Sometimes there are things that come across your desk that you wish you could laugh at the ridiculousness and then just toss it to the side. The was my initial thought with Restival Oaxaca, but it managed to spark a firestorm of emotions in me that I have not been able to put out.
Moving beyond the name, which truly sets the tone, there is this:
Welcome to the Land of the Cloud People
Restival Oaxaca is an intimate retreat for only 70 people with a beautifully curated celebration on New Year’s Eve. We have combined the best of Fest & Rest to create a New Year’s experience which (until now) only existed in your dreams. Leave your world & wallet behind and let Restival whisk you away from crowded parties and exorbitant bar tabs, to stars and mountains, luxury bungalows, a spa, wisdom teachers, traditional Zapotec sweat lodge and a sensory buffet of creative workshops. Oh and the organic food’s delicious. Your home for six days/five nights is a brand new Rancho in the heart of Mezcal country – a sacred valley just outside of Oaxaca. It’s a modern property with understated elegance (and a pool) We have arranged a New Year’s Eve celebration of love featuring a bevy of surprise musicians and DJs serving up a unique brand of beats. The party will be sandwiched between four days of workshops, fire ceremonies and intention setting to get you ready for 2019. You’ll meet a family of Zapotec weavers and learn their indigenous traditions, visit a geological phenomenon and practice yoga & meditation at an ancient temple. With our artists & teachers, you’ll create a representation of your intentions for 2019 and built a totem that signifies your wishes for the New Year. Feel the vibration of abundance flow through you with a buzz in your body and a twinkle in your eye, you’ll head back home ready for the year ahead……
Restival is a world where you worry about nothing.
It only devolves from there as you learn about your daily schedule focused on a theme (Manifest, Release, Flow) filled with every single buzzword guaranteed to make Goopites swoon and trigger those of us who lived through the New Age 80s and 90s. Everything old is new again.
So why, why the downward spiral from reading this press release? There is of course a sort of internal soul searching as someone who writes extensively about Oaxaca and is part of the media machine driving people to Oaxaca. I like to think we are responsible in our coverage and tone, but that could be my own denial. But, having seen the impact of the stampede from what has been deemed hot for a specific audience, think San Miguel de Allende and Tulum, it breaks my heart to see that same laser attention focused toward Oaxaca, the newly anointed mystical and magical playground for foreigners, served with a side of mezcal. If cultural appropriation and exploitive tourism were ever to have a love child, Restival Oaxaca would be its name.
Much like the mezcal industry has the roadmap of what not to do as presented by Tequila, Oaxaca can look to the vapidness of Tulum and the gringolandia of San Miguel de Allende as roadmaps of where you don’t want to go if you are interested in maintaining cultural identity and having the benefits of tourism reach a local population more equitably.
Part of me wants to write more about this, the other wants to completely ignore it and hope that it just goes away. So I’ll just say this, there are so many better ways to spend your time in Oaxaca, to recharge your soul through exploring local markets, walking through Parque Llano or up the stairs to the Guelaguetza Auditorium, sitting in the plaza by Soledad, eating ice cream. Head to the ex-convento of Cuilapam and bask in the quiet peace found there, or go to Yagul and walk among the ruins and hills to center yourself. Take a cooking class and exalt in the meditative process of grinding corn on a metate. And if you want to look into a weaving workshop, or talk on medicinal properties of mezcal or herbs or mushrooms, tour agave fields, there are plenty of resources and we are happy to help connect you. I am sure we can even find you a pool.