jungle trek

aside from all of the rainy day yoga and cold river bathing and hammock writing, my favorite part of our experience at buenaventura was the day the clouds receded and the sun shone on us for a full-fledged jungle hike. 

IMG_2725.jpg

we crossed the river and hiked up a steep mountain behind harlow, machete in tow. he told us which plants not to touch and told us stories about jaguars, while hacking down heaps of bananas. we took pictures inside the arms of the tree of life. 

IMG_2674.JPG

so our goal in this trek, aside from fixing the almighty internet box at the top of the mountain (and you think unplugging your router is annoying), was to become avatar people.

apparently there are places in the jungles of costa rica where you can find natural blue clay. harlow took us to one of these spots, at a creek near two waterfalls, where we covered our bodies in this soft, moisturizing clay from head to toe. 

as our skin became blue like avatars of the mountain, i watched everyone around me become giddy with this primal energy, turning into raw little creatures of the earth, moving slow and concentrated. because, for just those moments, we were far from civilization, covered in the elements, acutely aware of our skin and our limbs and the lines on our faces---not the future or the past, or the "real" world waiting for us an hour downhill. we were there, just us. and we were all the same color, all exactly the same. 

after reveling in our oneness for a few moments, the sky opened up and rain sprinkled down on us, making beautiful, synchronized splashes in the creek. we gasped and giggled and carefully maneuvered our way down wet boulders to a freezing cold waterfall where we washed our skin clean and felt entirely new again.

it was maybe the most revitalizing experience of my life. the cold and powerful rush of water on my head, the open-mouthed smiles of everyone i was with, and the uncovering of blue mud, which revealed the softest, clearest, happiest skin.

we let gravity take us back down to earth, all soft and clear and new again. 

IMG_2824.jpg

always we begin again...

buenaventura

after a few days surfing and beach hanging in dominical, callie and i had a really serendipitous encounter with a man who owned a retreat hostel in the mountains, about an hour away, called buenaventura. once again, cal and i had nowhere to go and no plans. so when this man with kind eyes offered us to stay a week for next-to-nothin', just to carry on the spirit of envision, we didn't hesitate.

we packed up our things, hopped in his car with a beautiful friend named lauren, and headed up steep and windy jungle roads to one of the most magical places i've seen on this planet so far...

we three girls showed up to this quiet slice of paradise and were absolutely beside ourselves. we spent days swimming in cold mountain water, reading in hammocks, making the yummiest fruit/veggie combinations, doing yoga on the patio, and feeling overwhelmingly giddy and grateful for the beauty all around us. 

dominical

when the festival ended, callie and i weren't exactly sure where to go next. we had vague plans to stay at a farm in the mountains, but changed our minds and wound up on the side of the road with our packs and a world of possibilities all around us.

we ended up hitching a ride to the small beach town of dominical, just north of where the festival was held. 

as soon as we got into town, i recognized a sign for a local restaurant which was a vendor at the festival. we went to La Casita hoping one of the guys who worked envision would remember me from the night i checked their group in at the box office. 

to our surprise, he did remember me. he immediately sat us down and gave us free food. by the end of our meal and after hearing our story, andre also offered us a free place to stay and free surf lessons! callie and i said YES, and felt so blissfully grateful that everything turned out better than we could have imagined. 

we stayed in dominical for a few nights, alternating between staying with andre and the La Casita boys, and camping in our tent on the beautiful costa rican beach! 

and because dominical was the closest town to the festival, we ran into a ton of our new friends :) it was the perfect environment for winding down in between places. we got to spend time with some beautiful souls, learn to surf (i stood up on my FIRST wave!!!), wake up in our tent right on the beach, eat the freshest jungle fruit, and cheers the clear horizon at sunset. if that's not the epitome of a costa rican experience, i'm not sure what is.

ahhhhh, PURA VIDA!

