Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Everything is perfect as it is. This is the sense I had leaving the village of San Sebastian Rio Hondo. Despite leaving more aware of the disharmony and tensions alive in me, I was in deep gratitude. Shahriar and I were spending two weeks traveling in Mexico, and we had the opportunity to spend three of our days at a retreat center in the village. During those three days I had become witness both to a beautiful village of co-creation and to my own inner world.
San Sebastian is a small village in the mountains of Oaxaca, MX and has the population of around 1200. I was there visiting my hermanastra Kalindi and her family. Hermanastra means step-sister in Spanish and was a very amusing word/relationship to many of the indigenous people there. During our visit, Kalindi introduced us to a bit of her daily life and her three projects – Khadi Oaxaca, the retreat center, and the Ananda Learning Center. I was particularly excited to go shopping at the Khadi Oaxaca store. Khadi is a textile company born in San Sebastian. The philosophical origin of Khadi coming from Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence and an economy that would support India's independence.
“It is not enough to say that hand-spinning is one of the industries to be revived. It is necessary to insist that it is the central industry that must engage our attention if we are to re-establish the village home.”
The organic cotton is sourced from the coast of Oaxaca and the entire process of producing the thread, dyed fabric, and clothing happens in the village. We visited some of the men and women involved in various steps of process – from picking out the cotton seeds to spinning the thread and weaving the fabric. Everyone had the materials they need at their homes and worked from home on their own time, a supplement to what Marcos called the village life. The village life included all the ways the people traditionally tended to their lives – including tending to their homes, cooking, and spending time in their gardens and with their families.
Marcos is Kalindi’s husband and the first non-indigenous connection to the village. Years after being adopted into the village, he brought the inspiration behind the retreat center and Khadi Oaxaca. Khadi was a welcomed opportunity for people in the village to create some income while being able to remain in their traditional village lifestyle. They can work on their own time, at their own pace, and outside of the nine-to-five construct.
Leila, Kalindi’s daughter, would roam the village freely. A freedom foreign to the children I see at home. She was able to walk herself to school, hangout with the neighbors (old and young), and jumped around as free-spirited 6-year-old. Her wild-child energy and feeling of safety an inspiration.
On our second night, Kalindi guided us through a Temazcal (traditional sweat lodge) ceremony. The ceremony was around 3.5 hours in the evening, likely between 6:30pm and 10pm. Time was generally very loosely known in the village, a point Kalindi reminded and encourages us to engage with. In the ceremony we chanted, sang, and took turns sharing. We spoke about how we want to grow, what we want to release from our lives, the things we are grateful for, and anything else on our hearts and minds. The shares included many reflections around stepping outside of fears and insecurities, releasing control, and deepening relationships with family members.
During the day before the Temazcal, we visited the village’s hybrid Montessori school named Learning Centre Ananda. The garden in the school yard had many plants labeled in both Spanish and English. There are currently 33 students at the school between the ages of 3-12. The school was on break for two weeks during Easter, and while we were amazed at the space’s beauty and love the school’s philosophy, we will have to wait until next time to meet the teachers and students.
We spent the mornings chatting and eating breakfast at a table outside of Kalindi and Marcos’ house. During that time unexpected visitors often stop by and there was an almost constant flow of people, ideas, and languages. Everyone was welcoming and seemed to know each other, and despite having weak Spanish we were often included in the discussions. We spent a lot of time talking together about living harmoniously with the earth, plant medicine, and spiritual perspectives.
For me, the three days were filled with learning. Learning from my own comforts and discomforts, learning from the lived-inspiration of others, deepening my spiritual practice, and appreciating the wisdom of spending most of my day outside.
I look forward to my next visit!
Links to the various projects mentioned:
Khadi Oaxaca & Retreat Center: www.khadioaxaca.com
Ananda Learning Center: