Eco-Service Excursion to Mexico a success
Yoga in Action is the mission of the Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian projects and taking action is exactly what this group of 22 is all about!
On June 10, the Eco-Service Excursion to Mexico, lead by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, commenced as guests arrived in Puebla. The following morning, the group enjoyed exploring the historic city of Puebla, known for its colonial architecture, art and history.
The group then spent 3 days in Jonotla, a small town of 1,500 situated in the Sierra Norte mountains and home of the Himalayan Institute’s sustainable farming projects. While there, the group kept busy working–as well as playing–hard! Many hours were spent doing volunteer projects to enhance the Energy Farming Demonstration Farm. The group split into three teams who accomplished a lot.
“The intentions behind our excursions are much more complex than to simply provide a guided vacation,” explains one of the trip guides, Jeff Abella. “The purpose is always to give participants a chance to explore places that are not easily discoverable by oneself and while visiting these remarkable places, to interact as more than just tourists. Rather, we strive to make a positive impact in these communities by volunteering. The Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian projects provide a great platform to do meaningful work.”
When not volunteering, the group took in the local sites, including a cathedral built into the mountainside, which houses an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe etched into a rock face. The image appeared by miraculous means in the 1920s and is now an important pilgrimage site for believers, who travel from throughout Mexico each October to view the image.
The group got a taste for Jonotla, enjoying live music performed by a traditional singing group, Mexican feasts with homemade guacamole and tortillas, and a refreshing swim in a waterfall outside of town.
The second day in Jonotla, the group planted cinnamon, lime and coffee trees on freshly dug terraces on the Demonstration Farm. Afterwards, they traveled to a nearby town, Cuetzalan, to experience the beauty and sights of this historical town.
After a few days in Jonotla, the group embarked for the Gulf Coast. However, due to roadblocks set up as part of a 3-day protest over fuel prices, the bus was forced to turn back. This unexpected extra day in Jonotla provided a spontaneous opportunity for more adventuring. With local guides at the helm, the group hiked over 1 mile to swim in another river and went spelunking in a cave system beneath Jonotla.
After an early departure the following day, the group finally made it to the beach after group leaders and an intrepid bus driver figured out a route through rural back roads.
The long journey was worth the trip and two nights spent on the beautiful Costa Esmeralda consisted of lots of swimming, relaxing in the sand, and satsangs with Panditji.
After soaking up the sun on the beach, the group headed straight to Mexico City and left for home the following day.
This first Himalayan Institute excursion to Mexico was a hit. The group was able to truly experience the beauty, rich culture and warm hospitality of Mexico, as well as contribute to HI’s mission of serving the community of the Sierra Norte.