- About Us
- History of Casa Xitla
- Casa Xitla's 5 Pillars
- Facilities and Services
- Contact Us
WELCOME TO CASA XITLA
Casa Xitla is Mexico’s only non-profit center dedicated to peace, human rights, the arts, spirituality, and environmental sustainability. Built on an ancient volcanic rock bed spanning nearly 2 hectares, Casa Xitla is also a beautiful ecological reserve located in a safe and quiet neighborhood in the southern part of Mexico City. Here, we welcome civil society organizations, artists, writers and others to use our grounds and ample facilities for activities such as meetings, seminars, cultural events, film screenings, and group and personal retreats. At Casa Xitla, we also seek to generate clean, alternative energy, and are developing methods to cultivate the land using only organic techniques. Moreover, Casa Xitla is a place of silence—creative silence—which allows the world’s beauty to be expressed through the arts, and academic and scientific ideas to be developed. Finally, Casa Xitla is a place to meaningfully connect with others, or to simply reconnect with oneself. All of our activities at Casa Xitla are directed at what we would like to achieve–or at least be a part of achieving: a sustainable world of equality, unity, respect, fellowship, justice and happiness.
Together we hope to create an environment that will continue to flourish and benefit all.
We look forward to seeing you here!
Casa Xitla is run by Lekil Kuxlejal, a civil association made up of a diverse group of people who share the common goal of fostering fellowship, uplifting the human condition, living in harmony with the natural environment, and nurturing the arts and science.
We are the engine of a project dedicated to creating a space that promotes diversity, health, contemplation, ethics, aesthetics, and learning and communication in an environment that is integrated with its natural surroundings. Together, we manage Casa Xitla and its activities, and continue to develop the center.
FOUNDERS & TEAM MEMBERS
Pablo Romo Cedano (Mexico City, 1961). Studied philosophy, theology and human rights. Has actively championed human rights, is a professor of peace studies, and a writer and editor for Resilencia magazine.
Félix Enrique García y Aceves (Chiapas, Mexico, 1960). Has worked as an editor of cultural publications, magazines, books and documentaries. His most significant work focuses on the recent history of Morelos, Mexico.
Martha Elena Welsh Herrera (Mexico City, 1968.) Dancer and dance teacher trained in classical ballet and art education. She incorporates contemporary dance and baroque dances into her movements. She has participated in and continues to be active in numerous dance and academic projects related to the field of art and dance.
Julio César Castro Argüelles (Córdoba, Veracruz, 1981). Philosophy student and intern. Has been part of the Casa Xitla team since 2011. Currently in the process of obtaining his degree, and is aiming to complete his thesis on Latin American philosophy. His most difficult challenge so far: completing three marathons in Mexico City.
Other team members: Alicia, Andrés, Clementina, Carlos, Daniela, Eduardo, Eliseo, Emanuel, Esther, Karla, Julio, Lorena, Magali, Reina, Reyna Itamar, Stephanie y Victoria.
THE MEANING OF LEKIL KUXLEJAL
In Tzeltal, a Mayan language, “Lekil Kuxlejal” means “the harmony of life, order, union, integration of the individual, the community and nature”. We can reach Lekil Kuxlejal if there is inner peace, and if our hearts are joyful. Our hearts are happy if there is silence; if there is Slamalil K’inal which is the state of silence of the mind and harmony with others therefore. Our hearts are happy if there is Ch’ab, which is sacred, being the state of consciousness that allows the inner peace process to take place, and at the same time brightens the lives of those around us.
Feel the air around you smile upon you,
like the birds in the wild always do.
This is how we are like them,
flying around the world…
In this Tzeltal song, the world laughs as laugh the people who have reached Lekil Kuxlejal, for they have reached a state of completion that flows like water: calmly, rapidly, abundantly, impetuously, turbulently… however they need be, but still in a state of peace. Peace can be found in a quiet place, and when your heart is at peace, there is no sadness, there is no pain, there is no crying, there is no fear. There is only the flow of life; the pulse of life coming and going around the world, flying, “like the birds in the wild always do”…
Based on these ideas, Lekil Kuxlejal is a civil association comprised of a group of people who want to make a neutral space of harmony here at Casa Xitla.
