“¡Vamos a Mexico!” This is quite often on my mind–the culture, the language, the food and the climbing. The colorful buildings, textiles and papel picado that fill the streets is enticing. Although, I haven’t spent as much time as I would like climbing the more famous areas like Potrero Chico, I have immensely enjoyed my time climbing the limestone in Chiapas, the most southern state of Mexico.
Deep in the heart of Mexico (actually it’s more like the big toe of Mexico :), is a sweet tucked-away town 7,000ft up in the mountains called San Cristobal De Las Casas. My first time there in 2018, I went to explore the town and the climbing. Ever since, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Many would say that this area is the heart of Mexico, where the Zapatista movement resides mostly. The indigenous culture is strong and alive.
While many people that reside there aren’t native to the region, they support them in the fight for their rights. The Zapatista movement that was born here, fights for the rights of the native people which has been a struggle for centuries. Although Spanish is spoken throughout the region, for some it’s their second language. The Mayan language and dialects are present throughout Mexico but most Indigenous people reside in Chiapas.
Rewind about a year ago, my partner and I had a friend in Guatemala (where we had been traveling the previous six weeks) that put us in contact with someone in San Cris to go climbing with. His name is Martin, a guy from Austria that has been living in San Cris for a few years, developing the area for sport climbing, and running a guiding company for both tourists and locals (climbing is a relatively new sport in Mexico and is not a common activity people do).
We were excited to check this new area out, especially when we heard about the limestone arch called Arcotete. Though we enjoyed getting to know the intimate local group of climbers in Guatemala, we were in search of better rock to climb and better weather. Chatting with Martin weeks prior to our arrival, he seemed like a passionate, confident and experienced climber. He proved to be all of these and more! He is incredibly humble and wonderfully gracious.
We were excited to get there although we only had two weeks to explore. When we finally ventured out to climb with Martin, we also fell in love with this area. Within hours of arriving, I had questioned myself: “Why didn’t I come to Mexico sooner?” Perhaps it’s one of those things where you get comfortable in a place (work, living situation, relationship, eating habit, pattern, etc.) and it’s hard to make the leap for transition or change. For myself, it can be scary to do something different, especially if on the other side is unknown.
I was somewhat comfortable in Guatemala after five weeks of living in a town called Quetzaltenango–primarily because I had friends there; a nice apartment; the climbing was descent and besides all that; I knew where to get my comfort foods which is a must while living abroad! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the chance and travel to another country, a new area that was unfamiliar. It felt like I was gambling. Traveling to a new city like San Cristobal De Las Casas was a situation that could potentially “not be as good” as what I had established in Guatemala.
Does this sounds familiar to anyone else? It’s something I do in my life constantly. I stick to what I know and what’s in my comfort zone. Because the unknown, new, and different isn’t always an easy road; it oftentimes is challenging and unpredictable. I know how good the change is for me and my mind, but it’s not always easy. It’s like climbing routes in my comfort zone instead of taking my climbing to the next level. Climbing harder means that there are more risks involved. It is scary and challenging, different and there are many “what if’s” that run through my mind. It’s like that saying . . .
“What if I fall?”
“Oh, my darling, what if you fly?”
It’s true, what if . . . it all works out or maybe it won’t. But one will never know until we try. It’s like that one route we have thought about climbing but it’s out of our comfort zone. It’s like that one yoga pose but again it’s something we have never done. It’s like that country we have never been to or explored but won’t know until we try it. Oftentimes I feel like I get in my own way. I over-analyze, over-think it or simply don’t try because I cripple myself with the thought of, “what if I fail?” I mean, why is it so “scary” to fail anyway? To try something we may not like or be good at initially. Again, we will never know until we go for it.
What if you can climb that route or travel to a new town and end up loving it? But one will never know until experiencing it, until we go for it. I say lean into what scares you. Try everything once and maybe even more than a few times. Continue to try, continue to fail until you find the path that you are looking for. Oh the insights I gain from adventuring. It truly is priceless.
Upon returning to the States, there are a few lessons I have taken with me and continue to remind myself of- both traveling and climbing have taught me to go for it because you never know until you try. Stay open and curious, amongst many other lessons those are the ones that stand out the most. Fast-forward one year, I recently returned to San Cristobal. I went down not only to climb with Martin and his lovely partner Sofi, but to find a location for a Yoga + Culture Retreat at the end of October. I have always wanted to experience Dia de los Muertos in a latin country. Although I have never led a yoga retreat outside of the country, I decided to apply some of these travel and climbing lessons to my own life and in the work that I do.
You never know how it will turn out if you don’t go for it. Pushing my own comfort zone, I look forward to taking a group to Chiapas for culture, yoga, climbing and much more! Stay tuned and be sure to check out my website for updates on the retreat. You are ALL invited. Go climb, go yoga, go explore . . .