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Traveling Solo but not Alone

Alicia Maria Sánchez
by: Alicia Maria Sánchez
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Traveling Solo but not Alone

Michaël and I have been married for almost 20 years, and we have 3 lovely adolescent children. With all our home and work responsibilities, we usually try to travel by ourselves once a year, to reconnect, rest and reset. This 2020 the Covid Pandemic had worn me off in so many ways. I needed this escapade with Michaël so bad, but he was dealing with too much at work and couldn’t take the time off. He told me to go ahead and take a break on my own, a personal respite from everything.

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At first it sounded like a bizarre idea. I have traveled without my family before, but I typically make those trips with friends. I had done some Vipassana Meditation retreats long ago with Michaël, where we were in absolute silence for 10 days. I loved those retreats, so I thought maybe going by myself wasn’t such a bad idea after all. When you are silent for a long period of time it’s sort of like if you were alone.

So I made up my mind and took the leap. I drove my car from Guadalajara, my hometown, for almost 5 hours to get to Boca de Tomatlan, the last port you can arrive at by land when going south of the Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta. The Xinalani panga was waiting for me on this fisherman’s folkloric little dock. It takes only 10 minutes to go from there to Xinalani’s premises. At that moment, jumping onto the small motorboat, taking off my sneakers and putting on my flip flops, I felt like the adventure had begun.

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For the first two days in Xinalani I tried to remain as silent as possible and didn’t approach anyone. I felt like I was doing a Vipassana Retreat. One day at dinner time a nice gentleman came by my table and asked me if he could sit down, and I said no, lol, I really wanted to be left alone!!

I took yoga classes every day, morning and afternoon sessions, and I noticed that my classmates were the same every time. So naturally we started to become friends without really trying. I ended up laughing with a beautiful Cubana named Yanina at the end of one class. We decided to sit together for dinner and invite Gabriel, the nice American man who had approached my table the other day… and before we knew it, the crew started to grow. Two additional couples jumped in as well. Later came Jigna and Darleen.

I started to call them “la banda” (the band). Then, long night meaningful conversations about life followed. We were perfect strangers who willingly shared our deepest worries and secrets with each other.

We decided to do a Temazcal together. I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable on the topic as I have done plenty in several places throughout Mexico. To be honest, I thought the Xinalani Temazcal would turn out to be a tourist trap. I was so wrong: it resulted in one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The shaman who guided us took it seriously and truly made everyone go through the real thing. A beautiful afternoon where we all spoke from our hearts and shared many personal stories: one of my friends had just lost one of her ear’s hearing, the other had undergone a difficult divorce, one of them came out as claustrophobic and was only able to make the Temazcal with everybody’s support. I myself had a story to tell: my dear childhood nana had just passed away and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. We all cried together, hugged together, stood together.

When I close my eyes I remember my body suspended in the sea, floating, recharging. The way water renews everything… flows… I wish I could somehow keep on with my daily life but remain in that moment of peace and connection forever. As the sea rocked my body, I thought of myself as “the mother”, “the wife”, “the friend”, “the daughter”. But there, in that precious moment, it was me, just ME.

In our everyday lives we keep on running and running, searching for so many things, wishing to accomplish… we overlook that we already ARE. And that’s enough.

I’m not sure if the creators of Xinalani know how much this place changes people. I spoke with Ana Paula, one of the owners, the other day, and she said: the magic is done by nature, the true connection we all have with it and have failed to recall for so long.

We said goodbye to each other as if we had been friends forever, and came back to our bustling lives with the promise of never forgetting.

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Our office hours are from 9am to 6pm (GMT-5).
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Bienvenido a Xinalani, ¿En qué puedo ayudarle?
Nuestro horario de atención es de 9am a 6pm.