HISTORY OF CASA XITLA
Casa Xitla was established on grounds that formerly belonged to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon Order. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon Order was founded in France by Father Jean-Pierre Médaille (1610-1669), as well as widows and young people who felt attracted to the spirit of religious life, but not to the cloistered life.
In 1651, an episcopal decree granted the Order recognition in France. From that point forward, it grew rapidly until it was scattered by the French Revolution (1789). After the French Revolution, Sister Jeanne Fontbonne (1759-1843) regrouped the congregation that had been dispersed. From that time forward, the Order began to develop large scale activities all over the world in areas ranging from schools to prisons, as part of their aim to follow the spirit of the original founders.
The Order came to Mexico in 1903 at the invitation of the Marist Brothers, and upon their arrival they swiftly began to work in both the cities and in the countryside. They established their novitiate in 1960 in Mexico City’s Santa Úrsula Xitla, and six years later, at the behest of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, they established a retreat center. Ever since, the retreat center in Santa Ursula Xitla has helped countless people find their inner peace, and understand the spirit of unity and communion.
In October of 2009, Mysterion, a civil association made up of diverse individuals, took over the administration of the center, named it Casa Xitla, and held a series of opening festivities. This new activity continued, and was carried out in the spirit of inviting people of all backgrounds to meet and enrich their cultural, aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual expressions.
In 2010, the civil association Lekil Kuxlejal began overseeing the activities held at Casa Xitla in order to better serve the various civil society, spiritual, academic, and cultural groups that came to Casa Xitla. In addition to focusing on supporting the groups, Lekil Kuxlejal began to promote more interest in ecology in an effort to conserve the center’s gardens and wildlife, which included birds, small mammals, reptiles and insects. Lekil Kuxlejal also began to promote the research and use of alternative energies, and the development of self-sufficiency through organic cultivation of the land. In turn, this began supporting young undergraduate students who were interested in the activities at Casa Xitla, by giving them the opportunity to work and advance their own academic practices.
The word “Xitla” (pronounced “Chitla”) comes from the nahuatl word “xictli”, and means navel. This etymology makes us return to the beginning, and reflects our origin as a nature reserve dedicated to both restoration and innovation.
CASA XITLA’S 5 PILLARS
Peace is a state of balance and stability between the parts of a whole. It’s also a desirable and positive state for people—one in which we wish peace to those whom we greet and say farewell to, reflecting our inner harmony and happiness. Peace is also a state of awareness that allows one to live in harmony not just with oneself and with others, but with conflict as well—not destructive conflict, but creative and respectful conflict that leads to new ideas, solutions and outcomes. At the societal level, peace is the product of a society that has distanced itself from using war as a means to solve conflicts, and that has realized that agreements and treaties—not violence and destruction–are what achieve fair and desired relationships between parties.
At Casa Xitla, peace includes the inner personal peace of every member of the community, as well as the peace that is built upon the consensus and common agreement of members.
2. HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights are rights that are inherent to all human beings, regardless of color, religion, place of residence, gender, or nationality. They are also the product of a developed state that gives the same weight to each and every person who comprises it. Along the path to human rights, we can also have the opportunity to encounter the “Other”–the “Other” that allows us to be more aware of ourselves, helps us to understand ourselves, and lets us perceive a poignant mystery: in the search for the “Other,” one’s consciousness finds itself.
At Casa Xitla, respecting and defending the rights of others is fundamental to life at the center, as well as to our activities in the society in which we live.
As a science, ecology is a study of the interrelations between the organisms that form an integrated whole with their environment. But the term “ecology” also includes an understanding of and respect for the rules that govern these interrelations, in order to maintain a healthy environment.
This understanding of ecology is fundamental to Casa Xitla, given that the center is a kind of oasis in the Mexican Valley. We have a great variety of plants and trees and an enormous diversity of birds, small mammals and insects. The study of these species, care for their survival, and respect for the environment helps us to maintain awareness of our shared space, and appreciate the richness that is found in diversity.
