Hi People I Love,
So, the San Jose airport was my first clue. All signs are first in Spanish and then English.
I got my passport stamped! I went through customs! As I approached the baggage claim, there was a young lady standing there holding a sign with my name on it. She gave me a name tag, told me to go straight and that my driver was waiting outside for me. That sounded simple enough, but when I got outside…there were people everywhere! Shouting “taxi!” and moving every which way. Some dude saw my name tag and directed me to my driver which I was thrilled about because I had already been swallowed up. My driver spoke very little English and I obviously know minimal Spanish, but we got a long great and managed to communicate just enough to make each other laugh. We quizzed each other about words the whole VERY FAST ride to the resort.
We rode in a manual transmission white van, windows down, speeding around every turn. No one uses turn signals, and the streets are super narrow. There are dogs without leashes running all over the place and young men on dirt bikes aka “mottos” weaving in and around everything they can.
The higher up the mountain we went, the less crowded it was. And the more beautiful. And then…behind this big bamboo wall…Pura Vida! It’s completely tucked into the mountainside and it’s super lush. I was greeted by a woman named “Floribeth,” how strange… She handed me an amazing green beverage and a fresh towel for my face that had the scent of some type of cleansing herb. FB gave me the lowdown on the property and my driver escorted me to my room.
It’s cute! Small, and very simple, but it’s perfect. I have a little patio overlooking the mountains and I’m right down the hill from the Wellness Center where they do all of the spa treatments. (By the way, in my room was an envelope with a love note from Dave and a very generous gift to be used at the spa! Thank you, Sweets!)
After I got settled, I walked to the dining hall and am now sitting eating my lunch, drinking straight from a coconut, hating that I have homework to do.
It’s humid, but not unbearable. It’s currently 77 degrees here in Alajuela!
Yoga starts tomorrow and I can’t wait! I love you guys!
Adios mi familia!
Yoga in the Ananda Studio is one of the most beautiful things I’e ever experienced. I had my first class there last night, taught by the world’s most bendy woman alive. You know in Cirque de Soleil how those small people look as though they have no bones while they fit their entire body into a barrel? Yeah, just like that. But don’t worry, I got even with her when I kicked her in the face attempting a head stand. I hope Buddha doesn’t punish me for that…
Last night after I wrote to ya’ll I met the other guests at the resort. This place is packed! There are a grand total of THREE of us! Can you believe it? If I had know it was their busy season…I would have come another time. We;re being well looked after, though. The resort is fully staffed to provide us for anything we need.
Melanie is 29 and from Montreal. She works in retail at a store she described as the Canadian equivalent to Saks Fifth Avenue. I have no idea what she does there, but she has long scary looking finger nails, flips her hair a lot. She’s pleasant but reminds me (Mom, Dad, Sean and Jo) of Jane Monheit on the evening of opening at the Cultural Center.
Isabella is 24 and lives in Chicago, though she was born in Poland and lived there until she was 10. She is a member of the Job Corp and currently holds a position at some non-profit that deals with museums in the Chicago area. She’s a complete nerd and I dig it. We had an intense conversation this morning after breakfast about food, books, and introversion. Oh, and PS. She went to North Park University! (A Christian school in Chicago.) I was excited until I learned that she only went there because her boyfriend did. She and Jesus aren’t really all that tight.
I have to say, I love that out of the whole world’s population, here at this tiny resort in Costa Rica are three young, single (not really, Dave, just unmarried) women who are comfortable enough and brave enough to travel out of the country by themselves for an adventure. How rad!
Okay, I better get started. I have a lot to report. There are paths of gardens woven in between everywhere here. I’ve found some interesting things. Right outside my room is a chocolate mint plant. Yes, I ate it, and yes…it was delicious. There is also an absinthe aka wormwood plant. I’m tempted, I have to admit. But, C.S. Lewis doesn’t use the name Wormwood in the most positive light, so I guess I’ll refrain.
Waking up this morning was heavenly. I slept incredibly well (I later learned that there is a flowering plant called “Lady of the Night” that blooms in the evening and can sometimes create a deep sleep with intense dreams) and woke up to sounds of exotic birds, dogs barking in spanish, and incredibly warm sunshine. It poured during the evening and it was so peaceful.
