A week on the beach – grooving with the good life.

If you’ve never done morning yoga on the beach, nearly each morning, just after waking, I suggest you do it. And then, after a good yoga session to get the blood flowing, go for a swim in the ocean. Clean your suit and your soul, and then waltz back to breakfast of fruit and agua dulce (hot water, splash of milk, sugar = yum). Relish in this beauty, and then start your day.

Life is amazing! 

This life is possible, and being lived by so many people in this beautiful little Costa Rican city (Uvita). There are plenty of Gringos living alongside Ticos, and everyone seems to be living the good life. Flowing with the sun and moon, we’re living with the heat by staying out of the sun mid-day, by taking naps if we need to, by going to bed early and waking up early… and by simply taking it easy.

Everyone finds a way to work here and get by — some more successfully than others. But everyone seems to live the same way — happily.

Once I’m done with farm life I just might come back to stay for a while. As in, indefinitely.

xxoo.

Some shots from Uvita:

Recognizing our body cycles

“I’ve been thinking a lot about waves and cycles lately…” -Casper, the Dutchman.

Energy, moods, attitudes — everything has its own cycle. Before I left the states I wrote a note to myself reminding me to honor and appreciate all that my body is. To love the ups and downs and to listen to my body each day to help guide my actions and if possible, my thoughts.

There are days when my energy is low and there are days when I’m in a bad mood and can’t seem to shake it. There are also days when I’m a grump toward the world and feel like I need to isolate myself, separating my mood from the moods of everyone else. Instead of becoming frustrated with these less than pleasant realities, I’m learning to embrace them.

Our bodies and minds are truly incredible — they can tell us so much about ourselves, like when we’re out of balance and something needs to be put back in check. Our diets, our actions, who we’re surrounding ourselves with… When we’re anything less than ideal, we can listen to our bodies and figure out what to do to re-center.

Take, for example, that few days every four weeks that us women just feel off. We’re not quite our normal, happy, productive, light selves. We’re a bit moody, agitated, or sad. We’re PMSing, but that’s ok. In these days, I’ve found that giving my body the love it needs is all it takes to make these off days a bit better. I may not regain all the goodness from a couple weeks prior, but I find a way to appreciate the swings and the energy loss by treating myself with nice food, lots of tea, writing or yoga or swimming if I feel like it, and probably the most important thing, lots of alone time.

Alone time can do miraculous things if we let it. Put me by myself for a few hours and I’ll almost always crawl (or gleefully skip or hop) back to my center point. When given the freedom that comes with alone time, I’m able to naturally flow into an activity that my body craves.

In all times, be kind to yourself.

If it’s just impossible to rid yourself of a bad mood, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it. Being frustrated that you’re frustrated isn’t going to kick the frustration now is it? Having a sense of humor about our moods instead really does help. If you’re pissed off at the world, take a moment to remember that you’re not always pissed off at the world, and that the world is still revolving just as it did before and that at some point, sooner than later, you’ll stop being pissed and you’ll move on to a different emotion — and if you’re lucky, maybe it will be a good one for a few days.

Emotions never last too long — any emotion, even the good ones. So, be an observer of the emotions and appreciate them all. The ups, the downs, the swings, and the lulls. Everything is cyclical, and trust that it’s all ok, and that this too shall pass.

Putting into practice — trusting my heart.

Why do we 1st-worlders insist on making so many plans? It seems I’ve made plan after plan my whole life, which has probably prevented me from taking advantage of many opportunities I may have enjoyed more than the original “plan.” So, despite months and months of planning and saving for this Costa Rican adventure which would so matter-of-factly be followed with an early April move to the West Coast (Portland is where young people go to retire, right?), I’m tossing aside that plan and letting my heart lead the way.

So… Universe, I’m open to whatever you have for this point in my life. I’m open, and I’m listening to my heart.

I still do want and “plan” to move to Oregon sooner than later, but because I’m feeling pulled to extend my time in Costa Rica, I may have to delay the move until I can save a bit more. Or, I may move without as much backup money, which could very well be fine, too. As long as I keep my eyes on the road and my hands on my heart, I’ll be just fine.

It’s a strange feeling — this confidence I have that every little thing is gonna be alright (thanks for putting it so well, Mr. Marley). Historically, I’ve felt this need to prove something to somebody at all times. If I say that I’m going to do something and then decide to change my mind, I feel as if I’m letting someone down, or that I’m not good enough to follow through with the original goal. This is not ok.

It’s totally fine to make goals which can help keep us moving forward, but to limit ourselves from other opportunities simply by planning our lives away is not ok. I’m done with this attitude.

So, Oregon is still there, and I’m hoping that the Universe will pave a path for me to get there if it’s what’s best for me, but… if that happens later than originally intended, that’s fine.

For now, I’ve got my feet on the jungle floor, the sun on my back, and a smile on my face, and life is perfect. I have no need to plan the next step just now…

Looking forward, but being present. It’s possible. And I’m doing it.

My intentions for 2013

Closing of a year… Opening to a better life.

This past year was full of confliction. About half the year was spent worrying about what the hell I was going to do next (or trying to forget about the inner urge to figure it out), then about a third fretting about and gearing up for the final third which would require action and change (which scared the shit out of me), and then the final third was spent cleansing my life and laying some groundwork for some longterm lifestyle alterations.

It was a good year, but it’s been a year which could have been lived better.

So what about 2013? What do I want to happen in this year? What is my intention?

I’ve spent several months asking the question, “What is it I’m meant to do in my life?,” and then in the most recent couple of weeks, I’ve started asking, “What is my gift that I can offer the world?” and have been hoping that this kind of phrasing may lead to a more direct answer.

So far I have many ideas, but not so many decisions.

However, during a recent energy surge session a few nights ago (it was my turn as the Fairy again), I felt I received some answers.

Instead of worrying about the greater plan for my life and struggling with whether or not I’m on course, I need to focus on doing the things that bring me happiness and that I know are positive, sustainable, and energy-sharing. Things that I enjoy, but that are also geared toward the greater good.

So what does that mean? Well, for starters, working on this permaculture farm is definitely something I “should” be doing. And, taking care of people and animals, creating gardens and tending to nature, designing and writing for myself, for those I care abou,t and for causes I believe in are positive and make me happy. Lending my ear for others who need someone to hear them out, creating understanding and facilitating compromise, cooking, making things more beautiful, participating in communities and music and literature… so many things! There are so many things I genuinely LOVE to do that are GOOD for this planet and the creatures that inhabit it! I can do these things, and I will be happy. That’s it!

Just do what makes you happy, and you’ll be full!

So, no more fretting. No more confliction. No more self-doubt and insecurity about whether or not I’m fulfilling the greater purpose for my life. My life’s natural flow, lived happily and with intention, IS the greater purpose.

My best friend wrote me a special, secret letter in a journal she purchased for me just before I left the states. She said, “I want you to remember that the purpose IS the journey — not the result.”

The purpose is the journey.

Words of wisdom, right there. (Thanks again for that, Annie! I love you.)

The process of traveling through life wherever my heart leads me IS my purpose. I’ll have experiences and encounter people along that path that will help me make this world a more positive place. To achieve my purpose, all I need to do is live in the now and trust that my gut will lead me exactly to where I’m supposed to be. Everything meant to happen is happening and will continue to happen and long as I trust my heart to lead the way, and to respect and honor the ebb and flow of life. There will be ups and downs. There will be moments of greater confidence and lesser confidence, but no matter what, I need to listen to my heart and make time for reflection and honesty within myself. If I do this I’ll always know when to stay, when to go, and where to walk.

This may not align nicely with the way I’ve always anticipated living — at some point, I’ve always thought I’ll “settle down,” and maybe I still will, but when asked, “So what are you going to do in the long run?,” the answer may not be as cut and dry as I’ve thought it would eventually become. Instead, the answer may be more like “I’m going to keep on traveling through life with a hand on my heart and an eye on the road, and we shall see.” This will be met with some criticism and people may think I’m non-commitable or flaky, but really, it takes all types in this world, and there need to be people who are flexible and open to flow with the changes and go where they are needed. I can be one of those people. There’s no reason not to be if I feel like that’s my role.

So, for 2013 and beyond, my intention is to live in the present, to trust myself and to honor and take action on the callings from within, and to fully live with myself as the only one able to place expecations or criticisms on me and my choices.

We’re given one life to live, people, and it’s up to US to live it, each and every day, exactly how we want. And as long as we’re living with intention and conscious effort, we’ll be doing great things for ourselves, for those we love, and for the greater good of this planet and all beings on it.

Bring it on, 2013. I’m ready 🙂

Happy New Year!

