Where we’re at: I’m sharing my journey in 2022, including this trip to Mexico in February. Don’t miss our next aerial arts trip this June!
Oh hey there! Did you catch part one of my Tulum Retreat Recap? Today we’re back with part two, wrapping up a retreat I poured my heart and soul into while trying to make a home base in Mexico last year (a journey you’ll read more about, someday!)
Day three of our retreat brought us where mermaids belong — the beach. While we’d originally set this day aside for the monthly Daydream Aerial Arts Festival my friend Colleen of Lucid Aerial Arts developed, the omicron outbreak had other plans. Still, Colleen was kind enough to run a private event for our group, which was not a bad Plan B in the slightest!
So that’s how we found ourselves rotating through a day of workshops in silk hammocks with Colleen, handstands with Shiney, and fire bubbles (the perfect mermaid tie in!) with Alex of Tulum Fire. When not in workshops, everyone bounced between Tulum’s chic beach boutiques, the ocean, and Raw Love, my favorite water-front smoothie bowl spot.
We ended the day with the fire bubbles workshop and I will give it to you straight — I had no idea what a fire bubbles workshop was, and asked shockingly few questions. I just knew it was something aerial mermaids needed to do.
Normally I’m what some might call a “control freak” — I just don’t know where people get these ridiculous ideas! — as I obsessively micromanage every ten minute increment of planning my retreats. But this was a reminder that sometimes trusting the process and my people is worth it. We laughed, screamed and cried as Alex led us through fire meditations and facing our fears. (Okay, maybe not everyone was scared but let’s just say I was terrified enough for everyone. Fire deserves our respect, guys!)
Can we talk about how Daniella truly understood the packing assignment with that fire bikini, by the way?
It was quite the euphoric high note to end the day on. But, there was more to come.
After a magical transformation courtesy of Ahau’s gorgeous outdoor beach showers, we headed to Casa Banana, one of Tulum Beach’s OG restaurant picks. Actually, this was a new spot for me and I was so thrilled! Even our amazing driver Jorge, a born-and-raised Tulumer, had named it as one of his favorite picks for a splashy night out.
I could see why everyone raved about it! In our closing circle, this meal was consistently ranked as a favorite.
Most of Tulum’s beachside restaurants boast incredible design and an ethereal atmosphere, and many can brag on incredible and creative small plates and cocktails — however, just a few can claim truly warm and welcoming service. Casa Banana is one of them!
The next morning, we started our day once again at Holistika’s onsite restaurant, Tierra. An outdoor health food restaurant nestled in the jungle was a welcome daily treat for all of us escaping hard February winters!
And then once again, we made our way to Holistika’s aerial studio. This is a little bit of behind-the-scenes sharing, but when I started planning retreats, I had no idea that transportation would often be the piece of the puzzle that would lead me to
drink meditate. So, it’s hard to express my joy at how much of this retreat happened right here at Holistika, or within walking distance.
We had a fairly mixed level group on this trip, and for this aerial silks workshop, rather than dividing into beginner and advanced halves like we had the previous class, Brenna broke everyone into little pods (is this word still triggering for anyone, post-COVID?!) with some members at each level.
I love the aerial community so much and trips like this remind me why it’s so special and supportive — sharing knowledge and encouragement and this infectious love for movement and play! It was a good day.
Next, it was time for an afternoon adventure. I’d offered up two options for lunch: one, my favorite plastic-stool type taco joint, or another cute Tuluminati-style cafe more than worthy of an Instagram feed post. While everyone was free to do their own thing, the group was unanimous: tacos cerdos, here we come.
Taquerio Honorio is no longer a hidden gem and the line often gets lengthy during lunch. Luckily Jorge knew a guy (he knew every guy!) and we got right down to business ordering up a storm. My go to? A cochinita gringa — kinda like a quesadilla — with a jugo de melón. Heaven, for under $5USD.
After some free time to make a last minute shopping dash around Tulum Pueblo, we headed back once again to the jungle. This time, a very exclusive corner of it — an afternoon at a private slice of paradise in Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve, a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I spent December 31st, 2020 with SUP Yoga Tulum. What I thought might be a fun way to end a oft not fun year was actually something much more significant. The reserve had a healing energy to it, and the teacher, Mila, had just the calmly radiant aura I craved.
When I started planning Brenna and I’s retreat in Mexico, I knew this would be a part of it. There’s even an aerial silk hanging from the private palapa — I couldn’t think of a more magical mermaid aerialist playground to splash away the day in.
