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(I made this video myself with my own footage & photos)

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The Goddess

During my trip to Tulum, Mexico last November for my retreat preparations, I went for a long walk on the beach.  As I walked along I noticed a group of people up ahead with large white reflectors, “Aah.. a photo-shoot”, I thought.  As I approached I could see a photographer behind a very expensive looking camera and about twenty people milling about.  They were a young, bikini and bathing suit clad bunch, covered in tattoos, very slick and hip.  “Hmmm…”, I wondered, “What could this photo-shoot be for?”, it looked professional.  As I got closer I could hear hip hop music playing, as I arrived they stopped shooting and a man with long white hair stepped forward, hair brush in hand, and there she was, “the model”.  Her beauty hit me the like an air conditioned room hits you when retreating from the blistering heat.  Her bronzed flawless skin, her long lean legs, her tiny waist and sparkling turquoise eyes almost knocked me over.  She was… a Goddess.  I felt a slight tinge of envy and wondered what it would be like to be her, to be the centre of attention and be considered, in our modern day society, a Goddess.  It was a Victoria’s Secret swimsuit photo-shoot.

This is a shot from the Victoria's Secret photo-shoot I saw.

As I continued on my walk pondering the sight I had just encountered I chuckled to myself at the sight.  We live in a world that worships beauty and as I gazed upon that beauty I could completely understand it.  We are wired to love and idolize beauty, it is in our DNA.  It is for the survival of our species, we repel against the unsightly and gravitate towards beauty.

Later that evening, I recalled an incident when my son was about a one and a half years old.  We were in a store, I browsed as my son explored the small play area in the corner. I kept an eye on him as I looked around.  I turned my head for a moment and suddenly my son had his arms around my legs trying to climb up, “Carry you!”(it was his way of asking that I pick him up), he said desperately, he seemed scared.  I knelt down to see what was wrong and then saw another little boy approaching, around two, who had followed my son.  His face was swollen and deformed with dark purple skin.  I could see he wanted to play, sadness and confusion in his eyes due to my son’s reaction.  But my son was terrified, crying with fear, he jumped into my arms as the boy came closer.  I tried to turn my son towards the boy and “make friends”, but my son was so terrified he screamed when I turned towards the boy.  My son motioned for me to stand and pointed to the door wanting me to carry him away.  I looked around for the mother but she was no where to be found.  My heart broke for the sick child, I wanted to shield him from my son’s reaction. I did not know what to do, it all happened so fast.  My son was too young for an explanation so I chose to retreat.

I sometimes think about that little boy, and wonder what it would be like to be him.

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The resort is a little village made up of cute cabanas... on the perfect beach.

I’m back!  I was away for a week on a reconnaissance trip to Mexico to check out the Maya Tulum Resort where I will be leading a retreat next November (details coming soon).  I am thrilled to report that the resort and the area was everything I had hoped it would be.

The cute cabanas.

The resort is located in a region of small boutique hotels just ten minutes from the Tulum Ruins in the outskirts of the small town of Tulum (one and half hours South of Cancun).  There are no beach vendors or time share salesman!

After dinner on the day of my arrival, I lay in the moonlight gazing at a billion stars, it was heavenly to say the least.(Yes that is moonlight not sunlight!)

The resort is on the most beautiful part of the beach: clear turquoise water, fine white sand, warm and breezy with lush tropical vegetation. The atmosphere is, in one word, HEAVENLY. There is a peacefulness and tranquility to this place that time slows down, each day felt like a week.

The food was delicious, the spa treatments sublime, the atmosphere relaxed. The excursions were everything I had hoped; interesting and fun.

Sunrise... the view from my cabana.

I have to tell you I had never gone on a retreat for myself, a vacation focused on “me” time.  Even though this was not a real retreat for me as I was very busy running around taking pictures and checking everything out, I did feel the time away, the daily yoga classes, the fresh food, the ocean, the quiet, the time to reflect was having an effect on me.  With the incredibly busy life I lead, I cannot remember the last time I had the time to just “be” with no one else’s needs to consider but my own.

The beach was perfect.

Each day I felt my “gas tank” filling up.  By the end of the week I felt restored and refreshed.  It was like pressing the re-boot button.  Physically, I felt stronger, healthier, energized and more flexible from the daily classes.  Mentally, I felt more at ease, had new perspectives, fresh ideas, realizations and creativity brewing.

The Tulum Ruins sit on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, beautiful!

Most people stayed at the resort and relaxed but since I was there to check things out I went on a few excursions.   They were everything I had hoped they would be.

The Tulum Ruins beach was stunning and very refreshing!

First, I went to the Tulum Ruins, the only Mayan city  on the ocean.  There is something magical about visiting a place where ancient people once roamed.  The turquoise water was perfect for a refreshing dip!

I felt like Indiana Jones being around these pyramids.

Incredible views of the Sian Kaan biosphere reserve from the look-out tower.

Incredible view from the lookout tower of the Sian Kaan biosphere reserve.

My second excursion was to the Muyil ruins, a smaller less visited archaeological site.  I felt I was in an Indiana Jones movie being around those pyramids!  We then walked through the jungle and climbed a look-out tower for an incredible view of the area; the Sian Kaan biosphere reserve, beautiful!  Exiting the jungle we were welcomed with fresh succulent fruit before we boarded a boat for a ride across the lagoon to an ancient canal where we visited a secret Mayan temple, Indiana Jones indeed!

The ancient canal we floated down at the centre of the lagoon - a magical place.

Then we jumped in the canal and floated along with the gentle current…  enchanting.  Back across the lagoon we were greeted with wine and cheese.  It was a fabulous day.

My last excursion was to the Aktun Chen caverns. I had never been to such a place, I was blown away!  The area around Tulum is made of limestone, a porous rock, when it rains the water sifts through the limestone and creates rivers and water holes underground.  We walked for an hour through the most amazing caverns filled with thousands of stalactites, stalagmites and natural sculptures (and a few bats, but really, just a few).  My photos don’t do the place justice, you have to feel the sheer size and other worldliness of the place yourself.

Inside the caverns I felt like I was on a different planet.

On the way back we stopped at the Xunaan Ha Cenote for a swim, a Cenote is when the ceiling of an underground sink hole collapses making it an above ground sink hole, perfect for swimming!  The water is fresh and sweet.  While there, scuba divers emerged from underneath!  They had just been diving in 20 km of tunnels under the sink hole!

The lusciously swimmable cenote.

The rest of the time I went for long walks on the beach (where I bumped into a Victoria’s Secret swimsuit photo-shoot! but more on that later), swimming in the ocean, lying in a hammock, reading, making new friends, massages, a clay mud treatment, walked to the little town, lay in the sun, eating delicious food….  so much to do so little time.

I just loved this painting at the entrance to the cenote.

All in all my trip was a great success, I’m already looking forward to returning next year for my first annual retreat, hope you can join me, there is still a lot to discover! (Sunday night salsa dancing and snorkeling with turtles, for instance).

The fine white sand... I spent the entire week barefoot.

PS.  Double-click on any photo to see it bigger.

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