For the past two weeks, since I was accepted to live and work at The Snowmansion hostel and organic garden in Arroyo Seco, my head has been filled with visions of what my life might be like there. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found.
Muna (the matriarch of the place and the resident herbalist/gardener/acupuncturist/astrologist/healer) came out to meet me in the lobby of the hostel with her arms outstretched. A smile began on her mouth and stretched throughout the rest of her body. Before I knew what was happening, her arms were around me. She pulled me close and pressed her fingers in to the chakra points along my back. I felt warmth radiate like a pinwheel from each place she touched.
She pulled away, holding my shoulders and looking into my eyes. She said, "All of your energies are in the right place. Welcome."
I couldn't speak. I just smiled in return, squeezed her hands, and allowed my eyes to fill with tears. I had the sense that I had been pulled here; that I had been journeying here for a long time and only now realized it.
Kent had come in to the hostel at the same time as me, looking for a room. (I later found out that Kent has coincidentally left a lucrative, responsible management position in Oregon to travel the world, and that he had intended to take the trip with a partner, only to find out part way through the trip that he would be doing it solo. Many serendipitous path-crossings.) Muna offered Kent and I a tour of the property and garden, which we enthusiastically accepted.
How can I describe this woman? She floated in and out of rooms, down paths and through doors, as though she were part human and part ghost. Her spirit seemed always in graceful motion, even when her body was still. She talked without stopping.
"This is a plum tree. This is a cedar. We planted that greenhouse September 1st, that one October 1st, and that one November 1st, on the full moon. Pick up that compost bucket as you pass, we'll take it into the kitchen later. Let's plant some shallots while we're out, shall we? Hold this bag of bulbs. The soil is delicious with worms, they turn it into growing juice overnight, perfect. Let me show you my healing room. Here is my wall of herbs - this one cures alzheimers. . ."
And on and on she went. Kent and I said virtually nothing throughout the tour, instead opting to send each other silent "Oh my god can you believe this woman and this place" glances when Muna turned her back to us.
|Muna demonstrates her favorite gardening activity -|
|eating leaves straight from the soil.|
|This is a variety of choy (not bok, though).|
|This woman has a sense of humor as well.|
Then, with no formalities at all, she brushed Kent away, "You go now." She took my arm in hers, as though we were walking down the aisle together like old friends, and led me in to her home. She read my palm. She asked me what I wanted for dinner. I said that the purple broccoli and cabbage looked nice in the garden. She whisked me out there and hacked some down.
We brought the vegetables back inside. Within a matter of minutes, Muna rinsed them, chopped them with no more than five hacks of a cleaver, and tossed them in her gigantic steamer. Then she dumped yesterday's brown rice from the rice cooker into a large frying pan with olive oil, and put the lid on. "We'll come back for that later." And that is cooking here.
Muna left the next day for a three week trip. I miss her deeply already and am anxious for her return. She wants me to stay the whole winter. I think I probably will. I will spend this three weeks getting to know the ropes of the front desk from her two sons, Amu and Subra, and hopefully getting a part time job and settling in to a routine. When Muna returns, I want to soak in her presence and learn everything she knows.
I have so much more to say. I want to tell you about Jacob, my fellow worker and next door neighbor in my cabin. And Kent, the synchronistic traveller. And Krista, the only other female in this place. And Nate, another traveler who is writing a book and full of incredible knowledge. And Amu and Subra, Muna's two sons. And Keanu, from the Pueblo next door. And just all the moment-by-moment beautiful experiences I've had since arriving. I will stop here now. There will be much, much more coming soon.