And it was! We started, after an incredibly hospitable welcome from SUP Tulum owner Nancy, with a beautiful class with Mila, who I’d specifically requested as not only is she a beautifully bilingual yoga teacher but an aerialist herself too.
I loved swimming around with my underwater camera, flying my drone, and capturing this magical moment from every angle.
In the traditional Mayan language this place meant “origin of the sky,” or “a place where heaven begins” and with the sun hanging low on the mangrove horizon, I could see why it was considered sacred.
After class concluded, everyone went off to chase their own bliss — some, paddling around the lagoon, others, playing on the silks, some mermaiding with my Mahina mermaid fins, some just swinging and chatting.
We stayed till the sun set and as it did I had one of those really special retreat moments where I looked around and saw everyone happy and just felt overwhelmed with my own gratitude and satisfaction for that.
This, right here, was my Mexico moment of bliss.
And then I blinked, and it was the last full day of the retreat.
We were kicking off the day, as always, with an aerial photoshoot. And in true Tulum style, we were doing it in a cenote! Like I said to our crew on our way there, these photo shoots are a celebration of not how we looked on a particular day but the incredible things our bodies did for us the whole trip.
Never have I felt that more sincerely than I did on this day, so full of gratitude for being able to simple lift myself into a lyra eight months after my shoulder-crushing fall. For me personally this trip was really meaningful after being just cleared from my shoulder injury to start aerial again in January. After six months grounded it brought me unbelievable joy to start rebuilding my strength, going back to basics, and learning from the best!
We were so lucky to have this photo (and video!) shoot run by Colleen — she is an incredible rigger who set up a lyra and silks in a beautiful cenote then coached our girls through beautiful poses and made some magic with her team.
And I have to say, no one brings more sass, energy, or glitter to a photoshoot than a High Flying Retreats crew. I can’t think of a more fun, sweaty way to spend a morning running around the jungle being each other’s hype queens.
A drink would be well deserved after an adventure like that, am I wrong? (Hypothetical question.) I’d carefully selected Burrito Amor as our post-shoot lunch fuel-up spot, thanks both to their incredible namesake burritos and bowls and an array of fresh juice cocktails perfect for day drinking!
Back at Holistika, it was time for the retreat ritual I can’t wait to be done with — return-to-the-US COVID testing! With that settled, it was time to truly celebrate.
This crew sure cleans up (and colors up!) nice, no?
Brenna and I are both Cirque du Soleil superfans, and so we simply had no choice but to go to Joya, Cirque’s first and only show in Mexico! The theater is actually in Playa del Carmen, but it was well worth the drive — and we brought drinks for the party bus, of course. (Our attempts to hire a true party bus with a pole and everything from Cancun were, sadly, fruitless.)
We also brought along Colleen and Carmen, our local aerial and mermaid instructors, for the ride. This retreat wouldn’t have been the same without them!
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a couple Cirque shows and this one, taking into account the full experience, was amazing. The theater itself is a masterpiece and you feel like you’re walking into a live-action Avatar the moment you step into the complex.
We had tapas and half a bottle of champagne per person which was super fun, and the food was fun and whimsical to go along with the show; think a little yogurt appetizer with bobas inside and an edible wafer spoon!
I was also delighted that the show itself felt drawn from the region, like an act designed to replicate the feeling of descending into a cenote’s light beam.
And of course I clapped and to Brenna’s amusement (blame the champagne) teared up at seeing these amazing artists who perfected so many of the crafts we tried our hands at that trip — acro, silks, beyond!
In classic High Flying style, we had the most fun dressing up and so looked pretty sharp for the street tacos and mojitos we stopped for one the way home.
Brenna and I and a few hardcore retreaters danced the night away for several hours beyond what was appropriate considering our early morning departure the next day. But isn’t that what it’s all about, sometimes?
At the end of 2020, I went to Mexico totally broken, terrified that my career was ending, confused about my relationship falling apart, deep in grief — just really lost. I can’t say Mexico fixed those problems but it did give a soft place to land and try to figure it out.
I did the things there that I do to heal — I moved my body, I focused my mind, I put myself next to nature and good people. I threw myself into retreat research, in the one country that felt like a safe bet to try to do business in at the time.
And I made this.
This was the first of many retreats in Mexico, I hope. (A second, focused on freediving and mermaiding, is already long in production.) It’s a meaningful one for me because it took that time of pain and confusion and loss and allowed me to make something beautiful out of it — something made of sunshine, play, community, aerial, ocean, and magic. Something I could share.
And now I got to share it again, with all of you.
Thanks for being a part of the journey, from near or far.
Just dropped by to enjoy this WOW post
So glad you feel that way Jo! Thank you!