I admit it. I went into a foreign land, about to immerse in a new culture on my own only knowing two words in Spanish; hello and thank you. Not pretty. And its shocking how far those two simple words can bring a person into this rather friendly universe and into a small sea of Mexican people living their lives. I got schooled on patience and graciousness as well as rudimentary Spanish.
I couldn’t count, therefore, I couldn’t make change which made the taxi into town to find breakfast ingredients a challenge. As I learned the system, I experienced over and over just how honest everyone was. Consistently, each person I encountered waiting until I understood the situation before we concluded all was well with mutual toothy grins.
I decided I would learn one word a day. I thought I could handle that. That’s something, right? Again, not pretty and not proud. I went to Mexico some days before the group was to arrive on a yoga retreat I was leading in Nayarit deep into a fishing village by the sea. The road only came in 14 years ago so the town is pretty much unscathed from corporate multinational interests, or the English language, for that matter, and associated influences.
Shortly after arriving, I dove into the ocean and proceeded to flip flop myself down the gravel path to town and sat amidst the setting sun’s golden hour of light, sipping a beverage, smiling. My first new word would be beautiful. Benita. Yes. Perfecto.
Magic happens when entering the unknown with no agenda or attachment. With curiosity and intrigue. Fiery floaty magic happens. I loved going to this village on my own to get my feet wet and just see what happens moment to moment.
There are a handful of restaurants right on the beach and they all pretty much close shop by 6pm. That’s right. Even on the weekend. One dirt road back from the beach and out come the ladies opening their stands to feed any wanders at will. Benita.
I was taken by how hard everyone works yet seem so relaxed about it all. Its a simpler place and so much is done by hand, by people who have share their craft through their lineage. Fishing. Food. Music. Art.
I was constantly falling back on my first two words, hola and gracias. There was hardly a time appropriate for me to use the next two words in my vast new vocabulary, de nada. I just wasn’t in the position to be acknowledged with an honest “your welcome” it seemed, as I was so much on the receiving end.
I will always vote for one flag and one language, some neutral and brand new symbols arranged without borders and without nationalism that separate us all. Meanwhile, back in Mexico, the more I engaged through the language barrier into the common language of a laughter, bowing, pointing and smiling, de nada’s started coming my way. But, still, would anyone actually be thankful to me, warranting “your welcome” from this position? Would I truly ever earn and honest ‘de nada’?
Another sunset may bring me closer to that level of relating.
Nothing that a hike up to the volcano rim wouldn’t address. I was met with a morning bunch of bananas LIVE. How exotic for the one born in Mexico (Mexico, Maine).
As I climbed higher, I became enamored with the twisty trees winding around themselves around themselves in the most exquisite way.
And then… I could see our secret village and the entire coast line! Died. Resurrected. Heaven. I felt elated and full~on ready for the group to arrive.
The women that I was leading on a yoga retreat were due to arrive soon and this mindfulness bell would bring us together. It points to “at~Onement” as my friend (Benita is her name 🙂 calls it. Allowing its simple sounds to unite our focus and breath to one point, to stop, pause and Be together, as one, is a sweet, wordless feeling. This bell has traveled with me for about 15 years now, all over the planet, christened first on a holistic canoe trip, where this all began. It’s infused with much love and intention since then, from the North Maine woods to the inner city of Los Angeles, from the prisons in Maine to a retreat in the jungle of Costa Rica, and from the Caribbean to Mexico.
As much as I enjoyed my solo adventure, I was equally looking forward to a rich retreat experience unfolding in very good company. Each person arrived on their own journey; Remembering how to relax, how to be comfortable in her own skin in the quiet moment, taking time to reflect, to celebrate passage into a new decade, to be with like~minded people in authentic conversation and intentional experiences, to heal, to get more out of life, to put more into Life, to make peace with life changes, how to overcome loss…
The structure of our days was pretty sweet. We’d have a silent morning and practice yoga and meditation first thing. By first thing, I mean 7:30am. At 9am we had breakfast and then everyone had the day to explore, relax, swim, experience the culture, the exotic birds, the warmth of the sun. We met again for a 5pm gentle yoga class and then enjoyed amazing food prepared by these 3 generations of women that we grew to love and appreciate. Mari would shout out, “listo!” I would echo her throughout the casa, “listo! List!” laughing out loud and to myself. People got it right away and got in line for their amaZingness.
After dinner, we met again for an evening circle as an opportunity to reflect, share and connect.
With work and home life so busy, some were not sure they remembered how to relax. They remembered.
Nature surrounded us. Sea birds everywhere singing unusual sounds to these ears.
And then there was my special friend. I wanted to hold his hand. (Not). Intense beauty.
There was more yoga as we moved up the Chakra system. Opening daily, more and more.
There was more meditation as we spring cleaned the mind.
We went on an outing up the coast into the mangroves and for highly coveted banana bread. Like ‘off the tree banana bread’.
(Side rant…I found myself getting a little fired up about the propaganda we get fed about how unsafe and broken Mexico is. To keep us from the truth? In fear? Discernment…a good tool to develop.)
These people make me laugh. Check out Richard Nixon back there.
Arturo took us to lunch on the Pacific. Toes in the warm sand. View undeniable.
I love leaning into this world we get to cohabitate in. I love meeting nature and human nature ~hand in hand, eye to eye. I love what adventure and retreats and mindfulness can do to bend the everyday perceptions into something greater and more expansive. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to witness people waking up to beauty within themselves and all around them. Benita~~~ Si.
Side note, I got to say De Nada to Mari, who gave us all massages and fed us well all week on our ‘so~long until next time adios mi amiga’ hug. Even though I thanked her a lot, she thanked me as well and I also said De Nada. Full circle.
Gracias for joining me….much love for these lovelies and all of it…