Hiking Cerro del Mono (Monkey Mountain) in Punta Mita, Mexico moves Lilia Grundy into meditation mode.
I stepped hard onto the damp dirt, one foot following the other and suddenly felt water rolling down my stomach. This was the first time I had experienced my whole body being consumed by wetness. It was 90% humidity in Punta Mita, Mexico that day, and we were starting the ascent up Cerro del Mono (or Monkey Mountain as the tourists call it).
I had this crazy idea to book a hike upon confirming our trip to Mexico. It was our last summer hoorah—our final chance to close out the season, and I thought some physical activity would be a perfect complement to rest and relaxation.
As I watched our twins confidently stride up the mountain in outrageous heat and looked to see husband was happy—I released the anxiety and continued to surrender to the sweat. I vowed to live in this present moment so I could enjoy the experience.
It had been a few days since we reached our travel destination and I felt out of sorts. I was certainly grateful we had arrived safely; I just didn’t feel like I was in my “faith zone”—my domain where I try to remain, connected to Christ. I was praying every morning, reading scripture, and my rosary went with me everywhere I went. But I felt something missing. That joy I get from smiling at others wasn’t reciprocated. I stopped smiling all together, stopped all small talk - and that isn’t me.
As we advanced to the second section of the mountain, a vast area of mud laid before us. It had rained the night before which left a muddy mess. Each step we took collected giant wads of mud on our hiking boots. It became heavier to walk and increasingly difficult to make the trek upwards.
It occurred to me in these moments that it was up to me whether I was going to push forward. I could choose to make the challenge enjoyable, or I could bow out and make it no fun. I selected the first option and realized it was up to me to spread joy on this trip. Nothing or no one would steal my internal sunshine. I resolved to smile at every single person I encountered for the rest of this trip (whether they smiled back or not).
I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From whence shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
As we approached the summit, we could hear another group up top. I greeted these strangers with the biggest smile I could beam—I started some chit-chat and learned these travelers had come from all over Mexico, Canada and even from our very own state of Washington.
I reveled in the majestic views as we made our way up to the top of the rocks and cheered, “Gracias a Dios!”(meaning “thanks be to God” in Spanish).
Along our hike, we had met chachalacas, wild turkeys, cows, butterflies and mosquitos! Simón (our Guide Alex’s dog), and Rocky, a friendly local dog who accompanies groups along the mountain, kept us company. I felt Jesus throughout our whole journey. And I’m working to see Him in everything and everyone I encounter—I got back in my faith zone with Jesus in the jungle.
Copyright 2022 Lilia Grundy
Images: copyright 2022 Lilia Grundy, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Lilia Grundy is University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business’ Director of Corporate Partnerships with over 20 years of corporate experience (including Kraft Foods, NBC Television, and Telemundo). Lilia launched Catholic Women Professionals to inspire other working women to grow their faith. She is married to her high-school sweetie Rob - they have beautiful twin girls who love art, music and learning about the saints.