I’ve been doing a terrible job of journaling the little details of our project so far in this series. I’d really like to reclaim the goal of sharing the honest truth of our success and struggles but, honestly, I’m still struggling to process some of it. The path from corporate life a couple of years ago to early “retirement” in the jungle is still freshly cut behind us and the most difficult, most intimidating parts of the project lie directly ahead.
The problem is that so much has happened, there are so many twists and turns in our story that I’m losing track myself, and distilling it into a coherent story is…well, challenging. Then there’s the magical nature of the project and how uniquely confounding of a process it has been to ingratiate ourselves to the nature spirits of a foreign jungle which has troublesome history with colonizers.
And let’s be honest…we’re colonizers. Moving to Mexico effectively doubled the value of our little nest egg, or more accurately, we can live off of it for twice as long. We’re buying a sizable chunk of beautiful jungle land that was once owned by indigenous Mayans. These are the facts.
The reality is, of course, that they parceled it off and sold it of their own volition years ago; we’ll be the third owners of this particular lot. And we’re paying top-of-the-market gringo prices –we know this with certainty. So we’re not colonizing like Christopher Columbus or anything, but I think admitting to ourselves this bears a certain resemblance to historically fraught territory is an important part of doing what we’re doing.
Mankind has been colonizing remote bits of land since forever but there’s clearly a right way and a wrong way to travel the earth in search of a new home. And when one finds a new home, there are certain rites which must be performed, relationships cultivated, and protocols followed to ensure a safe transition and a warm(ish) welcome.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in our journey from the old life to this new one, especially after spending time in the overgrown wilds of our future jungle sanctuary, just because you feel called to to move to some faraway land, doesn’t mean the spirits of its wild places are going to welcome you with open arms. In fact, they can be quite capricious and elusive; and their favor is not easily won.
We’ve essentially negotiated a land trust with the jungle spirits. First we visited them a number of times in journeys (active imagination), while making regular trips to the jungle to leave offerings, to make our intentions known. These journeys produced the kind of uncanny synchronicities which are difficult to ascribe to random chance and which eventually lead us to the property we’re buying. Once we found the property we negotiated with the spirits who “guard our lot and the surrounding jungle” and eventually we presented these spirits with a “contract of stewardship”; writing up our offer and what we want in exchange, both signing it, and placing it in the bottle of jungle dirt we brought back from the property.
Our offer was simple: To be conscientious caretakers, to leave gifts (offerings) regularly, and to consult them on the management and cultivation of the land.
Our requests, equally simple: To grant us stewardship, to protect our family, and to support our efforts to build a sanctuary in this place.
Simple terms, simple ritual, but a massive leap of faith for Sarah and I. Building in the jungle is no simple matter…there is no road to our property and the nearest one is 100 meters from where we want to put our driveway. There are no power, water, or gas connections. It’s a big square of jungle in the middle of a bunch of other big squares of jungle, a kilometer down a dirt road, 15 km from the nearest town.
What we’re doing sounds crazy. And it would feel crazy too except for the long thread of remarkable “coincidences” which weaved the path we’ve taken thus far. At this point it would be crazy to get in the way -to interfere– with what is clearly the result of something which is bigger than ourselves.
As good a story as it is, I can’t get bogged down in the details or the story will never get told. Instead, I’m just going to list its twist and turns in bullets, that their uncanniness might be better expressed as a whole.
- After a timely bit of key magic back in late June, we finally were finally able to procure the financial paperwork we needed to schedule our appointment with the Mexican consulate in Dallas.
- After that, our long-delayed home renovation project quickly wrapped up while the consulate rubber-stamped our approval for residency and our house was on the market only a week later.
- The house was viewed only one time and our only offer was for the asking price, which was very high due to conditions in the Dallas housing market.
- We closed on the house two weeks later, the same day we left for Mexico; and the money was deposited into our account on the way.
- Seven days and 2,700 miles later we arrived in the Mexican Caribbean and received our residency cards a week later (this can take months).
- We had done quite a bit of magic around finding the right buyer, including petitions for the buyer being a gardener. After the sale the buyer, unbidden, reached out by email soliciting my advice on maintaining the garden.
- Within two weeks of arriving in Mexico we met a great real estate agent who is also a university trained biologist, organic gardener, herbal healer, and teacher (she’s quite the renaissance woman).
- In less than three weeks we visited the first lot in the jungle (Lot #40) in the same tiny puebla where we eventually buy, about 1/2 of a kilometer down the road. It is in the high jungle and is perfect for growing vegetables and fruit.
