Costa Rica: FOCUS

Costa Rica! It seems like I have been on the move in different countries more than usual lately. This trip begun in effort to capture an all women’s yoga retreat to be included in the next Why we do Yoga doc but turned out to be much more of a personal exploration and self reflective adventure.

I was looking forward to going to Costa Rica but not really. After the connecting flight was canceled I really was thinking about getting a flight back to Ny and taking this whole trip as a loss but i pushed through, booked anoother airbnb in florida then caught a flight in the am.  As soon as the plane landed in Costa Rica  I went over to baggage claim to make sure my luggage made it through with a special bag of lavender I packed, success! For some reason I felt 3 weeks in Costa Rica would be enough time for me to take it all in. I didn’t plan on going to far outside of San Jose but  3 encounters led me the Caribbean side of the country. The first suggestion was from a passenger on the plane sitting next to me. The flight attendant began using me as her oxygen mask demo, I open my eyes, look up at her then look to the left at the passenger. My slightly shocked sleepy eye brows raised look caused a laugh and started a conversation. Her English was better than my Spanish, I simply showed her some photos and said I’m a photographer.  This compelled her to show me a wide range of photos from family to the wonderful property

Limon, Cahuita National Park

she lives on overlooking the volcano. She suggested I visit Limon! She said there will be people there similar to me pointing at my hair and skin. I kept that in mind.

  • The next suggestion came from a helpful hand. As I grabbed my luggage, I walked out of the airport into a sea of taxi drivers with signs. Before I walked into the sea I stood on the sand looking for the taxi holding my sign. I could not see him so I began walking toward the crowd of taxis and shuttles. One person with shades asked me who am I looking for … in English. I didn’t answer the question immediately but he was persistent and after I let him know I’m looking for Yoga house taxi he began yelling Yoga house taxi for me.. still no luck at that point I figured effort must be rewarded so I rolled with him and by roll with him I mean as soon as we made it in the taxi we were rolling up and smoking on the way to Airbnb even made a quick stop for some more ganja! My kind of welcome, a unexpected trip is turning

into a pleasant experience.

  • Cristian the taxi also suggested I leave San Jose ” you will get bored here, all the women Puerto Viejo my friend. (Does hand motion as if he is slapping a juicy bottom) I laugh because this is the second time Puerto Viejo  has been described as the land of the crazy women.  I wasn’t quite sold yet and decided to chill in San Jose.

How I came across im not sure but I saw that it was in Costa Rica so I reached out to them a few weeks prior to see if they wanted to speak about their practice. Corrine is a yoga instructor/ Equine therapist. From the first email I had a feeling this meeting would teach me lessons I didn’t initially have an interest for but would definitely learn to appreaciate. I had a flight booked, 21 days in another country and only one person I planned on meeting. My schedule felt underwhelming at first but I went with the flow.

Costa Rica has a interesting way of locating address. It’s usually a marker and a few directions like go 30 meters south then 2 leaf lengths west then follow the wind north until you arrive. So when the cab attempted to drop me off on the side of a hill in my best English/Spanish I said mmm keep going. We found the driveway and rode all the way up to an amazing view! Corrine showed me around and gave a bit of history of the land. Escazu mountain … mountain of the shamans or now know as brujas. I noticed there were pizza shops called Brujas pizza on the ride up the hill.  We walked over to the arena  and the curiosity of the horses led them to where we were standing. Corrine began explaining what natural horsmanship is and the different approach that is taken. There is more of a genuine connection with the horse, you invite or ask never demand and if the horse would like to do it’s own thing it is free to. Observation is key in working with horses. Not only because they are large animals but because they are very aware of who is around constantly watching, observing your energy so doing the same is useful.

Being aware of your breathing, observation, movement without even mentioning yoga my mind was already beginning to make the connections and see how having a consistent yoga practice can help you center yourself and in turn create a greater relationship with the horse your working with.

Corrine went into speaking about working with the horses chakras/energy points along their spine. I learned making a connection with the horse before riding or asking to do anything makes a huge difference. Somewhere in between learning about the mountain and observing the horses my drone decided to malfunction. This has already brought the next trip to life, there are so shots I must come back for. It turned out to be a good thing, I was forced to mainly focused on the “ground cam”. Aerial photo and video has a way of snatching your focus into these beautiful shots from above but an unexpected happening actually helped the mission I should be focused on.

Land/Horse Keeper Antonio and Corrine’s Daughter visiting home for a few days to check in on Mom and help her with a few healing aspects of life!

