Wanderings: San Juan del Sur

Yesterday my friend, H and I tried to find the lighthouse of San Juan del Sur.  We both have days left and decided we needed a mini excursion, and a break from our daily café stops and pool lounges.  I must write of one little adventure before I leave Nicaragua and this not so sleepy beach town. Although we didn’t find the lighthouse, we found our own wonders.

We knew roughly where the lighthouse is, although from the central part of town and the beach, it is not viewable.  So we headed in its general direction.  Walking through the residential part of town, it was refreshing to see what lay beyond the barefoot surfers and Nica taxi drivers asking for their service.  Children were playing in the streets, chickens and dogs wandered about.  No tourists here, just Nica life.

The road curved up, so we continued forward, taking note of the property that ran alongside us which was gated and obstructed from view.  I joked it was the home of SJDS’s drug lord due to the hidden opulence of the place.  We persisted up, up, up.  Yeah, it was really steep though…

Alas, a barbed wire fence and grassy lands notified us that the road had ended.  Naturally, we went past the barbed wire.  Stretches of land lay before us, H and I scanned the rolling hills trying to navigate this lighthouse.  With the encouragement of my friend, we squeezed through more barbed wire, our eyes on what looked like a cabana at the top of one of the hills.

We came across this spiraling grassy roadway that went around the entire hill and was lined with flower bushes. What we thought was a cabana was a sheltered hut with a long wooden table and some chairs inside. The thought was romantic, but how the hell would you get food all the way up here?

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Around the corner, a stunning view lay before us.  But still, no lighthouse.  We trudged on. The hills were carved out in dirt paths everywhere, we only needed to get on the right one. Down into the thickets we went, turning into a downhill slide, staying close to the ground I crabbed walked down, down, down.  I wondered if the way back up would be more difficult…

Now we were back on the coast, filled with smooth rocks, enclosed from anything and everyone.  We explored the rocky beach, picking up little sea treasures.  This was our destination.

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Wanting to avoid trekking through the dark, H and I took in our secret spot for a brief moment and headed back up before sunset.  The way up was much less treacherous, but my legs were feeling it.

This time we followed the spiraling path downwards and realized we were now inside the property we originally had been so curious about.  I hesitated going forward.  Maybe we should turn back and go around? That sounded tedious.  Again, my partner in crime encouraged me forward.  Hopefully we wouldn’t get murdered I joked.

Walking through the property, it was extremely well kept.  When there had been people about earlier, there was now no one.  Where did they all go?  Taking each other’s hands we approached the security guard at the locked gate.  He walked up casually as my friend tried to explain our misdirection getting to the lighthouse.  I’m sure he understood none of it and only nodded and unlocked the gate.  As freely as we entered, we exited

After our long trek we grabbed a cerveza from the market and popped them at the beach we know so well to see sunset.

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Thank you San Juan del Sur for revealing your secret places, and your everyday life I’ve been so far away from. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

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Envision Festival 2017

Welcome to Envision 2017 in  Uvita, Costa Rica.  Nestled between palm trees  and sand, 4 days of music, arts, yoga, and hot, hot, hot heat commenced; bring your bindis and good vibes.  For some this is an annual ritual, and others, much like myself, it’s a once and a lifetime experience.  Whatever the situation, prepare to get lifted.  For the most part, it was an amazing third eye opening experience, and as always, one I’d love to share.

Upon arrival, I stood in what seemed like an endless zig-zag line of immigration and customs, Envision goers stood out like a sore thumb.  Indicating factors: tattoos and piercings, patterned clothing, and in my case, blue hair.  Some acknowledged each other in various ways, be it a knowing look, head nod or striking up a conversation.  However, when I arrived at SFO the day before, I had my flight canceled right off the bat and redirected.  Needless to say, I wasn’t in the Envision spirit and feeling exhausted, no one was getting a peep out of me unless approached.

I made moves straight to my hostel in San José, in the heart of the capitol city called Pangea. Every person I met there was going, which made it easy to make some friends and figure out how to get to Uvita by bus, about a 5 hour trip south along the Pacific coast.  I got dropped off in Dominical, the town before Uvita and made a friend while I scoped a café and waited for my friends to meet me.

First order of business: iced coffee and WiFi.  My new friend, Chris and I ended up sitting for a couple of hours while we exchanged the stories of our lives, reaffirming the reasons for coming.  Connection, authenticity, and a desire for growth (Of course you don’t have to go to a music festival to do or seek that out, but it helps ;)).  I ended up running into him a handful of times at Envision  and was honored to be that grounding buddy for him.

While my new friend left to find a hostel, another Envision attendee sat down next to me.  A suave surfer, proclaiming he knew important people, although he was not at liberty to divulge. Ok…???  As he continued to tell me how cool he was he added he wanted to be a shaman with a wink.  At that point I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not.  Here I experienced a fine example of where privilege and arrogance meets consciousness and healing.  Quite a scary combination, but a reality.  After a brief convo and a monkey ball (a no-bake cacao, coconut ball) he was gone and my friends arrived shortly after.

So this was how the rest of my Envision trip was going to go.  People from all walks of life, the positive and negative, passing through briefly to share a collective experience.

Shortly after I met my sister friend and her partner whom I planned this trip with, we scooted off to our hacienda in the hills.  We swam, we drank, we ate, it was pura vida (Costa Rica’s national saying, translating to ‘pure life’).

The next morning it was time to get to the festival.  I tried Chi Gong (or Qi Gong) yoga for the first time, and for those of you who are unfamiliar, think controlled breathing with uninhibited shaking and wriggling.  Let’s just say I felt like a kid again and it was great, and to be honest, that’s probably the weirdest I got for the entire festival.  After loosening up my body and mind, we explored the festival and perused the yoga and workshop classes that would be offered.  I was impressed by the variety and mentally made a note of what I’d like to go to.  To name a few there was sacred tobacco ceremonies, jade egg class, Chakra alignment, and acro-yoga.

For the music portion of it, again I was impressed by the stage setups which were art installations in themselves.  A few must sees for me were Rising Appalachia (best performance of the festival in my opinion), Autograf (I danced the hardest for this set), Zach Deputy 2x (best vibes), and Random Rab for sunrise which was beautiful and something special to be apart of after staying up the entire evening with everyone and feeling that energy extend into daylight.

The one negative occurrence that continued to pop up was theft.  Unfortunately, one of the houses we rented was robbed.  Money, electronics, and a bottle of tequila. The tequila though… Needless to say, we were all pretty shook up, although grateful no one was present during the burglary.  The frustrating part of it was our friend who had two performances at Envision had her computer with all her set information on it stolen.  For an artist to have their tools taken from them on the eve of a performance is a great misfortune.  Luckily she had her music backed up and was able to borrow a friend’s computer. She pulled it together and had two beautiful performances. 

I spoke with a handful of people who had experienced something similar.  Be it house, hotel, hostel, car or tent, there seemed to be no discrimination.  There was obviously some bad juju, outsider resentment going on, which to an extent I can understand, and unfortunately it revolves around money.  All that I can say to this is that, for the most part, Envision is a positive creation with good intentions and good people.  To protect our belongings and prevent any future possibility of theft, we gathered all valuables and checked them into the baggage check at the festival.

The message of Envision was so clear and beautiful: come with the intention of building bridges and create a better tomorrow through self discovery and self improvement.  With that message, and the even the negative experiences that did happen, the most valuable piece I brought with me was knowing what’s not important and letting go of that, and finding the love within yourself to create and hold what is.  Pura Vida!

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