I just returned from my second (and certainly not last) visit to Rancho La Puerta. Where do I even begin with such a magical five days that I haven’t even fully processed yet? This time was even more magnificent than the first. The people along with the sacred space are what make the ranch so special and this visit was proof.
Here is a little background in case you didn’t read my first post on the ranch. Rancho La Puerta is a wellness resort in Tecate, Mexico, a tiny town just south of the border. It was started by Deborah Szekely, who was only 18 at the time, and her husband Edmund. This was long before wellness was trendy and way before health spas were a thing. Edmund was a pretty brilliant professor and the two of them had a passion for natural living. People would come down to the ranch, pitch a tent, and listen to Edmund talk about health, nutrition and all things wellness. They grew all the food right there on the ranch without the use of herbicides or pesticides and milked their own goats.
Today, the ranch serves the exact same purpose and operates with the same ideals, it is just a lot more upscale than it was during its inception. Every wish and need is tended to by the incredible staff, and instead of listening to Edmund lecture, guests get to hear some of the world’s brightest people speak about groundbreaking wellness topics. The meals are vegetarian and always organic with an occasional fish option. Deborah has never compromised on any of these things.
The ranch is located on a 3,000 acre nature preserve that includes Mount Kuchumaa, known as the “exalted high place.” The natives thought of Kuchumaa as the womb of the world and only shamans were once allowed on the summit. It was a place of initiation for spiritual leaders, and even today, I could feel the life force and spiritual power of the mountain.
So long story short, I was there was to give a talk on trail running and actually do some trail running on their miles and miles of single track dirt trails. To say I was stoked to be included amongst the brilliant lecturers would be a gross understatement. I was also ridiculously intimidated. And when I was invited to a private dinner with Deborah Szekely herself and all of the presenters for the week, I was basically speechless.
Let’s cut to this dinner of epic proportions. Brittany and I entered the dining room to see Deborah lying on her back, taking a nap. Yes, in the midst of all the guests. You get to do that when you’re 95 and mother f*cking Deborah Szekeley. When she awoke from her slumber, we were all seated and began to go around the table introducing and giving the lowdown on ourselves. I quickly realized I was basically in a room full of semi-geniuses with impossible talent.
To my left was Wenonah Hauter, activist, author of several books, and founder of Food & Water Watch. Holy shit. Then came Cathy, a six time James Beard Award finalist and owner of several award-winning restaurants in Portland. To my right was the guitar player from Phil Collins’ band and Genesis. To his right was Bee, a renowned Hypnotherapist and PhD, and to her right, the most amazing couple, John and Sita. Sita is a former nun, now married to John. Together they have developed a specialized resistance stretching method that works on the fascia along the energetic meridian lines that influence every aspect of your health. At the head of the table was of course Deborah, named the Godmother of Wellness by the Huffington Post. That was my dinner table. Mic drop.
I am so glad I didn’t let my intimidation get the best of me because that turned out to be one of the most memorable evenings of my life (much like this one). We talked politics and passion and I was in complete awe as everyone shared their expertise. Brittany and I were both insanely inspired and on a natural high as we walked away from the table that night.
The entire rest of our trip was just icing on the cake. We took advantage of the miles and miles of well marked trails from the moment we arrived. In five short days we did the Professors, Coyote, Roadrunner and Alex’s Oak trails. Most of the trails are perfect for trail running with just the right mix of ascending, descending and flats. The energy out there on that mountain is palpable. You can feel that it is a spiritual place. When Brittany and I did our final hike & run, it felt almost euphoric – and it could not have been from endorphins alone. I have no doubt it was the power of the mountain.
Each night we slept in our warm and inviting private casita with a fireplace, brick walls, wood beamed ceilings and views of wildflowers and the mountains. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in there because we were so busy with all the fitness classes (spin, stretch, ropes, etc.), hikes, runs, and lectures. There was, however, one exceptionally rainy day that warranted some downtime and we took full advantage of it. We lit a fire, read under our crisp white sheets, and napped to the tiniest sounds of rain falling through the open windows. Even napping at the ranch is total bliss.
I’m already back to the daily grind, but I’m trying my best to hold onto little nuggets of wisdom I absorbed while at the ranch. I will be making a concerted effort to take Deborah’s advice each and every morning. She says to never check the news, look at your phone or turn on the radio within the first 20 minutes of waking. Those minutes are for YOU. She attributes a lot of her health and wellbeing to this one tiny little habit. She’s 95 and on top of the world, so I think I’ll follow her lead.