The Story of Luke Maguire Armstrong (Alekosh), Co-Founder of The Integral Heart Education Center

Luke is a native of Bismarck, North Dakota and the author of “The Nomad’s Nomad”, “How we are Human”. and “iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About.” He’s an award-winning travel writer who’s spent time in 36 countries and worked on development projects in Kenya, Uganda, Cambodia, Guatemala, and in the Bronx, NY. His work to combat infant malnutrition attracted the attention of Christiane Amanpour and he was featured on the ABC News 20/20 Global Health Special.

His current focus is on financially enabling The Integral Heart Family Education Center that he co-founded with Mick Quinn & Débora Prieto in Antigua, Guatemala back in 2016. Here he teaches yoga, meditation, and philosophy to kids breaking free from the cycles of poverty they were born into.

Searching for an exit from debilitating neck pain that altered his course in 2015, Luke spent time living in Thai monasteries and studying yoga and meditation in Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico, Guatemala, and the US.

For the last five years a companion on his journeying has been an imaginary hamster named Jerry. His novel “The Release of Jerry the Hamster,” is on the final lap of finishing and he will be shopping it to publishers soon.

He currently resides in San Marcos, Guatemala on the coast of Lake Atitlán. If you go here and ask for someone by the name of Luke Maguire Armstrong, you will not find him. While in Guatemala the local Mayan people know him simply as “Alekosh.”

Where the Fine Art of DJing and Making Love Meet (Elephant Journal Article)

Being sexually active for the past two decades and a DJ for the past 11 years, I have recently begun to notice striking similarities between these acts.

When done properly, both are created on the same foundation: connection, seduction, stimulation, build up, climax, and reflection. In the instance of sex, there are two people, but in DJing, there is the DJ and the crowd. Seducing one person is a beautiful thing; but seducing an entire group of people, many of whom you’ve never met before, is truly an art.

Join me as I walk you through the art of DJing and making love, simultaneously.

You walk into a room where music is playing and we notice each other. I look at you directly in the eyes and give a subtle hint of a smile to let you know I’m interested. You smile back at me and my gaze remains unbroken as you shyly look away. I like that. The music is subtle with low BPM to hypnotize the audience and lay the foundation for what is about to come. The DJ toys with the low-frequency knob on the mixer at the perfect moments of each track just to remind you that he’s here. I also want you to know I am here so I approach you and introduce myself. We chat over drinks and the time seems to pass by without us even noticing. You’re smiling. I’m smiling. We’re enjoying each other’s company. The music and the atmosphere have put us all in a trance-like state. Intuition tells the DJ and I that now is the right time to turn it up a notch.

We get closer. After teasing for a while, I start touching you ever so gently as we begin to dance. The BPM rises intuitively as the mood of the room changes and more people flow onto the dance floor. Our heartbeats and breathing quickens, keeping pace with the tempo of the music. Your eyes, body language, and lips beg for me to kiss you. I pull you close to me and bring your lips inches from mine. I can now see and feel the extent of your yearning. I am in control and I can tell that you love it.

In the same moment, the DJ also knows he has us. We are his and he is in a groove operating purely on instincts. The music blends effortlessly from one track to the next so the crowd is blissfully unaware of any transitions. All they know is that they are immersed in the present moment and there is nothing else in the world other than here and now. The same goes for us. I see no one but you and you see none other than me. Our breath is in sync, and upon seeing the aching wantingness in your eyes, I grab you by your back with one hand and the back of your neck with the other. Your hands find their way to my face so as not to lose my piercing gaze. Our lips finally meet and there’s no turning back now.

We kiss ever so gently at first as everything around us slows down. What was once a crowded dance floor has now transformed into a space made only for you and me. Our hands wander to explore each other’s bodies just as the bass kicks in to mirror our pounding hearts. Faster they beat as the DJ raises the BPM ever so slightly. Tonight, he is our sexual guru.

I take you by the hand and lead you to a place where we can be more intimate. We allow the music to be the maestro of our approaching sexual encounter. We begin kissing again, softly at first and building up with the music to a more passionate and primal nature. I grab your hair and gently but firmly pull it back to expose your neck. I kiss it at first, then I start to nibble as you yelp with excitement. I pull away as the DJ kills the bass once more. Be here now with me and stare into my eyes before we move any further. I am with you and you are with me. Tonight, we are one.

A breakdown in the music with a lovely melody induces a feeling of nostalgia deep within everyone here tonight. We hear the crowd whistling and clapping to the beat where the missing bass drum would be. You and I have locked eyes and begin to disrobe each other; slowly, at first and kissing all the while. Our lips are never too far apart. Why would they be? We exchange soft smiles as we playfully tease each other. As our flesh becomes exposed, our savage nature takes over and we become wild beasts as the intensity of the bass drum slowly rises. Your nipples are erect and so am I. I lay you down gently then take your nipple into my mouth as you gasp. The music begins to build as the crowd’s anticipation for the drop increases. They want it, almost as much as you want me.

