I didn’t really know what most of the activities planned for us in Mexico actually were. I, along with several other travel bloggers, had been invited down for a long weekend as guests of the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort. Tres Rios is located in the heart of the idyllic Riviera Maya, south of Cancun.
Yes I received an agenda and yes I read through it, but I honestly didn’t process most of what I read. There was something that caught my eye though and it involved the words adventure and spa.
Every resort has a spa and most of them have treatments or experiences completely unique to the property. Tres Rios is no exception and they proudly wanted us to experience their signature treatments in their eco park: the SenseAdventure and Temazcal. Funny, reading these words now produces a long, deep shudder and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to be treated for post traumatic stress disorder in the near future.
The SenseAdventure was the first of the two experiences and I was honestly really looking forward to it. Here’s what I thought it would be, based on nothing but my own imagination: a summer camp like experience where you are blindfolded and given foods to taste and strange textures to feel. In reality, the experience was a seemingly endless, blindfolded walk in the jungle with freaky noises and some guy throwing seeds at you and dousing everyone with water.
At first it was cute. Deprived of sight, our other senses instantly became heightened and I was curious about the imaginative ways in which the tour leader would take advantage of this sudden deprivation. What Dr. Mengele led us through though was a series of stations which included pouring water over everyone’s head, dumping pounds and pounds of lentils on us all (I’m still picking them out of my shoes) and many other pointless and thoroughly annoying activities.
For some reason I still don’t fully understand, being partially buried in lentil seeds is somehow supposed to put me in better touch with my soul and the world around me. Forgive me for being cynical, but playing new age music and blowing incense in my face does not a spiritual experience make. Rather than achieve a new plane of bodhisattva, I sat in the jungle cross-legged, drenched in sweat and water with hundreds of seeds sticking to EVERY possible part of my body wondering how best to escape blindfolded without falling into a cenote.
In college I was in a fraternity which, like most Greek organizations had an initiation ceremony. The SenseAdventure was worse – much worse. It also lacked what at least my fraternity initiation offered – a point.
After it was over, the leader wanted us to remove our blindfolds and sit on logs and reflect on the experience. I reflected by beginning the long and ongoing process of removing a veritable UN aid shipment worth of seeds from my hair. I was expecting that a lot of my fellow bloggers would feel the same and be a little miffed at the waste of our valuable time at the property. I could’ve been lounging in one of the beach beds! Imagine my shock that with only 1 or 2 exceptions, everyone instantly began fawning over the entire experience. “How amazing,“ said one; “what a personal, spiritual journey,” confessed another.
Are you kidding me? A personal journey to where? I may be a wee bit jaded, but I saw absolutely no redeeming features to the experience except that the resort at least has the good sense not to charge guests for the opportunity to illegally transport lentils all over the world.
I instantly felt bad for not loving the experience and I could tell that our hosts were honestly a little disappointed that I wasn’t a changed person. But I wasn’t and I’m not going to lie and say that I enjoyed it or gained anything from it; I didn’t.
If you visit the resort though, contrary to what everyone will expect me to say, I think you should absolutely participate in the SenseAdventure. While I may not have become an enlightened one, it is impossible to know what will move any of us or force us to reflect on our lives and the people in them and such a unique chance to at least try the SenseAdventure should definitely not be squandered.
I, however will respectfully skip the tour in the future but, on the upside, I’m starting a garden at home with the seeds still pouring from my shoes.
For a completely different perspective on the same experience, please visit SoloTraveler’s article Zen Travel – Solo Travel.