Climbing Mountains and Other Life Lessons

Photo: R.C


My soul mate recently suggested we visit one of the "magic towns" of central Mexico on a whim to climb a mountain. He had remembered visiting this place years ago and wanted to show me a special spot that had once made an indelible impression on him.  Excited he impatiently drove us through the bustling mid-day traffic of Mexico City in his 2003 green convertible Peugeot and we began the ascent up several mountains, our ears popping with the rising altitude, eyes gleaming with the unfolding beauty, we became lightheaded and lighthearted with the approaching adventure.  I have always been interested in visiting sacred energy sites to rise beyond my physical perception, to have more clarity beyond my intellectual understanding of the nature of things and expand my awareness because I don't really believe in anything man-made at this point.  These sites reconnect me to the Whole, Source Energy.

As a new couple we are ecstatic to have finally found each other after successes and failures, with brave and reckless life choices in equal measure in relationships and work. He had quit a successful career in the life-zapping corporate world from multiple international luxury goods companies and I had finally come to the realisation that I couldn't fit into a corporate anything unless they take me as I am so I was resigning myself to just being myself - a global maverick.  I threw in the towel and decided to just follow my intuition.  To survive like the "Fowls of the air",  the Christ described in proverbs at his Sermon on the Mount.  I must trust that the Universe will provide and embrace my passion, my life work of creating ritual experiences for social transformation to upgrade our awareness and topple the destructive dominant cultural worldview. One thing that is certain is the only thing that matters in life are meaningful experiences. Not anything in the material world like money, or a job or possessions but experiences are what translate into a tangible fulfilment of life.  We are mortal and have a limited time on this earth so we might as well spend our time doing the things that we care about, being in the places that have meaning for us and spending our precious time with those who love and respect us. Anything else is a waste of life.

I decided to climb a mountain to resolve all social ills in my mind and take advantage of the eclipse season as a serious believer in ancient wisdom. Determined to harvest any energy coming my way, I wanted to face my fear of heights because I have serious challenges facing me which include leading an international human rights campaign for my own people in Barotseland, juggling guiding the lives of two young adults as a single mother remotely and practising the art of living in my own brown skin in a cold, cruel world dominated by a global governance and legitimation crisis.

We are both disruptors, restless, creatives with rebellious streaks and unbeknown to us, my partner and I are on a healing trip from our past-life, hard-knocks lessons. Nearly a year prior we literally collided into each other in a small fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico at a party.  We happened to be neighbour's sharing the same beach, and one day after saving a trapped cormorant from a fishing net together we bonded and would continue to bump into each other, back and forth with pleasantries and apologies.  I had trust issues and politely avoided dates or meetings even though it was obvious we respected and liked each other very much - very much and so one day in the blink of an eye we decided to commit our best selves to each other after letting down our fences and shadow selves. Life couldn't be better from that point on because the only way for both of us is up.

It's a beautiful day and here we are meandering up mist filled mountains to get to this sacred destination without a plan about where we will stay, what we will eat or what we will do.  He mentioned climbing a mountain but I had no clue what to expect.

We arrive in Tepoztl├ín, a small town south of Mexico City known to be the reputed birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent deity and I am thrilled. I am an esoteric junkie and its the last eclipse of the summer and all of this is right up my alley. I had some things I needed to manifest quickly with the energy of the eclipse and the rain forest filled mountain air was intoxicating and was already whipping me into a frenzy. These gorgeous mountains that surround this cobble stoned town choc-full of color and texture at every turn are indeed magic, represented by a lapis lazuli royal blue, a magical and mysterious hue painted on every wall and drainpipe taking over the senses.  The unseen magic promised about this place started to take over our bodies and suddenly we felt everything was possible.  I have all but embraced the color saturated sun-drenched life in Mexico after dark lonely years living in a steel town in middle America and being here with the love of my life, who is attentive to my every need and comforting when I doubt myself I could already feel the healing power and suddenly the purpose of our trip began to take shape.

After a few grumbling words about how he disliked the paved streets because of the damage they were doing to his 2003 green convertible Peugeot, we parked and hand in hand started to explore this magical town. He always wants to share the best experiences of his country with me and he remembered where the best restaurant in town was and we headed towards El Ciruelo.  It was like walking into a painting and suddenly life wasn't about anything but healing the Spirit with the eyes because the magic of the Aztec Tepozteco pyramid, 1200 feet high up on a clifftop was right above us.  That was the mountain he wanted to climb the next morning, a mountain whose view dominated the restaurant so much so that I didn't even notice the royal blue dress I chose to wear for this trip. I bought the dress from a street vendor in Merida a month earlier for five hundred pesos, less than thirty dollars.  I didn't notice the dress until my mate took a picture of me against the backdrop of the mountain.  I realised then that I was in the same vibration as everything around me. I complimented every angle,  every view and knew that something special, serendipity was happening for me, for us.

After a great meal, we googled our way to a retreat which I will keep sacred for now as it was too beautiful a place to share with anyone.  We were the only people booked into the property that weekend and we were drunk on the magic helped by a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.  Late into the night we sang 80's British pop a capella, undisturbed we watched the grotesque night animals crawl freely out of their hiding places and suddenly remembered that we needed to rise early to climb the mountain.  Neither of us had done any research into what exactly we would be getting ourselves into but we were motivated nonetheless to get up early with the rising sun.

We barely slept with the sheer excitement, got ready and drove towards the mountain but thought to grab a local breakfast at a family-owned, hole-in-the wall which ended up being our best meal of the trip. Fresh tortillas, traditional coffee in a clay jug and the inescapable view of the mountain we would climb shortly. I spied a sign across the street from the tortilla stop advertising Temezcal, the hour long sweat lodge ceremony to centre the "Self" back to the womb, back to Source Energy and the ancestors.  In ancient Mesoamerica it was used as part of a curative ceremony to purify the body after exertion such as after a battle or a ceremonial ball game. It was also used for healing the sick, improving health, and for women to give birth. It continues to be used today in Indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America. Much to the horror of my mate I signed us up pronto for after the climb so that we would have the full spectrum of benefits of this magical town, sacred mountain to cure our many ills, anxieties and direct our will and deepest desires.

We were both getting nervous as we approached the foot of the mountain because we were not prepared.  My borrowed sneakers from my partners father were too big and he was wearing a pair of heavy jeans and we were both still intoxicated by the champagne from the night before.  Ayuda! Help! what were we thinking?  It was at this moment that I began to see transformed exhausted pilgrims making their way down the mountain that I realised that before you climb a mountain you should do your research and stay focused the whole way up.  Like life itself you better be awake for the climb.  We witnessed old and young negotiate an impossible climb and took periodic rests to catch our breath and carefully navigate the slippery irregular ancient stone steps, moist from rain forest dew. I understood quickly I had to take it step by step with courage as the climb became ridiculously dangerous and challenging.  To keep my concentration I began to clap my hands every step of the way and enjoyed the massive echo, reverberation against the surrounding mountains.  When we started to breathe in the clouds and the precipice drew nearer the climb became more challenging and downright freaking dangerous. We were cheered along by those coming down and I noticed the serenity on their faces. The look of accomplishment and peace was evident and I wanted that too.  In the meantime I had to play encouraging coach to my partner, who was heating up seriously because we came with no water and we both realised how unfit we were and that some of our lifestyle habits would have to change drastically.

We had taken the biggest physical challenge of our new life together and one step at a time like life itself we made it to the top of the mountain.  After an hour and a half we had reached the summit and we would never be the same again.  I sang "Day O the Banana Boat call and response song at the top of the mountain and got calls back and I took time to sneak behind the pyramid to sing the ancient Barotse praise song to nature called, "... liLundu uWabile", meaning the mountains are happy much like like the song in the Sound of Music.  Wabei, my name in the ancient siLuyana language means happy. In this life I have learnt to recognise that to grow in awareness there must always be a huge mountain to climb but when you reach the top the view is always magnificent.


Our one and a half hour climb back down to the bottom of the mountain was celebratory even though I slipped on some rocks and nearly busted my hands but what a sense of expansion, accomplishment and pride, sore legs and all.

Next up was the temazcal ceremony and sweat ritual, another gift from my partner, the guiding ancestors and Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent deity.

I think that experience deserves its own post.

Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe
Cherry Ripe: Chronicles of a Rebellious Princess

For RC my twin flame

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