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The End of a Journey

a man standing in front of a mountain

Eric spins a tale, Day of the Dead in Backcactus Oaxaca, 2013. Santiago Quiotepec. This tour, like all of our tours, was a first of it’s kind experience, pioneered by Eric and his team.

“Our trip comes to a close today, as we go onward to other adventures. May the experiences of this journey enrich the days to come”. 

These are the final words on the 10 day itinerary I’d written for one of our recent tours. I’ve written words like this to close many of our  trip itineraries over the years.  The words say it well; one thing is over, another one awaits, may what you have lived enrich what will come.

The implosion of travel and tourism around the globe isn’t news to anyone right now. We are all feeling its impact. If you are reading this then you are someone who is a traveler or at the very least has day dreamed about it. We here at Traditions Mexico have lived for it and lived by it. 

Those days have come to an end for Traditions Mexico. A month ago it became clear to me that this little company was not going to survive the pandemic and its economic outfall. Most people agree that it will be 12-18 months before most of us feel confident about traveling and joining tours. Perhaps more, maybe less. There is no way to know, but we simply don’t have the resources to wait it out.  And so I’ve made the very difficult decision to bring to a close this journey called Traditions Mexico.

For 24 years of my life it was my focus, my baby, my joy and my occasional headache. This work has given me so much! From the opportunity to contribute to the lives of hundreds and hundreds of my heroes; the traditional people of this planet, to the true pleasure of meeting so many curious travelers who chose to venture out into the greater world and learn, contribute and experience.  I have been nurtured by and able to nurture a very special team of good human beings who ran this company with me and led our tours and have been able to raise my children and fed myself while doing something meaningful. It has been good. More than good. It has been the central story of a beautiful life for many years. 

Now what? 

a tree in a forest

A jungle gaint near Palenque, Chiapas.

Here is one certainty; the future is not clear at all. But one thing is very clear: it is a time to pay attention, adapt and be wide open to possibility. We are in the midst of a cataclysm, a monumental disruption and a tremendous time of opportunity.  

When a tree falls in the depth of the forest, blown down by a strong wind, roots ripped from the soil, crashing through the surrounding trees, shearing off branches until finally thudding to the soil it causes a monumental disruption in that green corner of the woods.  A gaping hole is left in the canopy. Blazing sunlight now pours down into the understory that moments before was a place of dusky, moist, serene equilibrium. Everything has changed. 

Nature is wisdom embodied. Where there is death there is life. Always. Energy transforms.  Where there was once one thing, there will now be another thing. There are those living beings that thrive in the shade and those that thrive in the sun. The landscape is ever changing, never still. Abundance is diversity and nature is abundance. Adaptability is in the source code of life. It is the exuberant, creative outpouring of existence. 

A whole new kind of life will fill that gap left in the forest by the fallen tree. The dust will settle, the broken branches, fallen leaves, crushed plants, and enormous trunk will transform from one kind of energy to another.  All around the momentary, cataclysmic turmoil of the fallen tree ten thousand new opportunities for creative outpouring now exist in that piece of the forest. 

There has been a monumental disruption in the quiet woods, in the equilibrium of the canopy and forest floor. And now a new story begins to unfold among the broken branches and bright sunlight. 

This is true for me as I turn out the lights and close the door of the virtual office that has been my focal point for so long. This is true for the artisans and rural chefs that we have collaborated with for years. This is true for my team of guides and behind the scenes magicians at Traditions Mexico. And this is true for all of us on this planet today as we roil through this monumental disruption.  It is time to be attentive and adapt. If one thing does not work any longer, then let it go, with care and gratitude, and make space for another. 

So I write to you to say that a good thing called Traditions Mexico is gone. One more beautiful tree blown down in the strange and powerful winds of  2020.  I write to you to say that I, like all of us, will go forward, for as one thing collapses a new light is let in to give life to a new thing.

And I write to you to say thank you for being here with us all these years. Some of you who read this were on the very first trips I dreamed up and guided back in 1996 when we worked with the potters of San Marcos Tlapazola in the Oaxacan Pottery Workshop. Others are faithful travelers who have joined us for three or five or nine of our tours. And some of you never quite got here, for one reason or another, but have been fans because you believe in what we are doing and in the dream of traveling with us one day.  It is all of you that allowed us to enjoy these 24 years of existence. It is all of you who have kept alive an organization that has touched the hearts of many and made a difference in all sorts of directions. We have existed because of a collective community, gathered around a certain dream and vision and empowered by every traveler who ever joined us on the road.  Thank you for this! It has allowed me to enjoy the greatest tour of all, the last 24 years of my life! 

a group of people sitting on a bench

A visit with the Triqui weavers of Chicahuaxtla. Adriana Guzman, on the right side of the picture, was our superb manager and a driving force behind Traditions Mexico for many years.

But please stay tuned for just a bit longer.  In the next newsletter or two I want to pay homage to this journey that has been Traditions Mexico and share it with you.  I will write about how this business came into being in 1996 and talk about some of the fun things we’ve done along the way. And I’d love it if you joined in as well! Send a photo or two as well as a memory or two from a trip you’ve been on with us and I can share it through our newsletters or social media. This is a way of honoring something beautiful that is now gone. A way of appreciating the gifts we’ve shared through travel and the doorways that Traditions Mexico has opened for each of us. And your words will be a gift to me as I let my company go. 

After these final newsletters from Traditions Mexico, I will invite you to continue virtually traveling with me. Not as Eric Mindling, founder and Head Honcho of Traditions Mexico, but as the man who is dreaming up what will come next. The man who is looking up into the bright light now pouring through the gap in the canopy, adapting to a new reality and leaning into the creative exuberance obliged by the unbidden gift of a cataclysm. I will be writing about this journey in a new blog to be unveiled in the coming weeks. I will be imagining myself forward. What it will look like is to be discovered. But there are high odds that it will have to do with photography, traditional culture-wisdom, storytelling and the insights ancient human knowledge has to offer a modern world that has gone far off track. We shall see. 

But right here and now, this trip called Traditions Mexico comes to a close, and we go onward to other adventures. May the experiences of our many journeys enrich the days to come!

My sincere thanks to you all (and stay tuned),

Eric Mindling 

a group of people sitting at a table

We visit with Amuzgo weavers in San Pedro Amuzgo on a private tour organized for some of my favorite textile and culture geeks!

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