envision sunsets

"To find new light that old ties cannot give.. In all beginnings dwells a magic force.. For guarding us and helping us to live.. Serenely let us move to distant places.. And let no sentiments of home detain us.. The cosmic spirit seeks not to restrain us.. But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces."  --Herman Hesse

envisonary

so wayyyy back at the end of february, a few friends and i ventured down to the jungles of central america to volunteer for a transformational festival called envision.

envision is intended as an event for individual transformation, via art, music, movement, and creative expression. so many beautiful, loving people trekked all the way to costa rica just to experience this powerful community.

imagine a ranch of tropical wet forrest, basically right on the beach and right down the road from a gorgeous waterfall. occupied for the weekend by a temporary sustainable village filled with 4,000 of the warmest people you've ever met. 

a tent city of all colors and sizes. flags and signs and colorful smiles that radiate love. no fear. no anger. no envy or no judgment. just love love love.

skilled hands built bamboo stages. bamboo climbing structures. bamboo plates and utensils and coconut cups. all the food is fresh and local and straight from the earth.

half-naked bodies getting painted by the rich-coast-sun. sandy handstands and naps on the beach, with a backdrop of surfers conquering tumbling sets. later, we let the salty waves scrub us clean--roll us like a washing machine. but on the hottest day, we sought the cold tingling of a jungle waterfall. some wade in shallow pools, while some take the leap.

stranger embraces and unbroken gazes and oxytocin at max capacity, seeping out of skin in sweat that drips and soaks into the earth. the richest of all soils to grow crops of humanly modified progress.

yoga, reiki, and movement workshops taught by world-class instructors beneath the shade of surrounding trees. we stretch and guide and breathe and lean into people from all over the world, eager to learn. hungry to be better. 

sun salutations and sunset parties on the beach, with music and dancing and cheering to mark the beginning of a wild night, like coyotes howling at the rising moon. happy bodies move erratically as if pulses of electrical energy jolt their limbs alive to the beat of the drums.

a sideways crescent moon smiles at everyone in all their native glory. fire spinning and artists painting and music vibrating the airwaves. everyone dances until sunrise, energized and inebriated on pure bliss and love. who needs a happy pill when we're manufacturing it inside ourselves? 

costa rica video!

it's 4am in vegas and i'm up packing for a last minute flight to san francisco at 6am! i only got back from the virgin islands two weeks ago... i genuinely can't stay put for long. i was actually meant to visit friends in hawaii almost immediately after st thomas, but, at the great displeasure of those friends i've been promising to visit for 2 years now, all the flights were full. 

that's the thing about standby travel---you have to stay patient and take it all as it comes. i don't ever get angry when i don't make a flight, because i'm just grateful this opportunity even exists (2 more months!). so i'm alright with hawaii or no hawaii. i'll see it when the time is right :)

but cross your fingers this flight to cali has a spot for me! some beautifully serendipitous things are happening this evening and upcoming week, so i have a feeling it's meant to be!

while i'm hanging out at various airports today (for a minimum of 7 hours, depending on if i make my first connecting flight or not), i'll be catching up on costa rica writing. but first, my favorite part---THE VIDEO :)

sooo who wants to come to costa rica with me next year? ;) 

cuddle puddles with strangers in san jose, costa rica!

callie and i spent one night in Costa Rica's capital city, before moving south for the festival. and ironically, it was one of my favorite nights of the whole damn trip. we were tingling with excitement about the adventures to come, and just so very ready to make friends and start feeling the travel love!

the hostel i booked (at the very last minute, while at the airport waiting for callie's flight to arrive) just happened to be the most perfect little microcosm preview of everything good and positive and genuine that we would soon come to embrace at Envision.

this hostel, called Pangea (to represent the coming together of people from all parts of the world), was a little backpacker's oasis in the middle of the grimy chaos of San Jose. every wall was covered in tribal and psychedelic paintings. there was a pool, a bar, good food, and a huge deck with hammocks overlooking the valley and the mountains surrounding us.

