Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! I found myself invited by my friend Brook to photograph her yoga retreat.
Let me take a step back and mention this conversation happened a week before she was set to depart. Thanks to my travel agent connections, I was able to secure the same flights as my friend at below market rates, so I took this as a sure sign it was my destiny to attend. This was the first time I left Sebastian and Cliff for more than just a few days and I sure missed them! Our flights started early on a Saturday taking us from DFW to FLL, Ft Lauderdale to San Jose, Costa Rica and finally SJO to the tiny air strip of Puerto Jimenez (PJM).
Upon our arrival in Puerto Jimenez, we met our driver and he took us to Boca Sombrero. Boca Sombrero is a property owned by two German families and managed by Monika & Walter. There are three, multi-room, open-air houses and seven ‘glamping’ tents. The houses have kitchens, outdoor showers, toilets and sinks, one large bedroom with multiple beds, a sitting area and the house I stayed in, a pool.
The tents are a raised bed with tent and patio with seating. The have showers and sinks, but no toilet. There are common toilets in the area.
All living quarters are open-air, meaning, no air-conditioning, but the temperatures are moderate (80-90’s) and at night lower paired with frequent swimming and finding shade, acclimation is not difficult. The property is on the ocean, specifically the Pacific side in the bay of Osa.
After arriving to the property, it was late and the kitchen was closed so we made our way to a local restaurant/bar called Martina’s and had great local homemade cuisine. Since I arrived early with the retreat organizers, I slept my first night in my house by myself. All night I could hear the sounds of the Jungle and was greeted bright and early by the rising sun. Meals were prepared for us during the rest of the stay in the main house.
Beautiful assortments of salads, fruits, homemade dressings, breads (and gluten free options), tortillas, rice, beans, assortments of cooked vegetables, papas, fish, soups and always a freshly squeezed juice.
My first morning was spent at the pool getting to know a fellow guest that had arrived overnight. Later in the day, Brook had arranged a Thai massage for me. Thai massage involved lying flat on a padded floor mat while the practioner moves limbs, connects to pressure points and joins in with guided breathing. It can be an experience of intensity and pleasure. After this two hour experience the majority of our group had arrived and I met my fellow housemates. Brook and Javanne, lead an opening circle of intention setting, meet-n-great and team building. Then we adjourned for dinner and a brief overview of what the week had in-store for us.
Monday morning started bright and early with a Brook-lead yoga session. I observed through my lens. Processed photos, chatted with my new housemates, enjoyed amazing healthy, meals by the staff at Boca Sombrero and shot the late day cool-down yoga class.
Tuesday morning after yoga, a guest lead a ‘Following your Passion’ talk and I enjoyed a great brainstorming session afterward with the group. After lunch, seven of us left the property by horseback with the staff of Rancho Tropical for an afternoon’s journey. Several in the group repelled a 125ft tropical fig and later a waterfall. I enjoyed photographing the group and exploring the terrain. We rode the horses back to Boca Sombrero and enjoyed sunset.
Wednesday morning we enjoyed a several mile hike with Monika and Nele who run Boca Sombrero. They took us through the jungle, in the river, through waterfalls and caves and taught us about native trees and animals. We stayed mostly under the canopy and wet, so the warm temperatures made for a lovely day.
Thursday took us out on the Golfo Dulce by boat on the La Sirena. Josh taught us about the golfo, told fun tidbits and stories and took us to many areas where the dolphins play and frolick.
Part of the group split off and toured a local animal sanctuary where we met, Sweetie the monkey and Rose with her baby. Sweetie loved to be scratched and would jump on the back of the men. She is partial like that. 😉 We also met a tayra, an ocelot, a kinkajou, a peccary, a few more monkies and sloths. We had up close and personal encounters with each which made the experience one to remember.
Each day offered yoga classes, pool time, surfing on some days and lots of eating and socializing.
Friday was a great day for everyone to relax, have massage, acupuncture or thai massage. That evening we had an early dinner and then went to Martina’s for the local craft market and drinks for those that wished to partake.
Over the course of the week I was able to catch Brook for a few impromtu photo shoot moments.
While I am not a morning person the sounds of the jungle start early and whether you want to or not you learn to live with nature. I found myself up one morning enjoying the sunrise and the macaws.
During the retreat, we were eached given a ‘secret santa’ person that we were to observe and grace with some sort of small gift. It could be in the way of words like a poem, small token or something found or handmade. I elected to gift a photo shoot to my friend, Katie.
Saturday found everyone making their way home back to California, New Mexico, Texas or Pennsylvania. The traveling day can be a long one, but Costa Rica is a beautiful country with unique adventuress, animals and lots of eco-conscience lodging. I will leave you with sounds from Playa Sombrero.
If you would like assistance booking a trip to Costa Rica, let’s chat! I’d love to use my inside knowledge to help you have the best experience possible! Contact me to get started. To view all the pictures from Costa Rica and the Retreat, click the provided links. Adios!