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Oaxaca, a Transformational Journey

The Adventure

Come with us on a journey to Oaxaca, a journey of inner and outer exploration, to work with local healers and to enjoy the art, landscapes, and culture of a vibrant land.

This trip is for people who are ready to empower themselves to transform their old patterns of thought and behavior by engaging in a fabulous adventure outside their familiar comfort zone, experiencing the power of opening to new experiences in a place of great beauty, facilitated by a community of support, learning from healers who work with spirit and energy in an ancient tradition.

Are you ready for an adventure that will offer you an immersion into an indigenous culture filled with art, vibrancy, and a deep connection to the unseen world? If you are drawn to learn from the healing wisdom of the ancient practices of a people deeply connected to nature, this trip is for you.  And best of all, this journey will be shared with a supportive community of fellow travelers enjoying stunning natural landscapes.

If you are looking for a journey that takes you off the beaten path, going to places that tourists can’t go; a journey that offers you the chance to explore a peaceful exotic land renowned for its color, cuisine, artisanship, and history; a journey that provides you a unique opportunity to enjoy rituals and ceremonies in a remote natural setting that will stir your spirit and awaken your own intuition and inner knowing, guided by the skill and ancient wisdom of indigenous healers– then join us for this transformational retreat. 

If you are longing for an adventure that will touch you deeply, that is truly unique and memorable, that is full of one-of-a-kind experiences that will delight your senses and feed your soul, that will remind you of just how rich and wonderful life, your life, can be, then this trip is for you!

We will travel together in our own van, with a driver and translator. We will stay in lovely places and have the best food.  We will be gifted with carefully chosen outings, mostly outdoors and safe.  We will be comfortable as we experience out of the ordinary opportunities that delight the senses and set our imaginations free, learning firsthand how other people live and relishing the beauty and artistry that abounds.

What to Expect

Imagine waking up in the center of a World Heritage City. Bougainvillea drooping over stone walls built in colonial days, the cathedral rising from the cobblestone plaza, the streets full of vendors hawking their wares and people everywhere celebrating the Day of the Dead

Painted faces will parade along the festive pedestrian only streets.  Flowers, altars, music, dance, food, and art abound as people celebrate their most important holiday with the outrageous expressiveness of Oaxacan culture.

Visiting the market to buy flowers and supplies for our own private Day of the Dead altar will be a window into another world, full of color and energy.  Conjure up an image of celebrating this meaningful time of the year in the traditional way, learning the meaning and import of the color, beauty and activities, and deepening into the flavor of the festival at a beautiful private home and ritual center with a local healer and ceremonial leader. 

Picture the artisan villages in the valley outside the city, where we will be welcomed into the homes of craftsman and treated like family, based on the years of relationship building by our local guide and leader.  Having an insider view into the lives of artists and invitations to go behind the scenes to witness the weaving, candle-making, pottery crafting, alebrije carving and more will enhance our experience and give whatever art we buy true meaning as we will enjoy real relationships with the artists. 

We have visited the studio of renowned artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles and sat at their feet to hear the story of the past 30 years and the transformation of their village by the resurrection of the art and craftsmanship of the alebrijes, the beautiful painted animals that Oaxaca is known for.  We witnessed the process of choosing the wood, the carving of the animal out of the twisted limbs of copal, the mixing of paints from natural dies, and the combination of teaching, training, and community work that the studio represents.  Standing in awe of some of the commissioned works of art that value thousands of dollars, we could also browse the more affordable treasures that will grace our home with beauty and memories.

 A day trip into the mountains of the Mixtec people, in the comfort of our private van, will bring us to the villages Acomunado, cooperatively run villages where the people band together, outside of the federal system of government to create businesses and a volunteer system where everyone spends some time in service to the community.  The community run eco-tour company creates trails and experiences for tourists and trains guides.  Personal relationships will serve us as we explore the area and meet with a local healer for a botanical walk identifying the local herbs and medicinal plants that abound in the region. 

Hearing stories of life in an indigenous village will enhance our own understanding of how much of our patterning is a result of our own culture.  Standing on the hillsides alive with wild flowers, seeing what is possible when people work together for the common good, witnessing the simplicity of rural life and the agrarian life style, recognizing the wisdom that arises from closeness to nature, learning the healing properties of plant allies that grow nearby, all this will bring a fresh perspective that we can take home to help inform our choices.

We will travel in the comfort of our own van, with our own private driver, accompanied by a translator and guide. 

When we leave the environs of Oaxaca City, we’ll go up into the mountains to spend a night in cabins perched on the slopes, looking at the view extending south beyond the mountain ranges of the Sierra Sur to the Pacific Ocean. High up in the pine trees we will look out upon the expanse of undeveloped terrain to the sea. What a magnificent view!

We will dine together in a mountain top restaurant and experience the home-grown food and fine seasoning that makes Oaxaca so special.  Winding down the mountain side the next day, we pass through the various ecological zones and changing botanical landscapes.  The end of the rainy season will have left the forests and jungle green and lush and we can appreciate the variety of habitats and diversity of plants.

This day will be our longest drive and we will all be together giggling in our van as we enjoy snacks and camaraderie, making our way around the curves, enjoying the scenery and experiencing the expanse of land and the remoteness of the region.  Oaxaca!!!

The long drive, the endless dirt road, the seemingly impossible route, all this means that our destination is private and unavailable to anyone except those who join our trips. 

Imagine arriving at a hacienda in the jungle, huge trees shadowing the rivers and streams, clear clean water rushing over waterfalls into boulder defined pools filled with delicious clear aqua water, perfect for swimming, orchids and bromeliads lighting the homestead with color.  We are at home. 

We will be welcomed by the family who will do everything to make us comfortable in their converted plantation home, serving indescribably delicious and bountiful meals on an open-air patio where we can look out at the jungle and relish the sound of birds. we can relax in the hammocks, sit in circle and share, and explore the acres of our private retreat center in between sessions led by Elizabeth, our hostess, who is a gifted curandera and energy worker.

More than any experienced retreat leader, beyond the work of any transformational coach or trained ceremonialist, Elizabeth draws on her Zapotec heritage and all the knowledge and skill that has been handed down from ancient times, that allows her to create experiences for us in this amazing natural setting, which will be unforgettable and deeply transformational. 

She can answer questions drawing on her connection to spirit.  She will give us each a private reading  and will design treatment recipes using herbs, baths, colors, practices, and food choices which we will each take home that will assist us in releasing what doesn’t serve us and opening to more joy.  Our time with Elizabeth will be a time out of time, we will deepen in our awareness of the unseen and grow to understand what is possible and how to connect with our own inner knowing which can lead us forward in our lives.

One of the wonderful things we will do together is to visit Elizabeth’s service project in the nearby village where she established a community center, an after school enhancement center for children, and a library. We will be bringing books and arts and crafts materials to donate and we can see service in action.

This will be a time of great learning and powerful experience, and then we will go to the beach to relax and integrate.

Oaxaca is known for its Pacific Ocean beaches.  We will enhance our journey with a 3-night stay at a small fishing town on one of the most beautiful beaches of the world.  Imagine thatched roofs and hammocks, an ice-cold beer, ceviche, the surf pounding in the background.  Feel the pleasure of the sand between your toes as you walk down the beach to peruse the offerings of the locally owned boutique restaurants that line the street at the edge of the broad beach.  Smell the grilled fish and fine seasonings used by the eclectic chefs who come to delight us. We will have time to integrate everything that has gone before and to take in the sensual delights of a tropical paradise.

Before breakfast one morning we will join a local captain and a naturalist and take off through the waves to explore the waters and the teeming life.  Sea birds circle overhead and whiten the rocks offshore as they nest.  Turtles float on the surface and dive deep.  Once hunted, they are now protected and are often seen, their huge gentleness reminding us of how diverse life is.  Schools of dolphins live in these waters and we have been able to swim with these playful animals as the boat pauses and we jump overboard into the warm waters.  What a thrill!  We have seen whales, rays, and all manner of life.  Riding the waves on the ponga is a delight and a not to be missed experience, unless you tend to get seasick! 

