Personal Transformation in Paradise
I met Jody and Brian Calvi more than six years ago when they toured the United States to spread the word about their Farm of Life Retreat Center in Costa Rica. I had been in that same area of San Salvador, Costa Rica, every winter visiting with friends for seven years and had also done a talk at Finca de Vida on “Creating Healthy Children with Raw Foods.” The thought of leading a retreat at this beautifully situated health and wellness center was very exciting but didn’t come to fruition for me until close to seven years later. Starting with my retreat this year, I will now organize an annual retreat to Finca de Vida every year.
In 2003, I wrote an article on research I’d done on “Raw Food and Costa Rica” for a Manhattan newsletter called The Raw Dish. There was an immediate stirring of interest in visiting Costa Rica following the publishing of the article. Several people, including some of my friends, wrote their stories of personal transformation for my book Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods based on their moving from the cement jungle of New York City and other U.S. cities to the mountain rainforests of Costa Rica.
One of these people is my friend Amy Schrift. In August 2003, while living in Manhattan, Amy underwent a profound change. She changed the way she ate, observing everything that went into her mouth. Like me, she decided to eat foods only from nature, ripened in the sun and providing life force. Her internal compass pointed her toward the tropics, where she knew she could always enjoy her five favorite foods—bananas, coconuts, pineapples, papayas and mangos—in a year-round comfortable climate. Amy has lived simply in Costa Rica for many years, observing nature day and night, becoming aware of the moon’s rising and setting and its effects on plant growth and animals.
Visiting Amy on her 17.5-acre piece of land was part of my retreat activities this year. Amy spoke to my retreat group of 16 attendees. She spoke about her days alone in silence on her farm, interrupted only by weekly trips to town for food and supplies, gatherings with friends or conversations in Spanish with two workers who help her on the farm a few days a week. She found the animals and plants to be her teachers and guides. From them, she learned to live in balance and harmony with her surroundings.
I wanted this week to be an opportunity for the retreat attendees to experience the awesome nature of this area of Costa Rica and to meet my friends who moved there, living so simply off the land. We stayed for a full week at Finca de Vida (Farm of Life) with Jody and Brian Calvi. I brought my group to see Amy, and another friend, Eric Rivkin, a permaculture farmer and raw food chef, who left Minneapolis to follow a path toward a natural life in Costa Rica.
Staying at the Farm of Life (Finca de Vida), my guests had the wonderful opportunity to bathe in a chlorine-free natural pool (cleansed by food-grade hydrogen peroxide), to practice sun-gazing with Brian Calvi at sunrise and sunset, to learn about all the wonderful vegetables, herbs and fruits grown right there at this magnificent farm, eating a variety of tropical fruits and lush greens grown there on the bushes and in their gardens.
Some of the many wonderful tropical fruits we got to try include: mamey sapote, papaya, mango, jackfruit, nispero, noni, rollinia, mangosteen, the luscious water of the green coconut, plantains, really ripe bananas and pineapple. The inside of rollinia tasted like lemon meringue pie! This fruit is in the Annona family and is commonly known as biriba. I have never tasted any fruit as delicious as this rollinia!
Part of the weeklong retreat included visits to stunning waterfalls such as Nuyaca and an adventurous hike up the mountain along Costa Rica’s tallest waterfall, Diamante, to a cave at the top. We visited the pristine beaches of Hacienda Baru and Domenical. We spent time making sugar cane juice, eating rollinia and talking about living sustainably when we visited Amy’s farm, and we hiked primary rainforest and toured Eric’s permaculture farm and waterfalls. The attendees were overwhelmed with the beauty, clean air and water, tropical fruit and creative fresh raw food meals prepared by a top raw food chef.
We enjoyed daily yoga, qi gong, musical dance, meditation, salsa instruction and gong sound baths.
At the beginning and end of this glorious week, we stayed at Margarita’s Guesthouse in Alajuela near San Jose. Margarita was a delightful hostess, offering us delicious fruit and salad meals, included in our stay there. What a great way to come in to and leave Costa Rica!
Jody and Brian Calvi, owners of Finca de Vida, created such a truly wonderful experience for me to be able to offer to the attendees of my “Love Raw Food & Yoga Costa Rica Retreat” that I will be offering it again in March 2016.
I am excited to have openings available soon. Those interested can reach me at 201–934–6778 or by e-mail. Check out the comfortable cabins with beautiful views of the mountains and Pacific coastline on FincadeVida.com. My Costa Rica videos will be up on my YouTube channel, Super Healthy Children. It turned out that the 2015 retreat was an adult retreat. The retreat is available for individuals and families. Next year, I hope to also offer a separate retreat for families at another retreat center.