... with LOTS OF PICTURES!!!!!
You've been warned. There's lots of pictures coming your way!
Last week was my 2015 Costa Rica Yoga Retreat in collaboration with Yoga Travel Tree. YTT marketed the event and I organized it through my company, Costa Rima (I host/organize events all over Costa Rica & I sell/market real estate there, too!). I led 5 amazing souls around my favorite parts of Costa Rica for this retreat. Follow along below as I recap day-by-day with pictures (not just yoga pictures) and fun memories! If you wish you went on this one, don't worry! I'm planning 2016 soon! Join my mailing list, if you haven't yet, and I'll keep you up to date. Fill out the form below and you'll be the first to hear about new events.
As I sit here, the Saturday after my retreat ended, reflecting on all of the experiences & adventures we packed into 7 nights and 8 days, I am blown away. It's difficult for me to fathom what the retreat guests must be experiencing right now, as I know that it took me a couple of days to reacclimate back to life and to process what had happened - and I've done this many times before! On our trip, we had two people that had never traveled outside of the United States before! They had quite the adventure. It's going to be difficult to write succinctly on this memorable week as so many amazing things happened, but I'll try to keep it brief! I hope you will consider joining us in 2016. I'm working on an event calendar now so please let me know what time of the year works best for you! Join my mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest news!
Day 1 San Jose: Meet & Greet mixed with Yoga
I spent the week before the retreat in Santa Teresa handling business. My dear friend Coty had to pick her mom up from SJO the day my guests arrived (because the Universe kicks ass), so we road tripped it early in the morning! Took the ferry to meet the guests and awaited them eagerly outside of the airport. I was nervous, excited, and anxious! I knew everything would go smoothly but nerves are natural in situations like these!
They finally showed up and I got to meet my guests! I've had on-line relationships with both Brooke and Dana for a year and a half so it was so nice to finally meet them in person. Lee, Danielle and Sophie are amazing and all guests were so different from one another. A recipe for fun times ahead!
The first day, we practiced yoga in downtown San Jose at Downtown Yoga. It's a funky yoga studio with definite city vibes. Before we practiced, I gave my guests their gifts. Dana took a gorgeous photo of the items inside the satchel on the final day, but I included it below in Day 1's photos so you can see. Check out the photos to see what's in the gift bags! We had dinner at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant nearby called Neshuma. It was delicious! They feature local cuisine as well as Asian and American-inspired food, prepared vegan and organically. The non-veg retreat goers enjoyed their meals just as much as the veg retreat goers. The hotel we stayed at is the Sleep Inn downtown, which I chose for us because of the proximity to the studio in addition to the safety reviews. It was comfy and cozy, but nothing too special. We hit the hotel early after dinner to unwind and rest up for the week ahead!
Pictures from Day 1
Day 2 San Jose & Jaco: Yoga, Tours & more Yoga
Early morning practice at Downtown Yoga followed by our day tour of San Jose with Hop On Hop Off City Tours. We had a lovely tour with them and I got to see San Jose in a new light! Danielle and I went to Verdisimo Vegan Restaurant and Grocery store in San Jose! The others found a local brewery for lunch and beers. We enjoyed our food and the opportunity to pick up some local handmade organic beauty products.
After the tour, we got picked up and headed to Jaco! On the way, we stopped the see the crocodiles at the Tarcoles River. We got to DoceLunas Hotel in Jaco with time to check in and relax before afternoon yoga and dinner. So far, so good! The weather was perfect during the day and started storming in the evening. We enjoyed a practice to the sound of thunder and the views of lightening. It was magnificent. We enjoyed dinner and drinks at the hotel before heading to our rooms for some much-needed rest!
Pictures from Day 2
Day 3 Jaco: SUP Yoga & Food!
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the hotel to get us started for our SUP Yoga lesson. If you're not familiar with the seasons in Costa Rica, October is known to be the rainiest month of the year. Most of the vendors I worked with weren't optimistic about weather while I was planning it but I always think optimistically and weather seems to love me! It stormed all night and instead of a stormy day, the water was calm, glassy, and gorgeous. We laughed and played on the paddle boards for a couple of hours and learned a few different moves from the beautiful Anabel Miranda (@anabelmirandayoga). Our group overcame a lot of fears today! There were fears of standing on the board, fears of being in the middle of the ocean, and fears of falling. We all stuck together and through bumps, falls, and slips, we had a blast, supported one another, and came out of the water laughing and smiling.
Later that day, we explored town and all had lunch at Green Room Cafe for Taco Tuesday. There were lots of vegan options (I got Portobello mushroom tacos with almond cheese!) and Brooke and I each got a 4 beer sampler and shared to try many of the local brews. For dessert, I had a raw vegan key lime pie! We finished the evening with time for rest and relaxation, a restorative yoga class, and then some of the group stayed for Anabel's yoga class at DoceLunas. We had dinner and drinks at the hotel. It was a perfect day and everyone loved the SUP yoga. It was my favorite part as it was my first time doing it but definitely not my last. It brings a whole new element to the practice as basic poses become the hardest (like Tree pose!).
Pictures from Day 3
Day 4 Jaco & Montezuma: Yoga, Speed Boats & Waterfalls
We practice yoga first thing in the morning to get the blood pumping! Following breakfast, we packed up and took a speed boat from Jaco to Montezuma, a fast and easy way to get to the Peninsula (I love Zuma Tours!). Before the speed boat go to us, we found some coconuts on the beach in Jaco and smashed them on the rocks to enjoy fresh coconut water!! The speed boat takes about an hour to get to Montezuma. We enjoyed calm waters and stunning landscape views. Upon arrival in Montezuma we walked to the hotel and we checked into . We hit the Montezuma Waterfalls before the storm hit Montezuma! Perfect timing, again! We hiked in and out in about an hour and heard thunder on the way out. At the falls, we jumped off cliffs, hiked behind the waterfall, swam around, and got some sun.
