Brief History of Yiimtii Musings on the history of our beginnings, the birth of the Bamboo Cabin and its passing due to Agatha…
Written by Marytere
Discovering PRISTINE NATURE on my late teens was the definite turning point for me as a city born and raised girl. My dream of meeting someone that wanted to live a sustainable life out in the country seemed almost impossible living in Mexico City, but a true miracle of destiny brought Naim into my life. As someone that had his life changed by his 8-month trip to India and in particular his solo time up in the Himalayas, Naim was already a seasoned Nature lover and dweller when I met him.
As our relationship became serious, on 2001, we started looking for a place to start our life dream project. The day we were due to visit the land that would be named Yiimtii by Juanito, I had asked Naim in the morning how did someone know that the place they had found was the place they wanted to spend the rest of their lives at… When Don Pidio brought us to the now Yiimtii’s trademark view at the edge of the cliff for the first time, I had no doubt this was the place I would always want to call HOME.
The village of Zapotengo felt like a dream of living in another time come true, as it was a very friendly and pristine community in terms of modern civilization. No one had a car. There were only a few bicycles. The villagers immediately adopted and accepted us as the crazy youngsters that wanted to live up in the wilderness by themselves. They frequently asked us if we were afraid, which we of course weren´t, we were d-e-l-i-g-h-t-e-d.
The first year, we lived a slow-paced life in a makeshift camp. Without a truck, we use to walk the 4 miles to get to the main coastal highway and then take public transportation to our nearest town, Pochutla. We then hauled our heavy backpack filled with fresh produce up the foot trail towards our piece of paradise. Lacking a fridge, we learned to eat the produce according on how long each thing lasted. Naim dug the well with Juanito while I improved the camp anyway I could and built a shack for dwarves, as Naim use to joke. It was thatched with coconut palm, and I built the furniture with wooden crates and branches. We did our cooking in a round fire pit, read with headlamps and slept on a small tent.
The second year we evolved to a clay wood stove, and we acquired a table and chairs. And so, our little rustic camp year after year became more luxurious, fuel lanterns and all. These first years we spent only half the year at Yiimtii and the other half working in the US.
Once we achieved the miracle of finding water and with the gift of a Beautiful Well, Naim started planting as many fruit trees as he could, as well as any seeds of foods that could grow in our climate and that would provide a good seed bank to share locally. Yiimtii’s Food Forest was our main focal point on our first stage, and it countinued to flourish over the years under our loving care and with the help of our gifted green thumbed Juanito.
On 2004 we built our first permanent dwelling, thought as a hurricane shelter inspired by the Mayan traditional house prototype. From 2005 to 2006 we built our house which includes a 30000-liter cistern to be used during the driest months.
On 2006 we received our first workshop groups at the campground. The experience outcome was absolutely wonderful. Yiimtii healed, inspired, empowered and transformed the participants.
It was in 2007 that we started to build the Bamboo Cabin, our first cabin destined for guests. It was planned to fit a family and include a kitchenette. My Architect Self had been on a roll of designing and building everything myself, counting with my scale model former expertise and putting it in practice on Scale 1 to 1. I had self-taught myself carpentry and was feeling the Farell Carpenters´ legacy of my Catalan Ancestors manifest. I was motivated to build and design an ecofriendly space that would merge with the Nature around it. I conceived Bamboo inspired in the indigenous palafites of the Pacific Islands to give it a treehouse feeling and to reach up for the most amazing view aiming for a feeling of transparency and lightness.
My main right-hand partner in building has always been Don Urbano, and sharing long working days with him has always been a delight. I am grateful for having heard the multiple stories of his childhood as a Zapotec orphan working on a cane sugar finca along with the sharing of his infinite Heart felt indigenous wisdom, and for having had the companionship of someone that feels like a father, a Loyal Friend and a Wise Mentor.
