Friday, May 11, 2018

On being in paradise and coming back

Daily yoga at Villa Pelicano
I think I surprised everyone by saying that I was going to Costa Rica with less than a week's notice, but I did it, and I had a fabulous time, and I have been feeling tired (from the energy expended)  and a little farblondjet (due to no longer being in paradise and trying to figure out how to maintain some of what I got over there).
Still, it is my problem at the moment and as a wise son says in this kind of situation, "It is what it is."

If that isn't a First World Problem and a Healthy Person's Problem, I don't know what is.

I surprised myself and one of my yoga teachers at the Hampshire Y, Megan, when I said I would look into it after she told the class that she had some spots left in a women's self-care and yoga retreat in Costa Rica ... happening in less than a week. After checking in with some of the people who watch me (mainly my daughter and my nurse practitioner), and checking to see that I had a valid passport, I pondered the discount she offered, a great one for seven days, with two meals a day that turned into three when you considered the delicious leftovers.

I sat at my kitchen table and thought about how my life is good, but wouldn't it be great to break out. I haven't gone anywhere major in a long time. I had appointments to rearrange and a lot of miscellaneous stuff, but I did it, well, most of it, and was so glad I went.

We were on a private estate with views of the water, yoga every day, and the sound of birds early in the morning. Maybe they were saying, coffee, coffee, but whatever, their call got me out of bed before dawn. The coffee was usually made by someone else who got up even earlier. All I had to do was pull down the lever, fill the cup, and settle in on a couch or chair and watch the day dawn.

I keep starting this post and going back to it because it almost seems like a dream that is hard to recreate. 

This might seem like a small thing but my laptop (to some friends' understandable annoyance) has become an extension of me. I didn't bring it and therefore didn't do the writing I had thought I might do. Otherwise I would have done some blog posts in real time.

At Manuel Antonio National Park
It seemed to us that there was as much uphill going down as there was going up. This might not make sense but it was because going both ways, there were a lot of ups and downs. (Note to self: Write something for my new gig at about how this was a lot like cancer treatment.)
To save space, I instead took an iPad (a gift) that had flung itself off my counter when I was packing and didn't make me want to write on it, due to the crack across it and my clumsiness in figuring out a new format. Plus, it might actually be broken because when a new friend tried to help me scroll up and down on a blog post, it kept getting stuck. I put it away and was more unplugged than I have been in a while. I think this was a good thing.

I wrote a little something on Facebook on April 28:

"I want to move here, which is what people on vacation often do. I’m at a private estate, Villa Pelicano, in the town of Manuel Antonio, with a group of eight fabulous yoginis from around the country, plus our teacher Megan. Every day has a theme. Yesterday was fortify. I did it with a 12-mile round trip hike up to a waterfall. We walked over a suspension bridge to get there and then got into a pool. It was exhilarating. They were surprised that I made it. On the way back in a tropical downpour, my knee started to hurt a little. I jogged towards the finish, thinking that if I got there faster there would be less time for it to hurt. Last night, instead of being tired, I was wound up and energized. I really love this group. We do yoga every morning on the outside deck seen in the photos. Then we have activities. We get two free treatments at Holis Wellness Center, down the road a few minutes. It is so interesting to get to know people from scratch in this special environment. We talk about anything and everything. Oh did I say we our own chef? And the coffee is perfecto. I want to ask her to do it again and maybe get some friends from back home to go. When you break down what you get, it is a great bargain!"

That was all I could manage to write on my iPhone. I want to add that I couldn't have done the hike without the new friend who walked with me. There was supposed to be one group to go the whole route and another to take a car and start a little farther up. Those who I asked for recommendations suggested I go on the shorter hike. I would have done it. But one by one, the people in that group decided not to go at all. It was either the whole or nothing. They kept talking about a bridge that I wanted to see.

Most said they wanted to go fast. I knew I couldn't do that. Alison volunteered to go with me "slow and steady." We stopped briefly along the way to look at bugs and plants; she knew a lot about both, and it was an educational distraction. I zigzagged up and down and took it bird by bird, or in this case, rock by stone. We talked about so many different things that by the top, it seemed like we had known each other for years.

The others, who had gotten to the lunch spot and waterfall before us, gave us a round of applause when we emerged. Then we walked over the bridge to the waterfall and took a dip. I didn't look down, instead looking ahead to Alison when she got to the other end. She was so positive and fun to be with that she was a great focal point.
On the way back, she recited a mantra. I didn't know what she was saying, but I hummed along. 

Going over the stones to get into the pool was probably the hardest part, but it was worth every step of the way. Athletic Rachel from Colorado went in for a second dip and provided encouragement. It was a peak experience. Coming back through a tropical storm added to the magic. All the creatures woke up. The green was greener and the flowers brighter. The frogs were so loud. It was starting to get dark. 

Triumphant with Alison McKee at end of bridge
 A bug bite on my back is driving me crazy. I took a Benadryl so I wouldn't lie there itching for three hours. I think the new Fellow on rotation might have thought I was in bad shape because I was slurring my words. Afterwards I asked her how you hold on to all that Zen. 
The challenge, of course, is bringing some of it back with you. I got back around 1 in the morning last Tuesday after making a connection that gave me just enough time to board my second plane in Charlotte.

The next day I went to ECP. Then I came home and played tennis. Then I tried to reorganize. I have several writing projects going at once. Yesterday I had ECP, two weeks in a row, because they didn't want me to skip too many due to vacation. 

Before ECP I actually skipped a Wednesday, the day before yesterday, at the Canoe Club. It would have been my first outside lesson with George of the season. This was big: The Canoe Club is another kind of paradise for me. But I wanted to go to Megan's yoga class, to hear her voice and do her calming yin yang yoga and feel myself back in Costa Rica just a little bit.

"Don't judge yourself," she said.

For people of a certain ilk, like myself, this is hard to do. 

In our circle we had talked about trying to be less goal-oriented, to be more like the sloth that we saw, to go with that good old flow.

Hopefully I can keep just a little bit with me.

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