What is life? Firsthand insight into the life and death on the farm…

I just witnessed the giving of four lives — two rabbits and two roosters. It was powerful, peaceful, and intentional.

Everything is cyclical, and therefore where all things begin, all things must end. We’re given a life from the earth and then we’ll give our lives back to the earth. We animals have a heartbeat, and then breath… Then the heart stops beating and the breath ceases.

We’re all energy forms and we all require the sharing and exchanging of energy — humans give energy to the plants and to the animals, and in return the plants and animals give energy back to humans and to each other. The earth has its own natural energy forces — water, wind, air, soil, fire. Each of those are also powerful and purposeful. And oh so very beautiful. Without one element, none of this world can exist in harmony, with beauty.

We’re all one. And we’re all beautiful.

Watching what I witnessed this morning was incredible. Before the animals were killed, I made a morning round to visit all of the rabbits and chickens (the ones that had a potential for death), and I was conscious and aware of their actions. Maybe it was myself projecting calm thoughts toward the animals, but maybe it was an energy in the air. Something was different today.

The rabbits were much more calm, and seemed to move with more direction. The male rabbits were very focused on me. Houdini (the big macho male) was jumping from side to side — a little dance to beg for his life? (Maybe that’s my overthinking lol…) And then the rabbits in the pen were much less frantic than usual and I was even able to spend a few moments with some of them — one of which gave his life only minutes later. The chickens were also less aggressive.

There was almost an air of anticipation surrounding everyone — even us humans.

When the act took place it was done with intention and knowledge. Douwe knew what he was doing and was direct and purposeful in his actions. Two large chickens were collected. Douwe held the breast and body firmly with his left arm and body, and with his right hand he twisted the chickens neck and pulled the head clean off. Then he put the animal down on the ground and held it as still as he could. My tears started to flow. With tightly clenched hands protecting my heart I cried.

Then, Marie placed her hands on the animal and gave thanks for its life and let the world know the life was not given in vain — there was and is purpose for its life and we were/are grateful for the energy provided. …This was so beautiful.

The same was done with the other chicken, except the other chicken’s head did not come off directly and therefore a machete was used to ensure the neck was broken and the animal was dead.

Then, the large white rabbit I’d just been loving on was picked up, and with two strong hands, Douwe held the rabbit’s legs with one hand and the rabbit’s head with the other. From there, all he had to do was stretch the animal. Doing it this way separates the spinal column and breaks the neck. Then, the animal was laid on the ground with care and Marie placed her hands on the animal and pet the fur and gave blessings and words of gratitude.

This is where things got tough for me. The rabbit started flailing – almost as if it was running in mid-air… leaping. Hopping.

Instantly the tears flowed. I was bawling and sobbing and forgetting to breathe. I had to turn away and let it out. I didn’t want to make a scene or spread my energy to the others witnessing the act or even worse, to those who had to help take the lives… I turned away and walked to the edge of the stable area, covered my face with my hands, and cried. I let it all out. I was overwhelmed with emotion — gratitude, understanding, hope, strength, but also pain.

I know now, without doubt, that I will live my life without taking animal flesh. I can live my life fully, in good health and spirit, without eating an animal. These animals lived their lives in peace. They were taken care of with positive energies, by people who love and respect them, with food that is neither chemically treated nor unsustainable… But still, seeing the animal offer its life for us, when I know full well I (and all of us who choose to do so) can live without that energy, makes me realize that I do not want to take in the life of another breathing, sentient being.

But I’m grateful that I witnessed the giving of life. The respect that went into it, and the respect that will carry throughout the full process of cleaning, cooking, eating, and then in turn that will provide strength and more positive energy for this circle of life we live… Beauty.

…Then I went to the waterfall and cried, and gave thanks, and prayed for a blanket of love for all of the beings on this farm and throughout the world.

…Then I sent lots of love directly to Douwe and Marie.

…Then I came back to the house area, and straight to Douwe (who was boiling the birds and cleaning the rabbits) and hugged him as tight and powerfully as I could. I respect that man so very much. And I appreciate the strength and focus he has to do what he must, to provide for others on this farm, and to respect the animals and ourselves.

What a morning. And what a way to end 2012.

Fairy in the Middle

A few months ago, this farm started a tradition called “Fairy in the Middle,” which I think may be one of the greatest traditions ever. It promotes unity and openness, while also helping each person relax and feel more comfortable in their own skin. So what is it? A massive… group… massage 🙂

I was the “Fairy” for the first time last night, and I can’t even explain how freaking amazing it was. But I’ll do my best 🙂

The process

Every other night, one to three people (depending on the amount of people on the farm) prepare a bowl of either coconut or sunflower oil and then choose some essential oils to mix in, like coffee and peppermint (which are the oils I chose). Then, select a playlist, like some soothing Ray Lamontagne (again, my choice), and lay out the massage table and mattress in the yoga studio. Then set a timer for 15 minutes (or don’t, like I chose to do in hopes of extending the goodness), and relax…

Before you know it, there will be a dozen or so hands massaging your entire body… From the crown of your head to the tips of your toes, your stomach, your chest, your back, upper legs, forearms… everything! Talk about an experience to remember… Even the baby, Kaya, helped out on me last night. His baby claws (or um… nails) were a bit much at times, but by having all parts of this place involved really made it special.

There were times I was tempted to open my eyes and see whose hands were where, but then I reminded myself to get lost in the experience and let Ray’s voice and my new family’s hands do all the work. And my what glorious work it was.

I reminded myself to get lost in the experience.

For a couple months leading up to this experience, I’d been saying that I really needed (and wanted) a massage. I kept my eyes open for local massage deals and checked into some newer places that may offer specials because I just couldn’t bring myself to pay the big bucks for a nice massage… But then, FAIRY happened and it was exactly what I’d been craving.

I was a bit nervous about it because how very strange it is to have near-strangers touching your entire body, but as soon as I laid down and the first hand touched my head, all was well. It was amazing — a flurry of love and happiness and compassion surging through my entire body. Blissful, joyous… Truly wonderful.

Experiences like this really bring us together. We’re meant to live in community with one another, and to be open and connected with everyone else. On the farm, we take care of the animals and plants, and they take care of us. We cook food and clean for everyone else, just as everyone else does for us. It’s hard work and takes a lot of time and energy to do these things, so the Fairy in the Middle process helps to revive and refresh our physical bodies, but also our minds and our hearts.

Fairy in the Middle is wonderful. Big smiles in this place. 🙂

The travelers…

How dare I let four years go by without doing some solo traveling! Never again.

For those of you who haven’t strapped on a backpack for at least a few weeks, please, do yourself (and the planet) a favor and do it! It may seem a bit daunting, but really, if you can open your mind and say “yes” a few more times than you say “no,” you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of memories and new perspectives.

When spending a few days away from the farm this week, I met several travelers who were either making their way through San Jose toward one of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches, or coming here in search of something bigger than themselves and using San Jose as the launch point. Each time I’ve traveled, especially in Costa Rica, I’ve found there are more people like me elsewhere than back home. There’s a different attitude with travelers, especially with the kind of travelers who aren’t exactly sure where they’re going or when they’ll be there. There’s this openness and excitement and curiosity that mimics what I’ve always had inside of me… a drive to know and do and see more! And I love that part about travelers, and about myself.

In the past 24 hours I’ve shared breakfast with an Englishman who just left an orphanage in Norway where he’d been volunteering for the past couple months, who is now headed to a northern Costa Rican yoga and permaculture center for a few months (he’s hoping to do some cleansing and re-setting of his mind… sounds familiar). I also hung out with an American/Israeli duo who did the 9-5 thing while somehow also working the Burning Man festival for the past nine years, and are now hoping to learn how to start their very own organic farm complete with earthships and communal living… And a Canadian gal working for the UN in New York City who came to Costa Rica to surf for Christmas. And a Swiss girl working reception at a Costa Rican hotel. And a Mexican fella who hasn’t seen his family in nearly three years because he can’t force himself to leave Costa Rica… There are so many types here! And this isn’t abnormal — the diversity of travelers on this amazing planet is huge! And I’m one of them. I have my own experiences and stories to help color the traveling world, and I intend to do just that.

So now… how to do just that, with a golden retriever, and no paycheck… Hmm… Ideas welcome 🙂

Some things are always the same… Like homesickness and joy.

Knowing yourself and all your quirks is an important part of living a fulfilled life.

My mom brought up an interesting point about me today. Despite always having a strong inner urge to explore and to learn and experience new things, I also have a very tender heart which needs the affection of my loved ones to feel complete. And therefore, thinking I can have one without the other and still create a full, content life is foolish. I need both!

In each of my several extended stints away from home (Italy for a year, Israel for several months, Italy again for a few months, and now Central America), I always reach a point where I’m reminded just how much I love my family and my friends, and just how much it means to me to feel their love. Sometimes this happens sooner rather than later… Which has already been the case now. I started having a homesick moment where I really missed my dog, togetherness with my ex-boyfriend/whatever he is now (long story – I’m bad at clean breakups remember?), and chilling on my parents’ couch with the hectic busy-ness that inevitably accompanies a large family like ours. It’s the little things that can really pull you toward home.

I’m realizing, though, that yes I do need to feel the love of those most dear to me, but that doesn’t mean I have to physically be with them. In today’s technological pervasive age, I can find ways to swap the love. And then once that happens, I can continue living life day by day and learning as much as I can, and my loved ones back home can still know I’m here for them just as they’re here for me.

Best friends, never apart. Maybe in distance, never in heart.

I also know that there are times when I need to feel joy, and wonder, and giddiness! It’s hard for my emotions to fully release when I’m with others (especially dozens of new “others” who’ve yet to see me without walls), so therefore I need to find comfort alone.

I’m currently sitting in an air-conditioned auditorium in the bottom level of San Jose’s Museo de Oro below Plaza de la Cultura. Simply being in this museum filled with ancient Central American artifacts, a full art gallery of Lola Fernandez, and a big exhibit on cats (fuck yeah for cats!), I feel joy. I feel content and I feel like Robin. Really back to the Robin I am deep down, without the pressure of fitting into farm life, or the confliction of trying to figure ME out and what’s next… Just me. Relaxed. Open. Confident. Content.

In any city, if there’s a museum and an extra few hours, sign me up. Stepping away from the hustle and bustle and into a calm, quiet home for learning definitely revives me. Art. History. Textiles. Anything!

So, I’m glad I’m here. And I’m glad I’m taking my time.

Day by day. Breathe it all in, and love it all out.

This is a Jaguarundi -- one of the few native wild cats still in Costa Rica.
This is a Jaguarundi — one of the few native wild cats still in Costa Rica. I saw an all black version of this crossing the path on my way to the farm. Lucky!
picture of me talking on the phone.
Talking on the phone with a great friend. There won’t be many calls, but the few I can make are so very special 🙂
A painting done by Costa Rican artist Lola Fernandez.
A painting done by Costa Rican artist Lola Fernandez. This was one of my favorites.
Picture of me wearing a cat mask.
I decided to wear a cat mask 🙂

Learning patience, whether I like it or not.

It’s a Tuesday night. And I’m not getting ready for work. And I’m not making myself dinner. And I’m not doing laundry. Or paying bills. Or bathing the dog (which rarely happened anyway, what am I talking about…) And I’m not stressing about what’s next.

Instead what am I doing? I’m sitting on a patio (seemingly built for one) enjoying a fresh organic banana milkshake. I’m waiting for my vegetarian lasagna and caprese salad, and watching the hustle and bustle of San Jose’s rush hour traffic go by. …and there’s a Burger King next door, but let us forget about that 🙂

What’s important is that I am taking time for me. By myself. To really reflect on the past week of farm life. I came to San Jose to fix my computer (which doesn’t seem like it shall be fixed — but should I buy a new one?), and I’m deciding to stay a couple days to do ME.

The farm is tough work. Physically and mentally, a lot of strength goes into this process. The first couple of days were quite stressful and bewildering with always so much going on and it’s difficult to feel like it’s ok to NOT be moving when there’s always work to be done. But, I’ve had to remind myself, I’m here to learn and push myself, but I’m also here to focus on me and what it is I want out of life. Where do I fit in the big scheme of things?

In these past couple of days I was able to do more of the less labor-intensive work like cleaning and watering plants and checking to make sure everything is in working order… And shredding coconuts for three hours (seriously — what a new thing that was haha). But, I was still helping to keep the farm running and the people fed and happy, but I wasn’t kicking my own ass and wearing down my mind in the meantime. It’s been better. And I’ve been happier. And I love that.

But for me, for now, I’m still trying to put all the pieces together of the life I’ve lived until now and use that puzzle to hopefully make some sense of what I want to continue with and what I want to cut out and replace with better things.