We got back to the hotel just in time to relax before our yoga session. We practiced on the outdoor yoga deck (AKA Montezuma Yoga School), located on the hotel grounds, to the sounds and lights of the storm. See the pictures below, I took two of them within seconds of each other (one looks like it's daytime outside). The thunder and lightening struck at the same moment and I could see the bolts right over the ocean across from the hotel. For dinner, we found a local soda that had an amazing group of musicians performing alongside delicious, fresh food and impeccable service (a soda is a restaurant that's run by locals and serves local-style food or comida tipica. Thanks Carlos and Soda El Balcon del Mar! This was, by far, the most fun we had at any restaurant on the trip and it was steps from our hotel! A few of us hit the local bar nearby, Chicos, after dinner. We had a couple of Imperials (Costa Rican beer), danced to Michael Jackson, and played some pool before saying good night and resting up for more fun. You can hear the ocean waves as you sleep at Los Mangos and there's a gorgeous pool area and lush gardens.
Pictures of Day 4
Day 5 Montezuma: Tortuga Island... and Yoga!
Day 5 was the Tortuga Island adventure! Perfect weather again, I couldn't believe my luck. We had breakfast nearby at El Sano Banano (which has delicious vegan options) and saw a family of monkeys playing in the trees nearby, including one with a baby on it's back. They were white-face monkeys (I'm not sure of any kind of scientific terminology). We used Zuma Tours for the trip and they were amazing, as always!
We took a catamaran 45 minutes to the first snorkel spot. Spent 45 minutes there and then headed to the second spot for another 45 minutes of snorkeling fun. From there, the guides made a home cooked, fresh meal for us on the island so we enjoyed some Pilsens and food. Then we had time for island yoga and relaxing! The rest of the day afterwards was yoga, relaxing time, and dinner on the town. The group really had a great time bonding with one another, letting loose, and overcoming various fears! Throughout the week we have all been learning so much!
Pictures of Day 5
Day 6 Montezuma & Santa Teresa: SEVA, Tamales Under the Stars... & Yoga
We started the day with another nutritious breakfast at El Sano Banano (I had the Namaste spring rolls from the lunch menu). We made our way to Santa Teresa to check into our next hotel, Hotel Tropico Latino. We got dressed for yoga on the beach deck. After yoga, we spent time doing our Seva part of the retreat today: a beach clean-up. Santa Teresa is known for having pristine beaches but when the rains come,trash washes into the rivers and then onto the beaches.
We spent an hour collecting over 6 bags full of trash. We didn't feel like we were changing the world in any huge way, but we definitely gained awareness on the issues of consumption and a use-once-and-throw-away mentality in our society. What struck us the most was the amount of straws and bottle caps we found every couple of inches. It definitely made us think about our consumption throughout the trip. We all had reusable water bottles which we filled versus buying plastic and the tamale lesson we did later in the evening was completely eco-friendly.
We had some free time after that and met back from our tamale lesson at 3 pm. We made tamales in the traditional Costa Rican style with a family from Costa Rica. They showed us how to make the masa and we got to make our own tamales (mine were vegan, of course!). We made gallo pinto (rice, beans, and veggies) on the side and coffee in the traditional way. Something special we got to do was "volcanize" the banana leaves, a process in which you take banana leaves to fire so they emit oils and have a consistency necessary for wrapping the tamales in. Once in the leaves, we boiled them. A monkey family cheered us on from the trees above and while some were making their tamales, others were gathering wood and building a bon fire on the beach. We used teamwork and ingenuity to keep the ocean away as the tide rose (something we forgot to account for) and successfully barricaded off the tide. We did sunset yoga as we waited for the food to finish. We enjoyed our tamales under the stars and to the glow of the fire. We ate on banana leaves and use mugs for the coffee so waste was minimal (our plastic spoons). We walked home on the beach under the stars.
The tamale lesson was created especially for this retreat, so you won't find it anywhere else except on a Costa Rima adventure! It rained every night of the retreat EXCEPT this night. Again, blessings to Pachamama for giving us such beauty and love!
Pictures of Day 6
Day 7 Santa Teresa & San Jose: Rest & Relaxation
Our last full day! After an early morning yoga session and picture photoshoot, we had a lovely beachside breakfast at the hotel. We had free time until 3 pm and then part of the group met back up to back the trek back to San Jose (Danielle and Lee stayed a few more days in Santa Teresa). We took a shuttle to the ferry dock,the ferry, and then the shuttle to San Jose. We checked into Fleur de Lys hotel, a Victorian home converted into a charming hotel, and had our farewell dinner and Tin Jo! I created a delicious vegan menu with the chef to share family style and we reminisced about our favorite memories from the week before. Tin Jo is an elegant and upscale restaurant in the heart of downtown San Jose and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice place to enjoy quality, fresh food in the capital of Costa Rica.
We said our good byes, our good evenings, and then we all went our separate ways!
Pictures of Day 7
... And that's a wrap!
Boom! Cheers to a successful and exhilarating retreat. There was so much growth, progress, adventure, and laughter! I hope you enjoyed the photos and will consider joining me in 2016. Join my mailing list below to hear about new events first. I have so much gratitude for Costa Rica, its beautiful and generous people, it's gorgeous and stunning landscape, and for Pachamama blessing us with literally the most perfect weather anyone could've hoped forever. I am overcome with joy! Please share if you enjoyed, and I'll leave you with Lee's post upon returning home.