A retreat sit in “The Living Forest” in Costa Rica

The 3rd of July, 2015

After quite some years of absence, I am back in beautiful Costa Rica, this time arriving in Liberia, Guanacaste. I will be going to the tiny village called Sabalito, where I will meet Johanna, the proud owner of a Retreat Center, called “The Living Forest” at Lake Arenal. It is arranged that I will be collected from the airport and I am grateful that Jorge is waiting patiently at the airport, as I have a one and half hour delay. After a quick lunch, we head out on the dusty road, with endless construction, towards Canas. It is hot and very windy and Mother Nature didn’t put her attention on this part of Costa Rica; just a flat and dry piece of the country, although I heard that the coast must be amazing beautiful. After Canas, the curvy road gets into the lower mountains and the scenery changes. Too bad there is a windmill park on top of the mountain………DSC00111DSC00066

Jorge takes a short-cut and suddenly Lake Arenal is in front of us, with the lower mountains wrapped around it. Just before Sabalito, he drives into the long and very steep driveway to the entrance of the “Living Forest”.DSC00076

Indeed, you see the jungle right in front of you and the main building and the cabana’s are tucked away in a very sheltered area, with a gorgeous tiny river, complete with small waterfalls, lingering through the back garden. What a special place this is! The sound of the water is soothing and the monkeys are there to welcome me. I am exhausted, but after a glass of wine, some food and nice chatting with Johanna, I feel revived.DSC00037DSC00116

The next day, Johanna tells me all about the daily schedule, the care of the two sweet dogs, Nela and Blue and what to do if guests are coming. She drives me around in the area, shows me some small stores in the neighbourhood, the “soda” places (small cafe’s), where to walk the dogs and finally we have lunch in a very nice out and indoor restaurant, called Macadamia, with a beautiful view over the lake and great local food. It brings memories back of the 80th’s, when I was backpacking through Costa Rica and Nicaragua……….DSC00039DSC00083

Later, Johanna lets me drive the steep driveway up and down and driving myself is less frightening than sitting beside the driver!


On Sunday morning, we do our Yoga exercises on the enormous “dance floor” together, with soft music in the background and the view of the jungle and river in front of us; how beautiful and relaxing……DSC00011


I go to the local Farmers market on my own, while Johanna is packing for her trip. A small market, close to Tilaran, where Ticos, as well as foreigners who are living here, are offering their produce. I buy some yoghurt in a plastic bag, some goat cheese and pork meat, papaya (my favorite), bread and some other things. It is not cheap and I am spoiled with Portugal, where the prices are way lower!

On Monday I bring Johanna to the bus station in Tilaran, where she will catch the bus to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. I will do the same thing, when I am leaving on the 23rd. It is a 4 hour drive, but with a stop of 20 minutes halfway.


On Monday a group of 5 green Parrots is spending the whole morning around the property. Their green color is blending in with the green of the leaves, but thanks to my new 50X  zoom camera, I can take a reasonable picture of them. I haven’t seen the howler monkeys anymore after Saturday, but I can hear their sound everyday! Today, I see the Morpho, the blue butterfly. I was so lucky to see it in Panama also, but they are hard to catch on the camera, as they fly very quick and go up and down. They are always in the vicinity of water, so I do hope to see them again during my stay. Their color blue is glittering in the sunlight and I always have to think about the movie “The Blue Butterfly” with William Hurt. A beautiful movie…….

It rains so much in the night and for most of the day also at the moment and you wonder when it will ever stop. The river is running faster and faster and today it is even wild! I haven’t gone for a swim yet but I will soon, with Nela, the dog.DSC00099DSC00108

Yesterday evening, I was listening to the sound of a bird and I walked slowly with my camera to the cabanas, to get a better view. I even went through my knees, to catch a better glimpse of what was in the tree. The dogs are always following me, wherever I go and I saw that Blue was watching something with his eyes wide open and very alert. He stood totally still and I turned my head to see what his eye caught. On half a meter from me, this enormous snake just found its way down to the garden. I was in shock, but still alert enough to grab the camera, which was hanging around my neck. Just this morning, I saw that somebody from Costa Rica put a picture of a similar snake, not yellow and black, but white and black, on Facebook. It took me some hours to recover from the shock, but according to Johanna, this isn’t a dangerous one. She saw it last week also at the same spot. I am from now on more alert to what’s going on, on the ground and not only watch the trees!DSC00115DSC00035

Today, Wednesday, the howler monkeys paid me a visit again. Gosh, they make so much noise! It is like the heavy barking of a big dog, who has a cold…….The parrots also were there again; they are here nearly every day now!

Although my days are starting very early here (at 5.00 or 5.30 I wake up and the dogs also), my bedtime is very early too (9.00 p.m.) and I feel every day more revived and all the small pains and aches are starting to disappear……….

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