Tag Archives: Mazunte

Mazunte; or the Congregation of Turtles and Hippies

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View on Punta Cometa

I have been in the province of Oaxaca longer than I had been travelling through Mexico 19 years ago and I have been in Mazunte, where I have my yogic training, considerably longer than expected. Apparently that is the story with Mazunte, as it is with Zipolite.

Too Hot to Leave

People plan to stay for a few days or weeks and end op staying weeks, months or even years on end. Zipolite has a very laid-back vibe, which makes lying in a hammock and getting intoxicated rather appealing and its far easier maintained for several weeks or months than one thinks. Sure, you can do so some yoga or other activity, but in general, that is not what people come to Zipolite for. Mazunte, less than 10 minutes-drive towards the west, attracts a different crowd. The village is officially certified as Pueblo Magico, or magic village, and the locals are very keen to tell you that. The tiny town of around 1500 inhabitants contains no less than four yoga schools, a centre for turtle conservation and a natural cosmetic store, the latter selling products across Mexico. You can imagine therefor that the village attracts a fair amounts of yogis, hippies, spiritual seekers, and those interested in animal conservation.

What Magic?

 

Located in the province of Oaxaca, Mazunte has the land tip Punta Cometa in its borders, which is considered the southern-most tip of the North American mainland. It is argued that this piece of land emits large amounts of bio-energetic vibes and has therefor been an important breeding place for sea turtles.

Mazunte got inhabited only recently. While nearby Zipolite started to develop as a hippy mecca in the 1960 and ’70s, people of the close by larger town Pochutla started to have a closer look at the jungles of what is now Mazunte. They came over with their machetes and claimed the land as theirs. The first Mazunte-born person in modern history is only in their early forties, meaning that Mazunte didn’t become populated until the 1970s. Due to the abundance of sea turtles, the town became the country’s main centre for the slaughter and trading of turtle meat. Although Mexicans were keen consumers, the US greatly encouraged this trade.

From Killing to Keeping

sea turtles

Somewhere in the early 1990s the turtle population started to dwindle considerably and somebody saw the light; rather than slaughtering animals one can preserve them and so the town became an eco-tourist destination, rather than a place of certain death for a prehistoric species. As neighbouring Zipolite already had a hippy-reputation, Mazunte reasoned it could be a bit ‘alternative’ as well. In 1995 the village got an official government certification labelling it as pueblo magico, which involved some government corruption I was informed by an insider. This certification entails that no big tourist developments like large hotels or resorts can be constructed and big corporations like MacDonalds or Starbuck are not allowed to settle in town. This means that whichever private person or entity- with perhaps some good connections to government- owns the land can rest assured that they won’t be forced to sell or donate it.

I haven’t visited the turtle conservation centre, which is a very short walk from the school. I have been informed, however by a local guy who works there, that if you don’t like a zoo-like environment, which I don’t, you won’t enjoy it, so I am likely to give it a miss and I’m rather occupied travelling along the yogic spiritual path. Punta Cometa draws dozens, if not hundreds of people in high seasons, every evening, who come and enjoy the sunset. There are several routes taking you there through the local forest and along rocks offering stunning views over the Pacific Ocean.

Visitors and Water Challenges

The town draws the Mexican middle classes and national and international alternative people. Many of which stay longer than expected and/ or make it their home. Despite the national and international attention and the magic, the town does have its challenges. Like more places along the Oaxacan coast, it’s very much prone to storms and hurricanes, that do some considerable damage. Still, concrete constructions are build right at the seafront, and you wonder how long it will last. Water shortage is an issue as well. Pretty much everyone uses water tanks, that only get refilled when they completely run out, so being soaped-up under the shower ready to rinse yourself only for no water to appear from the tap is a common phenomenon.

I too have been staying longer than previously anticipated, as I have gained so much wisdom at the Hridaya yoga centre and met such wonderful people. After I have finished module 2 and the 10-day silent retreat I will be doing straight after that, I think I’m ready to move on. There so much more of Mexico that I haven’t seen and that needs to be explored.