Lower I go, slowly and gently kissing your stomach every inch of the way down your body’s beautiful curves until I arrive at your clitoris. It begs for my tongue, but all it will receive right now is my breath. I look up and we lock our eyes once more. In this moment, the tip of my tongue finally makes contact with your clit. You yelp as the dance floor simultaneously erupts with excitement over the highly anticipated drop. The DJ is finally getting into his secret weapon that he was waiting for the perfect moment to unleash. The same goes for me. My tongue massages your clit as the DJ plays with the filter and delay effects on the mixer. I lick my finger and slowly slip it inside you to rub your G spot as the synth and bassline tickle the ears of the crowd.

Anticipation builds on the dance floor as it does inside of us. Sweat pours from the faces of those dancing just as the juices flow from your p*ssy. The DJ looks up and smiles at the crowd as they erupt with cheers of approval. I look up to smile at you. You smile back, grab me by the hair, and whisper softly, “I want you inside me.”

I bring my lips to yours once more so you can taste your own sweet juices as the dance floor breathes in the collective mixture of airborne pheromones. The DJ throws his favorite track in a loop before the drop, keeping the crowd in suspense as I rub the tip of my d*ck up and down the opening of your p*ssy. The crowd wants it, but you want it more. Their hands are in the air as yours dig into my back. The DJ and I give what is wanted, and both parties let out a sigh of ecstasy.

I am inside of you as the DJ is inside the collective spirit of the crowd. Now is the time where everything we have been waiting for and been wanting to give will be unleashed. The crowd dances uncontrollably as your body writhes with pure bliss. We all enter a collective trance-like state as the DJ plays the final peak-hour track. As the excitement builds on the dance floor, the same goes for our loins. They dance harder as we gyrate faster. Muscles begin contracting as you and I climax together in an explosion of pleasure. In this moment, we embrace one another as the music begins to fade. We melt into each other as our breath slowly returns to normal. Our hearts are pressed up against one another and our gaze is once again locked. We kiss once more as the crowd bursts out in applause as the DJ allows the final track to fade out.

Do you see what happened here? Conscious connection with a lover and the crowd are what made both acts such a loving and memorable experience for all involved. Good things take time. Deep conscious connection takes patience. I’m sure you can recall a sexual encounter that felt as if your partner was racing for the finish line and not delaying gratification by any means. This is not lovemaking and a similar approach behind the decks is not good DJing.

A true DJ knows not to start off his set with high BPM hard techno just as an exceptional lover knows not to hop on the express train to Pound Town. You need to build up to that and save it only if your intuition tells you that is what the crowd wants. The same goes for making love to your partner. You need to be gentle at first, allow a sacred bond to be built between you both, and listen to their body. That will tell you everything you need to know so long as you learn to read their body language. A lover must watch the body of their partner the way a DJ watches the movements and feels the vibe of a crowd. It’s only by tapping into the consciousness of those we wish to seduce that we will succeed in planting the seeds for a more conscious society.

At the end of the day, both the DJ and the lover are tasked with taking you on a journey of the senses. It is one of life’s true treasures to exchange acts of pleasure with another while receiving gratification in return. To take what was once an unsuspecting subject, and transport them into a realm immersed in unbridled and unhinged hedonism, is a great gift that takes years to master.

Whether it’s on the dance floor or between the sheets, there is no greater experience in this life than forging deep sensory connections with other souls. And if one day I find a way to blend these two blissful acts of art in motion simultaneously, I’d consider my life complete.

This article was featured on Elephant Journal on Feb 7, 2018: CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO ARTICLE

Guatemala: Lake Atitlán & The Integral Heart Foundation in Antigua

THE JOURNEY TO LAKE ATITLÁN

It’s been a while since my last travel blog and I’m definitely skipping over months of my journeys in 2017. I’ll get to them at some point, so bare with me.

Fast forward a half a dozen months since I flew into Cancun back in late January and my 180 day Mexico tourist visa was about to expire so I needed to leave Mexico for a bit. What better excuse to go and visit the neighboring country of Guatemala! Luckily for me, my friend Luke lives in a house overlooking the mile-high Lake Atitlán in the active volcano town of San Marcos, Guatemala. It’s good to have friends in high places!

After the 12 hour overnight bus ride to San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas, I stayed at the most recommended hostel from my fellow travelers: Hostal Puerta Viaja. It’s basically an enormous re-purposed colonial mansion located in the heart of the city. Every night they have a very affordable dinner available for their guests as well as nighttime musical entertainment in house.

Puerta-Vieja

My stay in San Cristobal this time around was short lived as I had booked a 5:30am bus ride to Panahachel, Guatemala the next morning so I could be in San Marcos before nightfall.

After arriving in Panajachel, the main port of Lake Atitlán, I immediately hopped on a boat to San Marcos to meet my friend Luke at his home, Lush Atitlán, on the lake.