There will be another boating experience- a quiet row through a protected lagoon, home to iguanas, turtles, alligators (or are they crocodiles?) and so many birds.  For the naturalist, this is an epic experience.

There will be other “brochure” experiences while at the beach- things to explore and things to see.  And there will be time for doing nothing.  We will incorporate circle time to help us integrate and to share deeply as our journey winds down and we want to distill the precious jewels that we will be taking with us. 

We will have one last powerful ritual which is the temezcal, or Mexican sweat lodge.  It combines a cacao ceremony and the use of honey and teas along with heat, fire, water, and sweat in a dark womblike cave where we sit together and pray, sing, and speak to the ancient ones.  It is incredibly moving and powerful and is a fabulous end to our journey of inner and outer exploration.

Who you will be with

The people who are drawn to this type of experience will be the people that you want to share it with.  Self- selected, we will come together with intention and willingness.  Everyone brings their best attitude to endure the uncertainties of travel while relishing the sense of accomplishment that any journey into the unknown will create.  Our journey will be safe, supported, and well designed and we will have time together in a group and time on our own to integrate.  Guided circles to explore questions will help bring you to answers as we listen to each other and take in the support and wisdom that is naturally present in these groups. This will be a small group and will become a strong container to hold our dreams, challenges, and hopes as we open to the mystery and magic that we will find in Oaxaca.

Does this sound like what you need right now? 

• Are you ready to feel more alive?

• Do you love travel, new places, great food, and lots of variety?

• Do you want to learn, grow, and change?

• Are you looking for clarity? Insight? Support?

• Are you going through a transition or facing a challenge and want to feel empowered?

• Are ready for time away, out of your routine, doing something very different which can give you a totally new perspective?

• Do you relish new experiences?

• Are you comfortable going far off the beaten track?

• Do you want to trust your intuition more and develop your sensitivity and awareness?

• Does being in beautiful natural surroundings inspire you?

• Are you open to things you don’t understand but can feel are right for you?

• Are you willing to trust?

• Do you want to make a contribution to an important service project, just by participating on this trip?

• Are you open to rituals in nature, to cold baths in wild rivers and feeling your feet on the bare earth of the forest floor?

• Do you have a wild side that would love to emerge, does howling at the moon on a dark jungle night sound compelling?

• Have you been wanting to work with a shaman or an indigenous healer or medicine person?

• Do you want a journey that will give you something more than just a vacation, more than a trek, more than cultural tourism, something truly transformational?

• Are you ready for a journey of exploration, taking you to places where no tourists go, a true adventure!

What you can expect to gain

A journey like this is an investment in yourself!  Take the time to fill up!  Feed your spirit!  You are going to have time with incredible people doing things that will create magical memories!  It will be priceless and will stand out as one of the things you are most grateful that you did for yourself!

You are going to laugh and play like a child.  You are going to remember how to have fun.  You are going to rest in a hammock and watch the birds and the beautiful flowers. You are going to make good friends.  You are going to accept who you are and let the stress of your day-to-day life wash away.

You are going to learn about traditional medicine in the Zapotec tradition.  You are going to be exposed to botanical medicine and to all kinds of natural wonders.  You are going to experience rituals that you will want to incorporate into your daily life.  You will have a session with a powerful healer and have a prescription for your healing journey.

The unseen world and unexpected allies will become more available to you.  You will get a new perspective on how to protect yourself energetically.  The focus will be on enhancing the light that you carry within, and being able to offer more light to the world.  You will go home ready to make more of a difference!

You are going to develop wonderful relationships with your fellow travelers and the people we meet.  What a great thing to be in a community of support and to learn how to create and sustain something so powerful!

You are going to connect with Elizabeth’s service project in her local community and see how you can contribute to her work at enhancing the lives of children who live in a small, rural, poor village.

