Hiking the King’s Fountain, Alta Vista, Mexico
Hiking Alta Vista, or locally known as ‘Pila del Rey’ (the Kings Fountain), is a sacred journey following in the footsteps of the Tecoxquin tribe. The Tecoxquin were the ancestors of the Huicholes who still use the site of Alta Vista for ceremonies and offerings today. Over 2000 years ago the Tecoxquin carved volcanic rocks on an area of 80 hectares, leaving symbolic prayers to the Grandmother of Fertility, the Grandfather of Fire and Mother Ocean. As the natives were mostly farmers the petroglyphs portray their concerns for the fertility of their crops. For the rain and the sun, and their connection to nature in general.
How to get there
Finding the actual location of the site can be tricky. From the little town of La Penita you travel North on the Highway 200. When you see the turnoff to Alta Vista you turn right, following a dirt road lined with barbed-wired fences and (fruit) trees. Depending on the season and/or rain it’s best to park here and continue a beautiful 20 minute walk to the entrance. Note to follow the cobble-stoned path (turns to the right). Along the way you’ll find orange- and passion fruit tree’s. Make your way over the river once, through the jungle until you reach the entrance. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per adult. There are several signs along the path, in both English and Spanish, which provide sufficient historical information, and make it possible to visit the site without a guide.
The Ceiba Tree
The main site is beautifully surrounded by ancient trees, tropical plants and a seasonal stream that flows over volcanic (near by the Copo volcano) rocks through small pools. The natural, square forms of the rocks give the surroundings an almost out of this world feel. Large Ceiba trees stand next to man-made altars, adding to the mystery of ancient cultures. The Ceiba tree is easily recognizable by the trunk covered with conical thorns. It is believed that these trunks connect the underworld, the earth and the sky. Prayers travel up to the sky by the sap of the Ceiba. Blessings fall down from the sky in the form of rain, creating an infinite circle of giving and receiving.
The symbol of the cross
Surprisingly, the symbol of a cross is widely used by this indigenous group. However, this is not directly related to Christianity. The cross represents the Universe and its five sacred directions. The four corners of the world (North, South, West and East), and the center. Each of those directions representing, for example, certain Gods.
Offerings were often made to the so-called ‘Maiz-Man’, who represented fertility. Local farmers left and still leave) offerings in order to obtain fertility for their crops. Also it was believed to bring prosperity when traveling to the U.S in search for work. Personally, I left my gemstone bracelet, that was my last earthly possession. It has accompanied me on this journey, and is now offered to the Gods, to express my gratefulness for this journey I am on.
Unfortunately, the Tecoxquin as a people didn’t survive the Spanish conquest, the forced labor, and diseases that were now spread among them. Today, the people living in the area still speak of ‘white ghosts’ visiting the King’s Fountains, connecting with their ancestors.
Enjoy the surroundings of Alta Vista, the peacefulness, and above all the ancient history that embraces you here. Take a moment to be silent, and sit with the ancestors. May the Gods bless you on your personal journey from Fear to Freedom!