The first night in Costa Rica, I walked barefoot to the beach to watch the sunset.
After a long day of traveling since 1 am, I had arrived - tired and already sweaty from the hot sunshine.
I noticed fears popping up for me during the plane - worrying about if I would fit in during my training, being alone in a country without knowing anyone that first day, and just feeling emotional. I found myself almost crying during Pitch Perfect 2!
Yet, sticking my toes in the sand and the warm water, washed all the fears away.
I felt home - my heart at ease being in nature again, connected to something much deeper.
The sunset and ocean infused my body with energy again.
With trust for the upcoming month.
Costa Rica is a magical place that helped me find simplicity within.
I realized that living in bedbunks in a humid treehouse cabin with yogi sisters, wearing sweaty sportsbras and shorts 24/7, and eating delicious food was all I really needed to feel alive, happy, connected, free.
The sunsets were soul nourishment - sinking my toes into the sand with waves crashing up my legs.
I had the deepest savasanas of my life in outdoor yoga platforms, breathing in the jungle air.
The big plates of local "casados" were simple (and so cheap) but surprisingly really good - plates of rice, beans, a salad, plantains or yucca fries, and your choice of fish/meat/eggs/veggies.
I drank tea every night with fresh, local ginger and turmeric and local, raw honey from the farmer's market - our grounding ritual after intense days of training.
While I have so much wanderlust brewing inside me to travel pretty much everywhere, I'd also return to Costa Rica in a heartbeat.
I spent 6 weeks there in 2015 - 2 weeks this summer with my boyfriend and a month for my yoga teacher training - so here are some of my favorite places to check out. I highly recommend booking a flight to Costa Rica!
Monteverde means green mountain in Spanish, which suits me so well coming from Vermont (translating to green mountains in French). When my boyfriend & I traveled there, we didn't quite realize the treacherous drive we'd have up to the top of the mountain.
We were driving with cliffs on either side, on rocky, dirt roads, and no guard rails. We wanted an adventure, so on the first day, we certainly got one (along with a beautiful sunset on the way up!).
Monteverde is home to the cloud forest and a ton of biodiversity. We explored the cloud forest and hanging bridges to find animals during the day and night - from a tarantula, viper snakes, toucans, stick bug- and giant trees that are hundreds of years old (amazing!).
We went ziplining in the middle of a thunderstorm, with an awesome superman zipline where you clip in to your chest and fly a mile through the jungle. I love heights, so this was an incredible adrenaline rush!
We went on a coffee and chocolate tour, giving me a deeper understanding of how these foods get from bean to bar (or cup). I love eating local foods, but I do want to get more intentional about where I spend my food dollar when it comes to choosing sustainable and ethically-grown foods like bananas, chocolate, and coffee.
The tour let us taste every step of the way from cacao nibs, coffee beans, to the white fruit inside the cocoa pod.
Our AirBnB Camino Verde was also awesome - great rooms, welcoming staff that helped us step up all our tours, and a delicious breakfast in the morning with rice, beans, eggs, fruit, and coffee!
My yoga teacher training was in a small beach town on the end of the Nicoya Peninsula, with one dirt road in and out of the town. We lived in a treehouse at Don Jon's Surf Lodge - in treehouse cabins, a yoga deck up top, and a 5 minute walk to the beach for our daily sunsets. The treehouse reminded of us Neverland, so we called ourselves the #foundgirls (instead of the lost boys).
The yoga deck was our homebase, and we practiced there together each morning with an array of wildlife. We had geckos hanging up on the ceiling, beautiful iguanas in the trees next to it, and one morning, a monkey jumped on the roof and climbed across.
Everywhere you walk in Santa Teresa, there are signs for yoga, surfing, and organic food with a lot of ex-pats living there. We spent most of the time in the same few places, except our days off where we would walk down to the ATM and back on the beach with fresh coconuts.
It felt really, really, really nice to chill and relax on breaks and days off too. The program was intense physically and emotionally, so the hammocks everywhere on our cabin decks and the yoga space were much-needed. I took many naps (mostly with Ziggy the traveling dog) or journaling in them.
One afternoon, I spent my time in one watching baby monkeys explore the trees next to me while the adult monkeys napped (because they spent all night howling next to our room!).
The best place I ate a few times on days off was Zwart Cafe for a delicious cocoa-mint smoothie, a turmeric milk, and a passionfruit chia breakfast bowl. The menu was so delicious and creative that I wanted everything, but I took a picture to create some of the foods at home!
I was there in November and December - the first week and a half was the end of the rainy season where it would pour in the afternoon and evening, then it switched back to the dry season. Temperatures were humid and beautiful in the 80s the whole time. I thrive in the heat, so I didn't mind having my hair up in a frizzy bun all day and walking around in yoga clothes and swimsuits all the time.
I also spent a day in Tamarindo surfing with a lesson, which was amazing! I've always wanted to go surfing, and I got up on my first try (thanks to all that yoga). I loved it but got so burnt and dehydrated being in the ocean all morning in 97 degree weather this July.
On my last day in Costa Rica, I spent it traveling back to the airport taking two buses and a ferry, catching one of the best sunsets of the trip on it. That last sunset captured the trip, as my breath deepened, and I realized I wasn't reaching for my phone at all during that whole hour and a half.
I realized that this connection to my Self is always there. Nature deepens it, but it's always there waiting at the end of a deep breath. While my teacher training left me a yoga teacher (!!!), it also gave me this gift of simplicity and connection to myself.
I am Whole as I am, as are you.
Take a breath, and feel that connection within.
(after my yoga teacher graduation)
Until next time Costa Rica!
PS: If you want more yoga and travel pictures, I'm always sharing them over on Instagram.