Our First Retreat in the Caribbean!

Our Yoga & Zumba Fitness in the Caribbean retreat last month was a success! Our group was amazing and we had such a good time. It couldn’t have been a better inaugural event.

Yoga
Yoga

The Adventure Begin

Our adventure began when the shuttle bus picked us up the morning of the retreat at the nearby hotel and airport. The drive out of San Jose took us through downtown, which was great because it gave me an opportunity to point out some of the downtown attractions, and gave our guests a little flavor of the hustle and bustle of a Central American capital city. The drive to the Caribbean coast took us through the cloud forest of Barillo Carrillo National Park and the vast expansive banana and pineapple plantations of south-eastern Costa Rica. The weather was beautiful and we even got to see the magnificent active Turrialba Volcano. On the way, we stopped to enjoy a typical Costa Rican lunch at a road-side “soda”. You’d be surprised at just how much better fresh plantains and handmade empanadas taste.

First Yoga Class

We arrived at The Goddess Garden in the afternoon, with plenty of time to get settled into our bungalows and explore the vast grounds of the Goddess Garden before heading to our first Yoga class. There’s nothing like taking some time to stretch the body after travelling all day. Our first meal that night really set the stage for the culinary pleasures that nourished our bodies and tantalized our taste buds each day. The master cook, Tracy, took wonderful care to prepare a variety of healthy dishes, with ample vegetarian options and immaculate presentation. With every meal we were served freshly squeezed juices from local fruits such as star fruit, guayaba and papaya. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. Personally, I never wanted to leave the resort as not to miss one of Tracy’s creations and delicious desserts…good thing that we had the option to request sacked lunches if we had plans to be gone during mid-day.

An Immersion Experience

The stay at The Goddess Garden was a true jungle immersion experience. We awoke each morning to the sounds of howler monkeys. These little guys sound much bigger than they really are. Often you could see groups of them swinging from tree limbs right outside your bungalow or along the path to the meditation hall. Sleeping sloths adorned the trees (…ok…I did have to ask one of the gardeners to help me spot one). Various guests reported sightings of toucans, blue Morpho butterflies, dragonflies, lizards, and many other interesting jungle creatures. In the evening, many of us would walk around the fountain pond near the meditation hall with their flashlights, to scout out tree-frogs and snakes. Let’s just say, there was plenty of wildlife to keep you on the lookout at all times.

The week passed beautifully from day to day. We started each morning with an invigorating Zumba® Fitness class that got everyone energized for the day’s activities, followed by breakfast. The owners, Jacqueline and Marcelo, surprised us on two of the mornings with cold coconut water, served right in the coconuts with straws. Being a naturally refreshing drink full of electrolytes, it was a perfect way to replenish after a great workout.

During the days, our guests enjoyed many kinds of excursions. One group took an escorted boat tour to the indigenous land of the local Bri Bi Indian tribe, where they learned how to make chocolate from the cacao fruit right off the tree and swam in a clear river to cool down. Some went zip-lining through the rainforest canopy.

Others visited the local butterfly farm, and another few went to visit the local medicine man to learn about local healing plants. As a group, we went hiking through Cahuita National Park where we saw white faced monkeys, howlers, sloths, toucans, “Jesus Christ” lizards (they run on water), iguanas, the eye-lash viper and marvelous colorful flora. Another day we went to the calm beaches of Manzanillo, where we enjoyed a day of sun bathing, hiking and snorkeling in the coral reefs right off the beach. One the way home, we stopped in Puerto Viejo, where we got the chance to scope out the laid back local culture and do some shopping for souvenirs and postcards.

Relaxing Tropical Vacation

But exploring the area wasn’t for everyone – especially not every day – and many guests enjoyed the gifts of The Goddess Garden and surrounding area. A quiet walk on the secluded beach, with no other person in sight. A soothing massage and healing-energy Reiki treatment. A leisurely hike on the property to take in the magnificence of the oldest tree in Cahuita. A relaxing afternoon swim in the pool and reading under the shade of a sun umbrella. For some, this is what a relaxing tropical vacation is all about.

We ended each afternoon with a Yoga practice, bathed by the sounds of nearby frogs and cicadas. Our Yoga practice was very personalized, depending on how the group was feeling and what our bodies needed that day. Early on in the week, we enjoyed an invigorating Hatha Yoga to help disconnect from the everyday life and turn our attention to the present moment. One evening, we focused on calming the mind, restoring our joints and muscles and stretching the connective tissue of the joints through a tranquil Yin Yoga practice. After one particularly long day of swimming, snorkeling, hiking and shopping, the group opted to spend most of the time on the floor to fully stretch the limbs, realign the spine, and quiet down the body for the night.

It was a true pleasure and blessing to host our Yoga & Zumba® Fitness retreat to such a wonderful group. I cannot wait for the new adventures and beautiful souls that I’ll meet at our next Pura Vida Yoga Vacations event. Join us at one of our upcoming Yoga retreats in Costa Rica!