the magic of teotitlan del valle

If you would have asked me last week where “hopping into a car with a stranger and riding into the middle of a deserted location in Mexico” would have been on my list of things to do I would have given you one of those looks… you know the one. And yet, here I am at 9:30 in the morning on a Friday doing just this.

The stranger's name was Ines, a Mixteca Curandera from a small town near Oaxaca city, and the more we conversed on the way to Teotitlan Del Valle, the more she began feeling like an old friend. Teotilan Del Valle is the name of a historic city the native Zapotec people call home. The town, known for their beautiful wool rugs, is quaint but as we drove past the then-closed shops we entered into an area that looked more like a national park. We parked the car and Ines described to me how the land we were on was once an ancient civilization. The Zapotec civilization was mostly buried and often forgotten since the government did not allocate resources there like some other, more well known sites like Monte Alban- a well known historic ruin. Aside from the palpable energy of the area, the one visible reminder that anyone once lived on this land was El Picacho, a sacred mountain that the Zapotec people still use for ceremonies, offerings and other forms of paying honor.

Although I was in awe of the energy here and grateful for the opportunity, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell I was thinking putting my full trust into this woman. By the end of our day together I will know deeply that it was a spirit-led decision.

As we exited the car, Ines described to me what our day was going to consist of. This was all about an opportunity to connect with the land and tune in. Since it was just me, she says, she will give me an opportunity to ask her questions and potentially work through things that were coming up for me in life. Before any of this though, we needed to make an offering to the land in gratitude for allowing us to visit today. Ines instructed me to walk around and find a place that felt right to have our offering ceremony and that she would wait at the car while I did so.

I headed directly for a small mound that was calling to me. Ines headed over and set up for our first ceremony of the day. The email I’d gotten in preparation for this experience asked me not to have breakfast. This wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be but I did have some snacks tucked in my bag for whenever the time was right. I won’t describe the ceremony in detail out of respect but it involved roasted cacao beans, prayer, and mezcal- a liquid produced from the agave plant that has historically been used for ceremony and spiritual rituals. Nowadays when people think of mezcal, they think of a liquor similar to tequila so it was nice to learn a bit about its history.

We took our time in the ceremony, never rushing, which is something I appreciated. After we made our offering it was time to have our snacks which consisted of carrots, red bell peppers, and an apple for me. I was suddenly so appreciative for the light meal and not going overboard given the amount of energy I was connecting to at Teotitlan. I’d be just as likely to pack a breakfast burrito as a “snack” and the occasion really wouldn't have been served by it.

As we ate our snack, Ines asked me what had been going on for me and if I had any questions. I tried articulating neatly what I was feeling and ended up ugly crying as I described my growing concern that following the healer’s path was isolating me from my loved ones. We talked about my past life as a medicine woman in the Andes, an experience I had already briefly mentioned on the drive up. Ines gave me such amazing advice and shared parts of her story as a traditional healer as well. She reassured me in a way that made me realize without a doubt that I chose this experience, with this woman, on this day for a divine reason.

The more we discussed my past life, the more it was apparent that when I had my past life regression done, I was not able to properly let go. The medicine woman from the Andes was still very present with me. I have felt her my whole life but especially so in the last year. With my permission, we planned on holding another ceremony to say goodbye to her and let her go officially. We finished our snack and I made a second offering to this land before heading to another location. We walked for about 10 minutes and found a shady clearing under a tree. Again, Ines gave me space to feel out if this was the location where the ceremony should take place. We spent the next hour or so there… in prayer, crying, sharing, and releasing. I felt like a new person. I hadn't realized until that moment how much letting go of this past life would fuel me on my path. I felt 1000% Meckell and even made some additional commitments to myself as a result. We offered more gratitude to the land for our time there and were greeted by 3 strong gusts of wind as a sign that great spirit heard our prayers. As I continued paying honor, I received a few beautiful messages from spirit as offerings to take with me that I am still coming to understand but I felt overjoyed that they came through at that moment.

As we headed back to the car we were deciding on a place to eat for lunch and even though we were starving (it was now 12:30p), we thought it would be best to drive 15 minutes to a really good restaurant instead of settling nearby for a “mediocre” one. I began preparing for our day to come to a close but boy was I wrong!

As we drove out of the quaint town, I excitedly noticed the wool rugs hanging as the shops were now open for business. Ines tells me that she has another engagement that day but wishes we could spend some time shopping. She asks me if I really want to see some rugs because if so, she can stop at a friends house nearby. This friend could cook lunch for us if she is home and since her family makes rugs, I could take a look while lunch was being prepared to save some time. Now, fully leaning into my heart and not the voice of fear, I say “It’s worth a shot”- neither of us knowing if the friend would actually be home. She wasn't. We ran into her husband outside, however, and he tells us that his wife is in Oaxaca City for the day. He can’t cook, he says, but he’d happily pour us some mezcal to drink while he shows me around.

I was amazed at the opportunity to come inside! I'm not just talking about the mezcal which was homemade and the perfect amount of smoky. The rugs, the colors- works of art and candy to my eyes. He showed me how his family has been turning wool into the spools of thread- both the zapotec way and the way the spanish influenced during their conquests. He was super nice and even showed me how rugs are made on the looms- sometimes taking up to a month or more to complete! His family is one of about 150 that have been making these beautiful works of art for centuries.

a smooshed bug that makes reddish hues for wool

I ended up buying a pillowcase and a gorgeous rug that caught my eye. I’ll figure out how to get a rug into my travelling backpack some other day...for today I really wanted that rug. I had one more shot of mezcal and Ines and I, now STARVING and slightly buzzed from the Mezcal headed to the nearby “mediocre” restaurant for lunch.

The beautiful pattern on the rug

As though the universe was sealing the deal on an amazing day, the food was stellar. Even Ines was surprised and happily taking back her words of mediocrity. It was my first time having Mole Negro in Oaxaca, a place known for it. By the end of the meal, my plate told the story of how I felt about the food.

After eating, Ines and I took a selfie together and she dropped me back to my AirBnB. I went straight to bed to lie down, think, journal, and pray about the day’s experiences. My heart was full of so much gratitude! I can't say that I am always going to be hopping into cars with strangers but I will say that I have learned a lesson in distinguishing the voice of fear and making more spirit-lead choices. I signed up for an AirBnB experience and instead got the experience of a lifetime that I will never, ever forget.

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