Friday, January 8, 2010

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

2004 was a remarkable year for me!  I moved to Atlanta with my son for the pursuit of new experiences, new relationships, new opportunities and new adventures.  (Of course, I was also looking for a new man too in the ATL but I will discuss that topic in a later blog post.)  Fortunately, in '04 God blessed me with most of the desires of my heart and everything I needed!! 

As a gift to myself for having such a productive and prosperous year, I decided to take a trip to anywhere I wanted to travel in the world.  I made my decision by going to a local Borders book store where I found a travel book that included a world map, closed my eyes and then vowed that wherever my finger landed on the map THAT's where I would take my Christmas vacation (alone).  Well, fortunately for me my finger landed right dab in the middle of the map that featured a small country in South America known as Costa Rica. Just imagine if I had wound up in Antarctica or in the Congo somewhere?!??

Nevertheless my choice was made and three weeks later I was off to Costa Rica. I landed in San Jose' but decided to stay the night in the nearby town of Alejuela. The next morning I traveled to a beautiful mountainous retreat center on the outskirts of San Jose' near Alejuela called the Pura Vida Yoga Retreat Center.  (Pura Vida means the good life)

If you need a life break, I highly recommend going to this wonderful place.  At Pura Vida I was fed three delicious and healthy vegan dishes daily.  I know what you meat-eaters must be thinking.... so let me be quite clear, I am a bonafide carnivore. But trust me; the food at Pura Vida was simply divine. Every time I would head towards the eating area my little stomach and taste buds would jump for joy and gear up for the healthy meals.

However, the biggest draw for this particular retreat center is Yoga.  Yoga lovers and practitioners from all over the world travel to the Pura Vida Yoga Retreat center for the yoga classes and sessions taught by world renowned yoga masters.  The classes are held at the Yoga Center which is a small glass building that sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking San Jose and the town of Alejuela.  If you want to practice yoga in one of the most beautiful settings on earth then Pura Vida Yoga Retreat Center is your place!

My personal favorite at Pura Vida Yoga Retreat Center is the spas services and amazing pool area.  The pool and jacuzzi are located outside on the property overlooking the cliff.  It was so incredibly romantic that one night I thought about taking a cab to the city and finding me a sexy Costa Rican to accompany me back to the property. But I subdued my flesh and enjoyed all seven of my nights at the pool area drinkng pomegranate and aloe vera juice in an eco-friendly  cup on the rocks. Pura Vida is definitely the good life!

American Ignorance and African Adventure

Since childhood I have envisioned traveling to the majestic continent of Africa to reconnect to the roots of my ancestors.   I envisioned myself landing at a huge airport in the motherland and being greeted with open arms and exotic flowers by beautiful adorned African princes and princesses. My greeters would embrace me with hugs, escort me to the village and then take me immediately to meet with the tribal chief.  Of course, later that day we would exchange stories, partake in exotic dishes and strong drink for the Grand Welcome Back To Africa celebration. By now you have figured out that this was ONLY a dream and if you have ever been to the continent you would know that NONE of those series of events actually happened. So let me share with you my story of what actually DID happen on one of my many African adventures.....

Ten years ago I along with along with a young woman named Jamie traveled to Africa to visit a friend in Nigeria.  We flew from New York to Abidjan (located in the Ivory Coast) where we changed planes for the last leg of our flight to Lagos, Nigeria. Well... I pretty much figured it was going to be a different kind of travel experience when my favorite cookies and snack items were openly stolen in my face and later eaten by the security guard in the airport. However being the great sport that I am, I decided to let the incident go because after all I didn't need those cookies anyway.

My travel partner and I shrugged the cookie theft off, laughed about the ordeal and proceeded to head towards the counter to get the info on our connecting flight with African airline, Air Afrique. After twenty minutes at the Air Afrique counter, we got our boarding passes and were instructed to go outside to the tarp and look for our plane.   I realized that the instructions weren't very clear so I turned back to the counter to get greater clarity from the attendant but I realized that she had already disappeared into the back area.

At that point I turned to Jamie and said, "Surely she wasn't telling us to actually LOOK for our flight.  There must be signs outside. Plus I am quite sure that someone will show us our flight once we're outside.  C'mon Jamie let's go on the tarp and someone will tell us which flight to get on."

Once outside we realized that it was utter chaos on the tarp. There were about 7-8 different airplanes and passengers were heading in all different directions. Jamie and I looked for specific signs to point to the Lagos flight but there were none.  Being mindful that our flight was scheduled to leave in about 15 minutes,we began to walk up to the various flight attendants posted in front of  different airplanes and inquire about our flight.

Each time I would say, "Excuse me, can you please tell us which plane is going to Lagos?"  In a rather harsh and aggravated tone each airline worker would respond by saying, "I don't know your flight but you should hurry." Finally, after several failed attempts to get the much needed information we were directed by a male flight attendant  to go to the last plane on our left because it was going to Lagos.

Immediately, Jamie and I ran towards the plane, got in the long line and patiently waited to board our flight with about 100 other people. After hearing some yelling and witnessing a small commotion in the front of the line we noticed that the plane was ALMOST FULL.  But how was that possible when there were still almost 100 people in front of us! I thought to myself, "All of these people must be waiting on another arriving flight. This is OUR plane, those are OUR seats and I can proove it with these $1800 ticket stubs right here.....besides they wouldn't do us like that. Nawwww...."

I then turned to Jamie and said, " I heard the attendant call our flight number so this is OUR flight but how is it possible for the plane to be almost filled if there are still at least 100 people in  the boarding line?"  Jamie replied, "I don't know Tosha, but it seems like that's what the commotion up front is about.  These other people are ALL expecting to get on OUR flight." I thought to myself, "YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME!!" 
to be continued........

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