Mostly though, you are going to know yourself in a deeper way.  You are going to be inspired to incorporate more of who you are and of what you want.  You are going to be empowered to say yes to the life you want to create and the person you want to be.

The venues

Our first four nights will be spent at the Hotel Un Sueno Valle de Huajes, a beautiful venue in the center of the colonial city, convenient to so many attractions and the festival of Day of the Dead.  https://www.facebook.com/unsuenovalledehuajes

We will travel through the mountains and spend one night in San Jose del Pacifico, in the cabins of Puesta Del Sol. https://sanjosedelpacifico.com/

One highlight of our journey will be our stay at the coffee plantation home of El Mamey.  This is a private home and not a hotel and we will stay en famille, enjoying the superb hospitality of the family and the beauty of the surrounding jungle.

We will travel to San Agustinillo on the Pacific coast and stay at Un Sueño or a nearby comparable hotel.  https://www.unsueno.com/

The cuisine

Food is powerful medicine and in Oaxaca we will be filled with wellbeing!

The restaurants of Oaxaca City delight with local specialties like the chocolate and chile fabulousness of molé and a vast diversity of offerings.  The food of Oaxaca is superb.  Our meals together will be highlights and we will have some time to explore and enjoy on our own.

We will be introduced to botanical medicine and herbal support and experience the wonder of herbs and medicine growing wild in the natural world.

On the coast we will have a chance to enjoy the freshest seafood and food with an international flavor as our small coastal town has boutique restaurants with chefs from all over.

At the plantation, Elizabeth will speak to us of the power of food, of color, of our choices. She will design recipes for each of us, depending on what she sees as our constitution and needs.  We can take her suggestions home with us to implement a powerful course of healing for ourselves.  She also makes recommendations for baths, teas, and practices which will help bring us into more balance.  The food prepared for us at the plantation will be infused with love and fresh goodness.  We will have a chance to join our hosts in the hacienda kitchen, help prepare a meal and learn some secrets of Oaxacan cuisine.

Vegetarians and special diets can be accommodated, so let us know your needs.

The opportunities

This journey is a carefully curated collection of experiences designed to delight the senses, expose us to new experiences and ways of living, and to empower us to deepen our awareness of our own inner process- the things that are holding us back, the dreams we want to move toward, the steps we need to take.

Traveling like this, together in a supportive group, in the comfort of our own van with a driver, translator and guide, being exposed to a different way of life in a distinct culture, meeting people and hearing stories, participating in rituals and ceremonies that open us to transformation, playing like children in the natural world…. well, you can’t beat it.

And of course, things happen, it is an adventure. Sometimes roads become impassable to our van, we adapt.

The opportunities of the journey emerge because these are not the “brochure” tourist experiences that anyone can find at any agency or hotel.  These offerings are based on long term relationships and a commitment to the process of transformation and healing in the indigenous tradition, spiced with cultural tourism and flavored with natural beauty, great venues, delicious food, deep sharing in circle, great company, and lots of laughter.

Our signature experience will be our circles of sharing where we will have a chance to enrich our perspective with the wisdom of the group.  Developing a circle of support and shared intention will lead to lasting long-term relationships and to an enhanced trip with benefits far beyond any ordinary vacation.

Oaxaca is absolutely full of magnificent opportunities for cultural tourism with its art, beauty, and history.  We will incorporate the best of the best but will just be whetting your appetite for the region.  There is much to see and do!

The Day of the Dead is a festival like no other and a chance to experience it in Oaxaca City is a dream come true!  The festival will be everywhere and will infuse our time together with a sense of celebration, spirit, and vibrancy.  This festival recognizes the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thin and it is easier to access the unseen world.  This time is celebrated in many cultures but never as fully as in Mexico where it is the most important festival of the year.

The rituals and ceremonies we incorporate will add meaning and depth to our journey.  Don’t be put off if you are not a “spiritual” person.  These will be times to gather intentionally and to deepen into the moment.  In the calm that emerges we can gain insight.  In the expression that emerges we can move through resistance.  In the connection that develops we can foster a relationship with the unknown and with our own inner wisdom, facilities that will serve us because we can all use more support.  In this tradition, spirit loves play, so everything we do will be infused with joy and laughter and will help us break free of restraint to be more of who we truly are.

The theme of indigenous wisdom will show itself in the chosen experiences as we will have a chance to hear the stories and share the lives of the artisans, healers and service providers that we will meet.  This will be a journey that creates and deepens relationships.

Our excursions into the natural world including our botanical walk, our ocean voyage, our lagoon exploration and the tour of the plantation will be informative and inspiring. There will be ample opportunities for nature observation.

The best aspect of this trip will be the flow.  It will be full and busy but will provide time for you to integrate.  Everything will be handled and you just have to show up and be ready and willing to enjoy and be present.  One luscious event after another will leave you amazed and delighted. We will travel in comfort and feel safe, supported, and secure, knowing that are needs will be considered and met.

We all have our edge and our challenges.  We all face physical imbalances and also have room for emotional and spiritual growth.  We all seek transformation as the world is calling us to be more, to have more capacity.  We all want to develop our inner light so that we can shine brighter for others. We want to serve. 

This journey will give us a chance to hold space for each other, to witness and support, and will provide us a sacred space that is so rare, where we can really deepen into our inner work, while enjoying a rich and full trip.

Elizabeth will provide a unique opportunity for healing as she is so tapped into spirit, working with her candles in her thatched temple with a dirt floor. A highly sophisticated woman, she has a deep Zapotec heritage as well as a European sensibility. We will be so blessed to receive what she offers as she will work one on one with each of us in a gentle but profound way and will work with us as a group, offering experiences that are simply indescribably wonderful.

We will have an opportunity to visit and support the community center that Elizabeth created and supports in the nearby village of Xadani, offering after school programs for children, a library, and a meeting place. We can bring books and art supplies and see what a difference this program makes in the lives of children living in an isolated location.

What’s included

The fee includes all hotels, transportation, guide fees, entrance fees, tour fees and many meals.  We have you covered!  This trip is designed so that you don’t have to worry about the details.

What’s not included

You provide your own airfare, tips, and some meals including dinners out in Oaxaca City and on the beach.  And of course, you will want to budge for shopping!  Budget a lot of shopping!

Flights

We will fly into Oaxaca City, OAX and out of Huatulco, HUX, as this will be a one-way journey by van from the city to the coast.  You can purchase a multicity flight or two one-way flights, which sometimes is more economical

Your Hosts:

Maria Cook, LAc, EAMP

An acupuncturists and energy worker, she is a long time retreat leader, facilitator and adventure lover. She is delighted to facilitate the circles of sharing and to share her humor in a way which keeps everything fun. She first came to Oaxaca in the 70s and spent a year there. She was thrilled to come back in 2015 to explore the same region in a new way. She has been bringing groups to enjoy the delights of the state ever since. Reach out to her by text, 206 842-7706, with any questions about the trip or any concerns that you may have.

Claudia Shurr and Yves Chavan, Tierraventura and Tierrasagrada, retreats, tours, and workshops

We founded Tierraventura in 1999, to take people to places they wouldn’t see in the course of an ordinary vacation – places we consider to be the “real” Mexico. 

My passion and love is traditional medicine.  We work with shamans and healers in many different locations in Oaxaca and organize workshops on this fascinating subject.

Last year, 2019, we opened Tierrasagrada …..it feels like our evolution from adventure to sacred.

And the land of Oaxaca is truly sacred, it always fascinated me how the indigenous communities were still so connected to their land.

It is not only the use of healing plants, it is this deep connection with the elements, with spirit….

And this is our main subject at Tierrasagrada, to reconnect people with nature, spirit, the elements of earth, water, wind and fire.

Lorena Villanueva López

My grandmother was a curandera (a traditional healer) in the village of Villa de Etla, close to Oaxaca city. As a little girl I learned some of her healing arts but I never thought that one day I would follow her footsteps.

I studied law to be a lawyer and ended up specialized in human rights, I wanted to help people….My first job brought me to many indigenous communities, as you may know Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in the country with one of the highest percentage of Indigenous population.

