The Yoga Of Travels
My Time in Baja, Mexico
In August of this year (‘21), I went on an “Earth Expedition” to complete coursework towards my Master’s in Biology, with the Global Field Program at Miami University of Ohio. Over the next two years I will continue to work towards completion of my degree, with many courses through the online portal and two more in-person expeditions to remote parts of the world.
This first trip was to Baja for 10 days, with 18 other students and two instructors. We met in San Diego, and drove two large four wheel drive vans deep into the heart of Mexico.
We drove for what felt like eternity, and finally landed at Rancho San Gregorio. This ranch is nestled in a lush Baja desert, brimming with tall, peculiar cacti. To me this was a dreamy, unfamiliar land, straight out of a Dr. Suess book. This primitive ranch is owned and operated by a holistic healer named Rafael, and his wonderful family. Here we lived simply by open-air camping, without true plumbing or access to electricity. We always got up with the sun (or before) and had jam-packed working days of lessons, discussions, hikes, star gazing, observations, and collecting data in the desert. The food and juices prepared by Rafael and his son were vegan, super healthy, and above all super tasty. I loved every meal.
After 4 very hot days and cool nights, we left Rancho San Gregorio and spent the next few days residing directly on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, in Bahia de los Angeles, at the Vermilion Sea Institute. It was here that we continued our studies, and had the opportunity to “dive” into exploring the local wildlife through experiences on (and in) the water. I had the chance to swim with whale sharks and so, so many sea lions. The sea lions were inquisitive and playful, not made aggressive by our presence at all. The whale sharks didn’t stay near me long, but I was able to get a few minutes total of side-by-side swimming with them after jumping in several times during our searches. I snorkeled with puffer fish, sea turtles, octopi, and more. It was incredible to get so close to these animals and experience a short glimmer into their wild lives, in the pristine waters where they live. We took boats right into a pod of hundreds of dolphins and their calves, as they swam, jumped, and played within the water surrounding the boats. The sun glimmered on the water, the weather was perfect, and time seemed to stand still while watching this great spectacle of these adorable creatures showing off. For me this was one of the most meaningful experiences of the trip, as I was left in complete awe of how beautiful this was to witness.
I had the opportunity to “meditate” in the water a couple of evenings while at the Vermilion Sea Institute. I waded into the water around sunset, just to swim and float in the Sea of Cortez on my own, accompanied only by local pelicans and sea birds. It was in these beautiful, quiet moments that I could fully appreciate the magic of my surroundings.
Other highlights included making wonderful friends out of my fellow students, interacting with our local guides, and learning from intelligent, enthusiastic instructors. One of the surprising highlights was the lack of cell reception the whole trip, and going through a digital detox. With no service, and no option of talking to anyone outside of my program, it was really easy to get into the moment and fully enjoy everything happening around me. It was so nice to not have my attention pulled away from what I was experiencing. One thing I really took away from this voyage is to spend less time on the phone and more time in nature.
I very much enjoyed getting up with the sun every day. I am a very light sleeper by nature, and after a short night of sleep I have allowed myself to sleep in to make up for lost time. But there is so much that you can accomplish when you start your day at 5 or 6 am! I loved taking this early morning time for myself teaching and practicing sunrise yoga, early morning hiking in the desert beginning at dawn, or enjoying a daybreak paddle on the Sea of Cortez. All of this happened before breakfast, and before starting our running list of activities for the day. When the days start this early and there is no time to nap, you are most certainly very tired at the end of it. I slept quite well most nights, under the stars and listening to the sounds of the desert and the sea.
This trip was tiring and personally challenging, but rewarding in so many ways. I would not trade out this invaluable experience, and I truly emerged from this trip as a changed person in many ways. I will cherish these times for as long as I can remember them, and now I am much more prepared for my next Earth Expedition in this program.