At Casa Xitla, our ecological activities include:
- Use of waterless urinals. These dry urinals conserve water resources and help create fertilizer. In the future, when we obtain sufficient funds to purchase the existing but costly technology, we aim to separate the solid from the liquid waste, and use the solid waste to generate fuel for the center.
- Collection of rainwater. Casta Xitla uses four containers that hold 85,000 liters of water to collect rain water. This water is channeled through tubing from the roofs of our buildings during the months from May to September. It is then used to water plants and to service the portions of our bathrooms that are not yet waterless. In the future, we aim to add fiberglass filters to the tanks in order to expand the usage of the water.
- Use of solar energy. One of our main buildings is equipped with 13 solar panels on its roof. Each panel is connected to a 200-liter metal tank and 24 glass tubes covered with black film that heat water, and the installation provides hot water to the entire house. The use of solar panels negates the need for us to use LP gas or other types of fuel to heat water in the building. In the future, we would like to install solar cells on the roof of our other main building, and use solar lamps to light walkways on our grounds. We also aim to use large lamps in the future that transform solar energy into electric energy and store it in batteries, but this type of technology is expensive and currently beyond our reach.
- Organic gardening. We grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs, and enjoy harvesting black olives in September, avocadoes in December, loquats in October, and raspberries in April. We’ve also had great success with tomatoes, radishes, chard, and other vegetables. We also cultivate hoja santa for tamales and other traditional Mexican dishes, and other herbs, including basil, fennel, epazote, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, oregano, spearmint, lavender, mint, sage and lemon verbena.
- Use of biodegradable products, and inclusion of guests in water saving practices. All of our cleaning products are biodegradable, and all of our guest rooms contain environmentally friendly shampoo and body soap. Gray water from showers at the Moon House travels to a tank that stores the water for reuse in the garden during the dry season. We also include a bucket in each guest room, and ask our guests to use it to collect the cold water that initially flows from their shower, and reuse this water for flushing.
- Maintaining habitat for various kinds of birds, including: vermilion flycatchers, lovebirds, wild canaries, hummingbirds, woodcreepers, parrots, woodpeckers, sparrows, brown towhees, and thrushes.
- Recycling and composting. At Casa Xitla, we separate our garbage into organic and inorganic waste, and use the organic waste in one of our three compost containers. We also separate PET, glass, cardboard and paper.
- Annual Participation in the “Community Resilience and Transformation” Conference. This conference promotes agronomic, agro-ecological and socioecological knowledge in order to achieve better planning and disaster prevention amongst the rural and indigenous bases of Mexico in the face of climatic variability.
Art is a creative activity with an aesthetic aim, but it also opens states of consciousness and allows respectful awareness of new attitudes, perspectives, and ways of being. Moreover, art is the language of intuition, and is a path to reach states of consciousness that under beauty’s light, allows us profound approaches toward the truth.
At Casa Xitla, art is important because it helps us to communicate, opens up the possibility of setting new scenes and tones, calls for movement and transformation, and invokes creative and alternative responses.
Spirituality is a path from awareness toward an understanding of oneness, which to us includes respect for human rights, peace, environmental awareness and art. For us, spirituality is also a meeting point of various traditions, one that allows us to formulate new paradigms and to reclaim the enormous diversity of thought and practices that have developed over time.
Our spiritual activities at Casa Xitla have included:
- Meditation workshops
- The creation of a Temazcal (a type of purifying sweat lodge that originated with the indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica)
- Primal dance workshops
- Workshops on the Mayan calendar and Nahuals
- Magnified Healing courses
- Spring equinox meditation events
- Yoga and dance workshops
FACILITIES AND SERVICES
Casa Xitla offers hospitality within a space that is in harmony with nature. This allows our guests to enjoy their stay, be surrounded by warmth and tranquility, and have the opportunity to enjoy workshops, seminars, meetings, film screenings, retreats, artistic performances, creative endeavors, and other activities.
