One fun thing that happens when you step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in an absolute new reality is something I like to call “the dream swift”.
It is a very straightforward theory which lacks a more authentic name. Basically, I am talking about how our night dreams are interestingly affected by the atmosphere that surrounds us and how our mindset and mood changes are made clear by the things we dream.
That Saturday March 27th in El Veinte I woke up in my hammock outside for the fourth night in a row, just covered by the early morning sky and a couple of spider webs carefully built between the two wooden poles from which I hanged. I dreamt of trees, water and the beauty of the jungle and hand-made corn tortillas, it was a timeless dream where nothing happened. It was just there, a weird sensation of belonging to another lifestyle.
I stood up, Rosa was in the kitchen and I really felt like having a coffee.
During the morning Julia, Claudia, Tian and myself reviewed the material and the insights from last day’s workshop. The night before we had defined together with some key actors from the community the main challenges and aspirations for the tourism and handcrafts enterprises in town. Now we had a wall full of post-its and a lot of abstract shapes and lines in some big pig pieces of paper waiting to be arranged in order to start generating ideas in the second phase of the workshop. After some hours we had everything ready: we had the material, the dynamics, I even knew what was I going to say, we were just worried about something: that nobody would show up.
We decided to calm down our anxiety by starting a publicity campaign, we launched an “El Veinte” version of what would be a Facebook Event Post: the loud-speaker… which is basically paying 10 pesos to Mr. Miguel (a small shop owner) to let us use his loud-speaker tied at the top of a tree to give announcements to the community. First he plays 30 seconds of a popular song to call everybody’s attention, then he gradually plugs the microphone in… “hello, hello, this is an announcement to all the community” we must start saying, then he lets us do our thing two consecutive times before playing 30 more seconds of a goodbye song.
In the afternoon, after a delicious mole meal, we drove up with Felipe, Rosa’s husband, to the town of Xpujil to get some telephone signal and a cold beer. On the way back I was way too dusty to ride in the back of the pick-up again so I sat in front with Felipe, and I had one of the best conversations of the whole trip, a conversation which reminded me of my dreams of that night…
“Some years ago” he started saying after I asked a couple of questions about the jungle ”someone got taken by The Mountain”. I looked at him with confusion so he continued his story using a slightly mysterious and epic voice:
“He was the husband of one of my cousins, he went hunting one day but he didn’t come back so after three days myself and other men from the village started to look for him. We found him after a couple of days of search but he was almost unrecognizable, he couldn’t speak, he was walking in his four legs, his hands were bleeding and muddy and his clothes were almost all gone, The Mountain had tuned him into a beast. But that’s what happens, that is what the mountain does, you get lost and she adopts you in the kingdom of wildness.”
“What happened after?” I asked
“Well, we had to tie him down to bring him back to the village, he started recovering his humanity after some hours, but when he really came back is when we arrived in his home and saw everything prepared for his funeral, then he got really angry and started yelling, but at least he was a human again.” He finished.
That story was to stick to my head all day, partly because of the story itself, but mostly because it impressed me how he referred to the jungle as The Mountain, as it was a living entity with will by itself.
That night we started the second phase of the workshop with only three people, but soon we were around 8, a very heterogeneous group, we realized it was the perfect group size to maintain a fruitful conversation where everybody could participate. It was truly great to be there listening to all those honest and creative ideas from people from the community.