‘Accidental’ Search for Enlightenment (Without Drugs)

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Hridaya logo

 

A bit more than two years ago I went in search of enlightenment in the jungles of Peru by means of ayahuasca. I didn’t quite meet the divine as expected, but an insightful experience it was nevertheless. Five weeks ago I came to Mazunte, a neighbouring village of beach-bum town Zipolite, in total lazy-arse mood very much ready to get into some yoga action. That ‘action’ was of quite a different nature than expected, yet profound nevertheless.

 

A spiritual practice from the heart

Back in February of this year I booked myself an intensive 24-day yoga course as part of my location- independent Latina Dark Fairy Ball. I expected to do some thorough exercise and learn some yoga theory alongside it. As I said, that is not at all what happened. The school I am (still) attending teaches and practices what I call ‘extreme hatha yoga’. Extreme in the sense that it is not about the movement. To the contrary; one is aiming to keep the pose for as long as possible while maintaining stillness, as if the pose is meditation. The school is called Hridaya, which means heart in Sanskrit and is, as you can guess, very heart-centred. Hridaya teachings aim to fulfill Self- realisation, with capital S, or union with the Divine, using the heart-centre, located in the middle of the chest one-finger-width to the right, as a portal or trigger. In Hridaya yoga one practices self-enquiry, which entails always genuinely asking the question: who am I? I am not the body, I am not my thoughts or feelings, I am not my experiences, so; who am I? The objective is to truly experience the Self or Divine, rather than ‘just’ knowing about it on an intellectual level. Although I aimed to stay open-minded and especially open-hearted, I did experience some resistance, especially in the first week. Resistance against the ‘lack of’ movement and resistance to such an open-hearted vibe. All the teachers had this faint smile on their faces constantly emitting love, which is not quite the experience in the ‘outside world’. I had a room to myself on site and throughout my stay I felt considerable resistance against the dustiness and the creepy-crawlies in my room. I am by no means squeamish, but when it comes to super-sized cockroaches, scorpions the size of two-fingers and decaying lizards falling from the roof onto the bedside table, there is only so much I can take.  Despite the resistance I stuck with it and was treated to some very valuable tools and ways, to maintain a holistic and profound spiritual practice and be a better and more fabulous person in the process.

On the Path towards the Divine Self

Besides hatha yoga classes, we had lectures, did a lot of meditation and were fed a strictly vegan diet. The diet, meditation and hatha yoga practice, which can be considered a meditation, had a very clear and strong effect on me right from the start. I’ve always been a person who loves to sleep and needs her eight hours. Whether I got it or not, I was always up for a nap. I didn’t sleep well at all in my room at the centre throughout the course. Not only didn’t I feel entirely comfortable, I also felt terribly wired. With the exception of a couple of nights I didn’t sleep more than four or five hours a night and the most extraordinary thing to me was, that I didn’t feel tired during the day and I didn’t feel like napping. Since my early teens I have always had issues with my reproductive organs and these issues have given me great discomfort off and on in the last six years or so. When I travelled through South America a bit more than two years ago, my symptoms diminished significantly and since I have been in Mazunte they have been non-existent. As the aim is to cultivate a sense of detachment from your body, personal, story, your thoughts; all that, that could be considered the ego, as that is not what we are really are, it becomes easier to place certain experiences and mental and psychological issues into perspective.

It’s All About the Community

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Yogic Paradise: view on central plaza at Hridaya

I was lucky to be a part of a fabulous group of people from all over the world in all shades, sizes and ages and all with wonderful hearts and great stories to share. You might guess that the hippiness level was high, yet it weren’t only hippies attending, but people with an interest in yoga and spirituality. It’s a true blessing to gain profound insights in a truly kind, warm and welcoming environment. To me this form of yogic spiritual practice is ‘just’ a form of mysticism; how to experience the divine directly without priests, a ‘holy’ book or any dogmas. I’ve might just become a Self-chaser and a follower of the mystic path.

imagery: Hridaya yoga