SO… WHO IS LUKE?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself since he and I met back in the summer of 2016. I’ve heard and seen bits and pieces of his life and the more I get to know about him, the more interesting of a human being he becomes. He’s traveled to over forty countries, helped with the Founding of the Integral Heart Foundation and written multiple books; one of which is a novel he’s been working on over the past few years and was nearly finished with it by the time of my visit.

Below is a photo of him working on his current passion project, a novel entitled “Jerry the Hamster”.

Needless to say he has a unique writing technique.

He and I first met a little over a year ago while I was general manager of The Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido. One morning, he walked in to our 6:45am meditation session with an expression on his face that I knew all too well. Without revealing any intimate details of his life, I’ll simply say that he was going through a difficult relationship situation. Over the past decade of my life, I too have visited the same realm of despair and heartache more often than I’d like to admit. We became fast friends and have been following each other’s adventures in life ever since. Seeing his new home on the Lake in San Marcos and his work with the Integral Heart Foundation made me grow curious of who this guy really was and his vision regarding how he lives his life. While exponentially more people have been reaching out to me lately on how I have drastically transitioned from the corporate life to traveling and living abroad, I have been looking to Luke for my own guidance. I couldn’t think of a better way to truly understand a person than by living in their world for a while; so I did… and I was not disappointed.

MY FIRST FULL DAY ON LAKE ATITLÁN

“THE DAY OUT OF TIME”

I woke up early to meditate by the lake before venturing out. Around 9:00am there was a knock at the door. When Luke opened it, he was greeted by his friend Niels who joyfully exclaimed “Today is the day out of time!” Both perplexed, we pushed him for clarification. So he explained:

“The Day out of Time” is always synchronized with July 25th. Based on The Galactic Calendar, this is the 365th day of the year, but this day is no day of the month, and no day of the week. This is a day for sacred pause and celebration before the dawning of The Galactic New Year which is always July 26th!

Obviously the timing of my visit to the lake could not be better. So… how does one respond to news like this? You invite the man in for a joint and a guitar/drum circle of course! Not a bad start to the day out of time in my opinion. The rest of my day refused to disappoint as well.

Afterward Luke and I headed to Circles Cafe and Hostel to satisfy our munchies and my caffeine addiction. This incredible place was the logical next stop in our journey through the day out of time. I love my coffee, so having the below setting as my place to enjoy it only magnified my sipping experience.

 

After our food and my caffeine needs were satisfied, we wandered through the town meeting Luke’s friends, practiced counting to 10 in Mayan with the local children and catching up on all that’s been happening in our lives since we met last year. While exploring this new city, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the incredible artistry at every turn.

Save_the_World

Later on that evening, we headed to an outdoor improv class hosted by a friend of Luke’s.

To end the night, we had dinner at a restaurant that also happened to have a temezcal-like sauna. We went in for four doors, three of which lasted for 108 chants of our favorite mantras.

That more or less sums up the activities in our day out of time.

The following day was more productive and less eventful as I spent most of my time doing work for my recently launched business concept: P2P Puerto Escondido. Being in such a gorgeous and relaxing setting was perfect for me to put all my focus into the finishing touches for the company launch party back on August 12th.

The day after began with a fun twist on two very relaxing past-times/hobbies. It was called “Marijuana Yoga”. I don’t think I need to explain how this works, but just in case, I’ve provided a simple flow chart below.

Smoke marijuana -> Do Yoga -> Acquire food and coffee afterward

Not too long after coffee and breakfast, I received a message from my friend Miguel from Spain that I met several months earlier in Puerto Escondido while staying in Vivo Escondido Hostel. His message was pretty simple. See photo and caption below.

Are you here?

Indeed, Miguel.

SAN PEDRO (PART 1)

He just left San Marcos and was across the Lake in San Pedro. Being that I planned on heading over there at some point, I figured, why not now? The fun thing about being on the lake is that anytime you want to go to a different town, all you need to do is head over to the dock and wait 20 minutes or less for the next boat to come around. So I took the 6:00pm boat to San Marcos and checked in to Mikaso Hotel y Restaurante. When Miguel told me there was a jacuzzi on the roof I was sold.

Hotel_Mikaso_San_Pedro

Real quick thing to note before I go any further. San Marcos is the chill/hippie/spiritual/mindful/zen town on the lake while San Pedro is the party town. I do enjoy balance in my life. That evening we went for dinner and drinks at Bar Sublime, which is in a gorgeous location surrounded by local flora right on the lake. Shortly after we finished dinner, the DJ started playing. Long story short, I was both buzzed off the beer and displeased with the music so I inquired with the bartender regarding any openings for a DJ next weekend. He pointed me in the right direction and boom… I’m hired for next Friday.

The next day was spent relaxing in the rooftop hot tub and wandering around the city before returning to San Marcos.

BACK TO SAN MARCOS

After staying at Luke’s place for my first few nights, I decided to try out some new scenery… for less than $10/night why not? I stayed down the road in Hostel San Marcos for a couple nights. In a word: ‘meh’. Afterwards I checked myself into Hostal del Lago, it was easy to see that’s where I’d be spending the remainder of my time in San Marcos.

