Mesoamerican traditions, oriental wisdom, new age spiritual fusions: among the most visited countries in the world, Mexico fascinates a special kind of tourists, travelers in search of themselves away from a world in crisis.
|Ania, a Russian resident, at an organic market in Tepoztlan, Mexico.|
First stop: Tepoztlan. An hour from Mexico City, this beautiful village at the foot of a mountain attracts weekend visitors, artists and intellectuals.
The sweetness of life of “Tepoz” and the town of Amatlan also magnetizes Mexicans and foreigners in search of “good vibes”far from the cities and the anti-COVID-19 vaccines that they reject en bloc.
“Here I love the vibrations”says Ania, a 31-year-old Russian resident living at the foot of the Tepozteco mountain range, the legendary birthplace of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. “I don’t see much news. I almost live there in the mountains”adds the young woman.
“Here, people are more relaxed, more spiritual. They live by celebrating the day of today”concludes Ania in the good-natured atmosphere of an organic market, to the sound of a folk guitar and a tam-tam.
The zenitude of “Tepoz” has a price. Hotels are more expensive than elsewhere (from 50-60 USD per night).
It is also possible to sleep in “mystical holistic centers”places of spiritual retreat to practice yoga and meditation.
“Since the pandemic, many people have come to live in Tepoztlan”assures Alizbeth Camacho, of the holistic center “Luz azul” (“Blue light”). “Strangers and townspeople (Mexico City) who realized that their energy was going to get stuck in the city”.
Mme Camacho offers its guests “aura pictures” to visualize their energy, karma and chakras (about 16 USD).
In full revival, new age tourism dates back to the 1970s, when the anthropologist Carlos Castaneda sold millions of books recounting the teaching of a Yaqui shaman, Don Juan Matus, in the Sonoran desert (North).
Pre-Hispanic traditions also inspired a personal development bestseller, The Four Toltec Agreements by Miguel Ruiz.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms also attract these tourists. An American, Robert Gordon Wasson, paved the way in the 1950s by revealing the secrets of a traditional healer, Maria Sabina.
|Drummers at an organic market in Tepoztlan, Mexico.|
Fifty years after the hippies, the consumption of “peyote” is still negotiated with communities like the Wixareka. Access to artificial paradises is even easier in San José del Pacifico in the mountains of Oaxaca (South), the state of Maria Sabina.
You just need to find a “guide” for a “trip” at an altitude of more than 2,500 m, like Pedro Ramirez, who accompanies four Mexicans and three young foreigners in the mountains.
“It’s going to be an inner journey”he warns, presenting the mushrooms. “You might be scared at first, but after 10-15 minutes you’ll laugh, and maybe cry a little”.
“I am looking for answers and acceptance after the death of my husband”explains before the “trip” Araceli Perez, whose doctor husband died of COVID-19 in May 2020. “I want to live and no longer survive as I believe I was doing”she adds, a week after the hallucinogenic experience, radiant to feel “much better”.
“Let It All Out”
Another pre-Hispanic legacy, the temazcal, a kind of Meso-American hammam, is also one of the essentials of spiritual tourism.
Nicolas Lopez perpetuates this rite of purification not far from the Mayan pyramids of Palenque, at the foot of the mountains of Chiapas.
Visitors enter a sweating chamber heated by hot stones and dance in the vapors of “copal” (incense) to the sound of a tambourine.
“It means something sacred, pure”explains Valeria Landero, who comes out of the oven all out of breath. “It means letting everything out, illnesses, all evil, and bringing pure positive things to me”says the 30-year-old who came with her husband and 14-year-old daughter.
The temazcal wants “waking up our spirit, our soul”summarizes the master of ceremonies, Nicolas, watching for the arrival of other Mexican, American and Italian tourists, for a service ranging from 16 to 20 USD per person.
Last year, nearly 32 million tourists came to Mexico. A part to learn in contact with Mexicans the meaning of the verb “sanar” (to treat, to cure).
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Mexico, bastion of new age tourism in a world in crisis
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