Our third annual writing retreat to Costa Rica finished this week, and what a fabulous adventure it was. Here’s a list of our most memorable experiences:
- The Group! A wonderful collection of people from across North America. We had seasoned writers, and participants writing creatively for the first time. Poets, playwrights, short story writers, novelists, memoir writers and people trying various forms. Some of us had attended retreats before, while others had barely travelled. Our group was supportive, encouraging, positive and eager to launch into this amazing experience. Together we formed a community we will value forever.
- Finca Luna Nueva! Our lodge is one of the most relaxing, rejuvenating and beautiful places you could ever wish for – a paradise in the heart of rainforest. We enjoyed fruits, vegetables, ginger, turmeric, kefir, milk and eggs straight from the biodynamic farm, all organic. We swam in the gorgeous pool, did yoga in the pavilion, walked the nature trails, relaxed in the hammock at the top of the lookout tower and soaked in the hot tub. We enjoyed a farm tour, and a night hike with an expert guide. Our writing workshops took place in comfy chairs in the main lodge overlooking the pool, distracted only by the hummingbirds.
- The nature experience. We were immersed in wonders the modern world has forgotten. A mother sloth nursed her baby on a branch outside our windows. Toucans zipped between the trees. Parrots screeched in the canopy. Howler monkeys roared along the Cabalonga Trail. We saw agoutis, coatis and even a rare kinkajou.
- The writing! We met each morning for a two hour workshop, discovering techniques and exploring creative prompts. Each writer became more inspired, more confident as the week went on. In the afternoons, we spent time on our own writing, some of us in hammocks, others at desks, and a few in the open air restaurant by the pool, a fresh fruit smoothie beside us. In the evenings, we met socially, our lively discussions meandering from books we’d recommend, to our goals as writers, and our current projects. One day, we went on a walk-and-write all over the grounds of the lodge and into the rainforest, taking inspiration from the wonders around us. On the final night, we read our work for one another, celebrating our achievements.
- The sightseeing! Some group members went ziplining, visited the Arenal hanging bridges, and took a tour of a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. Most of us spent an afternoon relaxing on the river and taking photos of crocodiles, monkeys, bats and endless birds. We enjoyed homemade bread and Costa Rican coffee in the home of a local family, and explored La Fortuna, enjoying a dinner in town.
- The memories. Some holidays you leave behind when you take the flight home. Others stay with you forever. Ours was definitely the latter. New friends. A leap forwards in our writing projects. Fresh ideas and inspiration for the months ahead. The hope and joy you feel, being a part of the natural world. Memories of great experiences and endless laughter. Sunshine and warmth in the midst of winter. Most of all, the sense of belonging to a community of writers that will always exist, no matter how far from one another we may be.
Thank you to all our 2018 writing retreat participants. It was an honour sharing this life-changing week with you all.
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