It was there where I remembered my ancestral heritage, curanderismo, the ancient art of healing is still very much alive in the villages of Oaxaca.

So I realized that was my calling and I started to reconnect with my ancient knowledge.

Since more than 20 years I give my service as a holistic therapist (a curandera) working with body and spirit giving massages, ritual cleansings and workshops.

Elizabeth Mattern

Elizabeth is a very private person and a powerful healer and curandera. She will share her story and her wisdom with the participants of this journey. Her ancestral home is our ultimate destination and being in her presence will be a peak experience.

Here what people say:

•When I accepted the invitation to join Maria on a small tour to the state of Oaxaca to meet and work with a shaman, deep in the jungle, I had no idea what was in store.  I only knew that having been Maria’s neighbor and friend for some time, I could trust her and that we’d have some kind of great adventure.  The trip exceeded my expectations!  Having endured a tough year at home, I arrived in Huatulco, seeking some kind of healing and respite from my life.  Over the course of eight days, there was ample time to rest and relax, explore the jungle on foot, swim, enjoy delicious meals, most of which were beautifully presented by our coffee plantation hosts, the family of Elizabeth, the shaman who lives nearby.  After time spent in ritual and ceremony both individually and as a group with Elizabeth, we parted for the west coast, where we enjoyed three days of relaxation and exploration (and more delicious food, a visit to a crocodile sanctuary and a natural cosmetics factory and swimming with sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean, among our activities).  The entire trip, I felt safe, nurtured, protected, awed, and deeply healed.  And I had a damn good hoot of a time!  The trip was an amazing bargain, given all we did.  And most importantly, we formed an intimate tribe of women who continue to support, encourage, and enjoy each other, so much that we’re having a reunion in May.  Thanks, Maria for an experience of a lifetime.  I can’t wait to do it again. ~Alisa M

•Are you interested in alternative medicine? Maria, along with in-country guide Claudia Shurr, led a one-of-a-kind trip to Oaxaca, Mexico earlier this month. We learned from at least 6 indigenous healers while exploring Oaxaca City, an ancient ruin, the mountains, jungle and beach. We had personal invitations to watch local craft people who whose villages had been engaged in weaving or candle making or carving for generations. The food was amazing, the ceremonies rich and unforgettable and the other travelers in our small group my new friends! Take a trip with Maria and you’ll come back enriched! ~ Theresa T

I knew I had signed up for an adventure to Oaxaca with Maria but I couldn’t have imagined how magical the adventure would be.  Maria’s skill as a facilitator- her warmth, humor, and easy going nature ensured that everyone’s needs were met.  This trip was healing, transformative, and helped me access what I need most to thrive.  the group of women with whom we traveled was truly phenomenal.  Our cohesiveness as a group is a testament to Maria as a healer in every sense of the word.    ~Melissa S

•What a beautiful experience! Thank you Maria for offering this amazing trip to a land of magic and the opportunity to connect with other like minded women (and men) and our ancestors.  I’m forever grateful! ~Monica Q

•Our journey to Oaxaca was filled with meaningful experiences I could not have imagined before going. The healing practices were profound and I was moved in ways I had not anticipated.  Under Maria’s stewardship we were guided through incredible experiences that were both deeply moving as well as joyful and supportive.  A trip with Maria is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful I was able to go! ~Meghan G

•This trip is worth every penny and more.  It is the most unique trip I’ve ever taken and I’m 73 years old and have, essentially, traveled the world in various ways: backpacking, taking students on trips, homestays in Nicaragua, and even cruises!  I would highly recommend this trip to anybody who wants a deep and meaningful adventure and experience.  Susan K

•The trip was wonderful, possibly life-changing.  Only time will tell.  But I do feel like I am back in Seattle with a very different attitude, more open and welcoming, and I already have received responses from others I wasn’t expecting in my recent interactions. ~Joe M

