Now, before anyone leaps to the conclusion that I am going to describe some extraordinary encounter with a shaman or a medicine person of another kind that I had during my nine-month stay in Tulum, Mexico, let me tell you straight away that this narrative is about… a bar.
Tulum is still a bit under the radar of the general touristic interest as it is a small town in Riviera Maya, some 120 km south of the mammoth resort of Cancun, and what it’s most famous for is its beach. La Playa (38 km of white sand stretch along the town) is where all the activities and sights are concentrated. There are picturesque Mayan ruins, mystic cenotes along the way, tons of hotels offering different relaxation and spa procedures – all types of massages, yoga and meditation classes, temazcal (Indian sauna), spiritual rituals and practices (like celebrating the full Moon every month, for example), various water sports and adventures in the sea, and so on. Tulum’s beach is the perfect getaway for stressed out people who go there with the idea of achieving the state of tranquility and serenity they need and look for.
El pueblo (the town), on the other hand, is where a totally different plot unfolds. It is a place where a truly unique expat community has emerged and is developing and the bar El Curandero has become its focal point. The bar is easily found because it is positioned right on a corner of the main street with another one at the very center of the town. It’s open from both corner sides, with some swings on the side-street and tables and chairs on the main one. Different music bands, dancers and other artists have live performances almost every night and there is always the usual crowd, creating and enjoying the bustling life of the place. People who come here need and want excitement to be permanently present in their lives. They like intensity, they like adrenaline running through their bodies, they like feeling inspired and want to keep this feeling as long as possible, they want to be truly alive.
The community consists of small number of local people of Mayan origin, lots of Mexicans from other states of the country, who prefer to live here than in their native places, citizens of South American countries (Argentineans, Columbians, Venezuelans, etc.), Americans from the USA and Canada, Europeans (many Italians, but I personally met and got to know also some Romanians, a lady from Poland, another one from Germany, a Swiss chiropractor, a British massager, an Irish restaurant owner and even a guy from my own country Bulgaria).
The expats say Tulum chooses the people to stay in it and I had to believe it because I was one of the chosen ones. I was forced to stay in Tulum due to a physical health issue which made me pretty immobile for a prolonged period of time. I am not the person who would normally go to a bar for anything, but since my closest friend in Tulum was among the staff in El Curandero, I started to visit it quite often. Thus, I had the rare opportunity to meet and get to know people who were extremely different from the ones I had previously met in my life and thanks to whom my perception of life expanded tremendously. I became part of that expat community and I listened to a lot of personal stories in El Curandero, and somehow they all were about the healing experiences on various levels and life-changing events that occurred for my new acquaintances since they came to live here. I got different perspective on many things like societal beliefs and systems, lifestyle, health, religion, philosophy, spirituality, etc. and all this turned out to be a great enriching experience for me in the end.
I myself experienced a lot of healing in Tulum and it was perceived not only in my body, but also on my mind. It was an emotional process as well and it finally led me to some spiritual awareness too. It was truly one of a kind experience in my life and it happened with the involvement of a bar called The Healer. Talk about symbolism!