An Experience of Oaxaca
We started our adventure somewhat late
as we were waiting for friends to join us but, unfortunately, they did
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
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!