It smells like marijuana in a few places around. Which didn’t really surprise me necessarily. But what’s funny is that the resort is surrounded by a coffee plantation and Nicaraguan coffee farmers. Apparently, those guys like the reefer. There is no smoking on the property, but since they are just over the fence…
I made a kitty friend. I don’t know if the little one is a boy or girl, but it’s very vocal and now knows that we love at first sight. Kitty looks like a small Pacino and hangs out by the dining hall. (I just learned the cat’s name is “Negro” and he is 5 years old. He lives here and the kitchen staff takes very good care of him.)
The food is amazing. Fresh fruit and veggies everyday. Extraordinary coffee, tea, smoothies, fancy tonics made from turmeric and other various things. I have had two coconuts each day since my arrival. I dig that.
At 1pm today I used my birthday gift from Burbs. (That’s Dave, for those of you that don’t know his nickname lovingly given by Marla.) It was a Costa Rican Chocolate Treatment. OH. MY. GOODNESS. First I had a deep tissue massage that focused mostly on my hips, back and feet (reflexology). It hurt so good, especially my feet. Apparently one or two of my organs need some detoxing… Then came the chocolate. Melted, room temperature bitter chocolate mixed with coconut oil, ground cinnamon, and coffee as an exfoliant. She rubbed it into my whole body, back and front (It’s different than a massage in the US. I was much less covered than I am when Denise gives me a massage. Basically grape leaves, but a small white towel.) Then she covered me with a tent type structure from neck to feet (with the chocolate on my skin), only my head outside of it. It’s like a mobile steam room. The steam was also infused with cinnamon sticks. RIDICULOUS. While I was steaming, she gave me a facial. Then after about 15 minutes I got up, got in the shower, and scrubbed the chocolate off. I still smell like chocolate and it’s amazing. After my treatment, I fully intended to read before yoga class, but…I lit some incense in my room and PASSED OUT! I missed yoga and woke up in time for dinner.
It’s raining for the second time today, but it smells earthy and amazing. Earlier this afternoon, the sky got super dark in the mountains and began to thunder and lightening. The thunder sounded like it was manufactured here; almost palpable. I’ve never heard anything like it.
Tomorrow is the waterfall hike! I love you all and I’ll write again tomorrow.
Yesterday was my first adventure off the property. As I mentioned in my first email, the streets here are very narrow and super windy and become even more so the further you travel up the mountain. The views are spectacularly indescribable, though, unless you’re Sean Hunley.
On our way to the animal rescue and waterfall park I learned that Costa Rica’s biggest industries are silicone breast implants and motherboards for computers. You know you thought it was coffee…
Our destination was in a cloud forest, and as crazy as it might be, it was really cloudy. 😉
We first went through the animal rescue and I held and pet a Toucan. Pictures to follow, at some point. Parrots that speak Spanish, albino squirrels (I had no idea they existed…crazy looking…), a beautiful butterfly sanctuary where I was reminded of the word proboscis. Weird. Spider monkeys, oxen and then the real excitement…
Big cats! Not big like Boston, big like Tony the Tiger. First the ocelots. Amazing. So beautiful. They’re markings are as if they were painted on with a detail brush. Then, and this has never happened before, the cat staff let us in behind the scenes where they hold the pumas while cleaning their area of the refuge. I stood five feet from three pumas, all siblings, two girls and a boy. The big sister growled the whole time. Such a huge noise. She’s like the size of 30 Cookies put together.
Onto the jaguar whose name is Tortillo. I have a picture of him. And Jaime, he was ALL about sexy leg. Tortillo has a new girlfriend who arrived a few weeks ago. They have been living side by side but with a gate between them. On October 10th they finally get to be together and make jag babies.
After the animals we hiked, well…walked, through the waterfall park. It’s been raining so much that unfortunately landslides have changed the landscape. But to me, it’s still breathtaking. My favorite fall is called White Magic. It’s close to 200 feet tall. If you stare at it for 10 seconds without blinking then shift your gaze to the right, the solid ground appears to morph and melt into itself. It’s wild!
On the ride home I was more car sick than I ever have been. For some reason going down the mountain was different than going up.
After lunch I napped before yoga, had dinner, did some schoolwork and went to bed. I’ve been having really vivid dreams about so many different people. I dreamt that Dad and I had a crazy mountain adventure. I dreamt that I was in heaven with Mom. We were sitting in church pews waiting for the message to start, and in walked Milt Nilson. We turned to each other and just burst with joyful tears.
