Kulturweit Seminar en Las Manzanas // Part IV

Hi friends,

in this blogpost I will tell you about what we did during the 5 day seminar in Mexico…

First of all, the seminar is mandatory and the travel expenses were covered by our organization Kulturweit. Each “region” had their own little seminar with about 20-30 people. Most of our people were volunteers located in Mexico, so that’s why the seminar happened there. Other volunteers were coming from Ecuador, Jamaica, Costa Rica  (us) and Columbia. I think in total we were about 20 people. We all met up with each other and our coaches for the week (Maria and Jero), at the Goethe Institute in Mexico City. I also met Nici again, who is my coordinator, as she works at the GI. She visited me and Charlotte a while back at our school, and just checked out the german classes and how everything was going. If we have any problems or questions we can always write her an email. And she’s a super sweet person as well!

Anyways, a bus then took us to a tiny village named “Las Manzanas” which literally translates to “The apples”  , and we settled in at this beautiful space –  wooden cottages, a nearby stream and all surrounded by the green mountains;  we found ourselves in the perfect environment for the upcoming seminar. A place where we would have time to reflect, think, maybe confront ourselves with problems and struggles that we have undermined, or to simply relax and get a quiet time-out. We spent the days talking about each others experiences, good and bad, our problems and challenges, our co-workers.. the things we miss the most about home, our future plans during our time abroad and also what we wanted to do when we got back to Germany. We had some really good exercises and talks with each other, and we just had created a “safe space”  where we could talk without being judged, compared – and where people would listen, help and support you. On my birthday, May 24th, we had a field trip to Mexico City, where we visited the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum. We had a little tour in each one of them, and a lunch break in between. Both were very very interesting museums that I can highly recommend. In the evening we had an appointment for a Temazcal ceremony , which is a type of sweat lodge that was used by indigenious people throughout Mesoamerica to purify the body after battle, to heal the sick or for women to give birth. Today it is described as a detox or cleansing for the mind, body and spirit. There were 4 rounds during the ceremony, in each more and more heated volcanic stones were brought in and thrown into the pit in the center, then a scented water was poured over them. Each round lasted about 20-30 mins, and we had breaks between them that lasted up to 20 mins as well. As most of us had never done anything like that before we had a moderate maximum temperature, but I don’t remember exactly how hot it got, but definitely hotter than in a regular sauna. The hut in which everything took place was round and made out of adobes. Everyone sat down on the floor with their backs against the wall. And just like in a sauna, we wore bathing suits. The hut was very small, so you couldn’t stand up straight in there (not even me). There was also a shaman, a woman (I don’t know if she was a shaman too) and a helper, who always brought the hot stones in through the little door. Before we started the ceremony we all got blessed by the woman. For every round they closed the door and it was completely dark in the hut –  we all closed our eyes and listened to the voice of the shaman. In the first round the scent of the water was rosmary, then lemon, then eucalyptus and in the final round we had menthol. They poured the water over the hot stones and the hut started to get  hotter and hotter, and the scent was just so strong that you could feel it going through your entire body. The woman and the shaman started singing and playing drums, they sang in spanish and in their own indigenious language – first we listened, then we sang along. We continously said “Ometeo”, which I don’t really now what it means to be honest, but I think it is their indigenous God. During the ceremony we also had to give thanks to whatever or whomever we were grateful for. We started the ceremony around 6pm and we got out around 10pm. At the end of the ceremony we all got an ice bucket dumped over us and finally we hugged each other when the Temazcal was over.

For me personally the whole ceremony really was like a cleansing, mostly for my body I would say, but the physical sweating kind of helped me to let go of draining thoughts and problems that I had cluttered up in my mind. Of course they weren’t gone after it, but I think I lessened the pressure and maybe even the importance of them. It was also more special for me, because it was my birthday and thus it felt like a “tiny rebirth.”  I had experienced something a week prior that had made my heart very heavy, and the ceremony  inititated a new beginning for me. Not  a big one, but a little one atleast. At the end of the day I hit my head on a window frame and I was bleeding a little, but mostly I was so in shock that I crawled up into an embryo position and I cried for a while. I cried because it hurt, but it also turned into a little burn-out. I cried lots, because I haven’t let out the tears that needed to get out a week ago, and I cried because at that moment everything was just too much for me. I had a mental breakdown and it was though, but I believe that these need to happen sometimes, to make you realize that you’re actually not okay and that being emotional is normal and necessary. I’m a person that tries to avoid conflict and problems. I like to ignore them or down play my emotions – like “oh I’m fine, I’m not upset or angry”  – when I really am though. My birthday was great, in terms of that I had a very emotional day, with lots of different energies and experiences, but in the end it was a good day, because I confronted myself with myself, and that just needed to happen. The seminar in total was amazing. It was so much fun getting to know the other volunteers better and to share our different experiences. It was the laying back, and looking at everything as a bigger picture that I so desperately needed at that time. It provided the time-out and emotional processing that my mental being had craved, and it reinforced my motivation for my upcoming time abroad, and gave me a new and better perspective on my current time in life.

What is really  important to you? …

 

Back in  Mexico City on saturday, Lina and I explored the area called “Roma”, which is a very hip, trendy and european inspired area with lots of little cafes, shops and different restaurants. We bought some souvenirs, ate amazing sushi that I had craved for a while, and simply enjoyed the countrys vibe one last time. I can’t explain how much I already love Mexico and everything it has to offer, but now after so much has happened I also feel a emotional connection with this country. I have a very strong feeling that tells me that I will come back to Mexico, and spend a lot of time there. We shall see…

Gracias Mexico – por todo. Nunca olvidaré las aventuras contigo.

//Olivia

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