"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
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?
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? ;)
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 :)
my goodness, Costa Rica, where do i even begin?
i've dreamt of traveling to these jungle lands since i was a young, naive, restless girl. i didn't know much about the world then, but i heard a whisper about the natural beauty and pure way of life in Costa Rica once, and i've been yearning for it ever since.
fiiiiinally this eager fantasy of mine has come true!!
and guys, it is surpassing my every expectation.
last summer, when i was hitchhiking across europe, my friend noelle told me about her experience in Costa Rica last year. she volunteered for a transformational festival called Envision. i didn't know what a transformational festival was, but after watching a couple of these bloom series videos explaining the nature of their purpose, i made it my top goal to experience Envision this year. everything i planned after europe revolved around THIS trip to Costa.
and it JUST HAPPENED... months and months of preparation and anticipation finally culminated into one of the purest, most beautiful experiences of my life.
side by side with some of the greatest, most open-hearted people i've ever met, i traveled to a ranch on the pacific coast of Costa Rica for a week of PURE BLISS in the jungle, on the beach. there was music and dancing and camping and yoga and reiki and community and sharing and SO MUCH LOVE.
after 5 days at Envision, i have left feeling so inspired to carry all these loving, positive vibes out into the world for everyone to share and experience and multiply, until the whole world is touched by this pure love.
because, dear readers, it is the best feeling i've ever known.
here's a little video i made of part of our bonnaroo experience.
it's no work of art, but considering that i shot it all on my phone before it died the second day there... i don't think it's too bad. next year, i'm definitely bringing my dslr ;) and a portable phone charger. because there's sooo much i wanted to capture and couldn't.
for a taste of what bonnaroo is like, here is a beautiful video i found from 2011.
and now i'm homesick for that little weekend world.
Sunday, the excitement building inside me all weekend culminated in a surge of euphoria-powered energy. after already having been at Bonnaroo for four nights, i was exhausted, dehydrated, burnt, bruised, blistered, and dirty. but all was ignored on Sunday.
Sunday was the day that five of my favorite bands would all be in such close proximity to me that i would hear the live vibration of their voices, watch them curl around their whining guitars, and feel the thump of their drums deep in my core. songs that i've spent years laughing, crying, loving, and falling asleep to would be performed in my presence by the very people that created them.
all day, i was a bouncing, singing, frolicking, little wildflower. i was incandescently happy. and i wanted more than anything to be able to play the whole day on repeat, like i do with that very same music at home.
favorite musical moments of the day:
i've fallen in love with this band fairly recently, but i can't get enough. i adore their dynamic, fun music, and positive energy. i enjoyed their whole set so much--especially because they made a point to illuminate each member's talents. you can really feel the grouplove.
*and i can actually see myself in this Grouplove video! it was easily one of the best moments of my bonnaroo. the energy was absolutely electric. there were about 7 people crowd surfing by the end of the set. if only i weren't in a dress (crowd surfing is next on my bucket list)!
i've had such a strong emotional connection to Dallas Green's music for a few years, so seeing it performed in person was extremely special to me. when this particular song was performed, the crowd came alive and everyone sang along. there was a drunken group of 5 very burly, masculine looking guys behind me, and when this song started, they all linked arms and started jumping up and down like little girls, singing every word. it.was.priceless.
over four years ago, my cousin steven sent me a playlist with a couple Bon Iver songs on it. i've been listening ever since--perhaps my longest consistent musical affair ever, because no matter how many thousands of times i've heard the albums, i never get bored. a friend and i saw Bon Iver in Atlanta last summer and it was phenomenal, so i was excited to see them in a different venue.
The Shins is probably the only band i've ever come across whose entire collection of music i love equally. in other words, there isn't a single song of theirs that i consider decent or okay, because i LOVE every single one. you know with most albums, there are a few songs that bore you or make you wonder, "what the hell?" not here! James Mercer can do no wrong. and he's just as perfect live.
i'm really grateful that Young the Giant was my last concert of bonnaroo because it just hit the spot. Sameer's voice is incredible live. the crowd was nice and rowdy. and this performance was the cherry on top of an unforgettable weekend.
saturday, the tennessee sun was brutal on bonnaroo and the wind sent sand swirling all over the campsite. the cars got covered in thick layers of dirt which some people (who apparently fancy themselves as artists) found to be an inspiring place to draw and write funny things. reading the windshields became our in-transit entertainment.
but amber and i were exhausted from the day before, so we spent a good portion of the morning hanging out with camp neighbors and sharing their shade. note to self for next year: shade tents are life savers!
eventually we went into Centeroo and napped in between concerts beneath a big beautiful tree, surrounded by about a hundred tired strangers. as sedentary as it may seem, laying in the grass amongst a bunch of happy, music-loving people while good tunes drifted in from all directions... it was one of my favorite moments.
after some people-watching during Santigold's set, amber and i went back to camp for another installment of bonnaroof. we could hear Childish Gambino from the roof as we drank vodka redbulls and enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets i've ever seen.
after the sunset, we met up with our friends again, tagged along with some new ones, and spent the night jamming out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Skrillex. Saturday was one for the books.
favorite musical moments of the day: