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An Experience of Oaxaca

We started our adventure somewhat late as we were waiting for friends to join us but, unfortunately, they did not come.

To make up time, we drove a good part of the way. Since we had friends who were joining us for the first time, before starting off, we gathered together to explain the way we approached Nature and the principles of a walk of attention. We began by following a path through a forest, which at this time of year was very green. We enjoyed the shade and the exquisite smells of the forest that invited us to walk on and thus we arrived at a gate marked by a huge boulder. Here we rested, shared our experience of the walk and made our offering so as to pass through the gate.

Some time later, we realized that if we followed the main path we would be making a big detour. We decided to take a shortcut through the forest. The difficulty increased as well as the smells and the feeling of the unknown. Quantities of flowers appeared and our walk became extremely exciting and pleasant. Along the way, we started to see large spider's webs and colourful spiders. At one point, we arrived at a place full of spider's webs so we looked for alternative ways to proceed. In this manner, we arrived at another gate also marked by a huge boulder and a magnificent tree that seemed to accommodate all kinds of plants. A cactus grew on its trunk! After enjoying this magical place and making our offering, we continued our walk.

We were looking for cliffs. Looking from down we can easily locate them but once we were above there it was another story. We explored around for a while and then as we continued to walk we found them.

Some of our friends had brought abseiling equipment and we considered the possibility of descending via the cliffs. Taking the necessary precautions, some of us went close to the edge of the precipice and sat on a boulder to observe the view while others prepared the equipment and the system of anchorage. Not too far from where we were, dense clouds were bringing rain in the valley while we were enjoying the sunshine. This spectacle was strange yet fascinating.

When all was ready, the expert in this field descended to a small ledge three meters from where we were and from there could ascertain that the next drop was 60 meters! The equipment we had could not go that distance. No way! so we let go of the idea of abseiling.

To make use of the equipment we did a short exercise of physical awareness. We simply stood at the edge of the cliff and, held by the rope, we dropped our bodies forward as far as we could. Although we were quite secure, we did experience fear. With a lot of work from some of us, we were able to get what we wanted: a clear sense of our mortality, which automatically generated an awareness of how precious life is.

With a rush of adrenalin, once the activity was finished, we avidly wolfed down delicious 'tostadas oaxaqueñas' (fried corn bread from the region). Content and replete, we gave thanks and left the area to start our return journey. We climbed a little more and arrived at a ravine, which we followed down and which took us directly to the main path. From there, we quickly reached our cars.

Although it was a little late, we decided to visit a beautiful waterfall that is accessible from the path we were following. After walking a kilometre, we arrived at a river, which the locals called the 'jump of the water'. The breeze coming from the waterfall was a delight and, making full use of it, we did some cleansing exercises such as breathing and physical movements.

With renewed energy, we headed for the town where we hoped a delicious meal prepared with much care by aunt Pila was waiting for us. After our stop at her café, we craved for a rest but the night was closing in and we wanted to go directly to the city of Oaxaca.

Our aim was to do some exercises at the main cemetery to make the most of the energy created on these days of November around the awareness of death. At the same time, we wanted our friends to enjoy the traditional celebrations. On our way to the cemetery, we met a crowd gathered, suchlike one can find it, at the entrance of the metro station Pino Suarez. We pushed and pushed and were finally able to go in. After regaining our composure, we gave the necessary instructions and each person went to work on their own.

There were not too many people in the cemetery and, therefore, while our friends were working, we were able to quietly walk among the graves and see the floral arrangements. During our walk, we also saw the altars dedicated to celebrities from Oaxaca amongst whom was Maria Sabina, a priestess of the sacred mushrooms. We regrouped to share our experiences from the exercises and observe the celebration. Once again, the awareness of death was transformed into an explosion of life.

The conversation continued around a table where we ate some wonderful ' tlayudas oaxaqueñas' accompanied of course with delicious chocolate with bread of 'the dead'.

The next morning, we started the day by doing physical exercises of awareness. After a nutritious breakfast, we began to build our altar to the dead. This turned into a celebration to which each one of us brought his/her energy and awareness to create a beautiful offering to our ancestors. The energetic platform having thus been established, we started the main exercise, which consisted in recapitulating to our ancestors, focussing on positive aspects. We gave respect and thanks to them for all their efforts throughout their lives and for the legacy of experience that they have left us. If some of these aspects seemed to us negative, we remembered that all of life's events teach us something. Our ancestors did their part to the best they knew and could. Now, it is up to us to learn and walk a better path or stumble in the same way.

To finish on a golden note, we went to Mitla or Lyobaa - The Place of Rest in Zapoteco. Traditionally, it is believed that this place was a kind of cemetery in the zapoteco-mixteco era. It is supposed to have been used to this end in the post-classical period, which explains why the Aztec called it Mictlan or the Place of the Dead. However, once inside the palaces and the underground galleries, covered in endless representations of the duality of wind and water, spiritual strength and the life force, we were certain that this was a place to withdraw, meditate and to expand one's consciousness and connect to Spirit.

We could feel energy moving here. In order to align ourselves with it, we made some exercises inside the palaces and galleries. The constant presence of tourists prevented us from interacting as we would have liked. Never the less this place is a constant invitation to balance mind and body thus allowing for an expansion of the perception-spirit connection.

On our way back, to add a diamond to this golden experience, we went to admire the magnificent tree of Tule. This giant is over a two thousand years old and has a circumference of approximately 58 meters. It is a constant celebration of life as an infinite number of birds live in its branches and fill the air with their song. As we entered in its energy field, we had a feeling of nobility and serenity, which made one want to stay there for hours at a time.

With a vivid awareness of how marvellous life is, we ended our experience of Oaxaca. However, it will not be the last. What are you waiting for? Come and join us!


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