Saturday, January 24, 2009

Watching the sun set in the mountains of Valle.

My favorite tree in Valle.

The Woods: Valle de Bravo

From New Year’s Day until the following Sunday, I found myself secluded in the mountains of Valle del Bravo. While we were isolated in the forest, we still had the comforts of our own home and more: a wooden cabin with running water, a full kitchen and a fire place. There was also a housekeeper who cleaned and cooked for us. Her chilaquiles, or tortilla chips soaked in a green tomatillo sauce, topped with mounds of onions, cheese and cream, were phenomenal.

In the country, I remembered what it was like to breathe fresh, clean air. Since there were no lights, except for the few coming from far away ranches here and there, I was able to see millions of stars. The only sounds I heard were roosters, geese, other birds, dogs barking and animals moving through the woods. The trees surrounding us were extremely tall and thin. In the distance, I saw mountains beyond mountains. The climate was variable as it would reach the high seventies during the day and by night I was wearing a sweater and a jacket. Fortunately, we had a fireplace to provide us with heat during the cold nights.

On our last day there, I decided to take a nature walk. I started out going down the hill, following a dirt path that led to a stream. The water was ice-cold. After crossing the stream, and trying not to slip on the muddy rocks, I started up the other hill. I wandered along a skinny dirt path lined heavily with a variety of shrubs and plants. At the top of the other hill I came to an open field. The plants were browner and appeared as if they had been over exposed to the sun. To take in the moment, I sat down in the dry dirt. In front of me were tiny, green spiders making webs in the grass; it was impressive to see them walk from one blade to another. When I do not take the time to closely observe my surroundings, I often overlook the little things in life.

Spending time in Valle del Bravo also gave me the opportunity to do Tai Chi and yoga with the mountains as the background, the grass as the floor and a blue, sunny sky as the ceiling. In yoga class, our objective is to connect with the earth and the sky, but in a classroom it is all in our head. In nature, I did not have to imagine it, rather I experienced it. Connecting with nature brought equilibrium back to my mind and body. It made for a helpful transition back to the chaotic city. I can see why city people migrate to places like Valle del Bravo and Tepoztlan for the weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Holidays in Mexico

When Mexicans take a vacation, they take a vacation. Most people stop working around the 19th of December and are just now returning. As I thought I would be one of the later ones back, I went to work yesterday to find that no one was there. The offices will not be open until Wednesday.

Speaking of the holidays, I decided to pass New Year's Eve in Valle del Bravo, Mexico. That night I learned that Mexicans have many superstitions surrounding the new year.

1) If you beign the year in Mexico, you will finish the year in Mexico.
2) Eat 12 grapes after the clock strikes midnight. For each grape, you make one wish.
3) Wear red undergarments so that you will have good luck with love in the coming year.
4) Run with a suitcase -where, I am not sure -and you will travel.

And the list goes on.