February 19, 2006
El Pueblo Magico

I arrived in Patzcuaro this morning, after mayhem at LAX and an overnight flight. Getting through Morelia airport was very easy, and although the Casas de Cambio were closed, my driver was on time and I was glad when we started out in the cool morning air on our way to the Pueblo Magico.

Seen through the eyes of my future retreat participants however, the ride was less than inspiring. I was thinking I needed to write a little pep-talk message, one that would help everyone make the transition from the clean, abundant predictability of the United States to the often gritty reality of Mexico. It can definitely be depressing at first to see so much more poverty, litter on the roadside, half finished buildings abandoned, things broken down, people seemingly hopeless, piles of leaves adding smoke to the haze and mirroring industrial smokestacks belching in the distance.

I think every journey has a membrane, a sort of deep disappointment that dashes the romantic fantasies cultivated during planning -- at first. I feel this depression each time I arrive in Mexico.... but then I wait.... Because I've learned that once I've adjusted to the inevitable disappointment, magic somehow comes my way afterwards, and no more often than in Patzcuaro.

I came early in Patzcuaro to prepare for the AP retreat and take a short immersion Spanish class. In the spirit of authenticity am staying first in an inexpensive Mexican run family hotel before the retreat starts at La Casa Encantada. It's a fairly basic place, with no English anywhere -- perfect for being challenged to use Spanish every day!

Beat from my overnight flight I checked in at about 8:30 am and went straight to bed for a "nap". Then, at about 11:00 I was awoken by some of the most beautiful choral Mexican folk music I have ever heard, and it was obviously live in the courtyard!! I stepped outside and the magic had begun. The hotel was filled with young people from all over Mexico, prodigies in guitar and string bass, and they were being led in their practices before a performance that will be held at the Teatro later today at 3:00 pm.

And here I was, with a miniature digital recording setup in my bags... I ran back to my room and grabbed the recorder and stereo mic, went up to the second floor and watched them practice while dangling the mic down into the courtyard space. I also took a couple of pictures. So here are my first gifts of magic to you. (click on picture to enlarge)

Click also on the links below for streaming music clips.
-- Angelic voices
-- Another group outside

I've come to believe more and more that if we are ready for a dream and are willing to let the first depression or disappointment pass, magic will blossom. There are dragons guarding every treasure and part of the hero's journey is not running from them or wishing them away but accepting that they have a purpose. People are often tested for their ability to not let a (paper) dragon squash their spirit. And they are also often challenged to keep believing, not in a romantic fantasy, but in the magic that *will* come as long as we stay patient, awake and open.


Vinessa • 08:03 PM •

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