With an incredible staff, yoga available several times a day, fun night time group activities like drum circles, movie night, live music and karaoke, it is clear why this is the best hostel in San Marcos… possibly the best one on the lake. Oh, did I mention the views?

Hostal-del-Lago-San-Marcos-Pano

Aside from the place itself, it definitely attracted some incredibly interesting travelers with whom I made fast friends with. One of which was a traveling photographer from Chechnya who I was lucky enough to get some free professional DJ head shots from in an incredible setting.

Another was a traveling guitarist from Detroit. He and another hostel guest had a jam session one night. Good times.😎

YOGA FOREST

The day after checking in to Hostel del Lago, Luke asked me “Do you want to go to a cacao ceremony and ecstatic dance a little ways up the mountain?” Since he has been living on the lake for about seven months at this point, he has become quite privy to the more interesting happenings in the area. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot regarding proper traveling. My preferred method is most definitely having a friend that you met and connected well with in your travels that now lives in the place you want to visit. I highly recommend doing this whenever possible.

The day began with a visually stunning half hour trek up the mountain to the Yoga Forest. I had no expectations on what this place would look like before going, but if I did they would have been surpassed.

IMG_8365

Upon arrival, we were each handed our cup of hot cacao and sat in a circle with the rest of the group as ambient music played in the background. After a while, people rose from their sitting positions and started moving slowly to the music. The cacao was kicking in! Soon enough the group of roughly 30 people started dancing in tribal-like fashion to the music for several hours.

​Everything was more enjoyable than I imagined it would be. A combination of the natural high from the cacao, being half way up a mountain in the forest surrounded with incredible people from all over the world and views overlooking the lake easily made it one of the major highlights of my visit to Guatemala.

FINAL DAY IN SAN MARCOS: CACAO CEREMONY AND BHAKTI AT THE FUNGI ACADEMY

Yeah… my curiosity piqued when I found out that a Fungi Academy existed as well. Feeling adventurous one night, Miguel and I decided to climb up the mountain in the dark to see what it was all about. When we arrived at 9:00pm the mostly German inhabitants of the Fungi Academy were shocked that we made it all the way up the hill in the dark… and me in flip-flops. We chatted with them to get some information on the academy before heading back down the hill and they let us know of yet another cacao ceremony… this one with with Bhakti afterwards. So of course we got the info on that and climbed back up the mountain a couple days later with our new group of friends from Hostel del Lago.

We had some time to relax and enjoy the views while they were setting up the ceremony space, so we decided to get creative with some panoramic photos.

San_Marcos_Panorama

Morgan_Pano

German_Pano

Not too long after, we were called inside for a quick tour of the academy. I learned more about medicinal mushrooms in the next half hour than I have in all my life.

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When class was out of session, we all made our way to the ceremonial space, created another circle similar to the yoga forest and sipped our cacao while we all sang and chanted various songs and mantras primarily in English, Hindi and Sanskrit. It has only been about a year and a half since I incorporated chanting mantras into my weekly schedule. There is something to be said about the resonance and intention behind them that always leaves me feeling like some major shift happened within my body once I am finished. Doing it in large groups only magnifies this feeling.

BACK TO SAN PEDRO

By the time we finished chanting our last mantra in the Fungi Academy, we had about 2 hours to catch the last boat to San Pedro and about 3 hours until my DJ gig at Bar Sublime began. This was the first time I took a motorized boat across a lake in order to get to a gig. This is something I could definitely get used to, especially at sunset.

Before heading to Bar Sublime, I checked into what is known as the biggest party hostel on the lake… Hostel Fe. Before I was given the keys to my room, the bartender poured two shots of tequila, handed me one and said “Welcome to Hostel Fe!” It was easy to see how my stay here was going to go.

Off to my gig… just a two minute walk down the road from the hostel, how convenient. The interesting thing about Guatemala is that all music needs to be shut off by 11:00pm. Yes, ridiculous I know, but those are the laws and they are heavily enforced. Starting a nighttime gig at 8:00pm was interesting… and once the legendary trivia night was finished back at Hostel Fe, the crowd poured in and the last hour of my gig was the highest energy crowd I’ve had since La Piedra de la Iguana back in Puerto Escondido about a month prior.

VIDEO BELOW

The next day my new friends and I mostly hung out around the hostel, laughed as we recapped the happenings of the previous night and listened to music on the balcony. Other than that, things were mostly uneventful until the next day when Luke and I headed to Antigua to visit the children and staff at the Integral Heart Education Center.

THE INTEGRAL HEART EDUCATION CENTER IN ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA

So I’ll be upfront. This school was my main reason for coming to Guatemala. Don’t get me wrong, getting my visa renewed, visiting Luke, experiencing Lake Atitlán and connecting with dozens of extraordinary people were amazing add-ons, but I’ve felt called to visit this school the moment I saw Luke first talk about it in a video I saw of his last year.