I got up early this morning for 6:30 yoga. After breakfast I had an aromatherapy massage then, of course, took a nap. I’ve eaten lunch and am now sitting in a yoga studio room I just happened upon, watching the pouring rain, writing, reading and waiting for tonight’s class.
Tomorrow is a full-day trip on a river boat and hiking over 5 suspended bridges like the ones from Indiana Jones. But don’t worry…there will be no one chasing us and none of the boards are missing.
Jenny (our guide): “You can touch it if you’d like…”
Izabela: “It feels like elephant skin!!”
Jenny: “Oh? Have you touched an elephant?”
Izabela: “Well, no.”
I asked Jenny if there were any words in Spanish that have more than one meaning like some English words. For example; coach.
She said maybe the word alto. But being multi-lingual shared with us that (sorry Dad, Dave & Sean) the word in Spanish for “bus” is the same word in Portuguese but it means “vagina.” We all laughed. Izabela said “so, wait. You mean that if Portuguese people were in Costa Rica and they read a sign for the Bus Stop they would think it said Vagina Stop?”
Izabela is 24 years old. She was born in Poland and lived there until she was 10. Since then, she has lived in Chicago. She is the sweetest, yet most naive, “adult” I’ve ever met.
A mother/daughter duo arrived earlier this week. I haven’t mentioned them yet as it’s taken me a day or two to decide if I thought they were worthy of my updates….turns out they are. They are from Texas and speak fluent Spanish. At first I was annoyed by that, little show-offs, but it seems it has come in pretty handy. 🙂
Irma is the Mom. I adore her and think she and Gail should be friends.
Monica is the daughter and her birthday was on Wednesday. At first glance, she appeared to be a Valley Girl from Texas. (What’s that way of talking we had just laughed about, Jaime? Yeah…she does that…) But we’ve become pals and seemingly have a lot in common.
Ok, so. The hike and riverboat ride. The views from the hike were incredible. The suspended bridges were fun! I had pictured more of an Indiana Jones style and was slightly disappointed, but they were cool nonetheless. The pace was not quite what I had in mind, but Jenny (our guide) has all sorts of knowledge to impart about every bug, bird and plant along the way. It’s interesting, but only in small doses. Leaf cutter ants are everywhere and they are actually pretty wild. They’re tiny! But carry the weight of one Izabela every day back to their fort. (It’s not actually called a fort…)
The boat ride was relaxing and I took some great pictures that I’ve attached to this message.
Yesterday, I opted not to go on any trips. I stayed here and just had the day to myself. I slept in (I actually haven’t been going to yoga as often because it’s not the style I like and I find it pretty boring), spent a lot of time reading my Bible and Miracles by C.S. Lewis, lots of time in prayer and thought, and had an incredible treatment. Denise, I’d like to talk with you about it. I understand it goes hand in hand with craniosacral.
I spent some time talking with Eduardo, the manager, who lives here on the property. He’s a very kind, soft-spoken, long-haired hippie looking guy who I’d assume is in his late 30’s. He’s very hospitable, as is the whole staff here. They really have made this trip an experience I’ll never forget. We’re all friends on facebook now…
I had a treatment called Lymph Drain. It’s a massage but it focuses primarily on the lymph nodes throughout the body. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymph_node) Its purpose is to clear your lymph nodes of any gunk that has accumulated through your years of life and flush it out through your kidneys; just like an oil change. I have NEVER felt more awake, almost internally clean, after a massage. (Denise, do you know about this treatment?) This whole week, after any treatment, I go straight to my room to sleep. But not yesterday. I was wide awake, energized. It was incredible! It’s carried over to today and I’m so grateful for that.
We celebrated with birthday cake and champagne! A perfect day.
Today we went to the Poas Volcano. SO VERY COOL! The place is surreal. The trails surrounding it look like places straight out of peliculas de Lord of the Rings. This was more of a hike my speed. Monica and I actually forged ahead of Jenny and Izabela so they could be all biology and what not. 😉
After lunch I took a quick three hour nap, read some more, then came up for dinner. The four of us shared a couple bottles of vino and laughed until we cried. Irma and Monica are going home tomorrow, so I am happy to have had some special time with them.
Sadly, tomorrow is my last day. I plan to fill it with more reading, more praying, schoolwork, and another massage. Sunday morning I head to Miami and then Tampa until Thursday.
What’s going on at home??
I’ll show pics when I get home. Or check facebook. They take too long to attach.