Ohm Sweet Ohm

After one of the most culturally and intellectually curious trips I’ve ever taken (Joburg) followed by one of the most ridiculously fun (or funny) vacations ever (Scotland), I am ending the year with a soulful yoga retreat to Costa Rica.

I’ve thought about doing yoga trips many times.  I was meant to spend a long weekend in Byron Bay Australia (at The Byron at Byron) back when I first started TravelsfromMadAve.  Over the past three and a half years I’ve researched many yoga retreats, longingly,  but it wasn’t until my girlfriend of almost 30 years called me about the Soul Sparks retreat hosted by her local yoga studio in Costa Rica at Blue Spirit that I actually pulled the trigger.

Blue Spirit takes you to the Guanacaste Peninsula of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast.  The miles of dirt roads and trees as thick as thieves is a constant reminder than you are in a rain forest.  But the views from Blue Spirit make you feel like you’re on an island, surrounded by ocean (which of course, being on a peninsula, you’re not).

Yoga twice a day and vegetarian food would not be many people’s idea of a relaxing vacation.  But don’t leap to judgment.  Blue Spirit is a beautiful, calming place.  Yes you are in Costa Rica, which is a second world country, but if you’re willing to let the area envelope you, you will find yourself able to embrace it.

If you’re not interested in the yoga and want a hamburger now and again, you can still have a great time here.  There are plenty of excursions to take you off the resort.  You can go zip lining, take surf lessons, enjoy a nature hike to a waterfall (complete with an organically prepared lunch by Sherry) or go kayaking.  It was actually difficult to decide whether we were here to do yoga or if we should partake in everything Nosara has to offer.  You also don’t have to eat every meal at the resort.  The tiny town of Guinones is nearby and has a couple of cute cafes and shops.  We ate Café de Paris (which is not French, but is delicious) where we sat poolside while eating delicious ceviche and sipping wine.  The waiter made us order in Spanish, which was hysterical because he spoke perfect English.  And, had the heat really gotten to us, we could have just take a dip in the pool!  It’s welcome to restaurant guests.  Instead of taking a swim, we walked down the street for the infamous ice cream at Robin’s Café.  The ice cream is incredibly rich and creamy and very yummy.  And there was no guilt because we walked about a mile and a half back to the hotel along the beach.

After four days of yoga twice a day.  We treated ourselves to dinner at La Luna.  The restaurant was recommended to me by a friend before I left but was met with ringing endorsements throughout from the locals.  Situated right on Playa Nocera La Luna offers a front row view to the most spectacular sunsets as well as exceptional food, both seafood as well as delicious pizza.  You will have to take a cab there (it is about a 15 minute drive from Cafe de Paris which will cost you approximately $30).  And beware, it is a cash only restaurant.  Thank God for our angel Mauricio.  We arrived at La Luna penniless and by the time we found out credit cards weren’t accepted and there was no ATM we were ready to start washing dishes.  The restaurant called our hotel, Mauricio came back and offered us $100 bill to stay and enjoy our dinner.  We paid him back on our way home.  Our reward?  One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.


Recreating TravelsfromMadAve @SAYCreate!


Inspiration doesn’t always just “hit” you, or at least not for me.  I often find being inspired is an active process.  So being at Say:Media’s #SAYCreate conference while I’m re-imagining TravelsfromMadAve.com is serendipitous.

The opportunity to spend a few days with “the best creative minds in media” is an opportunity to step back from our day to day and find inspiration in surprising places.  It’s a proven process known as “bisociation” and introduced by Arthur Koestler in the 1960’s.  Bisociation is about bringing together two seemingly unrelated things, or concepts, together in a new way.  That is pure creativity.  This creativity can only be fostered by stepping back and exposing ourselves to things that, on the surface seem irrelevant.  Throughout the next couple of days I’ll be capturing this “irrelevance” @TravelsfromMadA on Twitter and will hopefully be translating some of it into what www.TravelsfromMadAve.com becomes.

On the plane ride out here I watched, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  Maggie Smith’s character (who just happens to be Muriel Donnelly) is consoling Jean Ainslie who is finding her adventure to not be quite what she expected.

Muriel: Most things aren’t (sic). But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.  

While TravelsfromMadAve has not taken me exactly where I had envisioned when I first embarked on creating this blog, it is getting me to the good stuff, for sure.