We Arrivie in San Jerónimo to welcoming smiles and several Buenos dias.
We walk from the bus stop to the tourist office Ena a traves de Aturena to be greeted by Marian who had helped me with the logistics of this trip to the village.
Marco from the Cabanas Don Freddy which is situated on his parents coffee plantation arrives to chaperone us up the hill to our room.
We are greeted at the coffee plantation again with lots of smiles and good afternoon greetings.
Kenny introduces himself as our coffee plantation guide for the afternoon.
We head up to the lunch area situated on top of the hill overlooking the village and the mountains below us.
Dona Zaida is preparing our lunch of sautéed garlic potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, salad and pinto for pony.
Lunch is delicious, after a few hours travelling from Dominical earlier that morning we are pretty hungry. Lunch gives us time to chat with Kenny and get to know him a bit better.
The coffee plantation tour is excellent. The coffee is even better.
Kenny is a star. Originally from the states he arrived here in San Jerónimo 20 years ago after being placed here by the Peace Corp… he never left. A man of many trades Kenny does coffee tours, hiking mountain tours, camp tours, he runs his own carpentry co operative and has a genuine interest and passion for the village and its operation.
Evenings here at Cabanas Don Freddy are spent eating more with Dona Zaida and meeting Erika and her friend and Dillon who are also peace corp exchange students. Erika arrived here 8 months ago and still had over a year of placement in the village. She’s has become a real valued member of the community here. Leaving her 2 chickens at her previous board house (yes I did say 2 chickens!) she now lodges at Cabanas Don Freddy with her dog Milo and cat who I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to meet properly.
Tomorrow is packed with research and project work.
We rose early and joined Dona Zaida for our hearty breakfast at 6am. The morning is spent hiking 5km up the hill into the mountains to Chakra Eco lodge to meet Philipe and Irenes who partner Eduardo in running the Center.
I first met Eduardo last year when running the TCC (The Coastal Challenge) here in Costa Rica. He told me all about Chakra and asked me if I would like to work with them and hold a Waite escape there.
I have now been in contact with Irenes in the planning of the escape which I will be holding Feb 2021. Alongside communications with Irenes has been that with Mariane from the tourism office in San Jerónimo. I was insistent that, when coming to Chakra to research the escape that we took part in a village project during our stay as is something that is included in the itinerary for the Waite escape.
San Jerónimo has a real sense of community spirit. There are only 100 families here in the village and everyone helps eachother. They all work together and alongside eachother as a super team. It was important to me that we integrated with the community and took part in something that would give the village something back in return for their hospitality.
The hike to Chakra is challenging yet beautiful. We follow a dirt track which is passable for vehicles heading higher into the mountains.
To hike the 5km up to Chakra gives the understanding of just how remote this place is. Pony is filming the journey for his series of short videos he makes for my escapes. Spending hours behind the camera and then working his magic with images and soundtrack to produce visuals that entice the watcher on following and placing themselves beside us on our journeys.
Vehicles pass us with waves and greetings of buenos tardes. This is the Costa Rican way, everyone greets eachother here. Everyone offers a hand and help where needed.
We arrive at Chakra to a joyful greeting from above, Philipe is waving from the veranda. He skips down to meet us and immediately I feel I have known him forever.
The whole family are here this weekend for the annual bird count, today is there departure day where they will head back to San Jose to their home.
We are offered breakfast and coffee as we all sit and enjoy Chakras peaceful atmosphere and the fresh mountain air.
Time just fades here. We are so engrossed in hearing about Chakra and it’s operations and also meeting our new found friends.
Philipe gives us a tour of the amenities. The cabins stretch further into the mountain offering views you can only dream about.
The toilets for me are the best thing. With open windows looking out at the mountains, trees and birds below I’m sure I’ll lose track of time here when I have the pleasure of retreating here next year.
Philipe now takes us to their adventure centre. Rappelling and tree climbing are part of the escape itinerary. With trained guides we will be coached in both skills during the stay. This part of the escape scares me the most, but is something I am insistent that I give my best. Once visiting the tree and seeing it in its glory pony also admits that climbing this will be a fear for him that he also hopes to conquer.
We sit amongst the forest and talk some more while pony works hard on making videos.
The time is nearing that we must head off as we have the village project to do this afternoon and we have already spent more time here than expected.
I sit on part of the great fig trees puzzle piece that makes up its challenging trunk and try to take it all in.
Ever since reaching Chakra I have been experiencing waves of emotion from deep within. Holding back tears I take a moment just to re-connect. After a year of planning this trip and finally having the pleasure to spend time here at the retreat I feel overwhelmed and extremely lucky. I imagine how my clients will feel when arriving here, after spending 5 days here deep within the mountains, disconnected with technology, without electricity and re-connecting with a part of themselves lost.
Waite escapes were designed by myself as a detoxification of the mind. Using our bodies to create a journey on foot, to mindfully move in the moment and re connect with our senses and the environment around us.
I cannot think of a better place to do this than here.
We reluctantly leave Philipe, Irenes and family to run down the hill back to San Jerónimo.