Oaxacan Gathering of the Rainbow People

It’s been but a moonth since I left my Atlantic island of Newfoundland, from the full moon of December and the solstitial equinoxing of the days, through the passage of yuletimes, and across the threshold of the new year. For the first time in my twenty-six times around our star, I’ve been able to spend more time under the sun, the winter snows have not climbed ’round my cabin door, and the chill has been cast off in exchange for the tropics.
This snowbird exodus to warmer climates is not new to me, but unique in its setting, this time it took me across to the other point of a continent, back to a familiar home of past traveling grounds in southern Oaxaca for the Rainbow Gathering.

After two full days of traveling by car, boat, and three planes, I left a frigid Canadian land in a -15 degree cloak, to a balmy +33 tropical paradise in Huatulco. I decided to fly via a lesser known Brazilian company this time called Airprojects, who charges in Brazilian Reals, then converts through US dollars, and then the local currency of which of course my final funds were in Canadian for which I secured the flight for extremely cheap. When arriving in Huatulco airport, I was greeted by thatched grass roofs, palm stands, aromatic winds, and a pleasant light. It was far removed from the aesthetic of every industrial airport I’ve flown to. From here I haggled a deal with a taxi to drive me the hour and a half to the Zipolite playa, where I would stay the next three nights. Zipolite and its neighboring beach Mazunte are old tramping grounds of mine, where I had lived and worked for two weeks in 2015 at the Shambhala commune. It was the original accommodation on the Zipolite playa, existing before all the other modern hotels and hostels, originally from the late 60’s. Also an early ceremonial space for the Zapatistas. The owner Gloria was close friends with the famous mushroom curandera Maria Sabina. The air of the place cleaned me of past loss. Here I met with a flitting romance, a lover from Sweden, and together we would head to the Rainbow Gathering in Rincon Bonito.

First we took a collectivo through San Augustinillo, Mazunte, and San Diego, then hitch another truck to Tonameca, and finally a taxi down a long tumultuous dirt road, fording a river, and climbing steep banks. After this we hiked several kilometers in the wrong direction, and tried vainly to ask for the way to where the river met the valley. Finally we seemed to meet the village mother, and plenty of young children, she appointed four kids to lead us back to a banana plantation that we passed on the way in, and then down a trail to the house of a local named Melardo. From here we crossed through his yard, and down a slope through more banana trees, palms, corn stalks, and patches of squash, steeply down into a rift, and found the river, following upstream until the path lead to a shallow crossing. On the way, we came upon three other travelers, a Norwegian from the FuckforForest organization and two Mexicans also looking for the Rainbow Gathering. As the sun was setting we found the camp, on the other side of the river, and crossed the current to the greetings of ‘Welcome Home’ from two naked hippies on the other side. So far, so good I thought, we were just in time for the food circle.

An archaic Hopi prophecy spake of the Rainbow People long before the first gatherings took place. “There will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences. They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all Her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Many creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time; the great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish, drawing sustenance from the breast of our Mother, the Earth.”

Now the Rainbow tribe lives the world over, and is re-uniting lost souls, bohemians, beatniks, hippies, nomads, and vagabonds alike. This wasn’t my first, I slept in a grandfather oak tree for one month in Hay-on-Wye, Wales in my hammock a year and a half, and gathered for one week in Gotland for the annual Ting last summer before returning to Mexico for this union. We were small, by far a more intimate gathering, encamped on the side of a hill, next to cattle pasturage, and farm land. Papayas, bananas, and oranges grew on the fringes of the river, and frail flowered orchids dipped their grassy arms in the tumbling waters. We represented several countries together with brothers and sisters coming as far as Israel, Germany, Italy, Norway, Hawai’i, and Canada. We shared two meals a day, usually a raw porridge with a melody of local fruits, eaten around the fire. Song was part of the meal, and a collective OM grounded our intentions on family and community. The magic hat, circled around after we broke our fast, and donations of a few pesos kept food in our bellies and supplied some funds for essential tools like pots, pick-ax, plates, and cooking utensils. When nature called, we dug a pit and used the African method of cleansing ourselves. Of course, sometimes this did not always work, and a few of our family fell ill from hygiene issues. On the fourth day I burned out, and my body completely shut down, not due to hygiene but for the PH of my blood. I knew going from winter to summer in one day would eventually take its toll on me. Fortunately I summoned enough strength through my condition to submerge in the cool river several times a day, maintain enough sun exposure, and eat plenty of juicy fruits.

This happened on the solstice, when the family held a drum and cacao ceremony. I managed to drag myself to the circle for a few rounds of chocolate drinking, the first a sweet brew with honey, and the next three I took a dark blend with chili. I think this healed me, because the next day I felt relieved, and back nearly to full health, after a day of restoration, making time for yoga on the river boulders, swimming, sunbathing, and fire sitting, with a morning coffee circle cleanse shared among brothers, I felt that I had fully adapted to the Central American climate. I spent the days walking barefoot around the land, learning Spanish from a beautiful senorita, trading stories, making love, and helping with the cooking in our primitive kitchen. We ate well, despite the remoteness of our camp.
Local Mayan food, some Spanish and American imports, and little processed foods, naturally vegetarian or vegan, and once even had some late night crepes in the jungle. The presence of youth in our camp kept our spirits light, and it felt comfortable to wander in the nude. Some brothers took LSD, and made music on a marimba, and we held massage sessions and a poetry workshop in mud huts that had been reclaimed by small bats. I connected to each person in a different way, but found I could relate easily on most things, on the ethics of why and how we all got here, and held a strong appreciation for Pacha Mama, who kept us all together. Rumor was passed around of a Guatemalan Rainbow gathering, and as we started to come down from the peak of our tribal unity and look to other prospects, new plans emerged.

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On Christmas eve, most of the family left for the Pacific Coast, so we followed in tow, and spent Navidad back on the playa, at the El Peyote hostel, we were fifteen now, and we feasted on fish, chicken, wine, rice, and pancakes, with sweet breads for desert, as we watched the amber sun hide beneath sea stacks swarmed by marine birds. The following day, we lined up a good deal with a local boatman to take us out to snorkel with dolphins, and so as the Rainbow family, we traveled in caravan to Puerto Angel to find our boat, and sped out towards deeper waters. Dolphins we did find, nearly a hundred of them in a school, and they used every available opportunity to show off their aeronautic skills, as well as keeping pace in front of the hull of the boat while cruising along. From the deeps, we marooned back to a private beach to dive in swells hiding elaborate coral, swordfish, and multi-colored aquafauna. This was for me, my first time wearing a snorkel, and it felt
unnatural for me, so most of the time, I opted for free diving instead. We sailed past two rock formations near the coast, resembling an Apache warrior and a Gorilla. It was probably the best 165 pesos I ever invested. By nightfall we walked the streets, as the whole town turned to a market selling handicrafts, sandals, wood-fired pizza, psychedelic art, and apparel. Some of us danced, while I stayed on the playa and read Ram Dass and swayed in my hammock. It was near impossible to sleep without getting eaten by mosquitoes however, and I was anxious to leave. Soon we would go our separate ways, and together with me Swedish lover, a brother from Israel, and another from Germany, we took an overnight bus to San Cristobal, making our final leavings from the humid coast to the mountains of Chiapas.

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