•The introduction to Mexican culture was something I never dreamed of.   The landscape, the richness, the power of the people will forever be with me.  Maria, this was truly an amazing, beautiful, deep and wonderful trip.  The experiences and new learnings will be with us forever.  Thank you for your enthusiasm, your positive spirit and for putting it all together. ~Jennifer W

•This two week tour, beginning in Oaxaca City, was an extraordinary combination of traveling in rural areas in this beautiful part of Mexico, visiting sacred sites and meeting with practitioners of traditional medicine. Not only did we witness the healers in action, but we participated in cleansing rituals and had individual sessions addressing our own spiritual needs. It was a life changing experience and incredibly powerful. The tour concluded with sight seeing and relaxing on the coast for a couple of days. I highly recommend traveling with Tierraventura. The trip was well organized with comfortable accommodations and outstanding food. Claudia was a wonderful guide and extremely knowledgeable.  I loved this trip and truly feel that I was called to be part of it. ~Maggie B

•Loved the journey. Everything was great! Loved circles! Good support and loving leadership. Enriching deepening experience of lifetime! ~Rose W

•I hardly have the words to describe this most unique trip organized by Maria Cook.  My testimony is reinforced with the fact that I went with her on her January 2016 trip and loved it so much that I signed up for this trip which was a shortened version, only going to the Mamay coffee plantation in the jungle and the beach at Agustanillo.

This trip, like the other one, was particularly wonderful, unlike any kind of “tour”.  We were asked to go beyond our comfort zones to participate in rituals with our personal “curandera”, Elizabeth, at the beautiful coffee plantation.  We were always reminded that we were “safe”.   

The first one was “water cleansing”, in which we were subjected to many washings over our heads with cold water which made most of us cry and yelp.  Somehow, the magic worked in the feeling of being cleansed, not only physically but spiritually!  

Other rituals were the burials in mud (earth ritual), and the fire ceremony where we emptied our maladies into the fire and brought forth renewed strength. We had personal consultations with Elizabeth who gave us prescriptions for continued spiritual health after we returned home.   

Interspersed between were wonderful sharing circles led by Maria where we were able to release to the group our inner experience and concerns.  We sang beautiful songs.  This caused us to become closer and closer as a group and love each other in more and more deeper ways.  

Besides the serious rituals and sharings, we had incredible fun!   It was my 75th birthday and they gave me a surprise pinata party (organized, of course, by Maria!), with the pinata filled with affirmations!   Maria’s unique and creative sense of humor always made us laugh.  We had delicious meals with wine at dinner and shared poetry.  We went on personal expeditions in the rain in the jungle.  We went in groups to the swimming hole in the river and gloried in the cold, clear, and clean water, diving into the surging water from the water fall.  What a joyous, deep and shared experience!

Then, off to the beach at San Agustanillo!  We stayed in cabanas with comfortable beds and bathrooms right on the beach where we could frolick in the surf.  We had delicious breakfasts at the outdoor bar next to the cabanas.  Sumptuous dinners were in other restaurants in the tiny town.  We had expeditions  in boats out in the ocean where we saw turtles mating and were able to dive in ourselves!  Next door was  the ecological reserve of La Ventanilla, where crocodiles, birds, iguanas, and many other animals are protected.  The trip there was led by Sergio, a very informed native Mexican dedicated to the environmental work there.  So inspirational!

At a nearby town, we attended a “temezcal” ceremony.  Our wonderful guide, Claudia, said it was the best she had ever attended!  We honored the 4 directions in preparation to enter the temezcal, and in the temezcal we chanted and honored earth, water, fire and air.  After each one, the door was opened and we were able to relax, rub our bodies with cacao, drink tea, etc. When we finally got out, we were rinsed and felt totally cleansed and for the first time at the beach a little chilly!

The trip was fantastic in all ways.  We left Mexico with many new and intimate friends and a whole list of resolves to better ourselves spiritually.  We were more than grateful for our wonderful guides in Mexico: Claudia and Yves, and our personal leader, the one and only Maria!!!

Thank you Claudia, Yves, Elizabeth, and Maria!  And thank you to my new friends! ~Susan K