it was easily the nicest hostel i've ever been to, and it was only $12 a night! not baaad for a super last minute booking ;)

and to our ear-to-ear delight, the majority of the people staying at the hostel were also young americans (and canadians) headed for Envision! so from the moment we relieved our poor shoulders of our heavy bags, until long after the bar upstairs closed, we spent the day/night connecting with all of the beautiful, open-hearted strangers who traveled from far and wide for this unique chance at transformation.

callie and i made friends with a group of boys as soon as we got there. we had dinner with them and picked up some beer to bring back to the hostel. then, what started as a small talk by the pool with one other girl turned into a proper party tornado in no time at all. a huge group of us migrated up to the bar, and hung out on the hammock swings drinking our $2 cervezas and divulging all of our greatest passions. 

within a couple hours of talking and connecting with these perfect strangers, i was in love with half of them. not "in looove", but i LOVED them, yanno? the quality of the people we encountered that night completely took me by surprise. they were happy people with open hearts and open minds and so much to share. they were the kind of people you typically meet on fun adventures, but turned up a notch, because we were all about to be a part of a huge, peaceful love/art/music fest in the jungle and we were STOKED. 

later in the night, after the bar closed and many beers were had, what was left of our party tornado went downstairs to the small parking lot by the pool for a cig circle. we sat and talked and laughed and shared drags of tobacco like old friends. it's incredible how some strangers can make you feel more comfortable and at home than people you've known your whole life. these sorts of connections are my very favorite thing about traveling.

and after expressing our gratitude for meeting each other with hug after hug, our drunken parking lot circle turned into a downright cuddle puddle. about ten of us envisionaries huddled together and giggled incessantly and laid on each other like it was the most natural thing in the world. 

because it WAS the most natural thing in the world! i know cuddling with a group of people you just met sounds like absolute insanity, but i highly recommend it ;)

maybe you'll scoff and call us hippies, but i think impromptu cuddle puddles are the kind of thing that people in the real world should really learn to be more open to! our society is so deprived of genuine connection and affection. it's a tall order to ask for direct eye contact when speaking with someone in public, let alone a hug or touch. but we need ittt, and if we don't get it, there's a chance we'll resort to destructive habits instead. so go cuddle with a friend or hug a stranger! and stay happy :)

after one night in san jose, we hitched a ride with our new friend alex all the way down to Uvita for Envision Festival. and then the real fun began :)

first breath after costa

i'm really bad at writing while i'm exploring.

i always tell myself i'll write... the voice that governs that part of my brain is very ambitious and a little strict, but she never really wins. because, as much as i want to record all the happenings right as they happen so that my memory gets the most of it, it's just unnatural for me to reflect when i'm IN IT, yanno? i'll jot down little notes here and there on sensory details, but nothing really

because i'm often exhausted or elated or anxious, or some other such overwhelming emotion that prevents one from thinking creatively. i've finally accepted that i just won't write on the road. instead, i'll wait to write in a quiet house right on the beach, when the weather is too bad to be outside... and that's where i'm at now, so here we go :)

after leaving costa rica, i spent a week in ohio and a week in daytona beach and i'm about to depart for another week in west palm beach and then the week after that in the virgin islands. so i'm a little behind, but i'm deep in the midst of compiling all my stories from my 3 glorious weeks in costa :)

they're such beautiful memories already. some of the best i've ever had. i can't wait to share them with you, along with the many colorful pictures from every little paradise i visited. 

so, soon to come will be tales of camping on the beach, cuddling with a pile of complete strangers, volunteering for envision festival, napping on waterfalls, hand-standing with famous yoga instructors, dancing until sunrise, stumbling upon free surf lessons, bathing in a river in the rain forest, and real life avatar land (complete with blue people and all!). ahhh, such fun :)

and to whoever you are reading this now... whether i love you or know you or not, thank you for taking part in this long, wild journey of mine :) please don't hesitate to let me know if there's anything i can do to help you on yours! 

love.