Long before I ever planned this trip, I learned of Huehuecoyotl, an ecovillage inhabited by an international group of movers and shakers nestled into one of the most magical valleys of Mexico, up in the hills outside of Tepoztlán, about an hour outside of Mexico City.
This week I finally got a chance to go and see it for myself, and to meet some of its inhabitants. It was as beautiful as I’d imagined; constructed in the early 1980s by artists, green architects and permaculturists, the community is infused with a colorful yet gentle aesthetic that pleases the spirit as well as the eye.
Many of the residents, like “Subcoyote” Alberto Ruz Buenfil, divide their time between Huehue (as it’s known for short, pronounced ‘Wayway,”) and various other spots around the globe, where they teach, play music, act in films or otherwise engage in another aspect of their lives, generally related to promoting social change in one way or another.
The community was formed in 1982 when its founders, most of them belonging to a troupe of itinerant actors called the Illuminated Elephants, decided to put down some roots. Ecology ranked high in the group’s values, so the community became Mexico’s first Ecovillage, a concept based on ecological design principles. “It’s a very low-impact community, utilizing every type of alternative technology we can,” said Giovanni Ciarlo, one of the residents I spoke with during my stay. “Our biggest capital is our tight social network, and also the fact that it’s integrated into nature and has an artisitic sensibility.”
Giovanni and his partner Kathleen are musicians and teachers, migrating back and forth between here and Waterford, Conn. Giovanni and Kathy are the founders of Sirius Coyote Music, an innovative Latin America-inspired musical group that incorporates environmental education and community building into their work. They perform on more than 30 different instruments from a variety of cultures, some of which they’ve crafted themselves. As if that’s not enough, Giovanni also serves as board president for the Global Ecovillage Network.
That tight social network includes Liora Adler and Andrew Langford, who just returned home after several months of teaching in the U.S. Virgin Islands and traveling in Andrew’s native England and Liora’s native U.S. to visit with family and meet new grandchildren. Now hard at work fully reintegrating into the work of running the revolutionary Gaia University, they took time for tea and an interview, which I’ll be publishing here shortly.
It also includes Alberto’s son Odin, a world-class musician and permaculture designer who shared with me many tracks of his globally influenced compositions, and his partner Sadie, a teacher and author, together with their winsome toddler Nayeli.
You can meet Giovanni and Kathy, Alberto and Odin, Liora and Andy and take a little virtual tour of the beautiful community of Huehuecoyotl here, on the Flickr slide show I’ve created. Click “show info” for captions.
Currently the community is accepting visitors on retreat with advance notice, and periodically organizes workshops on a variety of topics. For more information, contact Giovanni at email@example.com, and see the Huehuecoyotl web page.
To learn more about ecovillages, see the Global Ecovillage Network homepage.
To learn more about permaculture, an ecological design system that is making waves throughout the world, see the Permaculture Institute page. To learn more about permaculture efforts throughout Latin America, see Permacultura America Latina.