case, the better part of a bottle of the local specialty, Mescal), while satiated and happily heading back to their seaside condos - a voice pops out of the dark startling three grown men…“wanna buy my muffins?”

Meet Gilad, the little muffin entrepreneur.  He’s been in business for some time now, selling his muffins on the street, on the beach, in bars, wherever folks gather.

I came across the now thirteen year old Gilad three years ago at the Villa Carrizalillo Sunset Bar. While enjoying one of Ricardo’s famous margaritas and viewing the amazing sunset that only Puerto can provide, in walks Gilad: “wanna buy my muffins?

What struck me about this little native Mexican tyke was his flawless English and his marketing prowess. This canny little man displayed a nose for profit in this competitive world of high-finance commerce. You see, the price of his pack of assorted muffins was 45 pesos. Most of us at the Sunset Bar, and I’m sure the rest of his other customers, would pay him with a handy 50 peso note…Gilad would always never have the 5 peso change for the 50. 

There it is folks - an instant 5 peso profit. I took an instant liking to this muffin tycoon.

Now, in 2012, back in Puerto Escondido, I decided to look for the lad.  I needed to know more about this industrious muffin micro-salesman. Friends here told me he lives out by Roca Blanca, a small beach enclave 50 or so kilometers north of Puerto, so I ventured to Roca Blanca, where Gilad lives with his family.

And here’s where a most interesting story begins. 

As I approached his humble roadside abode, typical of most native Mexican families, Gilad alighted, followed by his father and five siblings. I introduced myself to his father, Ernesto, in my fractured Spanish. He replied in perfect English to my great surprise. He went on to introduce his family; daughters Shamaim and Monica-Liat, sons Yuval, Lior and little Ashkan-Exnal. 

And where was mother, also a Monica? Inside baking muffins.

I proceeded to start my research. Gilad was about to celebrate his 13th birthday. He’s still diligently at work, with an even greater variety of muffins to offer…and now with a legitimate price tag of 50 pesos for his baked goods, which now include croissants and custard filled pastries. An additional sales person has been added to the sales team, older sister Shamaim, now fifteen and also fluent in English.

Father Ernesto was abandoned as a newborn and eventually adopted and raised by a family of World-War II holocaust survivors who eventually settled in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  Hence Ernesto’s perfect English and German.

As a young man, he travelled the US and Europe as an itinerant musician, eventually abandoning his music in Switzerland to work for the Nestle corporation. He worked there for five years and during that time took a baking course. 

I asked him why he ended up in Mexico since he was raised elsewhere? He replied that he wanted to get back to his roots. So, here he is, Ernesto Lopez, back in his native land, with Mexican born wife Monica, and his six children. English is spoken in the home so his children will be perfectly bi-lingual.

The baking enterprise provides income to fund the completion of the family’s surf-side restaurant. His property stretches from the road all the way down to that great Roca Blanca beach. He augments his baking income by teaching English and German.

Ernesto loads up his car every day with an inventory of his freshly baked goods. With his sales team of Gilad and Shamaim, he drives to the fertile muffin selling grounds in and around Puerto Escondido. (If you’d like to rendezvous with the mobile muffin team to arrange home delivery, contact Ernesto at: shamaim_massawa@yahoo.com)

So, if you’re ever in pretty Puerto Escondido, on the beach, on the street, at the Sunset bar at the Villa Carrizalillo or walking to or from any of the fabulous Puerto Escondido restaurants, you may hear the question I’ve come to respect and admire, “wanna buy my muffins?”

For family album, click here.

PS: My fee for writing and photographing this article has been paid to Gilad to be used toward his education


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