My journey began on Halloween eve to Costa Careyes, Mexico; the destination: Ondalinda Music Festival. The voyage as rewarding as the destination was remote.
Upon landing in luminous PV, I was greeted by car from Ondalinda and the adventure began. I needed to put my blinders on to avoid distraction from the seductive seashore located 10 minutes away.
Costa Careyes has a private airstrip if you have the means. I opted for the 2.5 hour southbound car ride.
The drive to Careyes, began with a coastal cliffside road beset on one shoulder by the jungle of the Riviera Jalisco, and ended upon arrival on the Mexican playa. Before I headed to my personal yurt, I stopped in at Bernie's Café, where all of the campers would head to relax and recoup our their wits in between each event.
Walking up to the facility, I was overwhelmed by the encampment. Ondalinda built an entire yurt campground from the ground up featuring full plumbing, a brilliantly constructed shade structure, and all the friendly faces that one could wish for.
Costa Careyes plans to maintain the campsite for rent by anyone interested for the next 6 month, if camping on an untouched beach is your thing,
The group yurts were comprised of 6 beds, Moroccan-themed constructions with dresser space and air conditioning throughout, great for late morning/early afternoon naps.
Thursday evening was the attendees’ first taste of what was to come. It was quickly apparent that this is not an ordinary festival, but a carefully curated 3 day arts and music experience. The number of staff was almost equal to the number of enjoyers on Thursday; and as we all engorged ourselves on delicious finger foods and drank the local mezcal and tequila selection from the generously hosted bar. I knew I stepped into a special place and time.
The tribal sounds of BLOEM helped us recenter as we all recovered from the day's journey. The night was a social occasion, all catching up and making new acquaintances in this intimate setting - to further promote the togetherness of the events thereafter.
Friday saw the ribbon cutting of the brand new Huichol art gallery located at the Plaza de los Caballeros del sol. The opening featured a talk by Humberto Fernandez, he emphasized the preservation of Huichol land.
There were also screenings of Eco de la Montaña, a documentary featuring the Huichol people directed by Nicolás Echevarría. The variety and intricacy of the art featured was stunning. All the pieces were for sale and a portion of the proceeds went to the UNESCO fund to save the indigenous Huichol territory.
After successfully satiating ourselves with the local fine arts and fare, we took a short Sprinter ride to Cocodrillo beach club for the afternoon event. Every location throughout the weekend at Ondalinda had its own backdrop, and this beach club was no exception.
With beachside service including: massages on the sand, ceviche to your blanket, and mezcal to the mouth, it was an ideal setting for the sunset. The evening’s mood was set after Sabo’s soulful vibes tastefully transitioned us into the night’s sky.
The excitement grew while we cooled our heels prior to the event of Friday night. Nobody knew exactly what to expect, what we did know was everyone would be wearing white, and anything to the contrary was not acceptable. I once again boarded a Sprinter van with some of the other attendees and we had a short ride from our glampsite to the polo fields where this event was to take place. The large polo field festooned with candle lanterns stunned us. 44 workers spent hours laying and lighting approximately 5,000 lanterns for the event. With our perspectives increased by the lanterns and the libations at hand, we were able to enjoy the aesthetic provided in a very novel way for a dark night. The mix of orange candle, blue light, and white outfits provided a color palette not often witnessed, which was a very pleasant addition to the night of dancing and fun ahead.
Long wooden tables allowed for a very festive and communal dinner as we feasted on roast meats and drank authentic agua frescas. Oh, and the music that night was certainly not an afterthought, we were blown away by the Vienna-based group HVOB (Her Voice Over Boys).
The soothing voice of Anna Müller laid over the beats of Paul Wallner introduced us to the rest of the weekend - as we couldn't help but move our feet to the amazing combination of electronic dance music performed live amidst the beautiful polo field trees. It was my second time seeing them live and again I was completely blown away by the precision of HVOB's drummer Alexander Schuster. With the entire live act hinging on his ability to lay the beat down perfectly, Alexander rewarded us with a nearly perfect rendition of the drum samples on record.
Once the live drums and vocals were done reverberating, we were ready for the Canada-based Blond:Ish to take us into the early morning. With the relentless electronic tribal beats bearing us toward the sunrise, we all were in good hands for the rest of the night. Blond:Ish did not leave us disappointed or feeling teased as they continued to perform after their call until the last dancer was too tired to dance, a truly amazing end to an astounding night.
The final night geared up to be, as the other attendees had dubbed it, "the greatest party of all time." The crowd was dressed in their festival best - a mix of well-dressed festival goers, a few lucky locals that got the invite, and those choosing to mark the Día de los Muertos.
With art installation tastefully put together by Philippe Moellhausen, the Teopa Beach was transformed from pristine playa to an electronic-psychedelic dream world. The local Huichol culture heavily influenced each piece of art on the beach that night. Continuing his vision through the night with a couple surprise fire dances, Philippe could not have set a better stage to launch the Mayan Warrior outside of Burning Man. The only oversight by the promoters was to allow the styrofoam cushions to litter the beach just minutes from an endangered wildlife reservoir.
We further fueled by feasting on more local fare; Al pastor tacos and pork stew and more aqua fresca provided the base to what was a very memorable event for all.
This night marked The Mayan Warrior's inaugural trip to Careyes where we witnessed the marvel that it is with the added benefit of a crystal clear view of the art-car, sans Nevada lake dust. The Mayan Warrior production, which featured the likes of NU, Audiofly, LUM, Mandrake, Mendrix, Sabo, and Gandalla. The music transitioned seamlessly between the artists as we were all put in the sort of trance that only the robust sound and style of the Mayan Warrior can accomplish. A large majority of the intimate gathering danced until dawn as the music continued well into the daylight.
The sunrise rounded out what was a beautifully orchestrated event. - Service, Taste, Music, Light, Art, and Cuisine combined with a pristine natural backdrop delivered what was a truly an unforgettable sensory experience.