The next day I returned to Corrine’s stable and actually had a chance to connect with the horse. We started by sitting in the middle of the arena and  begun verbalizing a mantra. I will have to get the name of it later, after we began walking in the direction of the horse but not in a direct line. We await for the horse to make a “connection” this could be a subtle breath out the nose or a brush up against. It’s like an acknowledgment.

We concluded the day with me leading the horse around the arena, this experience taught me how to establish your boundaries while respecting the horse as well. The paint horse kept attempting to bite my hand or what really felt like testing my limit so I had to put my finger in his cheek and push away a little. I even had a chance to ride with the horse and as soon as I sat I began to feel the enormous heart pulsations beneath me. We went around the arena a few times and I even was able to do a few yoga asana while riding. The experience was great and I felt a new connection and respect for  horses.

After the second session in the arena we packed up and went over to a pool. Corrine had a pool yoga class and with all the drone madness happening I thought it would be cool to put the cameras aside, enjoy the moment and join in.

With one interview complete,I didn’t have anything else planned accept getting aerial shots of the country but since that isn’t possible I decided that San Jose may have runits course and it was time to relocate.

Speaking with an Ex-Pat poolside, says she has lived in Costa Rica for more than 11 years from New Jersey and never learned spanish but has made it from day to day quite alright. 


On the day that I was planning to leave San Jose I took a walk to the shop for some coffee and noticed a gorgeous taller woman walking behind a photographer. Hmmm, I said to myself.  This was the first time I saw a photographer in San Jose so I began following them. I didn’t want to interupt the shoot so  I quickly openedInstagram pointed to it, because who knows if they speak english, then pointed to the camera and showed her my page. 15 minutes later I finished loading in some laundry I received invite back to the park to come get some photos of the model also! Wonderful…they had a small crew of 4 and they were definitely helpful in translating my body movements and protecting my coconut juice.

I called my boy Cristian for some green and a ride to the bus station. With one call I was off to the Caribbean side of the country, Limon!

Even though everyone suggested I go to Puerto Viejo for the lush chocolate visuals I decided to rellllaaaax and go to a town not too far from Viejo which is called Cahuita. In San Jose I didn’t see many monkeys or wild life but when I made it to Limon I heard birds monkeys and even started getting bit by mosquitoes. Your not enjoying time away until your getting bit.

I stayed in Cahuita for a few days even though I had an Airbnb booked for a few days back in Atenas I decided to take that loss and stay on the Carribean side.  There was a national park in Cahuita that followed one simple path straight in and out. I captured some moody shots there you can view below.

On the last day in Cahuita I went out to catch a sunrise and encountered two lovely ladies jogging on the sand. They initiated a conversation then began telling me about two events one is a calypso festival that will take place next month and an all black people festival in August. I may have my birthday plans already ready! Once again I was told about the lovely beaches of and crazy women of Puerto Viejo.

I had to check out in 2 hours and the meeting on the beach with the two ladies led me to feel I should go to Puerto Viejo. I actually planned to stay in Cahuita for one more day at one of the ladies spot. When I went to the area they told me to go to, I couldn’t find them so in a split decision I bounced!  Walked to the bus station and happened to see the neighbor from where I was staying for a few days. She was taking her children to Puerto Viejo also. Between me drying my shirt on the fence and chasing it in the wind we began talking and I discovered she also was experienced in coordinating Equine therapy sessions for corporate leadership development. Once the bus arrived we sat next to each other and I showed her some of the footage I captured during the previous days as she shared her corn chips with me. The ride was shorter than I expected, time can fly when watching footage.  As we entered Puerto Viejo I saw a Yogi that I recognized from Instagram walking, dressed in all black. Since she crossed my sight, I reached out to see if her time would allow for an interview/shoot.  Once I stepped foot off the bus I could tell this town would be more active. There were much more stores and people and dogs and  it felt like the activity picked up a few notches. Once I settled in the Airbnb I checked my emails to discover Corrine sent me a message pertaining her friend that lives on the Caribbean side of the country, the side I happened to be on! Wonderful, I reached out to Terry and it was a great connection. We coordinated a time to meet the next day. On my way to Nema the cafe chosen for our rendezvous, I came across a cool dude with some green! He met me at the cafe as well right before Terry arrived.

I jumped in the suv, introduced myself and we began talking about what exactly it is that I do. As we drove down the street Terry pointed out some cool spots that I should check out and even let me know where the monkeys can be found and whereto find the best coffee and chocolate.  We made it to the land and the property was spacious open and beautiful like many homes in Costa Rica.

Terry began showing me around the property and telling me more about the land and herbs that grow wild.

We made a quick stop to see the yoga platform and talk a little bit about yoga and horsemanship. Photos will have to do for now… the video will be in the Why We Do Yoga 2 Doc!

