Recently I was asked, “What is the best vacation you’ve ever had?” It’s a tough question to answer, since each trip is different and has its own unique experiences, self discoveries, and fun foods to try. Often, my sense of adventure and love of anticipation for a new journey has me replying, “any place I’ve never been.” But the one trip that really stands out in my mind was a week at an eco-retreat in Costa Rica.
There were no hectic try-to-see-it-all schedules or even any major landmarks for postcard-like photo opportunities. Just seven days of solitude with nothing to do but relax in a hammock, participate in yoga classes and observe the rain forest. It was a true escape from the world.
Arriving in San Jose, our group navigated the airport, passing by the tchotchke stores and coffee stands and making our way to the bus outside for the 4 hour drive to a little place south of Limon. The bus ride was interesting. After we left the city, the driver had to travel slowly to navigate the potholes in the dilapidated roads. (I’ve since been back to Puerto Viejo and the roads are new!) I was reminded of the quote by Babs Hoffman, “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” Gazing outside the bus window, I watched as we passed by banana plantations, lush green mountain sides, trickling waterfalls, and finally, the coastline. It was completely pristine. Untouched by hotels and t-shirt shops, there was nothing but the ocean, palm trees and sand.
We arrived near our destination where we transferred from the bus to a couple of four wheel drive jeeps to climb up the mountain, ascending on bumpy roads through thick vegetation. At the end of our journey, we checked in at the front desk, sheltered only by a wood rooftop and completely open to the surrounding rain forest. Through the trees and down the mountain, you could see the ocean hugging the horizon. The view was breathtaking.
Our accommodations were clean, simple and rustic. Wood bungalows with screened windows, tin roofs, a sleeping loft and a front porch with a hammock. Every morning began with the sound of howler monkeys calling to the sunrise and a brief walk down to the restaurant for some fresh Costa Rican coffee. Instead of tuning into the news, we tuned in to the vibrant jungle. Toucans flew over head and dipped down into the forest canopy looking for breakfast. Their beaks made them resemble flying bananas. Azure butterflies the size of my hand would flutter along, hummingbirds zipped by as fast as bullets, and vibrant red and blue dart frogs freckled nearly every surface.
After coffee, we’d wake up with a yoga session, enjoy some breakfast, and then the only thing on the agenda was to relax. That included either heading down the mountain to the beach or napping all day in a hammock. After getting over the stress of not checking my phone or email every 10 minutes, it was the most relaxed I had been in my life. Costa Ricans have a saying, “la pura vida.” It means, the pure life. It’s a lifestyle that emphasizes living in the moment; taking time to truly experience and enjoy the little things … like sipping coffee or taking a nap in a hammock. It’s inspired me to try and plan more trips with no other purpose than to just be in the moment.
**This trip was actually pre-digital for me. I think I even took a disposable ‘film’ camera if you can believe it. I’m sure I had some sort of digital camera in the mid 2000’s, but I was afraid of bringing it since I was informed the humidity was so high.
This trip was a package organized by my chiropractor and yoga instructor at the time, but if you’re interested in checking it out, the name of the nature retreat is Samasati and you can find it at Samasati.com.