Isla Mujeres, Mexico
I had the pleasure of visiting Isla Mujeres in March of 2021. I spent just over a month in this paradise, surrounded by loved ones, experiencing the island's intoxicating energy, and experiencing an abundance of blessings that can only be described as magical. You can read about some of my personal stories on the island through my blog post here. Read on below to learn about some of the highlights on the Island and about Casa Maya Azul.
One of the many beautiful places of healing I visited during my stay
A Little History
Isla Mujeres (island of women) was named after the majestic Mayan Goddess lxchel. Legend stands that the island was inhabited by the priestess of Ixchel and her court of women.
Ixchel is the Mayan Goddess of the moon, of love, medicine and healing, and of the textile arts. Representing female empowerment, Ixchel is worshipped for fertility relating to the earth, due to the fact that the cycles of the moon are those which determine the times of planting and harvest. This land is home to a beautiful temple on the south side of the island where I stayed, and a statue of lxchel herself sits just 300 yards away.
Isla Mujeres remained a peaceful sanctuary until a group of Spanish navigators and conquistadors landed on the island in 1517. Their goal was to procure slaves to work their mines. After landing, the group was shocked to find an advanced civilization replete with stone buildings and sculptures. The group was ultimately killed by the Maya, however, their encounter sparked interest in Mexico and paved the path for the colonization of the country.
Statue of the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel
Mass tourism in Mexico
Fast forward several centuries, and you land in modern-day Mexico, where the sun’s always shining, anyone can book a resort, and enjoy their stay without a care in their heart.
The problem with this picture is the lack of conscientiousness for local culture, economies, and spiritualism. Many travel to Mexico and stay at large resorts, without realizing that these resorts create a closed ecosystem that excludes locals and local businesses from financially benefiting from tourism. All tours, recreational excursions, restaurants and services booked through the resort are more often than not run through international companies.
We as travelers also lose out from this arrangement: whereas locals can show the authentic side to Mexico, resort-based tourists are spoon fed a marketable Western narrative that skims over the spiritual diversity and cultural depth Mexico has to offer. For us to be better than the colonizers and conquistadors of the past, we must educate ourselves on the impact we have and learn from others. This philosophy is one that I take with me through all of my journeys.
Not your average resort experience: the view just outside Casa Maya Azul, where I stayed
A different path: Casa Maya Azul
With this mind, I chose to leave the tourist crowds behind, and sojourn to Isla Mujeres, and stayed at Casa Maya Azul. Having known the owner Karen Ashmore for years, I wanted to explore the charming island and learn more about her little oasis. Karen is a fellow social activist and BIPOC supporter, and has dedicated her life to creating a better world for those around her, and her passion and kind heart shines through at her rental home.
I first met Karen in Denver, where we crossed paths as activists in the social justice space. Born and raised in South Carolina during the civil rights movement, she moved from SC to Texas and was active in SCLC, the organization founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Karen had worked in marketing in Fortune 500 tech companies but soon tired of working for the bottom line. Switching to non-profit, Karen gained an international reputation as a fundraiser for social justice organizations in Haiti, Mexico, Uganda, Kenya, and the US. At the same time, she carefully saved her money and invested in real estate and rented out the houses to the BIPOC community.
Views from paradise: Casa Maya Azul is located on the southernmost shores of Isla Mujeres
In 2016 Karen sold the properties she owned in Dallas and Denver metro area and purchased this home on Isla Mujeres. One of her goals is to share the experiences of the island with members of the BIPOC community committed to social and racial justice.
"We want you to share the experiences of an indigenous sacred culture along with the natural wonders of a small laid back Caribbean island.
We have created special pricing for activists of color to enjoy a 5-7 day experience of a lifetime, enjoying the natural beauty of this sacred culture."
Skip to the bottom to learn more about booking with Karen using the discounted SoulJourner rate.
Places of Power and Healing
Most of my days on the island were spent communing with nature, with family, and enjoying the abundance that manifested from being in this magical energy I also explored the many local restaurants, and businesses to learn from the locals. The beautiful thing about the island, however, was that it was a short hop away from a number of important places my soul journey would not be complete without visiting.
While on the mainland, I traveled to Samaal Cenote. Cenotes are natural sinkholes, that are formed in the Yucatan Peninsula's surface due to erosion and volcanic activity. Rainwater flows underground to create an extensive system of underwater rivers that formed the natural wells. The Mayans visited cenotes as a source of Life for fresh drinking water, but also believed that the cenotes were an entrance to the Underworld. They held fire ceremonies, cave rituals and sacrifices in tribute to their gods.
These days, cenotes are valued as healing places to visit and take a swim in. The waters are rich in nutrients with an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and protein that nourish the body. Moreover, these calm, serene spaces definitely hold some of the magic from their past. It was a surreal place to visit and absolutely healing to be in these restorative waters.
Chichén Itzá is not just another tourist trap or archeological site; it is indeed a place of significance and power.
The Maya worshipped a number of gods whom they believed resided on the peaks of mountains. This is why they constructed grand pyramids to represent mountain tops where the civilization's spiritual leaders could commune with the deities.
The most impressive of these stone structures is “El Castillo” (the castle). The 80-foot stone pyramid served as a temple to the deity Kukulcán, a serpent deity worshipped by the Maya, and before that, the Aztecs. During the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September, the setting sun creates shadows down the steps of the pyramid which look like a snake descending.
Dig a little deeper, and you will begin the appreciate just how advanced this ancient civilization was. The temple's four faces each incorporate a stairway with 91 steps ascending to the main platform at the top. With the addition of the platform, these add to 365 steps in total, one for each day of the year. On 9 tiers of the pyramid, 52 stone panels are elaborately carved, representing each year in the Mayan century as well as each week in the solar year.
Pictures do not really do justice to this sacred place: to understand the scale and grandeur of these ancient temples, well, you just had to be there, you know? I spent a full afternoon exploring the vast temple grounds, soaking up the power that emanated from this ancient wonder.
El Castillo is massive and awe-inspiring in person- there's a reason it is considered one of the 7 New Wonders of the world.
After having spent a month on Isla Mujeres and exploring Mexico, here's what I have to say: Go. As they say, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” I urge all SoulJourners to become well-read in Mind, Body and Spirit. Take the time, make space, and do not be surprised when you notice that the inner workings of your mind directly reflect your outer surroundings.
Traveling to another place, and a place as connected and culturally rich as Isla Mujeres is a worthwhile investment. If you are seeking a Soul Journey that includes self-care, restoration, healing, and a connection to land, I can safely say you will not be disappointed in the Island of Women.
The SoulJourner Special
To take advantage of the SoulJourner special, simply get in touch with Karen using the contact form below. To learn more about Casa Maya Azul, you can see more details through their Facebook page.
As promised, we negotiated a special rate for fellow SoulJourners and audience members to stay at Casa Maya Azul. If you would like to visit Isla Mujeres for your own Soul Journey, contact Karen below and mention SoulJourner for a discount from her normal rate.
A quick Google search will show you the standard rates; due to Karen's commitment to welcoming activists of color and their allies, we are able to offer special pricing below what you will find online.