Experienced by: Elsie Méndez
Written by: Carlos Dragonné
Talking about Tepoztlán without mentioning my origins would be impossible because of everything that this place has meant in my life. From the outset, Tepoztlan was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Because of this, it was part of a personal and professional project that took me all over the world promoting the World Heritage Sites of Mexico with a photography exhibit. Over the years, the tour has been one of the most satisfying projects I have ever been able to experience. Additionally, Tepoztlán has a spirit and flavor that fills me the same way I fall in love every time I visit one of the so-called Magical Towns of Mexico. The spirit and energy is lived and breathed through the town, its climate, its people and its corners– but there is something special about Tepoztlán, and that, although indescribable, I hope that you will understand after you read this experience from the Hostal de la Luz.
The last time I had the fortune of coming to Tepoztlán was thanks a friend’s invitation who has a dream house– one of those houses that we would live in if we could just retire and turn Tepoztlán into something more than a destination weekend. Being there, I remember enjoying the view of his garden overlooking the Cerro del Tepozteco, admiring the architecture of the house and the impeccable taste in decoration. I savored the true attention of my host that any guest of any luxury hotel would be envious of, and I was surprised by details like Body Works amenities – or, if you have any such luck, they went as far as Bvlgari products – in the guestrooms– it was an experience that I have been able to revisit once in my life.
Having explained my previous trips, you will understand that it had been a long time since Tepoztlán received me as a tourist, walking through the streets, watching, touching, breathing the aromas, listening to the voices and the beat of the town with a pleasure and surprise that is not revived, but rather reborn into a totally new experience that one does not want to lose any detail from.
And although I like to enjoy a place like this with the least amount of people and tourists around the square, the church, the market and the streets themselves– it is important to mention that I refused to come alone because I considered it a perfect place to share with family or friends. However, I discovered that Tepoztlán has that magic that can be used to reconnect with oneself. That’s why there was a boom of hotels, hostels and villas whose main objective is to help people to reconnect with the spirit and that –despite varying offers such as massages, yoga, the extraordinary Temazcal, and other activities that focus on relaxation– all seek to cleanse the body and mind of everything we unnecessarily carry, that has become the weight that we drag with us day by day.
Morelos has been a part of my life since I was born. My memories of trips to Cuautla to visit my Tía Pancha, who fed us as if we were not going to eat another bite for months, have been tattooed on my heart as a combination of fun between pools, laughs, experiences and, above all, a deep and incalculable love among my whole family. Years later, the destination would change from Cuautla to Oaxtepec and time would lead some cousins and uncles in different ways– some of whom went ahead down the road and left us; some who became owners of important national companies and who today have perhaps forgotten those days of childhood. Nonetheless, those classic multitudinous family trips when, as the popular phrase goes, we packed to the brim, are among the most beautiful memories that I keep and that I look for constantly in the trunk when a smile is needed to overcome nostalgia.
Life would bring me back to Morelos years later when the father of my children, owner of a house in Cuernavaca, would allow my children to live the same adventures of enjoying, week after week, sunny days, water, good food, and love between friends and family. The beef jerky of Yecapixtla, the incomparable beans from Morelos, the maize for gorditas, sopes, quesadillas and tortillas, together with the wild mushrooms, the moles and pipianes, and the inevitable pozole, are all part of an inheritance and feeling that has been in my family for at least 3 generations.
This time the pretext to return to Morelos and, more specifically, to Tepoztlán was to get know the Hostel of Light, a place that opened in 2001 with a leaning towards alternative tourism and that, isolated from the growing town in the Amatlán area, enjoys a spectacular landscape among the mountains that surround it. Its 23 rooms are spaces created for rest and relaxation, designed under the philosophy of Feng Shui. When I get to my room, between the aromas of incense and soft music carefully selected, it is clear to me that my concept of «backwater of peace» is about to change completely.
Entering the Shambhala restaurant is in itself an irreplicable experience. The door comes from the ancient Hindu temple of Pashaguati and the architectural style that allows a 180 degree view of the stillness of the mountains is just the first element of a unique food experience created by cooks of the region. Everything is based on the nutrition and detoxification of the body through flavors and ingredients in the area.
Alternative tourism has grown in recent years and one can easily find a series of activities that allow people to experience things that can hardly be found in other places. The Spa of this place offers, for example, baths in Temazcales, pre-Hispanic steam baths with aromatic herbs, preceded by a ceremony led by a true shaman of the region who help people to purify the body and mind. Also, they offer Yoga, meditation, and sessions of Chi-Kung, an ancient Chinese technique that seeks to balance the energetic channels of the body. Another wonderful activity is walking through the Labyrinths of the Hostel of Light, in which, depending on the internal work that you want, you can choose between two routes.
Once again, Tepoztlán surprised and conquered me. And the Hostel of Light was an important part of it. In the comforting silence of my terrace, I reconnected with those places and memories that bring a smile to my face. There, during the unsurpassable dawn that the mountain range revealed to me on the morning of my return to Mexico City, I reflected on the steps that brought me back to this destination and, once again, realized how life shows me that there are no coincidences. My return to Tepoztán revealed my flavors of inheritance, paths that I never get away from and which and –sometimes without even noticing– return me to my roots. I return to those voices that guided me through my childhood and still today. I am with those familiar memories lived between scents, flavors, indelible scenes and endless anecdotes and stories that would later live and continue through my children. Here I can share the streets and places that today receive me as a happy woman… as happy as the girl they once knew.
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You might be interested in reading about our recommendation of Magical Towns that you can can get to know very close to Mexico City