Steve and I have returned from our 1-week retreat to a Mexico beach. The hopes for the trip: to dose up on Vitamin D, rest up and maybe do a few cultural activities. Please recall (or read about it here) that I went on this same retreat one year ago, but didn’t bring along Steve. I had such a good time, and such a different time than he and I have had together in other areas of Mexico, that I wanted him to check out this great retreat, organized annually by Ted Roseen and hosted at Present Moment Retreat (PMR, below) in Troncones, Mexico (here it is, on a map).
All the things we did
This year’s experience was in many ways different from last year’s experience. Both were good, in different ways. In a few minor ways, this year held some disappointments, but it also some lovely surprises. Here’s a list of the activities done just last year (L), new this year (N), both (R), or saved for next year (S). Things I want to do again for sure: A.
- Beach walks, as often as possible but not in the midday sun: R, A
- My personal meditation practice: N
- Yoga, 0-2 times/day: R, A
- Tropical smoothie for lunch: R, A
- Surf lesson: R
- Kayak excursion up an estuary: N, maybe A
- Multi-modal (Swedish, acupuncture, crystals, aromatherapy, sound) massage: R
- Cacao ceremony: N
- Baby turtle release: R, A
- Sipped good tequila (Don Julio 70): N, A
- Sipped fresh coconut water: N
- Cultural hike: N, maybe A
- Saw enormous crayfish: N
- Helped out locals with school supplies, etc.: N
- Dipped into a swimming hole in the Sierra Madres: N
- Sent husband on a deep-sea fishing excursion: N, maybe A
- Jewelry shopping on the beach: N, A
- Opting for beers instead of margaritas: N, A
- Sports/deep tissue massage: L
- Got sunburned: L
- Saw a ton of new (to me) bird species: L
- Making a new friend out of a surprise roommate: L, A
- Not waking up with an alarm clock: N, A
- Get a Thai massage: S
- Paddleboard: S
- Reading lots of books: S
- Salsa dancing, down the road: S if my hips are feeling up to the challenge
Going to a yoga retreat with your significant other is different from going alone (and rooming with a few other people, as I did and enjoyed last year). I found that the private room aspect allowed for a little more … calm. It allowed for less fear of missing out on something fun, and more ease with chilling out in the room or on its porch. There was a little more space to spread out my stuff and to settle in.
One thing that is kind of unique about most of the rooms at PMR is that they aren’t fully enclosed – the walls go up to about 5 feet, then there is open space, then a palapa roof. It offers plenty of visual privacy but you’d think that there isn’t much privacy with regard to sound. However, the sound of the waves crashing nearby created a special kind of noise that kind of enveloped our room in a sort of sound-blanket. It was cozy.
Excursions were awesome, largely due to our terrific naturalist guide, Alejandro Rodriguez Pruneda. On a morning early in the week, we went on a kayak tour in the nearby Boca de Lagunillas estuary. Alex taught us a lot about the wildlife we were seeing there, as well as the overall ecosystem. We saw several iguanas, tons of large shorebirds: brown pelicans, white ibis, little blue and great blue herons, cormorants, and gold-crested night herons. On the “cultural hike” two days later, we got to check out more of the plant life, including the fascinating “sandbox tree” (tap the photo shown here to check out its thorns and buggy travelers) and some gourd plants. We also got to drink fresh coconut juice – which does taste better -as in, less like sweat- than the trendy bottled stuff we can get stateside.
Near the end of both excursions, we got to meet a few locals. After the kayak trip, we met a one-room classroom full of local kids, and gave them all the school supplies that we had brought along from the states for them. After the Thursday hike, a local family had put together a typical meal for us, which we enjoyed after an informative tour of their family kitchen. Homemade tortillas are delicious! We filled them with refried beans, eggs with chili sauce, extra homemade mild or hot chili sauce, plus cheese. The only non-local ingredient was the beans!
The terrific people with whom we were spending the week made everything enjoyable. The surprise discovery of a college classmate and various other mutual friends (big surprise: most of us came from Minnesota), in addition to the realization of shared passions beyond great yoga instruction: these were key. Good group chemistry is so vital, especially if you’re taking over a pretty small retreat center for a whole week.
Surfing was… a little meh. I wasn’t sure what I wanted from it; I knew that my skills hadn’t progressed in the year that had passed since my last lessons. I suspected that there is less luster in repeating a bucket-list item. The real question may be: was “get a surf lesson” my list item, before last year? Or was it “stay up on the board for x seconds” or “move someplace with waves, so I can get good at it”? I think that if I do return to Troncones in the next year or two, I may skip the single day lesson. Or, I’ll sign up for a whole week of lessons, there or elsewhere.
Ah well: It was still fun and felt good to get out into the warm Pacific waters on two late afternoons for some skills practice with an instructor. The beach in front of the resort was lovely and very enjoyable on foot, but the surf and rocks there were a bit too aggressive to allow enjoyable swimming. The surf beach (right at Boca de Lagunillas, where we kayaked on Tuesday), just a little north of PMR, was a lot more inviting. Also, there was progress and my strength was still up to the task: on the first day I got up and stayed up longer than I’d stayed up before (but only by a second or two).
At the midweek mark, we both sipped strong (as in caffeinated, plus other stimulating properties, evidently) hot chocolate and then settled in for a guided meditation, in PMR’s “cacao ceremony”. The chocolate was tasty, but the time laying on a wooden floor was … not. This may largely be due to some lower back/hip pain that I’ve been dealing with lately. Regardless, the next time someone suggests ingesting a powerful stimulant, followed by 30 minutes or more of stillness, I’ll know to say “no”.
Shopping! Once again, I didn’t make a journey into nearby larger town Zihuatanejo a priority item. And yet I did come home with a few shiny baubles, thanks to Ignacio, the silversmith who visited our portion of the beach every day. Such lovely stuff and such a warm heart!
My twice-daily meditation practice, which I’d been working on for a month or two prior to the trip, started off well, but kind of petered out. Or maybe it just came to a screeching halt about midweek, for whatever reason. Really, do you need to meditate if you’re spending a week surrounded by ocean sounds, walking around barefoot, appreciating the setting or rising sun and spending time getting to know some wonderful people?
A few days after I returned home, I realized the meditation had fallen apart and I was crestfallen. On the other hand: perhaps I needed to simplify. It will fit back in, if it’s meant to: the Mexico trip was a good “reset”.
Here are more photos from our January 2017 Pressing of the Reset Button. Enjoy!