In 2015 I decided to start setting mantras instead of resolutions for the new year. Usually, by February those resolutions are nowhere to be found. It suited me better to come up with “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” throughout the year that would lead my choices and experiences. 2015 was the year of No Fear where I purposely set out to tackle things that scared the sh*t out of me. When I dug deep to find the mantra for 2016, New Experiences came to me.
These are my stories.
Experience Mantra #5: Learning Spanish in Costa Rica
I’m jumping ahead and not going in order of this year’s experiences to give you a travel log about my time in Costa Rica and learning Spanish while it’s fresh in my head. I had the pleasure of taking 2 weeks of Spanish classes at Intercultura school in August. Immersion learning is hands-down the best way to learn a new language. With the short time I had learned I was still able to have basic conversations with locals. I practiced speaking whenever I could. If you aren’t in a Spanish-speaking country you don’t have as many opportunities to practice speaking, which I found to be the hardest part. Reading, writing, & conjugating verbs all came pretty easy to me, but speaking it was a whole other ballgame. They say that in order to be good at speaking you must actually think in Spanish. I’m not even close! I think about what I want to say in English and then try to translate it while I’m talking, which means it takes me forever to get the words out.
I enjoyed both the city and beach campuses, and wrote a little bit more about how you choose what kind of campus to go to over at my other blog. Costa Rica is really the BEST place to learn Spanish because the locals speak so clearly, often speak English as well, and were happy to slow down so I could understand what they were saying.
That said. Costa Rica was not what I was expecting at all. I heard it was expensive but you don’t get all the usual comforts of home so it’s unfair that it isn’t cheaper. The landscape really is beautiful and the local people are pretty nice but there was just something that left me feeling meh about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. Being cat-called on the street constantly didn’t help.
Maybe after 26 countries, I’m getting burnt out?
The beaches were okay, but nothing compared to Thailand and Bali. The food was good and I easily found vegan meals, but nothing compared to Barcelona where a variety of vegan food was on every corner. Everyone raves about Costa Rica. I have friends that go every year and even move there. So why didn’t I feel the same way about it?
One lovely experience I had was taking a weekend trip with my fellow students to Montezuma beach. We then took a snorkeling trip to Tortuga Island. The water was perfect and I got to try standup paddle-boarding (SUP) for the first time! Two gals in particular I connected with because they were closer to my age; one Canadian seen above and the other Swiss both named Andrea. Andrea from Switzerland (seen in the photo with me below) was in the same classes with me at both the city and beach locations so we hung out after class and drank pina coladas on the beach together. After traveling solo for so long it was nice to get to know someone more deeply instead of the usual one or two days you spend with people in your hostel before they are off to their next adventure.
Two weeks is definitely not enough to become proficient in speaking Spanish, but now I’m hooked and want to continue my studies. I’ll be heading to Colombia in November to do a yoga and Spanish language course with Flying Tree Yoga. I think they still have space if you want to join me! I’ll be teaching cooking classes and assisting the yoga classes.
I’m also thrilled to announce the last two retreats of the year! I’m taking my online Wellness Reboot program on the road! You can join me in Colombia or Mexico in December and participate in a totally personalized wellness retreat. It’s the best present you can get yourself. Or maybe a loved one would like to gift you this for Christmas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! More details here.
Experience Mantra 2106
Muay thai kickboxing
Teaching yoga & learning to surf
Learning Spanish in Costa Rica
Silver Jewelry Making in Bali
Aerial Yoga & Archery
Breitenbush Hot Springs & Hot Springs Arkansas
Learning Craps in Vegas
SUP Yoga and first all-inclusive hotel