I was pregnant with Ceiba while building the Bamboo Cabin, and I remember looking forward for our 1-hour lunch breaks, craving like crazy the same dish day after day: Scrambled eggs with nopales (cactus leaves). I would literally feel my mouth watering while preparing them. After eating, I took a half an hour nap in which I fell sleep cradled in a hammock as soundly as a baby. Then, the alarm would wake me and back to work I would go again.
I awed at Don Urbano’s ability to assemble the most amazing scaffolding to build the roof structure. I was high up there in what felt like the stairway to Heaven, with the most amazing turquoise to light blues to deep blue hues views of the Ocean and the company of the Hawks and Ospreys that flew above me singing their shrillest and sweetest calls. My pregnant belly by then was huge, at 8 months and Don Urbano would plead to me to be most careful, as I was then the carrier of the most sacred and precious gift: Life Itself.
One day he told me to be sure not to come out on the open that night, because a Lunar Eclipse was due to take place. He told me how it was believed that Women could lose their babies if they came out under a Lunar Eclipse. His own wife, Tía Tere, had lost a baby at 8 months because of it. I surely didn´t argue and followed his advice, just in case.
The Bamboo Cabin always felt dear to my Architect´s heart as I created it at the same time that I was initiated into Motherhood while my first child was growing within me. Bamboo, my Architect-Self child, was built almost entirely by my own hands with Don Urbano’s assistance. Each plank, each bamboo, each tile; touched, felt and imbued with love and the promise of manifesting into something beautiful.
Sunday May 29th, 2022 I went at 7 am to the village´s communal work call clearing the soccer field from bushes that had grown for over 2 years. The work was hard and exhausting, I came back home at noon, to hear Naim saying that the Tropical Depression was now called Agatha and had become a hurricane. Gone was my plan to lay in the hammock to read and rest. I didn´t even have time to take a shower. We started to prepare immediately for a hurricane in every aspect that we could think off. We worked late into the night getting ready, as the forecast said that winds could arrive as early as 2 am.
Monday morning, there were spells of heavy rain here and there, but strong winds had not begun yet. In between these spells, Ceiba and I made sure to safeguard all our animals; hens, chicks, cats and dogs. We weren´t sure that the chicken coop would withstand the hurricane and were not about to risk the lives of our beloved feathered friends.
At about 3pm the hurricane began in full blast, and we took shelter on our little downstairs library, that first shelter we built back in 2004. Naim stayed out most of the time, witnessing the phenomenon of the hurricane, somehow sheltered by the kitchen walls but getting soaked regardless. He says every now and then he kept checking that Bamboo was holding up, being that the silhouette of its roof was visible from our house. At some point after about 3 hours, he noticed that he couldn´t see it anymore. He said for a while he was still hopeful that it would be a trick of the impaired visibility due to the white curtain of rain. An hour passed, and then he got the nerve to tell me that he couldn´t see the Bamboo Cabin anymore. I prayed hard that he was wrong but I couldn´t see it either. The rain was brutal. Heaviest rainfall I´ve ever witnessed in my life. When the hurricane ceased at around 10:30pm, I was freezing and exhausted. Even though it was still raining, the winds had calmed, and I went to open the door for the dogs. I dried up the upstairs floor of our sleeping quarters and put up the tent for the kids. I set up yoga mats on top of the wooden bed supports for Naim and me, as we had put away our mattresses inside the storage room. A part of me wanted to go and check on Bamboo, but I thought that if I did and I didn´t see it standing I would be totally shocked and unable to fall asleep, and I was exhausted. So I decided to wait, and went as I woke up at first light.
I noticed the chaos of branches, twigs and thorns covering the ground. Fallen trees could be seen everywhere. One of my favorite Old Trees was down. I kneeled and cried for my beloved friend. To get to the Bamboo Cabin, there were at least 9 fallen trees blocking the way, one of them the Tabachin that I had planted 15 years ago and would gift us with the beauty of its exotic orange and yellow flower blossoms once a year. Another huge blow. When I finally got to the hill that leads up to Bamboo, sure enough, I could not see the tip of the roof where it used to be seen from. I walked forward and was faced with the dreaded disaster scene. Bamboo had indeed been blown and crumbled down. Goodness, by then, I couldn´t even cry I was so shocked. At once a feeling of emptiness and sorrow invaded me. Then, in a few seconds, my mind grasped my attention into the gravity of the situation and the question of how in the world were we going to be able to rebuild something like Bamboo again. This past year we have barely been able to recover from Covid 19´s red numbers, just about enough to afford and assure all the salaries and a tight-belt livelihood for our family. Oh my, oh my.
