31 of us are in Mexico. I’ve taken care of countless details and, with the help of a few valued mentors, put together my first yoga retreat. 30 people have trusted me to take care of all kinds of things, from flights and shuttles and boats, to donkeys to carry luggage, incredible and healthy food, lovely accommodations, excursion options and a lot of mystery.
So, after breakfast on a rooftop and time to explore a bit of Puerto Vallarta, we have taken a 45 minute boat ride south, to the little village of Yelapa, where there are no roads for cars, and everyone walks to where they are going. We’ve taken a group photo, and, with the exception of one or two who are settling from a wave of seasickness, are feeling excited and curious and happy.
Half the group goes to see their casitas, and the rest of us are walking up the cobblestone hill to where we will be having our delicious meals for the week. Then, taking the stairs, one of my students falls. She is a very petite Japanese woman, who I’ll call H, and her American husband, G, is with us. Immediately, we go to her, me, G, and a lovely man named Dennis, who happened to be a retired emergency room nurse. We carry H to a sitting area in back of the restaurant and assess her injuries. They weren’t minor. We could see the bone of her thin arm showing through a cut. The back of her head also was lacerated and bleeding. And something was wrong with her hips or pelvis…we weren’t quite sure. It did not look good.
First thought: HELP HER NOW!
Second thoughts: Holy Cow! It’s day one! We haven’t even gone to our rooms! Is this really how this is starting? What else is going to go wrong? Did I make the wrong decision? Is this a sign? Oh no, oh no, oh no!!!!
Third thought: HELP HER NOW!
We got some direction from the wonderful women who were running the show, to fetch the local doctor. In Yelapa, they have a rotation of interning doctors come for a 6-month residency. There are none, that I know of, who actually live there full-time. AND, it’s Sunday, the day of rest. The doctor, who looked to me like he was maybe 15 (but was actually an appropriate age and very adept), was relaxing somewhere on the beach with his family. So, of course, someone hopped on a horse and went to search, and came loping back with him.
El doctor took great care of H’s wounds, but couldn’t assess what was wrong with her pelvis without x-rays, and suggested going back to Puerto Vallarta for those. But H decided to stay put and rest instead. She was in pain, and couldn’t really walk, so stay put she did, for the entire week.
After the initial concern and slight panic that we felt, an amazing thing happened. Little by little, people from our group came forward to give so much to H. Some brought her food or flowers, a cup of tea or a check-in visit. Among us were an energy healer, massage therapist, the former nurse previously mentioned, and a lot of very loving souls. Over the week, H was attended to in ways she was not used to. In her culture, it is unusual for a woman to be the focus of a group and to receive such attention. This was not easy for her, but she was so very gracious and grateful, and allowed this care. G was able to dote on her in ways he’d not expressed in their time together, because of her experience with the roles of men and women in her culture. G told me later, overcome with emotion, that it had been the most bonding experience for them. The had a gorgeous little casita with the ocean breeze going through and gently blowing the curtains, no computers, no phones, just a couple of books, and each other.
They never made the trek up the 179 stairs to Sky Temple where we practiced yoga, that year. We carried H on our group outings in the village to eat, but she was unable to hike with us to a waterfall. And she had to be carried down the dock in Puerto Vallarta, when we returned.
AND, get this. They were the first two people to sign up when I announced, mid-week, that I was going to have another retreat there the following year. The first ones!!
Here’s what I was reminded: Everything happens for a reason, even and especially if it’s not clear. I witnessed something so deep and special between this couple, because of what happened. I witnessed the joy of all those in our group who were able to give of themselves and share their acts of service and their talents. I witnessed H’s humble receptivity, her opening in new ways. I witnessed all of us making the very best of a situation which, at it’s onset, appeared to be so wrong.
I learned that, for the most part, the kinds of people drawn to a yoga retreat are good and fair people, not casting blame where it doesn’t belong. I learned that in traveling this way, there will almost always be something, if not several things, that appear to go wrong. I learned that trusting in my own guidance system is the most important thing I can do. I learned that being present and taking right action will help me get out of my own way. And that things are usually alright, if not all right.
What wonderful memories I have of your yoga retreat. They will stay with me always. Thanks for posting.
That Maiden Voyage retreat was pretty special! I am forever truly grateful that you and Suzy and so many of my students were there.
That could have been a disastrous failure of a trip; very nice how they all came together to help her. Also, to have her feel appreciated and loved may help her and her husband to continue to see to her needs (and not just his). Being exposed to less chauvinistic values may have long-reaching effects to her advantage. Excellent post Sabre !!
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Bob! Yes, everything was pretty magical at that first retreat…