I don’t believe in coincidences anymore, but I strongly believe in following signs. While I was still in the corporate world, shortly after I made my decision to leave New York and head to Mexico, I heard about a lunch and learn down the street from my office at the CBS corporate office known as “Black Rock“. After reading the communications e-mail from CBS about the lunch and learn, I was intrigued.

Come to a lunch and learn with New York native entrepreneur, philanthropist and author to learn how he turned an initial investment of $25 into more than 200 schools around the world.

You have my attention. This man turned out to be Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise and he is 5 months younger than me. On my 12,500 mile road trip through North America back in 2015-2016, this was the first book I read and I loved every page and chapter/(mantra) of it. Where did he get his original inspiration to begin this global organization? You guessed it: Guatemala. That’s when the seed was planted in my subconscious. Now let’s get back to our visit to the Integral Heart Center in Antigua.

Luke and I stayed just a few minutes walking distance from the center and when we arrived, the younger kids were in the middle of English class and upon entering a dozen or so of them began shouting “Luuuuuuuuke”. It was easy to see that he is popular with the kids here.

I was given a quick tour of the school, sat in on and participated in some of the classroom games and activities then was told the story of some of the kids. Hearing the story of the Hernandez children really hit me in the heart. Below is the video I made that helped to raise over $1,500 during my visit.

Though we’ve had support from a little under 200 individual donors throughout the world, we are nearing the end of October and are a little more than $21,000 short of our goal for 2017 to keep the school going. We’ll be doing some very hard pushing to get the money needed to ensure that these kids have a chance at life. It won’t be easy by any means, but we do not see failure as an option.

I’ve asked before. I’m asking now. And I’ll keep asking until we find sustainable funding and don’t need to ask individuals any longer. Anyone who has the means to donate, knows someone who can help or has any input on how we can achieve sustainable funding to give these 80 kids a real chance at life, please, please do so. Donate, share or reach out to me, Luke or Mick with any way you think you can help.

AFTER GUATEMALA

At the time of this article’s publication I have been out of the corporate world for just over two years. I’ve traveled extensively throughout much of North & Central America and have learned more about myself and the people that inhabit our world then I have in the 32 years prior. I’ve learned some of the greatest life lessons in my past two years and one profound lesson during my time in Guatemala that I’ll share now.

“Bucket lists” are not for me. I don’t have a list of places that I need to check off some imaginary list in my mind before I die. I started doing that while traveling and found it to be immensely unfulfilling. Looking back, the most memorable moments I’ve had in my life wasn’t witnessing the power of Niagra Falls, hiking through the narrows at Zion National Park in Utah, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland or camping out on the cliffs of Meat Cove in the northern most point of Nova Scotia. Don’t get me wrong, they were all incredible experiences, except maybe the Blarney Stone… I heard the locals get drunk and piss on it at night. Sorry for ruining the magic for anyone reading this.

What I’ve found in over two years of traveling is that creating deep lasting connections with some of the most incredibly inspirational people I have ever met in my life is what has filled my soul more than anything. I’ve left places on my journey that didn’t resonate with me and stayed longer at those that did. Because of these intuition-driven choices I’ve built deep purposeful relationships with the people who live there and now feel as if I have many places on this planet where I can call “home.” I now see home as a feeling rather than a place.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

From the time of my visit to Guatemala to this post’s publishing, many things have happened. I have returned to Mexico, test-launched a business concept (P2P Puerto Escondido) and abruptly left for central Florida to help a friend settle insurance claims after Hurricane Irma rolled through the middle of the state back on September 10th. My path has taken plenty of unexpected turns and if there’s one lesson I’ve learned it’s this: Life has some crazy yet exciting plan for me and my only job is not pay attention to the signs, stay on the path and not fuck it up.

Having faith that everything will work out for the best even in my darkest moments has proven to be the greatest challenge thus far. I would without a doubt be completely and utterly lost without the help and guidance from those I have met along the way. They have been the ones to help me open up to the beauty of the unknown. I am beyond grateful that I made the decision to take the road less traveled; there is no doubt in my mind that it has in fact made all the difference.

My Week in Tulum: A Shamanic Peyote Ceremony & Exploring the Natural Wonders with New Friends

The week I spent in Tulum was one of the major highlights of my journey through this region of Mexico. Not even getting bit by a stray dog on my first full day could ruin all that lie ahead of me. Exploring the natural wonders and participating in an inspiring plant medicine ceremony in this gorgeous coastal city with a bunch of new friends from all over the world can help you get over just about anything.


I arrived in Tulum late at night and was welcomed to the hostel by a couple of friendly Argentinian guys. Quick travel note: When traveling in Mexico be prepared to meet a ton of people from the following countries:

  1. Argentina
  2. Germany
  3. Canada
  4. Australia (This also goes for the rest of the world. These people are everywhere. There is no escape.)
  5. USA
  6. Obviously Mexico

First thing after breakfast the next morning I hopped on my complimentary rental bike from the Lobo Inn Hostel and headed into town. About five minutes into my journey I heard a dog barking behind me. Then it got closer… and closer… until the poor hungry bastard bit my heel.


