Travel Feature: Costa Rica, Pura Vida

Before I had my own company, I worked for a very large marketing agency in Los Angeles that serviced the Entertainment Industry. After we completed a large project, I needed a break and chose to go to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica for some serious TLC. I left from LAX and flew Copa Airlines, which was a very easy and accommodating airline. There was a weight limit of 50 lbs/bag which is expected and I got through security pretty quickly. Most of the communication during the flight was in Spanish, so that’s something to be aware of if you only speak English and don’t know common words. I’ve recently been using Duolingo and loving it…. I bought the paid plan and think it’s highly worth it! Anyways, let’s get back to the trip!

I had a layover in Panama, and then landed in Costa Rica shortly thereafter. The immigration coming in was extremely long but there was strong wifi in the SJC airport, which was very appreciated. Once I exited the airport, a nice representative from Pura Vida was waiting for me. I had no idea what to expect on the drive from the airport to the hotel, but we saw many locals as well as their houses and cars. Most of the homes and even schools were behind some sort of bars/fence but I never felt unsafe throughout the drive.

Upon arrival, the sweetest Costa Rican man greeted us with spearmint tea and cold wash cloths for our face… that initial gesture sold me on this place! We checked in and funny enough… I didn’t need a key… because Tentalow life is the life for me this week! I was so surprised at how nice the tentalow is. I was picturing tee-pee style tents, but it’s truly a hotel room within a tent that is very spacious and has comfortable beds and pillows too. The CorePower instructors had left us and sweet welcome card so I found out that my roommate’s name was Jillian, but she wasn’t there when I arrived (although her stuff was). The nice driver brought my luggage to the tent and I settled in for a moment before heading straight for the dining hall as I was starving by the afternoon!

This entire resort operates “family style” in everything that they do, so there are set hours for lunch and it is served buffet style. The food is DELICIOUS, and seriously makes me feel like I am having a fresh Whole Foods buffet for every meal. They indicate whether everything is dairy free, gluten free, etc. so it makes it super easy for me to choose what to get each time. Some example choices thus far: tomato stuffed rice and vegetables, oven roasted beets, quinoa pilaf, always a fresh salad, fresh fruit, vegetable curry, hummus vegetable wrap, homemade peanut butter, fresh strawberry preserves, ginger lemonade, fresh pineapple juice, local chai… you get the idea. Pure heaven for my eating habits! So on Saturday I had lunch alone and then laid in a hammock reading for a couple hours.

Once I got back to the tentalow I met my roommate, a very sweet woman from San Diego. She’s an amazing yogi that also used to teach at CorePower. She works for a program that helps place people all over the US in addiction treatment centers, and is newly engaged! We went to get dinner at the dining hall together and she introduced me to some of the people she had met earlier in the day. There’s such a wide variety of people on the trip… a college student, a grandma, many in their 20s and 30s… cities everywhere from Denver (the HQ for CorePower) to New York. I was happy with the sleeping accommodations, but I will say that bug spray and some patience is a must. There is light that comes through early in the morning and a local rooster and dogs in the area that start making noises in the early morning hours.

The days at the resort were filled with tons of yoga at the beautiful yoga studio on the property. The first day, we did a “body scan” type meditation where you focus your energy and visualize light on certain parts of your body to tune in and relax everything including every single finger and toe. The type of yoga they have done just far is called C2, which is vinyasa flow style. The room is heated (but not as hot as usual at home) since there are so many different levels of yogis on the trip. The cool thing is that you can make most poses more difficult by doing simple adjustments or focusing on different muscle engagements throughout the body.

After yoga we had some free time to eat breakfast, and then had an orientation where the Pura Vida staff and wellness center therapists introduced themselves and told us a little bit about the treatments they specialize in. There is everything from Chinese medicine techniques like cupping, to watsu (water therapy), to Swedish, to Thai, to deep tissue massages… pretty much everything you could possibly want. I saw that one of the therapists, Ricardo, had an opening for Ayurvedic release therapy a couple hours after the orientation so I signed up right away! The therapy was so intense but also made me feel so relaxed at the end. I had told him about my ankle injury and he did a ton of work on it to release the tension built up in the connective tissue in different areas. At some points during the session I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle any more, but I knew the reason it hurt was because those areas needed the most release… and it paid off in the end!

One of my favorite days on the trip was going to visit the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park & Animal Refuge Center, including an incredible butterfly sanctuary! It was such an unforgettable experience to see monkeys, pumas, beautiful birds, and more all up close. Following the tour of the animals, we stopped at an old Costa Rican house for a snack of hot sugar cane and some sort of cheese that I passed on. We then got to take a hike to see these huge waterfalls up close and personal! I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be swimming near one with the force that they had! Once we had seen everything, we stopped in the local city to support local farmers selling strawberries, cheese, and much more. I also got to try their local wine at the shop, which was a little too sweet for me but still fun to taste. They also are known for their coffee here since the area we are visiting is surrounded by coffee fields, so we got to sample it as well… yum! 

We also got to go into the city of San Jose and have a delicious meal, and buy some jewelry from local artisans. All in all, Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful and I cannot wait to go back. The people, food, culture, and hospitality is second to none. Pura Vida, Friends!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and be free, and may my thoughts and actions contribute to this intention”