Located on nearly two hectares of land, Casa Xitla’s various spaces include a nature reserve and gardens that help to create a peaceful and inspiring environment.
In addition to a dining hall and auditorium, Casa Xitla has two main facilities, called the Moon House and the Sun House. Both of these houses contain workshop and meeting spaces, guest rooms, and dining halls. Free wifi is available in the buildings.
Our meeting and workshop spaces come in a variety of sizes, and can accommodate groups ranging from five to 120 people. The spaces allow for a wide range of activities according to the needs and plans of the groups that stay with us. The creative use of the open and enclosed spaces offered by Casa Xitla can be a highly enriching experience for our guests.
Mondays and Wednesdays, from 7:30-9 pm
This workshop is open to all, preferably within the 7:30-9 pm time frame, and for ages 14 or older. Everyone can do yoga, and the practice can be adapted for those with special needs.
Kundalini Yoga is an ancient science that combines specific physical exercises, breathing techniques, mental concentration, relaxation, meditation, music and mantras in order to achieve a perfect balance of the mind, body and spirit. It’s a dynamic form of yoga that is suited to various lifestyles and generates vitality and tranquility.
Each Yoga session is designed to give specific benefits, known as Kriyas. Each Kriya works to boost and improve the health and mental state of the practitioner. Regular practice helps to balance the various characteristics of one’s personality, and to coordinate them in a way that accentuates one’s talents, virtues and qualities. It’s a gradual and quiet process that elevates and transforms consciousness, leading to a state of wellbeing and an improvement in one’s quality of life.
ANDREA NATALIA ARRIAGA PÁJARO
Artist and graduate of the National University of Mexico’s Faculty of Art and Design
Andrea Natalia Arriaga Pajaro (Natalia) is a talented young artist who has been a part of transforming Casa Xitla almost ever since it was founded, thanks to her extraordinary creativity and her invaluable and generous friendship. Her regular participation in Casa Xitla has enriched our walls, filling them with color and abstract beauty that delight those who walk through our corridors and common spaces. Thanks to Natalia, Casa Xitla has also become a gallery that includes 14 works of her art in the Sun House.
Her participation is not limited to Casa Xitla’s enclosed spaces, however; it also seeks the sunlight of the exterior walls of the center. Her exterior work can be found in the center’s entrance gate area, the dining hall, and the patio of the Cultural Space.
In addition to creating works of art for Casa Xitla, Natalia has organized and led painting classes for young people and adults in the Cultural Space, and created two murals on the center’s walls.
Brigitte Loire is an artist who combines her talent with her deep faith. With her creative vision, she was part of the founding group of the Casa Xitla project. Since the transformative rise of the center, Brigitte, with her beautiful smile and clear eye, has been painting Casa Xitla in colors of hope and happiness as a sign of the light and beauty that would continue to develop at this site.
In this way, today her project of hope can be seen on large and small sections of the center, serving as a companion to the work of the people here who seek peace and inspiration during their activities.
Casa Xitla’s reception hours are from 7:00 am to 10 pm. Arrival before or after these hours is possible only with prior notification and approval of the administration.
Check-in and Check-out
Check-in time starts from 4 pm and check-out time is at 10 am. If you have any special needs in this regard, do not hesitate to contact the administration.
Understand in advance how to use Casa Xitla facilities
Staying at Casa Xitla means actively participating in our environmental project, therefore it’s important that guests have a basic understanding of how to use our facilities. Coordinators of groups have the responsibility of informing their members of how to do so, and of ensuring cooperation. This awareness includes:
- Separation of organic from inorganic waste
- Use of only biodegradable shampoos, soaps and conditioners
- Disposal of toilet paper in wastebaskets, not in toilet bowls
- Disposal of cigarette butts in designated areas
- Dining hall self-service (see more details below)
- Meal times
- Arrival and departure times
- Conservation of water and energy.
Please help us to conserve energy during your stay. After 10 pm, group coordinators will be responsible for turning off lights and/or sound equipment.
Casa Xitla does its utmost to consciously and wisely use our water resources. We ask, therefore, that you turn off faucets completely after use, and report any leaks to the administration immediately.