For one, patience. I’ve realized in just one week that in the states we live in a very fast paced, high-production world. I’ve asked several times when learning a new thing, “Ok so how long should it take to do this?” Or “can we do this faster?” And, I’ve always been responded to with a simple, “however long it takes to do the best you can,” and “all we have is time.”  Such a different view, and one that I think we could all benefit from if we kept that in mind.

“however long it takes to do the best you can.”

Also, going from a remote farm in the middle of a jungle to a city like San Jose takes time. A lot of time. First, get a ride or walk (seriously) the 10-15 kilometers to the closest bus stop. Then take a bus about 1 hour to another bus stop. Then another bus to San Jose. Then walk to find a bus stop or a taxi. Then good luck finding your destination because addresses really don’t exist here. But… If there’s a will then there’s a way. And there’s no sense in rushing a process that requires its own pace… So, I’m learning and living patience.

I’ll be writing a couple more posts soon, so stay tuned. And let me know what you think I should do about writing (as in.. should I purchase a way to do that?).

A few of my favorite recent shots

Best friend - the basil plant.
Best friend – the basil plant.
The nicest produce stock picture.
The nicest produce stock picture.
beautiful costa rican view near puriscal
This is what the view was today. Amazing.
The simple things are the best. Like this "crema" I had today.
The simple things are the best. Like this “crema” I had today.

Jungle food

Today I really felt at home in the jungle. I was able to cook, and I ate some really yummy variations of the typical rice and beans Costa Rican diet.

Recently everyone has really been into cooking ‘dosa’ which is basically fermented rice and beans (2:1). This is a big deal and quite the treat for everyone living on the farm because you can turn dosa into a bread-like dough… and there isn’t bread here 🙂 No wheat or wheat products because wheat isn’t produced in Costa Rica.

all local. all the time.

I’ve learned how to make butter, kefir yogurt, kefir soda, dosa (of course), fried yuca patties (this was delicious last night), and twice-fried plantanos. This morning we made crepe-like dosa pancakes with dosa, milk, bananas, sugar, salt, and cinammon, with fresh papaya jam. Yum!

My computer is still out of service so for now I can’t blog as planned, but I’m still writing everything I’m learning and will blog when I can. So stay tuned 🙂

Cheese

  • Fresh cow milk. Heat to a light froth, then remove from heat and add a type of acid really slowly (stir and pour really slowly) — lemon or vinegar used here —  you must play around with this to get the right amount of milk/acid. In the jungle with kefir vinegar and milk, it’s about 6ish cups of milk to 1 cup kefir vinegar/lemon. If you’re using white vinegar, it’s much stronger than kefir vinegar and you will therefore need much less.
  • The curds will naturally separate from the whey as you stir. Scoop out the curds.
  • Hang curds in cheese cloth to naturally drain the remaining whey.
  • Add herbs or other flavors to the cheese.
  • Voila!

Kefir Yogurt

  • Mix live kefir grains with fresh cow milk (about 1 tbsp live grains to 1 liter of milk).
  • Let this mixture sit for 2 days.
  • Strain the kefir from yogurt. (Add fresh cow milk to kefir grains to restart yogurt process.)
  • Let the yogurt sit for a few hours.
  • Skim off all the whey from the top. Discard (or try to find something to do with whey!).
  • What’s left is fresh, pro-biotic, good-for-you, organic, and delicious yogurt!

Dosa

  • 2:1 white rice to garbanzo beans.
  • Soak in water for 1 day.
  • Grind the mixture really fine — almost like flour.
  • Stir and let ferment for three days.
  • Mix with whatever you would like (bananas/sugar/salt/milk for a sweet crepe-like consistency, salt/pepper, etc).
  • Fry, bake, add to bottom of casserole, etc

The jungle can sure take its toll.

Dead computer?

The jungle may have killed my computer. Day two at the farm and my Macbook has died.

There are plenty of computers here to go around, but I´d really like to use mine to document all the wonderful new things I´m learning. Stay tuned, but feel free to follow me on Instagram or friend me on Facebook (I can access these from my phone quite easily).

IG — robinstremlow (www.instagram.com/robinstremlow)

Facebook — Robin Stremlow

Revived Robin?

I´m learning so much and am trying to take it day by day, and I´m feeling great. It will take a while to get used to this lifestyle, but I´m trying to listen to myself and respect it, moreso than ever. It´s truly a whole new world here, but already I can feel the love from everyone around me and the plants and animals sharing this place. It´s going to be a lot of work, but I´m sure I´ll be a better person after a few months at VerdEnergia.