Thankfully he found the stench of my feet unbearable and walked away immediately after the attack. I didn’t incur any major injuries or get rabies… I hope.

After drowning the wound in antiseptic, I then headed to visit my friend Rodrigo’s gallery, TAI Gallery located in downtown Tulum on the corner of Chetumal-Cancún/ Mexico 307 & Acquario Sur.


He and I met at an Ayahuasca ceremony in Tepoztlán back in February of last year. After the ceremony, we began to chat and he told me that if I were ever in town when he had a peyote ceremony I should join. Obviously I agreed and here I am in Tulum for a ceremony. That story I’ll save for the end of this post as it served as the grand finale of my week long stay in the area.

In his gallery, all the jewelry is made by the shamans of the Wixarika or Huichol community.


When they are at the ceremonias, they see what they have to do in their lifes, so kauyumari (the blue deer) gives them all the tools to keep walking and leave offerings.


One of these tools is the ability to make beautiful jewelry, so they have an income to buy food and a roof to live under.


All the jewelry is inspired directly from visions they have during ceremonies. The colours to put in, the history and prayer that goes into each bead they use is a gift of patience, love, and talent.

My ceremony would be at the end of the week, so I had plenty of time to explore in the meantime!

Tulum is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Mexico, so I made sure to explore them, along with the ruins, right after meeting up with Rodrigo.




After a couple days on the soft-sand beaches amongst the coconut palm trees I met up with my friend Finn from Germany. We met back at the Mezcal Hostel in Cancún and decided to go exploring the Ruins and cenotes of Coba just an hour north of the city.

 

COBA

After exploring and scaling the ruins of Coba, we rented some bikes and took off for the Cenotes just a few miles away.


Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.

Come join me on my descent into the Earth in the time-lapse video below.

Once deep inside the Earth, we were greeted by some of the freshest groundwater we’ve ever encountered. What better way to cool off after a day of scaling ruins and


I’m not gonna do what everyone thinks I’m gonna do and just…. flip out man!

Some live music at Batey in downtown Tulum after our adventure.


The next day I headed off to the hostel where the German girls I met back in Cancún were staying before we headed to what we were told were the best cenotes in the area.

But first I had to get a photo with the biggest dream catcher I’ve ever seen.


The term “dream big” became the recurring joke of the day.

We headed off on our 20 mile bicycle journey north of Tulum to the Dos Ojos Cenote.

Biking that long will work up a hell of an appetite, so before diving into the caves we made sure to order a ton of fresh ceviche.


Now we’re ready for our descent into the caves!

The cenotes Finn and I swam in in Coba the other day were no way as fun as the cenotes of Dos Ojos.

Of course we had to get a group shot before heading back to Tulum.


And of course someone’s bike chain had to fall off every mile or so on theway back.


Later that night we said goodbye to Yannick and Florian who were headed to Merida. This would not be the last I saw of these crazy Austrians.

 

To finish off my time in Tulum I would participate in an incredible peyote ceremony administered by my friend Rodrigo and a few others.

No phone usage allowed during the ceremony to allow deep introspection. I did however snap a photo of our Shaman guide the morning after the all night ceremony.


After the ceremony we gathered our offerings of fruits, vegetables and flowers and headed to the beach to watch the sunrise and gift them to the ocean. I’ve had many plant medicine ceremonies over the past year, but this one was very special and I wanted something to remember it.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a plethora of this jewelery available at Rodrigo’s TAI Gallery located in downtown Tulum. After browsing through the shop and seeing the gorgeous bracelet below with a vision of a bird weaved into into it, I immediately knew it was made for me.


The person I’ve been evolving into over my past year and a half of travel values the lessons and the experiences we take with us when our bodies die and are returned to the earth and our spirit returns to source. In my new way of living, material objects serve little purpose unless they act as a reminder to the aforementioned.

As of very recently, I was glad to hear that thanks to a little networking, my friend Lee was able to arrange an Ayahuasca ceremony at the same location we had the peyote ceremony the previous month.


It is one of the greatest gifts in life to play even the smallest part in the divine timing that helps connect others through ceremony.

Next stop: Merida.

Puerto Rico: My Experience with The People, Nature, Art, Music, Fashion, Culture, History, Politics, Love & Letting Go

My visit to 🇵🇷Puerto Rico🇵🇷 was driven by my desire to explore a connection with an incredible woman that I fell for back in Puerto Escondido in the summer of 2016.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while traveling, it’s this: Nothing ever works out exactly how I plan, but more often than not, things usually find a way to turn out infinitely better that way in the long run.

During my 40 day visit to La Isla Del Encanto I was delighted to have experienced so much more than I had originally bargained for.

THE PEOPLE

What I have come to realize is that one of the greatest personal benefits I receive from traveling is the deepening of my knowledge regarding the history and anthropology of each region I visit from the people who have lived their most of their lives. That said, I was delighted to find the Puerto Rican people to be among some of the friendliest I’ve come across in my travels throughout Latin America thus far. At every stop in my tour of the island I was greeted with a smile, open arms and a plethora of food… usually in the form of pork and plantains.