Dining Hall Hours
At Casa Xitla, we would like our guests who share our meals to feel at home. Our meal service, therefore, can be tailored to meet the needs of visiting groups, in accordance with the group’s daily schedule. Our dinner service, however, ends at 9 pm.
Casa Xitla’s dining hall is self-service, and guests can serve themselves the food we provide based on their needs and preferences. We ask, however, that guests serve themselves quantities they can consume, and avoid wasting food. We also ask that guests separate organic from inorganic waste when they use the dining hall.
Care of the Grounds
The gardens and nature reserve within Casa Xitla are a rarity in Mexico City, and we do our best to conserve this precious flora and fauna. We ask you to join us in this effort by avoiding over trampling these areas, crossing them with automobiles, or using them to practice sports. We also ask that you do not pick flowers, trap or kill harmless insects, or litter in these areas.
Bonfires and Fire Lanterns
Lighting bonfires or releasing fire-powered floating lanterns constitutes an enormous fire danger at Casa Xitla, and are strictly prohibited.
Casa Xitla’s activities are based on a philosophy of respect and mutual trust, therefore we do not usually provide guests with room keys unless specifically requested to do so. Guests who bring valuables are asked to check them in with the administration, and Casa Xitla does not take responsibility for any lost or stolen items that were not deposited with us in. If items are inadvertently left behind after check-out, we ask guests to pick them up as soon as possible. After a period of 15 days, we will no longer take responsibility for forgotten items.
Difference between Casa Xitla and hostels
We would like all of our guests to feel at home during their stay here. However, our work team is small, and each member works in a different area. This means that that we do not have services such as a concierge or daily housekeeping. If these services are required, please inform the administration in order to meet your needs and ensure that you have a comfortable stay.
At Casa Xitla, we enjoy sharing the happiness and celebrations of our guests and visitors. Therefore, if a group would like to organization a special celebratory event, please work with the administrative team to achieve the best coordination. At the same time, please keep in mind that Casa Xitla also respects the quiet time and rest of other guests staying with us, and of our neighbors. Therefore, any gathering that includes significant noise or music can be held only until 11 pm at Casa Xitla, and we ask that celebrations after this hour be held off-site.
As part of our environmental sustainability efforts, we collect rainwater and gray water for use in our gardens during dry seasons or droughts. Therefore, we ask that our guests use only biodegradable shampoo, soap and conditioner.
Items Provided by Casa Xitla
Each room is equipped with a bathroom and comes with the following items for guest use:
1 set of sheets
Liquid body soap
1 bath mat
1 bucket (to collect shower water)
We ask that you do not remove blankets, pillows, towels, chairs or tables from the room. If you need more of these items, please submit a request at the administrative office. We also ask that you use the sheets provided for your bed. Upon departure, please place used sheets and towels in a bundle on the floor rather than folded on the bed or table.
Care for Casa Xitla facilities and grounds
We make every effort to maintain Casa Xitla in good condition, and ask you to help us in this effort. Please care for the facilities and garden as though they were your own house, and if you damage any property, please report it to the administration immediately.
Violations of Rules
We reserve the right to ask any guest or groups to leave Casa Xitla immediately if rules are violated, and reimbursement will not be provided.
- Calle Convento No. 37, Colonia Santa Úrsula Xitla, Zip Code 14420, Tlalpan municipality, Mexico City, Mexico.
- +52 (55) 5573 3360 or +52 (55) 2028 5442
ACCESS BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
We are a 15 minute walk away from the Santa Ursula Metrobus Station (Line 1). A taxi stand is located in front of the KFC restaurant next to the metrobus station, and fares to Casa Xitla cost between 13 and 15 Mexican pesos (without traffic).
We are also located 25 minutes from the Aztec Stadium (Estadio Azteca). Take the Route 73 bus heading toward Pedregal-Hornos at the bus stop located at the Aztec Stadium. Ask to get off at Calle de Convento (Convent Street), and the bus will drop you off one street above Casa Xitla.