Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Time & money well spent: A Huichol healing ceremony & the beach at Yelapa

In the restaurant at Casa Isabel, a boutique hotel here in the hills overlooking Puerto Vallarta, I was happily reading the life-lines in some people's palms the other day. Most people have either an "American Plan" life-line, a "Stay out of the Army" life-line or an "I've lived through hell and survived" life-line -- but not very many people have a life-line that is very deeply cut into their palms. That kind of life-line indicates extremely good health. But today I sneaked a peek at the palm of a Huichol indian healer who was performing a spiritual cleansing ceremony on me, and his lifeline was the deepest one that I'd ever seen. But more about that later.

"I want to go to the beach today," announced my daughter Ashley.

"How about we go off to the beach down at Boca. It´s only a six-peso bus ride away and it's less crowded than the beaches in downtown Puerto Vallarta." But when we got to Boca, a rather large man grabbed hold of my arm and told me that if we ran like hell, we could catch the last boat to Yelapa. So we did. That is, Ashley ran. I just limped along really fast.

Once in Yelapa, we went to visit my friends Patricia and Valentin, ate shrimp tacos, guacamole and pie on the beach and then caught the last boat back to Boca at sunset. We didn´t get to go up to the YESI Institute where my friend Jean teaches Spanish in a palapa overlooking the bay but there just wasn´t time for everything. Sorry, Jean. Maybe next time? "That was the most refreshing hour and a half I've ever spent in my life!" I exclaimed.

But I was wrong.

The most refreshing time of my life so far -- with the possible exception of that time I toured a gold-plated Buddhist temple in Burma -- was the half-hour that I just spent in a SHOPPING MALL in Puerto Vallarta. Yeah you heard me right.
Way in the very back of the Plaza Caracol mall, they had a place set up for the San Adres Cohamiata Huichol indian tribe to exhibit their art. For me it was an immediate psychological hook-up. But don't listen to me babble on and on about how grand it was to be healed by a Huichol shaman or to discuss peyote with a tribal elder or to just stare in wonder at the Huichol psychedelic art. Go there and see for yourself. The show will be at the mall until March 15.

You can get there by taking the Romence R-3 bus line to Woolworth's (yes, they still have Woolworths in Mexico), transfer to the Versalles line and get off at the Plaza Caracol shopping mall. Ignore the department stores, the Pizza Hut, the telecom outlets and the clothing boutiques, and go straight to the back. Ask for Jubentino Lopez de la Cruz. Tell him that Jane sent you.

PS: I've seen peyote growing here, have learned that it is an alkaloid and an amphetamine, read books about it, watched home-made YouTube video scenes of it being harvested in the deserts of Chihuahua and even bought a "I (heart) Peyote" T-shirt -- but I have yet to find a connection who is actually willing to babysit me while I ingest the stuff. But I still have two days left here in Puerto Vallarta. Anything`s possible.

PPS: "Lift not the painted veil of life," warns the poet P.B. Shelley -- but perhaps if a lot more of us began to stare our fears in the face, lift the veils of perception and become more like the calm and peaceful Huitchol, then perhaps the human race would no longer be engulfed by its idiotic desire to spend 44 trillion dollars on useless weapons and unproductive war.