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Jacky, USA
El Bosque is a place for personal transformation. I came to this conclusion having spent 10 weeks here and having seen the changes in myself and others. Your experience here will largely depend on how much you get involved but El Bosque already has many supporting elements in place to facilitate a memorable experience.

Nature – The trees, the flowers, the birds, the starry night sky will constantly remind you that you are living off the grid, among 83 acres of forest. The air is fresh and the views are stunning. All this is afforded without sacrificing much of the infrastructures that we are accustomed to in the cities, such as electricity, internet, hot showers and a comfortable place to sleep.

Animal – There are 8 dogs and 3 cats buzzing around. They are gentle and playful.  They have added a different dimension of intimacy to my time here and brought me closer to nature.

Work – I had no knowledge of permaculture prior to my arrival. While here, I gained hands-on experiences with natural building, woodworking, planting, cooking, trail-making, renewable energy systems and many practical skills to live sustainably. The work is varied everyday and is rewarding in many ways.

Food – Food is delicious and plenty, meal after meal. I have never lived on just vegetarian food before but the food is so good here, I have not had any craving for meat.

Activity – Almost everything you can imagine is possible here. I have participated in yoga, archery, trapeze, volleyball, hiking, jump roping, juggling and many activities to get your blood pumping. In your quiet times, there are at least 4,000 books span over all major topics at your disposal. At night, live music and fire is a magical way to wind down the day.

Class – Many classes are available if you are interested in learning a craft. I learned how to make bread and made a knife using recycled materials. El Bosque empowers the teacher in all of us.  Silk-screening, didgeridoo, paper, Diablo sticks, weaving are among the many things volunteers have made and/or taught to others.

People – At the heart of any community is its people. Brian and Marie are a constant force behind the vision for a better way of living. Volunteers cycle through and they add their unique flavor and skills to the mix.

As amazing as it is already, El Bosque is still in its infant stage. Everyone passes through will be able to have an impact on shaping its future. My time here has been simple, pure and full of joy. I cannot wait to return one day to see what it has become. Its success can be a model for all seeking an alternative way of living and I wish many will have the courage to search for what has been lost in our current civilization.

Minerva, Mexico
I’ll never forget it, it marked my life. The bonfires at night, the mornings cutting wood, the fresh air provided by the trees. Waiting for the time to come to eat together at dinner: the start of the true co-existence. Singing around the fire, jumping around to all places to play all the instruments that no one knows how to play but they still make music… the music of the forest.

I spent a great month at the Bosque Village. Although there were difficulties I can not deny that it was one of the most incredible months of my life.

It felt so satisfying to help with something that I both like and find interesting. I felt useful and enjoyed learning how to chop wood. I learned about the food, the people, I shared ideas among the volunteers. We were free to be ourselves, our defects and scars uncovered and open.

We dug a swale, we chopped wood, we planted trees, we got to know many types of plants and mushrooms, we made tamales, I painted, I learned how to start a fire… We sang all the time, laughing, playing. The month went by too quickly. The time I had in the Bosque was so magical, I will never forget it. The whole experience… to relax, and to learn to be both alone and to be share every other second with the other guests.

I’ll miss walking up and down the mountains to go everywhere and see such beautiful things. And the people so full of ideas and dreams who make sure the world does not lose its luster.

Dani, from England
In the silence of this retreat space, in Michoacan, Mexico, I felt as if I was breathing a sigh of relief, able to hear myself think without the noises of traffic and urban life to disturb me. The Bosque Village is self-sustaining, powered entirely by solar electricity, and so you are entirely lost after darkness without a headlamp or a torch. However, walking up to bed through the darkness is not an inconvenience, but a way to enjoy the silence of the forest.

This silence, it seems, is one of the things that draws in retreat visitors, and manages to prolong their stay. Such was the case with the last visitor, a 55 year old accountant from Mexico City, whom I became friendly with since everyone is encouraged to share and care for the same space. After a yearly social gathering at The Bosque, he decided to stay an extra night to appreciate the silence of the forest without distraction. And then another. And then another. He ended up staying with us for almost two weeks! We even managed to get him, a staunch meat eater, to extol the virtues of the vegetarian food cooked here. This is not difficult, as both lunch and dinner (the latter usually soup and bread) are prepared with incredible care, using locally bought fruit and vegetables, some of which come from the gardens here. The food is cooked with no added sugar, and vegan food is available upon request (although it is rare that dairy ingredients are used, since, in an effort to reduce electricity consumption, there is no refrigerator).

It is a space that, despite the lack of apparently important ‘creature comforts’, people become comfortable in a different way. All are encouraged to respect each other’s privacy and are also encouraged to pursue their own projects, be it a specific meditation programme or time spent in the art studio. It is, however, not a space for people that are not interested in making certain sacrifices, such as having a hot shower every day, or watching a lot of television. The cabanas, as well, become cold at night, but this, for me, was not problematic due to the large amount of blankets and rugs that are provided free of charge. As well as this, only dog lovers need apply- the pack of six, lively canines could prove overwhelming to those who aren’t overly enamoured with the animals. This, however, should not be a deterrent, especially considering what one can gain from a visit to the Bosque.

Byron, aka Zig-Zag, from California
I came to the Bosque looking for a place to rest and restore myself, both physically and mentally, after an exhausting two weeks of traveling non-stop. I found not only that, but so much more. I had a good feeling when I was applying to the Bosque Village, and I knew it was meant to be. It was not what I had expected, but during my time here, I grew in many ways that I could not have imagined.

The Bosque is a place where you can quiet your mind from all the constant noise and distractions of the outside world. And with it’s serene location amidst the Michoacán forest overlooking Lake Pátzcuaro, you can’t help but feel at one with the world and come away with a greater appreciation for nature’s beauty.

Brian has a vision for a better planet, and every visitor here takes a little piece of that vision with them and then disperses it out into the world. If we want to improve the way things are, it needs to start with us. And the Bosque is just the place to do that, offering many different opportunities to grow as a person and try new things that may interest you. I highly value the time I have spent here, and I have no doubt that you will too.

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