However, when it came to conversing with the Puerto Rican people in their native tongue it didn’t take long for me to realize that Puerto Ricans speak their own unique brand of Spanish. When attempting to speak their language, I was told that I talk like a Mexican. Well… at least I’m doing that right.😊

NATURE

Besides the people, the gorgeous landscapes and natural resources of the island have proven to be one of its most exquisite assets.

El Yunque Rainforest:

El Yunque is a sub-tropical mountainous rain forest located on the eastern end of Puerto Rico, where the trade winds first meet the island and dump the rain.

The Puerto Rico rainforest is a unique part of the U.S. National Forest System.

La Parguera

Christmas this year was spent wading through the drowned forests of La Parguera in the southwest coast of the island.

la-parguera-puerto-rico

El Rincon

El Rincon, the surfer’s part of the island, hosts beautiful coastlines and many beach-side restaurants.

el-rincon-sunset-pr

ART & MUSIC
It is now incredibly apparent to me that art comes in many forms and I recently had to rethink the way I encapsulate it. If you asked me how I would define art, my answer would be this: Devine love transformed into a tangible gift for the senses of others. When a musician performs from their heart, those lucky enough to bare witness feel it stir something deep within themselves. This was a pleasant surprise for me on more than one occasion during my time in Puerto Rico.

Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar aka ILE (of Calle Trece)

After hearing recordings of her angelic voice fill the halls of the Sanctuary back in the summer of 2016, I moved my arrival date to Puerto Rico up a week so that I’d be able to catch this incredibly talented and beautiful artist perform live at Teatro Tapia in Old San Juan. Although she’s only 27 years old, she has an incredibly mature talent with a fan base that spans several generations.

Lucky for you, I recorded a portion of my favorite song from her performance that night back in December 2016.

Roberto Roena (The Puerto Rican Godfather of Salsa)


When it comes to salsa music, it’s not usually my go-to genre, but I will say this: Roberto and his band know how to absolutely rock a packed club!

Claudi of Pinc Louds

One Sunday morning we went to an event, Hangover Brunch, where her friend was performing and I was surprised to find the artist, Claudi of Pinc Louds, from New York City was also performing in the hipster region of Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Street Art of Avenida de las Artes in Santurce Arts District

The arts district starts at ‘Stop 12’ in Miramar and continues for approximately 4 miles with the largest concentration of arts, culture, nightlife and entertainment in the Caribbean! We made sure to spend some time in this area to behold some of its breathtaking street art.




street-art2

street-art1

FASHION
I just wanted to add this little tid-bit regarding men’s fashion in the Caribbean as I find it to be fascinating. Being considered a stylish man anywhere in the Caribbean is actually quite simple. All you need to do is wear a short sleeve button down shirt with four pockets on the front. Make sure there are FOUR pockets! I cannot stress this enough! That’s it. You are now a Carribbean fashion icon!

zoolander-so-hot-right-now-puerto-rican-fashion

CULTURE, HISTORY & POLITICS

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian

As divine timing would have it, the final weekend of my visit just happened to be the biggest party weekend in Puerto Rico. That’s right, I was there to experience the San Sebastián Street Festival in Old San Juan. On this long weekend in mid-January from Thursday to Sunday all the roads in Old San Juan are closed off to motor vehicles. Over 200,000 people were shuttled in by the busload and the entire city becomes one giant festival filled with music, dancing, food and of course drinking.

For those who don’t know, San Sebastián was this bad-ass from the third century AD who was crucified by the the Roman emperor Diocletian’s reign during the persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows. Despite this being the most common artistic depiction of Sebastian, he was, according to legend, rescued and healed by Irene of Rome. Shortly afterwards he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and celebrated in the streets of Old San Juan for one weekend every year.



Promise Law:
From my understanding, Promise Law in Puerto Rico can be summed up like so: Seven people from the United States come to the capital of Puerto Rico to decide what is best for it’s people. The governor basically gets their coffee and/or any snacks they require and then proceeds to tell the Puerto Rican people that all is good.

I would like to point out two things regarding Puerto Rico’s economy. First of all, Puerto Rico is in serious debt. Secondly, one of the major catalysts for this are taxes that the United States imposes on them grossly outweigh the financial benefit they receive in return as a colony. The American Revolution was started because of taxation without representation, so it’s no surprise that many of the Puerto Rican people want to either be their own country or become the 51st state.

Whilst in a bookstore, I happened upon a book entitled “Free Puerto Rico”, so my curiosity got the best of me. I flipped to the first page and this is what I found:

The Pardon of Oscar Lopez: For those who don’t know, he was one of the leaders of FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional). His Presidential pardon occurred during my visit in the twilight of Obama’s presidency. Oscar Lopez is to Puerto Rico what Guy Fawkes is to England and the rest of the world.

I feel this is an important part of history to reflect on to better understand how imperialism, colonization and policing the world have proven time and time again to be major catalysts in the rise of radical terrorist activities worldwide.

