This entire trip to Costa Rica just kind of happened, over the last year all of my thoughts for traveling around South America, Costa Rica was never on the itinerary. Thanks to a cold Wisconsin day and blankets of snow I started searching for yoga retreats in paradise and Costa Rica kept popping up. Next thing I knew I had not only paid a deposit for a one week stay, but also purchased my one-way ticket, assuming the rest would sort itself out. It did of course, I met another set of awesome Couchsurfing hosts and hung out with them in both Monteverde and San Jose, I reconnected with an old friend in the hot springs at La Fortuna, and made even more friends in Quepos. Finally though it was time for me to enjoy that week of paradise that started it all. Arriving in Montezuma I felt a wave of calmness wash over me, and as soon as I stepped foot on the property at Los Mangos, I knew I was in the right place.
Montezuma is an idyllic blend of hippies, surfers and yogis, expats, locals and long-term travelers who got stuck. The city itself is tiny, but if you step out a bit to explore there’s definitely more to discover. My first day though, after my bus-boat-bus adventure I was in no hurry to do so and thus spent a lazy afternoon at the pool. That evening I had my first yoga class of the week, a candle light session with handpan accompaniment, quite the way to begin. I was excited with my location change, being on the inside of the peninsula meant that Montezuma offered beachfront sunrises every day; thankfully my early morning and day of travel wore me out which meant I was ready to sleep early preparing myself for the morning show.
I set an alarm for 5:30, but my body knew better and I woke up peacefully, feeling refreshed at 5 am, sans alarm. Los Mangos has a great location, directly across the street from the beach so all I had to do was throw on some leggings and walk out the door. It’s been awhile since I’ve woke early enough to watch the sunrise, but I quickly remembered just how amazing it is. The first morning I actually made the mistake of returning to the hotel before the sun was completely up, thinking that the clouds would prevent a good view, but I returned the next day and the day after that, and after that, and...well you get the idea. Now 10 days later I’ve seen my fair share of magnificent mornings and am sad to be leaving tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be sent off with a beautiful one. After sunrise I returned to my hostel, hovered around reception to use the WiFi and check in with friends and family back home (and across the globe). After that it was time for my week of yoga to begin.
Included in our package was breakfast every morning, up the road at Hotel de Amor, which I was told we could split up before and after class. I initially had flashbacks to the buffet at Vikasa Yoga where I completed my teachers training, but had no idea what to expect here. I walked in and felt like a lost student in a new classroom, but soon was handed a “yoga package” menu and discovered that we had our choice of one menu item, a coffee or tea, small fruit plate and fresh fruit juice. I ordered the mixed fruit juice and small fruit plate as Dagmar recommended, but was blown away by the size, the ‘juice’ was a huge smoothie and the fruit plate was far from ‘small’. Obviously I finished it all, I can’t leave food unfinished, someday this may be a problem, but for now yoga.
The morning class was taught by Silvia, and it was awesome. I discovered throughout the week that she has an unreal ability to make a class feel simultaneously really easy and challenging at the same time. The one let down of the morning was that my vertigo had come back, not awesome as feeling that the room is spinning while in reverse warrior or side angle is not ideal. After class I talked with Silvia about the rest of the week and immediately scheduled my massage for the following day, hoping Cordula could help sort out my vertigo issues. I finished the morning with the rest of my breakfast; a delicious veggie omelette with equally soft, chewy and crunchy homemade bread, both of which were accompanied by an awesome oceanside view - no complaints from this girl, I was riding on cloud 9.
Finally being in a warm location, meters from the beach with a private room and pool included my mind was set on V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N. mode. I changed into a suit and settled myself at the pool for the rest of the afternoon, I had the best intentions of hiking to the waterfall mid-afternoon, but I failed. To be fair I DID get up from my lounge chair, even made it to the waterfall path, but after 10 minutes of slippery rock maneuvering I gave up, realizing I was way too tired for this adventure.
The next few days continued in a similar fashion, very similar in fact: sunrise, smoothie, yoga, food, pool/beach/hike or some combination of the three. I got really good at this routine, so good in fact that when my week stay expired I simply moved across the road and continued as if nothing had happened. Montezuma is known for doing this to people, preventing them from moving on, but I had a few good reasons. For one, I had no where else I really had to be - another beach? Sure, but this one was pretty good, and that sunrise! On top of that I had made a friend, Gretchen from Oregon joined us mid-week of my stay and we clicked immediately, a rare occurrence for me (with other females). We went on the excursion together to Torgtuga island, walked the long stretch to Playa Grande, shared stories from the past and hopes for the future; it was kind of crazy but she totally felt like a friend from back home, someone I had grown up with. Ultimately the 5-6 hour bus journey to get off the peninsula was so unappealing I just kept postponing it.
First I was going to leave Monday (although my package ended Saturday), head back to Quepos for a few days before returning to San Jose. That soon changed to Tuesday, the same day Gretchen was leaving, but that didn’t happen either, I came close though! 8 am Tuesday morning I packed my bags, checked out of my hostel and walked to the bus stop. It was only as I sat there that I realized I didn’t want to go; I really didn’t want to sit on the bus, or re-visit Quepos, but I DID want more peaceful sunrise mornings, days at the beach, afternoons of yoga and the easy life I came to know in Montezuma. I felt silly for 10 seconds and laughed at myself during the walk, but also loved the faces of the hostel staff and their “Que Pasa?” when I wandered back in and said “Actually, I’m not leaving.”
I stayed, for two more days, in paradise. I woke up with the sun, practiced yoga on the beach, made new friends and even managed a day tour around the southern peninsula via motorbike, from Montezuma to Cabuya, Mal Pais to Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa, then back inland to Cobano. My one week yoga retreat turned into 10 days in paradise, I was happy and felt amazing - both physically and mentally, I was in a good place. It’s funny how things work themselves out, because by that 10th day I was content, I felt full and was ready to leave. I’m actually sitting on the ferry, halfway through my trip to San Jose, and so happy about where I am.
I think it’s a combination of the yoga I’ve been practicing and the traveling I’ve been doing over the last five years; I’ve become really extraordinarily good at listening to myself. Funny, my first tattoo was the words “follow your heart”, I knew I had wanted it since I was 18, finally had it done when I was 22 and haven’t second guessed, rethought or regretted any of the decisions I’ve made since that time.
Packed with Adventure and Adrenaline, a diverse landscape from mountains to cloudforests, oceans, beaches and waterfalls. It's known for being touristy, safe and expensive, but was for me, a great introduction to Central America.