Every year around the end of February there is a great music festival in Uvita, Costa Rica that is called Envision. What I love about this event is that in addition to great international music and emerging artists, there is a very strong environment and spiritual vision behind, they offer workshops inviting experts to talk, and it becomes an opportunity to raise the awareness of the visitors as well as the local people on important concepts such permaculture and self empowerment. For instance, the day before the opening of the festival they promoted a permaculture action day, during which volunteers - me included ;) - worked on turning the back yards of three local schools into permaculture food forests, sharing with the locals this holistic approach to agriculture, and listening to their wisdom as well.
This year the festival sold out so if you want to go next year book in advance!
I recently led a Yoga Retreat at OMV Volunteer Center, a Permaculture Eco Village in Costa Rica, by the Osa peninsula, Pacific Coast. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is interested in learning about permaculture, sustainable living, and in an immersion in the Jungle life.
Accomodation was incredibly comfortable, with large tents - bigger than my bedroom in NY!- sealed and clean so no bugs inside, comfy real beds, hot water, and a friendly familiar atmosphere!
Stay tuned: I have the feeling I will lead more yoga retreats there! ;)
I went to CR for a wedding in Tamarindo, and obviously I had to explore as many beaches as possible! This time I rented a car with two friends, so that was easy. Costa Rica is very touristy and pretty expensive in general, it's also full of Americans and you don't even need to change $: they accept US $ and give you the change in colones.
Playa Coco. Lively town, a lot of stores and bars, sometimes loud along the main street, which is perpendicular to ocean. The beach is wide with dark sand, water not great, but there is a nice new waterfront where locals and tourists meets at sunset. I stayed at Hotel M&M, one of the few on the waterfront, rooms w private bath $20, recommended. I enjoyed few meals at the 3rd restaurant to the right when you get to the waterfront.
Playa Brasilito n Flamingo: nice wide beaches with some resorts, not much of a town.
Tamarindo. a nightmare: absolutely overdeveloped, overpriced, overcrowded, with tons of traffic and construction sites.The beach is nice and wide, full of surfers, surfers wannabe and wannateach. I stayed at Hotel Boteya de Leche, on the hill behind the beach, maybe 10 min walk from ocean. Familiar feel, friendly staff, wide kitchen and common areas, $15 for a dorm w/ private bath, $40 for a private room. No restaurants to recommend:expensive, and not impressive.
Nosara, big surf destination. The original town is inland, the American town is sparsely spread behind the two beaches: playa pelada, intimate and picturesque, and playa Guiones, very wide but with no shade at all. Good waves though. I stayed in Guiones at Kaya Sol, nicely landscaped, with restaurant. $15 dorm, $68 for a cabina that sleeps 5. Good Asian restaurant next door.
Samara, my favorite town: wide long beach with shady palms, and several nice beach bars, activities and restaurants, e.g. Gusto beach, chic and tasty, and Tutti frutti, more rustic, both Italian owned. I stayed at Ahora Si, clean private rooms for $40, it is also has an amazing vegetarian restaurant. Italian owned as well... It's almost a colony! Great vegan food also at Luv Burger. Playa Corrillo next door is very nice: wide, with palm trees and no development at all, 5 min by car from Samara.
Manzanillo is a beautiful beach with a natural reserve behind, 40 min by car from Puerto Viejo. There's a local bus three times a day going there, one is at noon, well... kind of.. so we're on! Unfortunately 30 min after we got there it started to rain really bad, we just had the time to lay a little on the beach and see a sloth camouflaging on a tree. The next return bus is at 5pm, so...let's get the ride hunt started! After few try and some woman offering to take us for $6 each, we got a ride back with a couple from Boston, nice and comfy. We could have stayed there for lunch at Maxis, which is supposed to be very good, but we were not hungry.
Today I feel much better. With the bikes we go exploring the beaches next door, there are several yoga centers along the road but for some reason on Monday they're all closed, only Om is open but the yoga platform is right in front of the noisy street... Couldn't they find a better location?
All the beaches around here are beautiful, there are good waves and a lot of surfers. In Cocles there are a couple of natural pools with more quiet water for chilling out. Punta Uva is gorgeous but the water is too rough for the expected snorkeling. Instead I went hiking up to the top of the cliff, which was really powerful and I could see all the surfers in action.
30 min bike back, a little yoga on the beach and I'm exhausted. My stomach is funny again so I go to bed early like a grandma one more time.
Feb26: Puerto Viejo, CR
Still recovering from the stomachache/food poisoning, today was a very easy day. Fruit breakfast, nap, some beach time on the hammock, fish taco at De Paso, a nice kiosk where the waitress is so nice and caring. There was a sloth on a low tree, it looked like wood: I almost couldn't see it even if it was few feet away! After another nap we rented bikes and went to town. Since everything is so expensive locals just make their own Sunday party on the beach bringing not only food and drinks but also sounds systems, mixers and reggae music: such a good vibe! Early dinner and early bed like a grandma.
Feb 25: To Puerto Viejo
At 7am I'm at the bakery downstairs for a cappuccino and a roll. I enjoyed the roll even if it was a little heavy... It stayed in my stomach for the all day and I think it poisoned me! Nausea in the taxi to terminal caribe, nausea in the 4.5hrs bus to Puerto Viejo. When we arrive I can barely walk but an Italian connection saved the day one more time: Paolo, the owner of Cabanas Guarana' even if he didn't have room for us, gave Robbert a bike to go and look for lodging and he served me a ginger tea for my stomach. I love Italian expats! Robbert came back after almost an hour, it was hard but he found a great room w bath n wifi at Cabinas Talamanca. $20, excellent price for this town. I basically spent the rest of the day in bed agonizing. Maybe for the first time in my life I had no appetite at all!
Feb 24: Goodbye Nicaragua
After a month of Nicaragua, it's time to say goodbye and move on to Costa Rica, we won't stay here long, probably just few days: it's too touristy and expensive. Bus to La Virgen c10, then bus to the border c20. Smooth walk thru immigration and then deluxe bus to San Jose, which felt good after a month of chicken buses!
At around 5pm we are in noisy polluted San Jose, CR, we find a decent new hotel close to the bus station: Hotel Quinta Avenida, $20 for a room with private bath, wifi available, and TV. For dinner we decide to go to the center. It's much more congested, noisy, polluted and dirty than it was 8 years ago. I had to cover my nose while walking in the streets. Finding a decent restaurant that didn't have NY prices was impossible so we just accepted to go to El Patio, a big restaurant on a pedestrian street, with live music and actually good food.