- There is a for sale sign on Lot #40 which doesn’t match the information we’ve been given so far and, in the end, we’re not even sure we’ve been taken to the right lot, but it doesn’t matter because the jungle all looks the same -feral.
- Intimidated by the jungle, we consider buying a house by the beach and a small plot of land for growing; finding a duplex we love in the neighborhood where we’re renting. We tell ourselves that its terraced roof patios are perfect for growing food…
- Shortly after, we take a class on organic gardening and eco-building in the Yucatán from our real estate agent (and organic superhero) in which we learned how unreliable rooftop gardens are in the tropical heat and periodic hurricanes.
- Feeling like this is a sign, we start visiting the crossroads at the corner of Lot #40 and leaving gifts (offerings) about once a week and “buy” some nearby dirt, which we place on our altar.
- I regularly work with the jungle dirt on our altar; setting out milk and sweet breads, burning handmade abre camino (“open roads”) incense cones and talismanic Venus candles, and petitioning to be accepted by the spirits of the area and shown the right lot to buy.
- Every time I call on the dirt in ritual, and only during these times, we get a major invasion of giant black cutter ants in the house. This experience is pure nightmare fuel, where I stand up from meditation and turn the lights on to find the floor crawling with ants. This happens so frequently it becomes a running joke…
- All the while we visit the jungle frequently, searching for “SE VENDE” signs advertising lots for sale.
- Weeks go by without us finding a suitable lot other than Lot #40. However, divination (tarot) strongly indicated that we will not buy Lot #40 and this tracked with our gut reaction.
- I reached out to the number we found at Lot #40 on WhatsApp and started getting so many advertisements for jungle land I didn’t know what to do with it all. Most we can’t legally buy as foreigners, so I ignore them.
- I reached out to other real estate agents. We looked in other areas. Nothing happened…
- We asked the cards if we’d already been shown the property we’ll buy -and get definitive “Yes” answers.
- After a lot of prayer, I was inspired by a journey (active imagination) to follow the road that leads to Lot #40 to its end another half a kilometer into the jungle.
- On our next visit we followed the road to where it terminates against a wall of impassable green and saw no for sale signs or other indications why we would have been lead there.
- On a hunch, Sarah catalogs all the property listings I’ve received from the number we found at Lot #40. Two other listings were available for approximately the same price and in the same area as Lot #40.
- One of the listings, Lot #7 is hidden from view, 100 meters into the jungle, at the end of this road!
- We visited Lot #7 and met the neighbor Richard, an expat who’s lived there for 14 years and is quite happy to tell us anything we want to know. There are no roads and no utilities, just a lot of beautiful jungle and peace and quiet.
- We divined on which lot to purchase and received a seven of coins and two majors.
- The selling agent spent a lot of time explaining to us why Lot #40 is superior (has 4 roads surrounding it and power close by) but after receiving a quote from an electrician, Lot #7 was more than $20,000 USD cheaper than Lot #40.
- Unable to actually visit the lot itself, which is thick jungle 100 meters from the nearest dirt road, we asked to hire a survey crew to carve the property boundary from the jungle and were eventually given the go-ahead.
- We visited the property itself, using the path cut by the survey team to navigate 150 meters through dense greenery and started leaving offerings at a remarkably haunted tree on our future property.
- I take a machete with me the first time I go exploring the lot on my own and within the first few swings something flies up and sticks in the corner of my eye. I spend several minutes trying to flush it out unsuccessfully and finally resort to pinching it with my fingers and pulling the embedded barb free from my tear duct…to find that the projectile was a black cutter ant.
- I promptly apologize for my hastiness.
- We let the seller know that we want the property, paid the earnest money, and began the long process of getting our paperwork together to close on the property early next year.
- Our contrato de compraventa (contract to buy/sell) was modified to state that we have the right to access and begin to clear away trees, brush, etc to prepare for construction in 2022.
- Now I spend several days a week exploring the property, cutting paths, and mapping it for future projects, beginning each day in the jungle with offerings and petitions for safety.
- I continue working with the altar dirt and engaging with the spirits on the land; leaving offerings and petitioning for favors with surprising efficacy.
It’s a hell of a story. Hard to believe, even for me, and I lived it. But the amount of haunted, weird shit that’s happened since we started on our long journey from normie capitalists to jungle weirdos, in my opinion, is too bizarre and purposeful to represent anything other than engagement with the spirit world.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve had a good laugh at our expense. It feels good to share cathartically, if not coherently, and I have hope that this exercise will help me process these unusual experiences so I can articulate their enormous value and remarkable implications in future posts.