We made our way to the stable and arena to see the huge horses. I think there were 5 horses total and 1 stallion. Terry began telling me about each horse and how one of the horse pictured above is 4 months pregnant. She led two of the horses into the arena and they began playing and running around. The pregnant horse instantly began rolling around in the mud, before she did Terry comically made me aware that she just cleaned her off

It was important to let the horses run and around and get all that playful energy out.  Terry let me know that the horse rolling around was a way to ground itself. When I first stepped into the arena they were definitely excited even running around. I made sure I observed and stayed close to Terry just in case. I learned a little from Corrine but I know I have much more to learn. Terry let me know that subtle things like the wind can cause the horse to become excited. The wind carries smells, sounds and things we may not be able to pickup on but can cause a reaction from the horse. Once the horses settled down Terry began showing me different ways she begins working with the horse from simple routines and stretches she does for the horse to loosen up its legs. As I’m recording the lens I’m using decides it has had enough and quit working. Second horse shoot and another camera malfunction, Costa rica seems to not like my recording efforts. I quickly figured out what was going on (ants) and continued filming. Throughout the day Terry continuously mentioned how it is important to be in the moment and acknowledge how you feel so in that moment I shared with her that my camera/lens is malfunctioning thats reason I keep stopping and starting and Terry shared her brain seemed to be malfunctioning as she was forgetting some of the information, and from that moment everything worked almost normally.

I learned more about connecting with the horse on an energetic level and how each interaction will be different. We ended the session with a delicious salad and Terry dropped me back off at Nemas for the second round of Tequila Sun rise.  Half my trip was complete and I’ve finished all the interviews I had planned out. Was still waiting to hear back from the Yogi I spotted the day before walking around. I’ve yet to see the monkeys and that was top priority on this trip! The next day I had to checkout of the Airbnb but I wanted to stay in the area so I switched locations and rented a bike to move my stuff from point A to B! I made my first stop at the location Terry told me I would find the monkeys. There was a rock in the ocean that reminded me of a similar rock in Martinique called Diamond rock. I find these little big rocks in the ocean fascinating I want to see what’s beneath it actually. Either way I setup camp took some photos and enjoyed the transparent water that seemed to be the exact temp you would want it to be.  The previous day I walked along the road further than I thought, I walked to Punta UVA and found a nice tree to chill under, roll a spliff and do some yoga in the sand.  I also had a nice meditation session where my tongue found its way to the back back of the roof of my mouth, It usually never goes back that far. There was a also a rhythm that I began to vocalize that seemed to be in sync with the waves and I couldn’t stop my body from moving along with the rhythm even when I kinda wanted to lol it was like listening to a song that wouldn’t stop playing and your body just continues to do yoga and your mouth continues the song after the rhythm released me as hostage I crawled out of the water… forgot where I was, completely zoned out. I kept the melody going as I walked allll the way back to the Airbnb.  With the bike I could travel further and quicker. After a 5 minute back in forth of English to Spanish I was able to get the bike for 6 dollars (3000 collones) no depsoit.  On a mission to find atleast one monkey I traveled to Manzanilllo which was the end of the road. Along the way I heard a monkey, it almost sounded like a hey who’s that, not literally but that’s how the sound itself felt. So I stopped and looked up to see about 4 or 5 of them just chilling in the tree. FINALLY I see the monkeys!! This was a joyous moment! I grabbed a photo of one of them and didn’t stick around for too long. Keeping the momentum going I continued biking and made it to Manzanillio… allll that biking and the view wasn’t as great as I had in my mind. There was a spot I grabbed two thick shrimp tacos from that was well worth the trip. Did some yoga on the beach and made my way back to Viejo. Half way back i felt like I was going to pass out so I stopped and ordered 4 mango x passionfruit smoothies. This has sparked a new love for passion fruit.

The next few days were pretty intense. The heat really took its toll on me so I decided to lay down and relax in good company. Spliffs and skype calls with a special ladybug seem to accompany wifi.  On the last day of Puerto Viejo I found the basketball court! If I had a ball with me I would of seriously stayed another week or so. Basketball courts on the beach bring me happiness. Either way I grabbed a bus ticket back to rainey San Jose, ate a falafel and almost missed the bus ordering a mango x passionfruit smoothie.

It felt like this is a trip I needed but didn’t necessarily want for myself. That could explain the sequence of events that took place leading up to being here. Making the most of a trip was the plan and I did just that. There were many unexpected expenses from the flight being canceled to forgetting my laptop charger in Florida to the drone malfunctioning, cant forget about the faulty lens contact issues…  all problems I would accept in exchange for the experience with the people I’ve met. Until next time!  Stay Focused

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