This month, I spent another week at Hacienda del Sol…soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the outdoors. I love going there – not just because it’s a very special place but also because when I’m there, I’m outside almost the entire day. While I was still working on my client’s accounts, all of my work was either done from my private casita’s hammock or the open-air dining area. I love being in the fresh, tropical air – something that I don’t get at home in Langosta, given my 2nd story loft condo.
It was a small group on this week-long retreat and we thoroughly enjoyed twice daily yoga classes with Nadia, hiking with the owners, Crystal and Ramiro, and delicious raw food meals lovingly prepared by the kitchen staff and Crystal.
The hikes were relatively easy and a few hours each – mostly along jungle paths and the beautiful black and white sand beaches near San Juanillo. We saw huge colonies of hermit crabs (big ones!), many species of birds and all of the trees were just starting to spring into life with new leaves.
On our last day, I enjoyed a foot detox and massage, given by Menlha. She put my feet into a little tub of water with some type of electronic contraption inside it and I can’t begin to tell you the amount of debris that was in the tub after 30 minutes of soaking. I really don’t understand how it works but hoping my body is a little more detoxed at this point!
We ended the retreat with a hike from Playa Ostional to San Juanillo’s black sand beach. It was a bit of a wild hike, traversing cliff-like tide pools and one very short, but very steep, hill. But it was all worth it when we arrived and had a bonfire on the beach, watching the sunset and enjoying a delicious raw food meal.
This is a special place where connections are made – not just with the retreatants but also with the owners and team who work there.
Enjoy the slideshow…
Note: While I am now paid and/or receive comped services at many of the places I visit, I will always offer my unbiased opinion to you, my readers. Fortunately, I almost always have experiences that exceed my expectations.
Here are the not-so-normal things that have become a normal part of my daily life, living here in Costa Rica for the last year…
Living on a dirt road and having a 1 minute walk to the beach
Having a dirty house all the time because of the dirt road
Haven’t worn jeans, long pants, long sleeved shirts, socks (other than at Lapa Rios), tennis shoes or any other type of close toed shoe, or sweaters (other than the jacket in Turrialba) in a year
$6 for soy milk and $8 for Kashi cereal
No bulk products (I really miss bulk almonds and quinoa)
Earthquakes and aftershocks
Dealing with the “no return policy” even if something breaks
Never receiving any mail, even when I know something has been mailed to me
Not feeling safe, always double checking doors and windows and putting everything away at night
$30 bottles of wine that are really only worth $10
Legally buying Havana Club
No Reese’s peanut butter cups (unless I make them myself)
A weird laundry machine that eats my clothes
Ants, scorpions and geckos running around my house
A life without yellow lemons 90% of the time
No movie theater
85+ degrees every day
2 seasons-Winter during summer and summer during winter
No daylight savings time
Not having easy access, or any access at all, to sustainable products and services
No pet supply stores
No health insurance
House calls by doctors and vets that cost less than going to them in the States with health insurance
Getting medication without a prescription
Early sunsets year round
Year round tropical fruits but very limited access to anything that is not grown locally (or it’s very expensive and not so fresh); i.e. $0.70 for a mango versus $1.25 for a small, somewhat rotten, apple
Haven’t eaten or seen chard in the last year
Using duct tape and super glue more often than I’d like and on some strange things
Not having an oven or kitchen counter space
Not having a microwave or dishwasher and only one small, round sink that doesn’t fit my square dishes
No smoke detectors
Making a lot less money and learning to live with less (hence the need for super glue and duct tape) as well as not being able to travel and explore as much as I’d like.
And last but not least…
Acceptance that this is just the new normal for my life, here on the Rich Coast.
In the last few months, I’ve done a lot of driving around the Nicoya Peninsula and it’s interesting how, right now, it reminds me of Sonoma County in Springtime. All of the trees lost their leaves in mid-summer and are now sprouting new green growth and flowers. It seems backwards to me – to have summer first and then spring and to have summer be the time of year when all the trees go dormant. It’s something I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around. But if you ask people here, they’ll tell you we only have two seasons – winter and summer. And really (and again, strangely), the trees flower all summer long at different times.
Winter is on its way in Costa Rica and that’s a good thing since we desperately need water here in the Guanacaste province. All of our river beds are dry and fires continue to burn.
We’re starting to see clouds form around the area – something we haven’t really seen since November! And while the air is definitely more humid, we’re still experiencing temperatures in the 90’s. On Friday night, we had a spectacular lightning show but, unfortunately, no rain fell in the Langosta area.
Then yesterday, the clouds formed again in the late afternoon and we got our first storm. In true tropical weather fashion, it lasted less than an hour but still, it brought a freshness to the air for that one hour. It also brought a power outage which, in turn, created a water outage. About 3 minutes into the rain falling, everyone in my building could hear a loud boom. I ran down to a neighbor’s house because I thought a pole had fallen down but he told me that this is just typical for the first storm – the salt or dust or dirt builds up on the transformer during the summer season which then blows out with the first rain.
So for almost five hours we were without water or power. And like I mentioned, it’s still really hot here so having no fan or a/c was a bit miserable. Finally at 9 p.m. the electrical company showed up and within minutes had our power back on.
Of course, this morning, I woke up to blue skies and sunshine. But one more week and we should see the return of the winter season to our tropical dry forest. And I, for one, am looking forward to the cooler, 85 degree temperatures.
I had never heard of a red tide. But one day recently on the catamaran, we went to our normal snorkeling location just north of Tamarindo and had to return to the Bay because the water was red. Literally. At first I didn’t see it when the Captain pointed it out, but once we anchored there was definitely a noticeable difference in the water color.
Supposedly, red tides happen because of an algae overgrowth but while that doesn’t sound so bad, it can actually make you sick if you go in the water. A friend told me that they had a red tide a year ago in the Tamarindo Bay and no one could go in the water from the beach for an entire week.
Fortunately that day, we found a spot close to the Bay that was clear and the guests on the boat were able to enjoy our warm tropical water, swimming with the fish and kayaking to the shore where they found their own private beach for the afternoon.
And then, a few days later, I saw a post on Facebook that said a lot of sharks had been seen in the water around the Bay. Although some people commented that it was most likely the manta rays that had inundated the local shore.
Ah well, así es la vida (such is life)…if it’s not one thing, it’s another!
There’s no movie theater in Tamarindo, the nearest one would be in Liberia. Before the Oscar’s, I was talking with different friends who were telling me about the movies they were going to see that had been nominated. I hadn’t heard of any of them – that’s just not a part of life down here on the Rich Coast.
So when I saw a Tamarindo facebook post that Chasing Mavericks was playing at the soccer field, I texted a friend and convinced her to go with me! We brought blankets, food and drinks and settled onto the dry grass field in front of a large screen that was projecting the movie from a computer.
It’s these moments that I so enjoy and which ease the frustrations and complications of living here. The cinematography was amazing and knowing that I had been at Mavericks, one of the days that they were filming the movie, made it that much sweeter.