One artist in a gallery I came across in Old San Juan had an interesting take on American foreign policy in a vivid portrayal shown in the painting below.

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It’s incredible how perceptions change when you look at something from the outside rather than from within. This holds true not just for nations, but for relations as well.

LOVE❤️ & LETTING GO😢

Distance is an interesting thing. The well-known and somewhat trite saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has time and time again proven to be true throughout my life.

My favorite 19th century poet and writer, Kalil Gibran, paints a much better picture with his words when he speaks of togetherness in his masterpiece, The Prophet:

Let there be spaces in your togetherness.

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each others’ cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the Cyprus grow not in each other’s shadow.

The time I spent in Puerto Rico was without a doubt one of the fastest 40 days I’ve lived so far on this earth. I now have a much deeper understanding of relativity after my visit.

It’s a beautiful thing to be lucky enough to have someone in your life that you can miss when they are not in your presence. It’s even more beautiful feeling as if they are right beside you even when you are thousands of miles apart.


My appreciation and understanding of art has grown exponentially in recent years. If I had to choose my favorite medium, it would be the ephemeral human being as it flows graciously through life.

I see art in watching someone lovingly dance through the kitchen as they prepare a delicious meal. There is art in transforming the tears of screaming toddlers into smiles and laughs through song. Art can be stepping into a house full of strangers from all corners of the world and immediately inquire if those preparing dinner would like any help. And of course, it truly is an art to breathe new life into the heart of another that lost its way not too long ago.

I’ve experienced so much from so many different relationships in this life to perceive love the way I used to. The most profound lesson I’ve integrated is understanding the difference between love and co-dependence. The easiest way I could exemplify the difference between the two is thus:

  • Co-dependence says “I need you and can’t live without you.”
  • Love says “I want you in my life but I wish you the the greatest happiness possible in yours, even if it isn’t with me.”

It wasn’t that long ago when I mistook co-dependence for love. I was however lucky enough to discover the remedy for this common misconception; that being self love. It is only when I learned to truly love myself that I was able to fully embody the love of another.

Now I have no intention of bestowing upon you all the juicy details of my love life, but there some less intimate parts that I am more than happy to share.

There was one thing she said to me last summer that still rings true in my heart today and I’m sure it always will. Six little words that completely changed the way I look at love and relationships in general.

I don’t want to own you

😳 ¿Como?😳

After hearing that, I took some time to reflect on all of my previous relationships and had a major revelation as to where they had all gone wrong. Each and every one, in its own way, felt like a mutual ownership of the other person’s free will. It was almost as if I signed up for some form of consensual slavery. Whenever the relationship ended, after the grieving portion at least, I always felt a deep sense of freedom wash over me. This major realization changed everything. I have the utmost of gratitude for the opportunity to break free from these mental chains I’ve carried with me throughout most of my life.

Though our time together was short-lived, having it come to an end hurts in a new and beautiful way. It was the first time I shared a mutual love with someone where we could appreciate each other for exactly who the other person is at their core. The major reason for this being that I only recently figured out who I really am.

It was only when I started to understand, appreciate and love myself that I was truly able to welcome the same from another. Reaching this milestone in my ever-expanding emotional maturity has forever changed me and I am eternally grateful for the experience.

So what’s next for us?

Facing the fact that we would once again be separated for another extended period of time, we both decided not to continue the same long-distance relationship path that we had for the 5 months before my visit.

Living this new reality hurt us both deeply, but we welcome the pain with all its intensity. What better way to grow and evolve than to allow all the feels to wash over us.

A dear friend and one of my life’s greatest teachers once said:

Sometimes it really sucks being a human

I couldn’t agree more. The bright side of the less desirable moments of life is that the pain we feel in the wabi sabi of life helps us grow, evolve and make the pleasurable moments that much more enjoyable.

Though we are no longer together, I have absolutely no regrets regarding the time we invested in each other. In being with her, I gained a much deeper understanding of what love truly is.

In this particular case of love and letting go, I plan on taking the alchemist’s approach to coping with the pain.

So, what will I create? I have a good idea thus far, though I’m not yet ready to share it, and am always open to new avenues of inspiration. Lucky for me, my third backpacking trip through Mexico has begun. What better way to heal a bruised heart and find the missing pieces of our soul than to travel?

And what better next stop after a break-up than Cancún?

I’ll leave you now with a few select lyrics and a link to the video of a very special song that I’ve had on repeat for some time now. No other lyrics at the moment more accurately capture my feelings and state of mind after leaving La Isla Del Encanto.

❤️🙏🏼❤️

The road will teach you how to love and let go

It can be lonely but it’s the only thing that we’ve ever known

I’ve traveled half way across the country and back

Only to find love undefined and I’m okay with that

‘Cause I’m gonna be a guardian

Be a man among men

Be a guardian

Be a man among men

Or be a woman among women

Be a guardian

Be my friend

~Nahko & Medicine for the People – Wash it Away~