Here's how you find paradise: Get on the right bus from Mexico City, travel for hours down narrow dirt roads, up mountains, and along cliffs until you find the Bahidora Festival. Staged over one weekend in the renowned nature park Las Estacas, this beautiful setting transforms into a music festival, where thousands of city dwellers can escape, unwind, and maybe even fall in love. Focused on defending and inspiring your imagination, Bahidora is that rare festival which is perfectly balanced in its degrees of revelry and rejuvenation. From the moment the doors open, Bahidora offers 40 hours of nonstop music in the middle of a mystical jungle, with an incredible music lineup matched by an equally awesomely stacked wellness program featuring guided meditations, yoga, massages, poetry, and dance classes, all of which helped me to balance my inner light with my inner lit.
Read on to find out how it all went down.
Upon arriving at the Bahidora grounds, I found myself at a narrow rope bridge crossing a jungle river. On the other side, I was greeted by couples doing aerial yoga and swinging off ropes into the river below, which laced throughout the festival site. You can plop yourself in the river and float along to all the different stages of the festival, as well as down narrow and winding streams lined with trees so thick you can barely see the sun.
A note for all you monolinguists out there: Not only does nobody at the festival speak English, but also there’s no cell service on the grounds, which lends to the heavenly feel of it all. But how will you Tinder, you ask? Happily, Tinder set up a booth where you take a selfie polaroid, write down what set you’ll be at later on and a meeting point, and clip it to a string. Whatever happens after that is serendipity!
Bahidora’s mindset is completely different from any other festival I've encountered. Once the gates open, the music doesn’t stop for 40 straight hours. Sure, you’re always missing something, but also, nothing ever ends, which makes you savor everything, while also knowing that more is to come; I had a very carefree attitude that whole time and loved shopping from the local vendors as the sun dropped along with the temperature. This particular purchase led to plenty of time lounging around the massive fire pits amid piles of pillows that littered the forest. It was, therefore, super easy and natural to befriend whomever I found myself lounging next to—even if I could only communicate with broken Spanish and hand gestures.
After swimming all day and relaxing all afternoon, the young hours of the evening were the perfect time to start dancing. I roused my group and we made our way to Leon Vynehall, where everyone else had already gathered. While most festivals would have had people pressed up against the barricades, the crowd here was less focused on getting as close to the front and more focused on enjoying the space they were in. This definitely made me think, Have I been partying the wrong way this whole time?
And don’t worry about having to go to the bar to get more drinks: In Bahidora, the beer comes to you. Bartenders in neon yellow vests wade through the crowds with trays of beers and micheladas on their heads, so grab two while you’re at it.
As the festival went on, more DJs played, more beers were drunk, and before I knew it, I was sleeping on a pile of strangers at the base of a treehouse as the sun rose above the festival site. There was still music off in the distance and various collections of sleeping people littered the ground like battalions of fallen party soldiers. As the sun began to warm the slumbering masses, they slowly rose, crawled over to a taco cart, and picked up where they left off the night before. But as the sun crept through the trees, it brought a sense of magic with it. It turned out that waking up in the middle of a jungle, hours outside of civilization, and where almost nobody speaks your language felt so, so right.
By the last day of Bahidora, it seemed as if the entire festival had been paired off. In a setting this beautiful, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love, yet the weight of knowing that this would be the last day we’d all be together was slowly setting in; soon we’d all have to go our separate ways, back to our normal lives. A portion of the festival began focusing on repairing all the party damages we had created for ourselves the night before and partook in some restorative yoga, meditation, stretching, and tightrope walking; the other half kept going full steam into debauchery. I was part of the latter group; I felt like, in order to pay my proper respects and give thanks to the festival gods, it was important to become a full-on heathen.
As Bahidora drew to a close, I gathered what was left of my dignity, sanity, and belongings and got on the bus back to Mexico City. As I drove out of the park and up the dirt roads that took me there just a few days before, I started to go through my photos and reflect: Was this even real? Did I really just paddle through untouched jungle rivers to the sounds of Kali Uchis, Princess Nokia, and Mac Miller? How could a place so perfect? How could such nice people exist? How did I not know about it sooner? In order to figure out the answers to at least two of these questions, I immediately began making plans for next year’s trip back.