Tico Travels 1-4
From February 7, 2011
I have received more inspiration in the last two weeks than I have in the last year. I return from Costa Rica with my pen full of ink and an open mind and heart. The following is the first part of a blog on inspiration that I wrote for you on January 31, 2011 whilst living deep in the jungle mountains of Costa Rica on a yoga retreat.
It's Monday, my fourth full day in Costa Rica. The moment I got off of the plane, I sensed the energy of the land. It was so powerful and swept over me as if I were stepping through a waterfall into a new world. New world, indeed. This is a place in my dreams and I keep waiting for the pinch to wake me. Aside from the energy, this land is overwhelmingly inspiring. The first morning, I, having arrived a day earlier with a friend, went up into the cloud forests of Costa Rica to go zip-lining.
Aside from the incredible fun and continuous rush of adrenaline, I was immediately inspired by the rain forest. The green, the humidity, the wildlife, and, again, the energy. For a moment the sun would be shining and it would be hot; the next moment a cloud would pass through the mountains, cooling off any overheated-ness that I might have felt. So beautiful. So pure. These words hardly seem to describe such essence of Earth. She is ever-changing and ever-powerful. No doubt, some of what I experienced within my first 24 hours in Costa Rica will end up in a novel. My journey for inspiration continued the next day with the full arrival of the retreat group (who are, by the way, the most amazing souls, each in their own way). This was the day when we all packed into two vans and made the four hour trek to the unplottable village of La Florida, near Dominical.
As if the first day hadn't been enough, I was in awe of the Costa Rica countryside. Everywhere we looked, there were fields of sugar cane, coffee plants, and palm groves. We stopped at several points along the road, the first at a bridge (a normal one, nothing too scary). Souvenir stands were at the first end and I bought a few things, but then the group walked across the bridge. When I looked over the edge on one side, I saw dozens of ginormous crocodiles.
They were just chilling, but their presence exuded their powerful magnificence. At the far end of the bridge was a fruit stand where we ate fresh mango and drank fresh coconut water (from the coconut with a straw). So cool!
The journey to La Florida continued. After a while on bumpy roads, we turned right, down a dirt road, which looked over the vast Diamante Valley. The mountain on the far side is so high, the clouds block the view of its top. Sun beams would break through the clouds and select rays would illuminate parts of the mountainside, as if to magnify its divine nature. Pouring from the mountainside flowed the majestic Diamante Waterfall, whose source is somewhere high above the cloudline.
Diamante Waterfall - Courtesy of Stevie Goggans Eventually, we arrived in La Florida at Pura Suerte, the retreat center built on a hill overlooking the Diamante Valley. My first full day in La Florida proved eventful. After doing yoga all morning overlooking the valley, we took a tour of the Tico (Costa-rican) village. It was there that we encountered two Macaws (parrots).
These birds were so comfortable with humans that we were able to feed them out of our hands using a banana we got from a villager (that's me in the photos above). They must have followed us, for about an hour later they found us again in another part of the village and we fed them fresh coconut meat. This blew my mind!
After the tour, we went back to the yoga deck where we did about five dances of universal peace, led by retreat leader Karina Ayn Mirsky. The sun was setting over the mountains to the West and we sang it a song, repeating until the sun was below the horizon. Completely epic!
This is only the first of many parts of my travel to Costa Rica. After all, I've only so far described the first three days of eleven. Next up, we head to the Nauyaca Waterfall where I had to face my fears, and later, the Real Macaws of Diamante Valley return.
GMG, world traveler extraordinaire!
From February 8, 2011
My journey continues...here's the second part of my blog on inspiration that I wrote in Costa Rica on January 31, 2011.
Last night (1/30/11), a friend and I went down to the yoga deck after dinner to get a sweatshirt she left down there and part way, I turned off the flashlight and looked up to view the clearest night sky I've ever witnessed. I felt the presence of the ancients. This is how they witnessed the night. The stars were so bright and countless. The more the eyes adjusted, the more stars could be seen. I remember viewing Orion and the Milky Way with such clarity (Blueray's got nothin on this). Such a powerful sight. I would come back for the view of the night sky alone.
This morning (1/31/11), after a yoga session and breakfast, we headed out for the grandeur that is Nauyaca Falls, a waterfall near the retreat center. It was funny; we all hopped into the back of a pickup truck to get there.
The falls were awe-inspiring. We immediately began swimming in the pool at its base, washing off the sweat and heat of our journey there (we had to hike down a mountain to get there). The sight of this magical fall was instant awe.
The falls taught me about fear. It was toward the end of our time there that I tried to swim under the falls. I'm not a strong swimmer, so in retrospect this wasn't the best idea. As I tried to make it, my body fatigued and nearly seized up. Panic broke over me and I lost my breath. The current from the fall was too much for me to manage and I struggled treading water to reach to rocks about forty feet behind me. Again, I'm not a strong swimmer. I choked and gasped and had a panic attack. A few feet from the rocks, my fellow retreaters pulled me up to safety. I'll never forget their compassion in helping me to recover. Eventually I caught my breath (there was no use for my sore/shot muscles) and calmed down some. I chilled out eventually, but not until I had to climb a mountain to get back to the truck.
So...I find inspiration from fear and I learn from it.
