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Discovering Mayan Massage on The Ruta Maya Adventure

Discovering Mayan Massage

On an Adventure on the Ruta Maya





Dr. Gabrielle Francis




Mayan Massage Therapy in NYC




I discovered the Mayan Abdominal Massage while I was backpacking through Central America nearly 25 years ago.  I brought this technique into my practice when I returned.  A year later I was considered a “fertility specialist”.


The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.
Therefore, the physician must start from nature,
With and open mind.



The “Ruta Maya” is a famous travel route through the Mayan regions of Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and Honduras.   It is filled with the Mystical and Phenomenal Mayan Pyramids and legends that tell the tales of this ancient culture.  I was fascinated to find that there are many Mayan regions where the cultures are still living quite traditionally in both customs and dress. 



I landed in Guatemala and headed directly to Antigua to base myself for a while.  This lovely and colorful colonial town is a hub for international travelers and adventurers.  Antigua is a great base for mini day trips to indigenous areas in the region.


I talked to some locals about the traditional medicine and they recommended that I go to a small village known for its traditional healers or “curanderas”.  I invited a Swiss girl to go with me the next day.  We boarded a local bus and headed to the remote village. 


The village was poorer than I expected. Indigenous people were dressed in beautiful colored ponchos and woven blouses.  There was a quiet dignity about them.  They peered at us suspiciously and we felt a bit awkward being there.  Clearly, not many tourists had been through this way.


  In order to break the ice, we went over to a woman that was sitting on the ground and weaving with her infant in her lap.   I kneeled down to talk to her.  My Swiss friend did the same.  Within seconds the woman started to scream “Ojos azules!  Ojos Azules!” She grabbed her baby and ran away in terror.    A young man dressed in western clothing came over and explained to me in Spanish what had happened.  The Traditional Mayan women of Guatemala have a superstition that “Blue Eyes” are a bad omen.  The belief traces back to the days of the Spanish invasion of the region when the Spaniards would take the babies from the young mothers.   My friend was very upset, so we headed back to Antigua.  She wore her sunglasses the entire ride. 



  The next day I headed back to the village alone.  This is when brown skin and dark eyes come in handy.   This time I was greeted in a much friendlier manner. The local weavers seemed very happy to see me and within a few minutes I was learning to weave.  When they learned I was a doctor, they knew I had come not for weaving lessons, but to see the “Curanderas”.   I spent the next few days with different “Curanderas” learning about the Herbs and Spiritual traditions of the Mayan.   One of the “Curanderas” told me that I should go to Belize to learn the massage technique that could cure most of the infermas mujeres (diseases of women).  A doctor in Belize named Rosita Arvigo was training practitioners to learn the treatment.  The idea really hit me and a few days later I was planning my journey to Belize. 


The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
~Mark Van Doren

    Before heading to Belize, I went to see the famous Mayan Pyramid and ruins called Tikal.  I absorbed the grandeur of Tikal, a grand pyramid tucked away inside a wild and remote Jungle.  Planes have given it access to a lot of tourism.  Many of the Tourists were seeking 2012 Prophesies about the End of the World.  The only thing more annoying than the tourists was the onslaught of vicious mosquitoes at night. I was anxious to head towards Belize, so I cut my stay short to take a night bus to the Guatemalan -Belize Border.



The local buses in Guatemala are known by tourists as “chicken buses”.  That’s right, even the farm animals are welcome.  It was a cozy affair.  I seemed to be the only tourist on the bus.  I squeezed myself in the back of the bus between some mothers with children.   Sleeping was impossible as most of the road was unpaved.


I was dreaming about how good it would feel to stretch my legs in a few hours when the bus halted to a screeching stop.  The bus driver and money collectors started to yell out “Banditos! Banditos!”  The people in the bus became silent.  A lady sitting behind me pulled off my bandana and the woman with the baby next to me threw her baby into my lap.  Some armed bandits about 20 years old came on to the bus looking up and down the aisle for “gringos”.   Another time when dark skin and eyes have come in handy.   Seeing no foreigners on the bus, the “Banditos” left the bus and we went on as if nothing had happened.  None of the locals seemed bothered by the event.  It was business as usual.  I gratefully handed the baby back to the lady and thanked God for the next few hours until we arrived at the Belize Border.  

Man could escape danger only by renouncing adventure,
By abandoning that which has given to the human condition its unique
character and genius among the rest of living things”
Rene Dubois



    The Belize Border was almost scarier than the “Banditos”.  But I made it through the seedy frontier, which seemed to be a crossing zone for drug smugglers and prostitutes.   I was hoping that this arduous journey would end soon and that there really was the Mayan Massage Healers on the other side.  The bus dropped me off in San Ignacio where I found a local in a pickup truck that offered to take me to Ix-Chel Farms, the home of Rosita Arvigo.   I gladly accepted.


     When I arrived, I was a day early for a training that was being given on the Mayan Abdominal Massage.   Rosita Arivgo was giving training to several North American women on the techniques and practices of the Mayan Massage and the Spiritual Healing Techniques of the Mayan Healers.   It was a lovely respite after the difficult travel. 



     Rosita is an American born Naprapathic Doctor who had been living in Central America for over 30 years.  She had become the apprentice of a very famous Belizean Shaman known as Don Elijio Panti.   He passed on all of his knowledge and wisdom to her in an attempt to prevent the secrets of the Rainforest medicine from going extinct. 


 Social changes, modernization, and missionary influences have changed the fabric of Central American culture.  The younger generation has little interest in the wisdom of the elders.   Therefore, the doors have opened for the sharing of the wisdom with North Americans and others who can pass on the information.  Many of the Shaman and curanderas have begun to teach the “Gringos” the medicine that was previously kept in families and tribes.

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.
~Author Unknown

    Rosita was a wise and compassionate teacher.  The thing I was touched by the most was her strength and humility.   I knew that I had met a teacher that I would always respect.    Rosita brought in the other midwives and “Curanderas” of Belize to work with us and train us.  I remember the dignity and humility of these lovely women, especially Miss Hortense, Miss Beatrice and Miss Juana.  These were women that had been delivering babies since they were teenagers without any formal education.  Yet, they knew the human body better than most medical doctors I knew.   It was a rich time of learning and sharing.


The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. 
~Author Unknown



     Upon my return to the US, I began to incorporate the Mayan Massage into my practice.   I was stunned to find how many women had displaced uteri.  The massage turned out to be so useful and powerful in treating all form of female problems.   I always laugh when I say it, but it was like everyone I touched was getting pregnant.   A year later I was considered a “fertility specialist” in San Francisco.   The combination of the Structural Benefits of the Mayan Massage with the Naturopathic balancing treatments was allowing many infertile women to conceive naturally. 



I am very grateful to Rosita Arvigo for the knowledge she shares and the programs she has created to retain the wisdom and integrity of the Mayan Abdominal Massage and Healing methods.   There are many well-trained therapists that are living throughout the world.  You can learn more about a Mayan Massage therapist by going to the site:


This story is dedicated to Rosita Arvigo and the Mayan Curanderas who have been so generous with their time and knowledge.   Thank you for sharing your wisdom of this ancient medicine with the modern woman.


The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. 
 ~Kahlil Gibran


And Thank you to all the ladies that have experienced my Mayan Massage treatments for being open to a new way of experiencing your bodies and health.


Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.


Peace, prosperity, and many adventures…


Dr. Gabrielle Francis




Dr. Gabrielle Francis practices the MAYAN MASSAGE in New York City.

Get more information on her Practice HERE!