I just spent a week with my hubby at Rancho La Puerta (RLP) in Tecate, Mexico. This life-changing experience inspired a blog series of six posts that I’m working on — “What I Learned at Rancho La Puerta.” But before I share those posts, wanted to give y’all some background and a recap.
Last Fall, I read about the Change Your Life program in the Experience Life magazine, my favorite magazine and the only one I read religiously cover to cover each month. I told Bob about it and we decided to book it — as a birthday present to us both (he turned 50 in March, I turned 40 in January), and for our honeymoon. Bob had gone to sea right after we got married so we never really took a honeymoon. My intentions going to RLP were to unwind, participate in the Change Your Life program, and to spend some alone time with my husband.
We flew direct from Dulles to San Diego airport. As parents to a crew of 4 1/2, Even having just five hours alone together was a treat for us. We read, prepped, and snacked on trail mix (thanks to a goodie bag from my stepdaughter Alex).
In San Diego, the RLP staff scooped us up at baggage claim and from that moment on, they took care of every detail. We loaded a bus and neither Bob or I are fans of mass transit, but the little pouch of homemade granola provided by the ranch made it much more enjoyable. The bus expertly drove along winding California mountain roads and got us through the border in Tecate quickly. We didn’t even have to get off the bus! After only 15 minutes in Mexico, the bus turned into a driveway and Bob and I were both skeptical. So close to the city? What have we gotten ourselves into? But as soon as the gates closed behind the bus, we were transported to a magical place.
The grounds of RLP are amazing. It is set in a valley surrounded by mountains, including Mount Kuchumaa, a sacred mountain. The Mexican architecture is complete with tile roofs and fountains. The abundance of tropical plants and flowers made me relaxed and at ease. Wild rosemary and sage lined the walks. Hummingbirds and these adorable quail (could not get a picture, they were too quick) were everywhere. Check out my nature photos on Flickr for more images.
The food was a big highlight. Majority of the fruit and vegetables are grown on the organic farm connected to the ranch. No beef or poultry, with limited seafood. Meals are served at the one main dining hall, a beautiful building with wood rafters. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style, while dinner is sit down. One of my “What I Learned” series is about appreciating good, nourishing food grown organically and locally.
Our villa was a short walk from the dining hall and all the facilities. We walked everywhere — to dinner, to yoga, back to the room to change, to the pool. Another of my upcoming series, the value of walking in daily life. The villa had fireplace, two separate bathroom sinks (a must), and our own private patio with a view of the mountains. The geckos liked to sun on the patio and we even saw an actual road runner.
Bob and I spent 2 hours every day in the Change Your Life program. It was led by Pilar Gerisamo, the dynamic Editor in Chief of Experience Life. We explored our values, set personal goals, and created action plans. More on this in my first “What I Learned” post later this week.
The ranch isn’t overly luxurious, but is beautiful, calm, clean and comfortable. Although stories of Mexican crimes/safety abound, I never felt unsafe. And unlike most other hotels and vacation resorts, I never thought they were trying to nickel and dime us. They did our laundry for cheap, provided bottled water for $0.75, and didn’t charge to deliver breakfast to the room. And internet connection was free, unlike the W in San Diego where we stayed after RLP, which charged $14.95 per day.
The facilities include a Men’s Health center – the only place on the ranch with a TV – as well as a Women’s Health Center. The ratio of men to women was probably 1:5. Lots of older women on retreats with their lady friends, but Bob handled that pretty well. Some women went solo, but easily connected with others since the vibe is so friendly and community-like.
Every morning, there are a number of different hikes offered. They leave at 6:15, which didn’t even seem that early. Bob and I had bought hiking boots, broken them in, but nothing would have prepared us for the challenge of the hikes. We kept up, met new friends, and met a few cows on the way. Thankfully, we did not meet any rattlesnakes (too cold). My favorite memory from the ranch is watching my husband, who is going through some personal transitions, bounding down the mountain, with the glee of a kid on Christmas. The hike to the organic farm, followed by a special breakfast, was also a high point.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with choices when you first arrive. Aside from the hikes and our Change Your Life program, the ranch offers classes on everything from jewelry making to cooking to yoga to ayurveda (which the last I”ll cover more in an upcoming post).
Due to visitor demand, two relatively new luxuries have been added to the ranch — internet and wine. No internet (or TV) in the room, but there was connection in a few common areas. Made for some quiet, introspective nights, but Bob would build a fire and we’d turn in around 8pm, which helped make the early hikes not so painful. I was thankful for the ability to connect occasionally, while not having constant access in our room.
I was a little more conflicted about the wine. The ranch put a bottle of red and a bottle of white in the room, which we willingly enjoyed. Seems before they offered wine, guests would “smuggle” it in, so why not profit from offering it? But had it not been there, I doubt I would have gone to the trouble to get some off the ranch. RLP also opened a new wine bar, which yes, we visited. It was vacation after all and the setting there was gorgeous. Plus, the wine bar had internet access — score!
The departure while bittersweet, was also flawless. The car line at the US border was backed up, so RLP had us go over on foot and switch busses. Genius. They brought extra porters who transported our luggage too. They seriously thought of everything.
As I said in the intro, my intentions for going to RLP were to unwind, participate in the Change Your Life program, and to spend time with Bob. Check, check, and check. Now, the hard part is remembering all that I learned and incorporating it all into my daily life. Check back later this week to see how I’m doing with my first post in the series — Commitment & Values: What I Learned at RLP Part 1.
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