My partner and I believe in community. To us, it’s the most intelligent and compassionate way forward and it’s our intention to get a headstart on creating what we believe everyone will eventually be looking for soon – a village, a family, a sanctuary. We arrived at our AirBNB in Puerto Morelos, Mexico and we said, “This could be it!” My partner saying that explicitly, and me saying it quietly to myself. We were wrong, and we were right.
We were right in understanding that we were now amongst people who believed in the same things we believed in and wanted to work on it together. We were wrong in that, we didn’t ask the jungle. In powerful spiritual places such as Mayan country, it’s a dangerous mistake to make.
Our AirBNB was titled with the words, “cozy,” “jungle,” “eco-lodge.” And there was so much to love about it. There was also so much to question about it.
- First thing we loved: we could exchange our gifts for our needs – a model we firmly believed in. I had spoken with our host and it was our intention to contribute our skills and get a discount on our stay. However, there were other people doing the same thing there. With all our skills and enthusiasm, how come not much was being done?
- Second thing we loved: it was off-grid! I had never lived off-grid before and it felt amazing to know where our resources were coming from. The electricity came from the sun and our water came from the underground pools of the nearby cenotes. However, the systems were constantly falling apart which tells us it wasn’t set up with care by the owner of the land (a different person than our host) – a case that was mirrored by how everything was on the messy side of “rustic.” I believe structures can be simple and beautiful and done with care with little resources, especially in the jungle that gives. If you looked around here, it seemed like everything was done fast and left the same by the original owners.
- Third thing we loved: the people. This is what truly kept us here. Like-minded individuals who wanted to create a community of people where sharing was the norm and where we can welcome more people in to heal, have fun, and build with us. Immediately it felt like family. We were sharing groceries, bringing the kid to school, birthing puppies together, having screaming matches that ended up in apologies over the kitchen table, baring our souls. However… why were there screaming matches? Why was there so much conflict?
I personally believe the answer to all this is in the power of the jungle. She takes you in, makes you release all your stories, and once you’re done, she spits you back out into the world – especially if she doesn’t agree with your intentions. We had come in there mid-project and even though we had only been there for a little over a week, my partner and I separately came to the same conclusion: no one had asked the land what it wanted. What did this jungle want to become? What was she naturally good at? What was this jungle already doing before any humans even stepped on her?
One thing’s for sure: the jungle we lived in was kicking asses since day 1.
On a Tuesday, after a long leisurely chat over the kitchen table, a group of people unknown to us walk into the property from the back gate. They speak fast Spanish and none of us people staying via AirBNB really know what’s going on except for our host. It turns out, the landlord was trying to get her to leave stating that she had broken her contract and wasn’t paying rent. They threatened to put their own friend in jail, the friend who had arranged the contract with our host. Apparently, they’ve done this a couple of times before upon hearing rumors from frienemies that our host is earning thousands – when really she’s just earning rent month to month. Eventually, they leave and the situation is left unresolved. Five minutes later a huge truck rolls in by the gate and none of us know why. We later find out this truck was hired by the landlords and instructed to take all our host’s things while she was out at the police (they assumed she would go to the police to file a trespassing report since they had trespassed on her intentionally.)
On Wednesday, our host tells us that the landlords figured out they screwed themselves over because of their illegal actions, and so now they had a deal where our host would stay until a certain time and pay half the rent. Then, the landlords could have their land back and earn the thousands of dollars they thought our host was earning through AirBNB. For a second, we dream of living there.
On Thursday, my partner and I go out to a coffee shop to write and separate our energy. At 3pm we get a call, “We’re getting evicted by the police!”
Obviously, the dream of a community here is dead.
We drive over and sure enough there’s loads of them with guns, and civilians packing all our host’s things up. She’s screaming bloody murder – a temper and a feeling of victimhood is one of the things the jungle seemed to be calling her out on. All of us guests have 30 minutes to pack our things and they offered us all a fancy apartment by the beach to separate us from her so she’s left completely alone – something I didn’t mention, she has a four-year old boy.
At some point, she threatens to burn the house down, seeming to forget there’s all of us in it. Grief and rage have clouded her eyes By some miracle, she listens to me when I say not to. If you aren’t centered, the Mayan jungle can make you crazy.
The civilians in charge say she has to go to the police to sign a document or else she will be arrested. They say if we leave with her in our rental car, all of us will get arrested. When we ask the police directly, they say no one is getting arrested today. I grab the puppies.
As we’re leaving, our host questions the police what they were even doing here today. They say, “We were here to protect you, but since you left willingly, we couldn’t do anything. We got you on video leaving willingly.” Say the paid policemen who 30 minutes ago surrounded her and her son with guns in their hands.
It’s Saturday now as I write this and part of me is writing just to decompress. Corruption, lies, the police, community, tears, confusion, mad dashes, starts and stops, the jungle. There’s so much to unpack still.
Whenever I travel, I have always asked to live as people normally live. I have asked for initiations into the land so I could enter with humility, respect, and with my eyes wide open.
I sure did get what I asked for.
My partner, processing why you can’t just step up into the jungle and say hey, this is what we want: