There’s some magic in Mexico. I think we all knew that though. The colorful decorations, delicious cocktails and their unique celebrations (Día de los muertos anyone?!) make it such an interesting country and culture. It’s certainly the go-to for winter getaways of my fellow Minnesotans and rightfully so.
Mexico offers so many types of vacations to travelers; parties in Cancun, snorkeling in Cozumel to mountain adventures in Puerto Vallarta. With so many large, festive cities there’s no reason to travel off the beaten path – unless you’re interested in some pretty weird hippy stuff. I am! So on our last adventure, the hubs and I traveled to Sayulita, a small surfing and arts village about an hour north west of Puerto Vallarta. We visited the city about 9 years ago in which we participated in the surfing part of the culture. This time – we wanted to experience the artsy side.
Walking down the street you can tell that the people in Sayulita live a different life than that in most major Mexican cities – yoga studios on every block, juice bars and vegan restaurants line to streets and some of the most beautiful mural paintings you’ve ever seen. The city is oozing with artists, nonconformists and naturalists. We came across a small farmers market which didn’t look too different than one you’d find in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, homemade kumbucha and kimchi next to the most beautiful handicrafts. We walked into shops that hand hand painted bulls heads and intricate beadwork on brightly colored tapestries. Everywhere you looked was so much color and so much life. It was amazing to be a part of.
While the hubs and I were excited to check out the village again after being there almost a decade ago, we had ventured to this part of Mexico to experience something more magical – a temazcal. We traveled just a little further north outside of San Pancho (to the locals, San Francisco on the map) to meet with a shaman who would lead us through the ceremony. The actual temazcal is a sweat lodge, shown below, a mud hut that can withstand so much heat it’s utterly insane (heat created by stones brought in off a fire and water splashed on top to create hot steam). In some cultures around Mexico, the temazcal is also used as part of a ceremony to heal your body, mind and spirit. It is often used to heal the sick and to help you find your way.
Before you enter the temazcal you are cleansed with some herbs, make a sacrifice of leaves into the fire that’s heating the stones, bowed in front of the structure and muttered “for all of my relationships.” It was very moving – and I hadn’t even entered the hut yet! Crawling into the space you could see the banana leave mats on the floor and the center opening for the stones. All of the other 3 doorways were covered with wool blankets, so it was relatively dark. Once we all crawled in the shaman explained what was about to happen. First, he was going to bring in the first set of stones. With each stone we were to say “Bienvenidos, abuelita” or “welcome, grandmother.” Next, he’d close the door and we would start going around to state our intentions of what we wanted to get out of the ceremony. Mine, as almost every intention I ever send out, had to do with forgiveness from my mother. With that out in the air, I knew it was going to be emotional.
We sang some songs, we cried and got very sweaty but before you know it – the shaman opened the door and told us we had finished the first of 4 rounds.
The second round was much more happy – we talked about things we loved and the best things in our life, we sang songs but yes, we continued to sweat.
After the second round we had some water and opened some more doors, this was becoming a very exciting afternoon.
The third round, the shaman warned us, was the worst. We were to sit in silence after we welcomed the grandmothers into the hut to help purify our sins and remove all evil from our thoughts and bodies. It had to have been 200 degrees in there! If a human could combust – this was the time. I was pretty sure I was about to explode into flames! Not only that but the shaman was flinging the dirty water on the rocks but also at us and I had my mouth open and some went in… this was a horrible time in my life.
When he opened the door and let the light in I felt like I was seeing daylight for the first time, I was so thirsty for light, for water, for fresh air I thought I could bust through the clay walls. Instead, I sat quietly wanting for R4 to start.
Round 4 turned into a beautiful, quick session of thankfulness and love. We all crawled out and got splashed with some cold water. Gobbled up the fresh fruit and tea that was set out for us and basked in the beauty of our life.
And with that, our trip to Sayulita was wrapped up – we headed back to Puerto Vallarta to destroy our bodies again with tequila and queso. Our day had been very moving, but we were ready to get back to our life of everyday sins.
Need help planning your unique trip? Or a honeymoon that’s a little off the main road? Reach out to me here – let’s chat!