via: http://www.travel-alchemy.com –
Simon’s blog about reimagining world travel as a path of personal transformation and self-realization.
An intentional community oriented towards conscious evolution and environmental sustainability, Inan Itah on Ometepe is almost heaven on earth.
That is, as long as you’re willing to put in the work to make it real.
With a majestic, all encompassing view of Concepcion, Ometepe’s large volcano, as well as both sides of the island, Inan Itah is rooted on perhaps the most epic piece of property on all of Ometepe.
Sitting on an elevated stretch of fertile earth located mid-way up the island’s smaller volcano, the land of Inan Itah speaks with an eloquent clarity. Edible gardens, fruit trees, and whimsical cob art-structures reveal the countless hours and many hands that have crafted this community into the jewel that it is today.
Founded in 2009, it is safe to say that Inan Itah is renowned amongst the conscious traveler community throughout Central & South America. I wanted to learn about Inan Itah first hand, so I reached out to Gaia, one of the two founding visionaries and owners. Greeted immediately with a full-power hug, she invited us to lunch in the magnificent commons/kitchen structure, where we spoke of the community’s past, and its potential future.
“There’s nowhere to go, and there’s everywhere to go,” is a mantra that I heard her echo several times during our chat. As an outgrowth of that understanding, Inan Itah is as much an eco-community as it is a spiritual one. Over 90% of the food served at Inan Itah is local, from Ometepe Island, with a large percentage being grown on the land itself.
“Inan Itah,” like “Ometepe,” comes from the Nahuatl language of what is now Mexico, who’s people swept over Nicaragua in the late pre-Colombian era. Translating roughly into “grandmother, grandfather,” Inan Itah speaks to the divine union of masculine and feminine that perpetually expresses itself in our lives, both within, and without.
Very little concrete has been used in Inan Itah’s impressive structures, resulting in a masterful display of natural building techniques. Permaculture principles, such as closed-loop systems, zero waste, composting toilets, and solar food dehydrators, to name a few, add to the palpable “eco-topia” vibe of Inan Itah.
Bringing an experiential awareness to how much energy it takes to live a modern lifestyle is one of the aims and outcomes from spending time at Inan Itah. For as much yoga, meditation, sharing circles, and dancing that happens, there is an equal, if not larger amount of humble, hands-on work to be done.
This is the deciding factor that makes Inan Itah a truly unique and unforgettable experience: the fact that everyone, no matter who they are, how long they stay, or what nationality, is expected to be an engaged member of the community. And this, as I heard many community members echo, and speaking from my own experience, is no easy task.
On the surface, Inan Itah might look like a tropical paradise of yoga, organic food, rainbows, and unicorns. Yet in spending just several days there, it became quite clear that spending time at Inan Itah equates to doing some serious work, both inside and out.
As Gaia explained:
“There is a transformational experience that happens for almost everybody who comes here. Its different for each individual, for some people its more of a spiritual transformation, because we have regular spiritual practices happening. For some people its actually making friends with the bugs and with nature for the first time. For some people its becoming more aware of what they put into their bodies… For some people its an awakening to what it is to live closer together, to live more intimately and transparently with others. For some people its the awareness of how their individuation has made it hard for them to be with other people.”
Once-a-week transparency circles, daily wellness practices, communal meals, semi-regular workshops, and weekly dance parties paint a picture of the communal life that one can experience at Inan Itah. After our chat, Gaia invited my partner and I to return the following day to participate in making cacao balls, tiny dark globules of high-vibration goodness that would fuel the weekly Friday night dance party, facilitated by a traveling Czeck DJ with whom I shared some mutual friends.
In fact, as soon as I set foot on Inan Itah, I began discovering layers of mutual connections and synchronicities with many of the community members.
For myself, and for I’m sure for many conscious travelers, Inan Itah was one of those place where I met the people I was meant to meet. Don’t be surprised if you leave there with a new set of life-long friends.
Finally, the level at which Gaia, and the Inan Itah community integrates and employs their Nicaraguan neighbors is truly remarkable. Local moms come to help cook community meals, as their children play in the kitchen or in the garden. Young men show up to help with carpentry, and other labor-intensive tasks, often aided by the men of Inan Itah.
Like the buzzing permaculture haven of Project Bona Fide, Inan Itah strives to teach, support, and involve their neighbors in many ways. Yet nowhere else had I seen this level of integration, that seemed, for lack of a better word, like family.
Nothing says “community values” like the blissed-out smile of an old Nicaraguan abuelo, getting a neck massage by a pretty young American girl.
And that, my friends, is true healing.