When we got back to the retreat center, I got a massage (that I had previously arranged) overlooking the valley. Now I sit on my balcony (of the cabin I share with some of the retreaters) watching the fog come in, cooling off this day. I'm off, now, to one of my favorite inspirations: Dinner.
So there the blog ends, but it's definitely not the end of my adventure. Part 3 of my travels is coming soon, with helping to build a local clinic and a rained-in pizza night on the mountain.
From February 12, 2011
"Morning unfolds the silence brought by the new day, The air is still and thick, The birds, too, have calmed to soft songs."
We continue our journey on Tuesday, Feb 1st. One of the main objectives of the retreat was to do service work for the local community, and we did just that with helping to build a new clinic in La Florida. It was very rewarding and it reminded me how much I like to do construction work of that nature.
Later that night the group went and had pizza at a guy's house on top of a nearby hill. Ideally, we would have been able to watch the sunset, but a fog had settled over the land. Syrus (the owner of the house) holds regular pizza nights for the village every week. The house was designed with a Japanese temple in mind. It had an open floor plan, separate buildings for each room, plenty of outdoor seating, rustic doors and decor, and bamboo groves. Pure awesomeness.
Several things happened while we were there. First, after we ate dinner, we were sitting around and suddenly notice something eating the bananas that were hanging on a hook from the porch.
Syrus told us it was a Kinkajou. We were so excited as a whole and we snapped off several dozen pictures in a matter of minutes.
The second thing that happened might turn into a story at some point (we'll see). Over half of the group had headed down the mountain to Pura Suerta, leaving six of us hanging out with Syrus and his buddies. The fog that had settled over us unleashed into a downpour of rain; hitting the metal roof. We were safe from the elements, but had to wait it out. We didn't mind. When the rain did let up, we carefully descended, taking care not to fall down mud hills.
The inspiration I obtained on my trip to Costa Rica was not just from the wonder and beauty of nature, but also from the internal work that I was doing. I won't go into it here, but I had some revelations during some of the quiet time and I wrote this poem as a result.
TOLL KEEPER (or Toll Bridge to Happiness)
The journey's been long so far The fires I've faced behind me But what is to become as I Approach this new crossing
I can see the other side clearly The crossing's not to wide for me But what about the now as I Face the toll booth of this bridge
Tell me what is the price to pay? What kind of sacrifices will it take? To become one who's made it to the other side?
I'm counting up the change in my pocket It'll take a lot, I know, to pass through But I'll need much more than this To reach my true design
Tell me what is the price to pay? What kind of sacrifices will it take? To become one who's made it to the other side?
Don't make me wait in line toll keeper To achieve what I've desired for years And I've grown far to impatient To wait for my light to drive
Tell me what is the price to pay? What kind of sacrifices will it take? To become one who's made it to the other side? ...to the other side?
I realized in the depths of the jungles of Costa Rica that in order to make profound change in my life (for the better), there are sacrifices that must be made. This poem is my contemplation of that idea.
In my next blog, I'll begin to wrap up my trip in Costa Rica and there may be a blog following it with reflections, and also, the Macaws from La Florida give us a breath-taking encore.
From February 14, 2011
Thursday (2/3) was our last day in la Florida and we made the most of it. In the morning we returned to the clinic and did some more work on it; finishing up some things that we began earlier in the week.
That afternoon, we had a very unique yoga class, for two reasons. First, it was a live music yoga class which has been branded the Bhakti Vinyasa Project. During a BVP, Luna and Joshua Canter play music that is synchronized with the flow of the class. If you've never been to a live music yoga class before, I urge you to try it. As if the first aspect wasn't magical enough, part way into our warm up our friends the Macaws came to visit.
Their encore was truly inspiring. The wild birds flew down onto the yoga deck and began walking amongst the yogis, all the while Luna and Joshua continued their entrancing melodies. The class was clearly put on pause while we admired the birds and their presence. We also started snapping off pictures as quickly as we could, because this was truly unbelievable. They stayed for a good 10 minutes or so and then flew off into the distance and out of sight. It felt as if the land and nature were wishing us goodbye.
The next morning we parted la Florida and headed for the Pacific coast at Matapallo. We had been to the beach for a brief moment on our way to la Flordia, but this was our first real immersion into the Pacific Ocean. The waves were fierce, as was the rip tide. The water was a warm 80 degrees, making getting in a breeze. I also went horseback riding near the beach, from which my butt is still sore.
It was in Matapallo the next morning that our circle broke and everyone headed off to the airport to return to the world that is not of our dreams. But Costa Rica gave us all so much that even as I write this a week later, I still feel the presence of that energy within me. I guess it also helps that I stayed a day later than the rest of the group with a some friends. I took in another day at the beach before I too made the trek home to Michigan.
This blog series is meant to be a story of continuous inspiration and I feel that in that goal, I have been successful. Though I strive to find inspiration in every situation and every experience, sometimes the universe presents it to me on a silver platter, as was the case in Costa Rica. I thank the land and all of the great people who helped to make this experience possible. Special thanks go to Joshua and Luna Canter of True Nature Education, Karina Ayn Mirsky of Sangha Yoga, and all of the brilliant yogis who joined me on this journey.