These past two days have been wonderful — farm work including horseback riding and cow milking, a permaculture farming technique to help protect freshly planted trees from the jungle downpours, yoga, dancing, cleaning, a bit of relaxing, and, what seems to be, a hell of a lot of eating (everyone thinks I´m quite strange for giving away my food lol). So far some form of beans and rice for every meal, and fresh veggies. We´ve also had eggs, and cow milk that came out of the cow only minutes before (in part thanks to me!).

Tomorrow will be great, too — playing sous chef for breakfast, will be learning rabbit care and chicken care, will do some cob dancing and some wall making (a great technique for sustainable construction here), and hopefully more yoga and dancing, and plenty more food. Maybe even a swim in our pool (life here is rough – not).

Hard to believe I was sitting behind a desk just 9 days ago… Although I really enjoyed all the people I met and many of the skills I learned back home in the States, I can´t imagine NOT working with my hands, and traveling, and living and loving life with people from all over this planet. …my colors are coming back 😉

Sending so much love from the jungle.

xxoo, and pura vida!

But please, send good vibes or prayers for me and everyone here. And my Mac (if you´d like to read about the good times).

The Trek to Wizard Beach

My friend, Maiju, has traveled to Bocas del Toro in Panama several times and acted as a tour guide for a few of her friends and I yesterday. The main island of ‘Bocas’ is called Colon, which is where the majority of the islands’ residents live. Apart from Colon, the other main island is Bastimentos. In Bocas, Bastimentos is known for having beautiful, unspoiled beaches. There are two main beaches: Red Frog and Wizard. We wanted to do both. But, that made things a bit trick.

We caught a water taxi from Bocas Town to Bastimentos around noon (quite a bit later than planned, considering we were going to spend the full day basking in the sun… however I later realized that may have been only my intention :)).

Water taxis in Bocas del Toro.
Water taxis in Bocas del Toro.

Let me pause here to explain the awesomeness of these water taxis. For a few dollars, a local man with a rickety 10-person(ish) boat will speed you across the Caribbean Sea to whatever Bocas island you wish to go to. They have these other places in the world, and I’ve used them in Jamaica, but there was a simplistic charm about the handful I’ve ridden on in Panama. The men are no-nonsense drivers who don’t try to swindle you or charm you, or really even make small talk (although with their friendly grins and English knowledge, I’m sure they would speak to you if you tried). These boats are in need of new paint jobs, but the colors are all like candy necklace colors, bleached from a bright green to pale mint from the sun.

OK, back to the Trek. Once we got to the island we took a simple walk across a man-made gravel road. Ok, this was cool. A bit more developed than I would have liked when heading to a “rustic” beach, but ok… Oh I shouldn’t have even bothered thinking that.

Red Frog was very pretty – definitely in my personal Top 10 beaches. There was a bar/cafe, volleyball court, wooden lookout point, and a handful of for-rent chairs under palm beach umbrellas.

Local Panamanian boys showing off the infamous Red Frog for which the beach received its name.
Local Panamanian boys showing off the infamous Red Frog for which the beach received its name.

But the water was amazing! One thing you’ll need to know about me is that I love water. Any kind — ocean, lake, river, uber-chlorinated pool — anything. Despite being a fire sign (go Sags!), immersing myself in water is the most self-reviving thing I’ve yet to do in my life. Any time I’m feeling low, the water can bring me back to center. The waves were big but the water was clear and cool. Perfection.

After we’d had our fill of Red Frog, which included an impromptu soccer match with a few local boys and a glimpse at the infamous poisonous red frog thanks to a different local duo, we were off to Wizard Beach.

Maiju knew the way as she’d done it before, but we were cautioned it wouldn’t be easy. UNDERSTATEMENT of the trip thus far. This 1.5-hour trek was a treacherous endeavor for the six of us (all from the farm apart from a hostel mate we just met). We’re at the end of Central America’s rainy seasons and the majority of any “path” has all but washed away. At several points we questioned which direction to head and decided to stay as close to the shore as possible (at some times, I questioned whether we should actually head back to the developed Red Frog). The shoreline has little sand unless you’re actually on one of the named beaches. Instead, the shoreline is full of mangrove-like trees, jagged black volcanic rock, or sharp rocky ledges. So no, there would be no simple beach walking here.