As the kids were getting up and were about to go and see Bamboo for themselves, a group of people from the village showed up to see if we were all right. Sweethearts. They filled us in with the disastrous news. The River had come down with a colossal flow that had never been witnessed before, destroying the bridge at its pace and flooding the valley floor to a degree that had covered houses that were supposedly positioned in flooding safe locations. Many had lost everything. Juanito´s daughter had almost drowned. The animals were taken by the river. But no one was death. This news gave us consolation and much to be thankful for.
The villagers also told us that it had been said that the hurricane had turned into a tropical storm after touching land, which sounded absurd. When I was pregnant and about to give birth to my son Mishka, we were hit by Carlotta, a Category 2 Hurricane. We didn’t suffer structural damages on Carlotta, the main damage being only fallen trees and the complete blocking of the road. I remember Naim working 18-hour days for 5 days straight to clear the road so we could live for Oaxaca City where our child was planned to be born. It was a bit stressful to feel trapped in case of an early labor. But on that occasion, everything went well, thank goodness. Also, there were no major loses in the village. So, comparing Agatha to Carlotta there was no way of believing that Agatha was also a Category 2 hurricane. At the time we were witnessing it, we swore it had turned into a Category 3, at least that is how it felt.
After the villagers left, Naim made his way down to the orchard. I was anxiously waiting for his return because I was expecting to hear if our Well Guardian, the Huge Guanacaste Tree, had survived. Naim took a very very long time to return, and I started to get sick with worry. When he finally came back, he related how the creek had filled like never before and that we had lost innumerable fruit trees. The Big Guardian had lost a quarter, but was standing. A small relief. He told me that it seemed like the hurricane had gotten stuck in the ravine taking down all the trees at once in chunks. “Marytere, I reccomend you to not go down, it is worse that you can imagine”. My poor husband, being a child of War, kept repeating to himself in a way of consolation, that at least it was better that living through a War. Which indeed it was and is. It breaks my heart to think that he invested his soul and labor for almost 20 years creating that Food Forest, and in one day a huge part of it was destroyed. As for now, I haven’t been able to go and see it with my own eyes. I still have to gather courage.
The first 3 days after the hurricane went by in a blur, keeping ourselves extra busy with the titanic task of cleaning up. The cellphone reception was gone and there was no way to get in touch with our loved ones to let them know we were safe. Every night I would suddenly wake startled by anguish, remembering the hurricane and drowned in worry. The 4th day I felt so depressed I had to hide from the kids as I cried. Then on Saturday we got reception again and the flooding of messages from family, friends and former guests accounted for the most number of messages I have ever had in my whole WhatsApp using life. The messages warmed our hearts, gave us hope and cheered us up on a way that felt like a miraculous lifejacket saving us from drowning and providing us with the light and strength needed to overcome the trauma.
There are many miracles and gifts that manifest and can be felt at times of crisis. The strength and union that bonded all of us, Zapotengo’s villagers, lifted our Spirits up and set us up to work as a whole, looking out for each other and holding dear to our hearts the true meaning of community. The whole experience has made me feel honored and truly blessed to be part of this extended family and to have been welcomed into this village as one of their own since 20 years ago.
As if today, 9 days after the hurricane, I was able thanks to Naim’s work clearing the trail, to finally go down to the beach at sunset with the children. Looking up towards the top of the cliff, I felt an emptiness fill my heart and gut when I noticed that in the familiar silhouette, the Bamboo Cabin was absent… I will surely always miss the contour of my dear Bamboo Child.