Monday, May 27, 2013

The Road to the Nicoya Peninsula - Montezuma and Anamaya Yoga Retreat

I started the 5-hour journey to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica early the morning after I arrived in San Jose. We had to stop several times to pick up other people who were staying at the same resort at I was so that meant I had some company on the long drive and almost 2-hour long ferry crossing to the Nicoya Peninsula. I didn’t mind the drive so much because it gave me the opportunity to see areas of the country that I otherwise would not get to see if I had taken the plane instead but the change from paved highway to bumpy, gravel road told me that we were moving into more remote territory. The ferry crossing in Tambor went without issue except that we had to lug our baggage onboard ourselves and there were stairs involved. A lively Latin dance party complete with portable ghetto blaster and salsa dancing was taking part on the top deck (I didn’t get the impression that this was something that usually took place on the boat, just some random people trying to make a boring crossing more exciting) but I stayed on the bottom deck and watched my luggage and the scenery.

We arrived in Montezuma at around 1PM and made our way up the very steep road to the top of the hill that housed what would be my home away from home for the next week; Anamaya. Around this time, I glimpsed the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I had no idea what to expect before arriving at this resort except that it was a yoga and adventure retreat and was said to be paradise on earth. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that my stay at Anamaya Yoga Resort would be nothing like the typical tropical resort vacations I had taken in the past. First of all, it wasn’t really a resort; it was a house. A large house with other little houses and cabinas scattered about. And there would be no college kids and families checking in throughout the week. Just 20-some yoga and adventure enthusiasts looking for a place to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings of the rainforest and world-renowned sandy beaches known for having some of the best surfing in Central America.

My room wasn’t ready when I arrived so I stowed my luggage away, changed into my swimsuit and cooled off in the beautiful infinity pool overlooking a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains and coastline complete with soaring vultures. One of those vultures landed on the ledge of the pool only a few feet away from me. I wondered if that was a common occurrence at the pool and that thought made me feel a bit uneasy.

The other guests who were staying with me that week started to trickle in including my roommates whom I would be sharing accommodations with. I immediately felt comfortable at Anamaya and made myself at home in a hammock after my swim and enjoyed a tropical welcome drink while I waited for my room to be ready.

When I booked my stay at Anamaya, I booked the cheapest room they had available since I was traveling on a budget and luxury and the little extras that some people prefer to have when traveling were not important to me. Even though accommodations such as Ananda Cabina, Bali Cabina, The Casita, Gaia House, Ganesh Cabina, Hanuman Cabina, Jungle Cabina, Prana Cabina, Serafina Room, Temple Cabin and Lotus Cabina all sounded wonderful, I chose to stay in the more affordableMaster Suite which was located on the top floor of the main house. If this was the cheapest and least luxurious accommodations at Anamaya, than the other available suites must have been out-of-this-world because everything about this suite was heavenly! A balcony overlooking a spectacular view of Montezuma and the distant mountains and rocky coastline, full bathroom, indoor balcony overlooking the main dining area of the house and tons of closet space. Every morning during my stay, even though my alarm clock was set for 6AM, I awoke at 5AM to the first rays of the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean.

That first day at Anamaya was more of an orientation than anything else. I spent some time by the pool chatting with the other guests, walking around the grounds and familiarizing myself with the area, unpacking and relaxing. I noticed that my cell phone hadn’t been working all day and this turned out to be a good thing when it didn't work for the entire week. I needed a break from looking down at my phone. The view surrounding me was something I had a hard time taking my eyes off and having no phone to distract me from what mattered most that week was fine with me! A dinner was prepared for us that evening and all of us joined together at one big table in the main dining area to enjoy our first meal of many that week. When I was told that all my meals would be included, I was expecting the typical buffet-style, sit where you want, when you want in a cafeteria-like room. But meals at Anamaya were much more meaningful and enjoyable. There is something about a large group of people who just met having dinner together. It’s amazing how well you get to know others in a setting like this and it felt like I had known these people my whole life by time we were finished eating. First there was the soup and appetizers, than the main course and, of course, dessert. The food was all homemade, fresh, organic and vegetarian. I found out later that most of the food we were eating came from a nearby farm including the eggs and dairy.

It was dark by the time dinner was finished and I thought it might be a good time to take a walk down the gravel road that lead into the wooded area between Anamaya and the town of Montezuma. My walk was going great until I spotted something moving in the brush. A nearby light caught its eyes and their eerie orange glow caused me to step back slowly for fear that it was something that may attack me. I found out later from an employee at Anamaya that it was probably a pizote, a member of the raccoon family. I was told there were Jaguars in the country but they rarely ventured close to people. What I wasn’t told was howler monkeys actually make a sound that sounds like a big cat growling. I didn’t make it much further on my nightly stroll before I heard this sound and, without a second thought, turned back towards the house and retreated to my balcony with a book instead. It wasn’t until the next day that I found out what I had heard and was warned not to get too close to the howler monkeys because it could result in monkey poo being thrown at me in defense.

When I spotted some in a tree the next day, I made a conscious effort not to get too close. That nightly walk was the first of many that week as I made it a routine to take some time to myself each evening to walk down that road just listening to the strange and unfamiliar sounds of the tropical forest.

It’s a good thing I unpacked and got my room ready earlier that day because I was very tired by the time I decided to call it a night. Bed time came early at Anamaya which was a good thing for me because I am a rare early-morning person and love to get up before or with the sunrise. Fruit was being served at 7AM, our first yoga session was at 7:30 and I planned to walk into the town the next day and do some sightseeing so I also wanted to be awake and rested for all that. By 10PM, I was almost sound asleep when I heard a gecko and it was somewhere in the room. The geckos were everywhere in the house but I didn’t expect to have one in my room. I was unable to locate it but I made sure all of my luggage was closed so it would not crawl in and surprise me the next day.

And than I spotted something on the ceiling. Closer inspection revealed a giant cockroach. Just than, my roommate walked in, spotted it and promptly panicked like many people do when they see a giant bug about to invade their sleeping quarters. It quickly moved around a bit across the ceiling, disappeared a few times, reappeared and than crawled inside the light shade where we hoped it would stay for the rest of the night. I slept with the windows and patio door open that night. There were already geckos and bugs in the room anyway, so might as well get used to them. The warm breeze on my face was soothing and I fell asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the shore below and the various calls of the nocturnal creatures who were lucky enough to call this place their permanent home.


Suzy said...

Sounds like a nice place to stay even with vultures around the pool with you.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica said...

The route to Nicoya is one of the best trips. It is the perfect destination for enjoying a yoga retreat or a surf Camp. Chill out at afternoon with amazing sunsets, wow Santa Teresa beach won10 point :)


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