This land seemed so unspoiled by humans – there were plants and trees as far as the eye could see. So many hues of green, speckled with a purple banana flower here, or a towering red stalk-like plant there, and even one tiny orange frog. A true feast for the eyes, but talk about danger. Each of us each had at least one spill, and shortly into the trek all of us ended up barefoot (nature’s best shoe, in my opinion). There were points of 12+” mud holes we sludged through, “tree limbs” we grabbed onto only to find out they were not attached to anything, and picker bushes, and palms, and coconuts, and so many rocks. It was amazing, but it was definitely the most adventurous nature trek I’ve ever taken. Without a guide, even. Maiju would occasionally laugh when we’d ask, “Are you sure sure this is the way?” “Yeah I think so,” she’d say. Very comforting.

After the long walk/climb/slide to the open air of Wizard Beach, I was a bit hesitant. At first I couldn’t see a single soul on this half-mile stretch of truly unspoiled beach against a jungle backdrop and sea green waves. I began to wonder if we ended up somewhere completely different, which wouldn’t have been too difficult to do considering we’d moved away from any sure path about 100 yards into the trek.

But sure enough, I spotted two surfers in the distance and my mind was at ease. We’d made it. And it was amazing! Exhausting, both physically and mentally, but so rewarding.

It’s things like this that remind me how truly powerful the human body is. Challenges will come, but if you don’t seize the opportunity, you’ll never reap the reward.

We left only footprints. Adieu, Wizard Beach.
We left only footprints. Adieu, Wizard Beach.  [more pictures to come.]

The time has come!

I’m in Fort Lauderdale waiting to board the flight to San Jose. I’m overjoyed with all the positivity and enthusiasm coming in from everyone about this adventure.

Even on the first plane this morning, a total stranger and I shared his pillow (really, it was a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal he’s bringing as a present for his kids, but he graciously offered it up as a pillow for his strangely dressed row mate). This was such a beautiful thing. This next step is all about sharing and community and what better way to start?

The Goodbyes (that weren’t actually goodbyes)

I shared some pretty powerful moments with a handful of my favorite people these past few days. My family, my main man(dog) Jax, and so many wonderful friends. It’s such a strange thing to say goodbye knowing full well you intend to see them each so soon. But really, I was also saying goodbye to parts of myself.

Over goodbye drinks last night I explained to a friend that I no longer want to be someone who makes the majority of decisions very passively – what to do each day, who to be with, where to go to school, where to work, etc. These are BIG decisions that deserve conscious thought and reflection, but over the past several years I’ve made the majority of those decisions based on what seemed best, or what would be easiest or convenient… Not ok. From this day forward, I intend to take an active role in each decision I make.

Ask yourself each day what it is you want to do, then do just that.

I can preach it all I want, now is the time to live it. Wish me luck!

Final shots with my pack, my best friend, and my parents.

Best gift ever? November snow!

In recent years we haven’t had snow in November. Well yesterday was my birthday, and after sleeping an extra four hours (which never happens anymore), I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow! We had almost three inches at my parents’ house in Northern Michigan. Best birthday gift – best parting gift? Snow on my birthday.

There won’t be snow in the jungle, and I won’t get to play snowball “fetch” this year with Jax, so we made the most of it.

Robin and puppies play with snow.
Playing in the snow with Jax and his little buddy.

In 72 hours, I’ll be on a plane from Ft. Lauderdale to San Jose. Almost here 🙂

Cliff diving…

Vicky and I in Costa RIca in 2006
I wore a hardhat the last time I did something crazy in Costa Rica. I was scared to death — guess I still am.

Honesty will be a prime focus in this blog, so let me reveal something about myself… I’m 25, and a Twihard. Yes, yes this next stage of my life will hopefully be lived with intention and purpose so maybe Twilight won’t make the cut, but for the past several years, it has. Unordered Twilight marathons have happened in my house on many a hungover Sunday morning.

So back to cliff diving. Bella made it the cool thing to do in New Moon, but cliff diving does look awesome. It’s the kind of adrenaline-fueled, semi-nonsensical sort of thing that I wish I could do more of (as in, apart from a skydiving stint and a drunken burn incident, I haven’t done many – let’s be honest).

The jump I’m taking now seems similar to a cliff dive, although death is a bit less likely, and financial losses a bit more probable.

I’m pumped, almost packed, and so ready. Six days and I’m off!

Edward Cullen, if you’d like to show up after I jump, you’re more than welcome.