Why do we go on a retreat? Typically it's to take some time to unwind, refresh, disconnect, rest and get back to the person you want to be. We often crave a retreat when we are nearing the end of our rope, knowing that the same old weekend getaway just won't cut it anymore, we need something new, something different.
Join me at Punta Mona, Monkey Point, an 85-acre off-the-grid, permaculture and sustainable education center that is located at the southern tip of the Caribbean side of the country, embedded in the jungle. "Off-the-grid" is a nice way of saying that it is completely isolated- the only way to get to Punta Mona is to either hike in or take a boat. To the north is Manzanillo and the other more touristy towns, to the south is Gandoca and Sixaola that boarder Panama. Most people come from Manzanillo which is "the end of the road" coming from San Jose. The trip to Punta Mona is a journey in and of itself, taking a solid day of buses, changing buses, and patience. It's best not to rush this part- it can either be a very stressful journey dealing with schedules and unforeseen breakdowns, or a gorgeous one with the opportunity to slow down and take in all that the surroundings have to offer. There is the opportunity to stay in Puerto Viejo, which is the main town closest to Punta Mona that has a wide variety of grocery stores, farmers markets, restaurants, cabinas, hand-made goodies and more. I highly recommend giving yourself an extra day to stay in Puerto Viejo and take in some of the awesome afro-caribbean vibes!
Every piece of this journey is an amazing experience, from the bus ride through cloud forests to get to Puerto Viejo, onward rambling down the beach roads to the sleepy village Manzanillo, then finally on to the boat that takes you past the island, over the reefs and to Monkey Point. I'll never forget my first time here, every second blew my mind more than the second past.
So you finally make it out to Punta Mona- how do you even begin to take it all in? When I first came here 5 1/2 years ago it was one of my first big journeys so the experience of going somewhere new and wild and spending more than a week was beyond exciting. I get there and there are happy, half naked people hanging around the kitchen enjoying the afternoon sun. There are two buildings there to greet you and a everywhere you look are gardens that melt into the forest. It's hard to figure out what is intentionally planted and what is naturally thriving. At the time I was an intern, which meant that each day after yoga and breakfast the other interns and I (there were 9 of us total) worked, whether on the farm or cooking and cleaning. We would enjoy lunch and the afternoon/evening off for our own fun and adventure, before enjoying down time at the back house before bed. It was simple and perfect. Not much to worry or think about, just get up every morning and live. There is minimal power that is provided by Solar energy, there is minimal kitchen resources without refrigeration and only 2 working stove burners, so by force things were simple. The rustic-ness of the space created it's own discomforts, but what are discomforts in comparison to the magnitude of awesome surrounding you. It was here that the coconut fell on my head to give me the massive epiphany of what it meant to live simply. The hard work, lack of technology, even lack of bright lights brought about a clarity and peace which is largely the reason for why I am doing what I do today. This is the Pura Vida lifestyle: strong family and community connections, simple living rich in the love and resources that are naturally around you. There just isn't the need to strive for bigger and better, because what you have is perfect.
I knowing how much peace, release, clarity and change that can be facilitated in a trip to Punta Mona, I wanted to build a retreat that was supportive of this. I am not creating the positive changes, I am bringing you to a space and supporting you as you experience it all for yourself! Yoga and meditation twice daily will keep your focus on you, expanding your awareness to make you more intuitive of what makes you, uniquely, authentically, awesomely you. We will partake in smaller activities to serve as supportive agents as you weave through your week experiencing the different sensations, thoughts and emotions that come from the quiet, calm clarity. The best part is that while you are working on yourself, you have the opportunity to connect with others who are doing the same- because everyone is there for similar reasons, with similar interests it makes it easier to build camaraderie with those around you, giving and receiving support in a very open and engaging way. There will be ample free time to be as adventurous or peaceful as you would like. Maybe it's a quiet space you need? Well there is plenty of isolated beach to cover. Maybe you want to play and explore? There are plenty of trails and different microcosms of the jungle to wander through. Take a kayak out to the island, snorkel in the reed, or find a hammock to daydream in. Punta Mona is the perfect catalyst to reconnect with yourself and get back into the life you enjoy living.
In the five plus months I spent living at Punta Mona, and the many people I interacted with, none weren't hugely affected by the place and few left without plans of some day returning. This isn't a resort on the beach with umbrellas in your drinks, with the jungle pruned around the edges of your 5 star room. This place is real, raw and breathtaking. You won't enjoy a cushy, luxurious week, but you will enjoy a week that will change you forever.
Chelsea will be leading groups to Punta Mona this coming March and next September. For more information click here. If you are interested in joining in the March trip please contact Chelsea.
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.