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Dean Pomerleau

CR Mini-Retreat in Costa Rica?

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Hmm, I don't like the idea of paying 2x or 3x the rate to join one of the mentioned retreats that don't particularly interest me.  But if you guys go, maybe I'll stay at the shack 15 minutes down the road described in the video dean posted, haha.  I'll have to put up with flakey crystal quackery and pseudo-science, but the nightly live music and plant based smoothies might make it well worth the sacrifice ;).  

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Gordo,

 

I hear you, although when you add in the a la carte costs of travel too/from the airport and activities / excursions, I estimate the cost of these retreats to be in the neighborhood of ~1.5x the cost of an visit to FoL independent of a retreat.

 

I too would like to avoid the markup, the wooand perhaps not have to stay (or pay for) a full 7 days. Unfortunately, it looks like all the prime dates to visit (i.e. the entire dry season from Jan-Apr) are reserved for these sorts of retreats. I'm still waiting to hear back on vacancies immediately prior to or after after these prime-time retreats, to see if that might be an option for us, either this coming December, next June, or the following December.

 

--Dean

 

1For the record, I don't consider yoga (or ayahuasca) to be 'woo'.

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Sounds fun! Don't know if I'll be able to swig down the costs, though, I'm practically broke. Ah oh og and if you choose an ayahuasca ceremony, please be prepared, do your research, know what you're about to experience, and I hope you'll approach it with deep respect. It's not a tourist attraction, haha, you're not visiting the Taj or Eiffel Tower with it. Expect to get physically sick, yep, and have your insights turned upside down, inside out.

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Sthira,

 

Thanks for considering it. Would a cost savings of $800-1000 make a difference for your ability to join us (e.g. $1000-1400 for a 5-day visit vs. $2000-2500 for a 7-day retreat)? Or would you have difficulty swinging either of them?

 

Regarding ayahuasca, thanks for the advice. Does that come from personal experience or general knowledge? I'm on the fence about trying it, and was hoping to get insight from someone who has.

 

Thanks!

 

--Dean

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Hello all, Dean thanks a lotta for the invitation but coming from Italy would be too much challenging and i should come alone because children too young

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Thanks, Dean, for your tireless efforts.  :)xyz   I strongly prefer the 5 day less expensive retreat in December -- December works for me, if it's late enough in December (final exams are in mid-December; I have to post my grades before leaving town).

 

Otherwise, any time in late May or later in the Spring/Summer is fine (again, final exams are in mid May).

 

  --  Saul

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OK,

 

I got the scoop from Jody at FoL. Here is what I learned about the options for visiting FoL independent of the retreats offered:

  • They are fully booked for this coming December.
  • The first post-retreat availability is next June (starting June 2nd). During June there is a 4-night minimum stay.
  • They have availability for a group our size anytime in Dec 2017, including the week between xmas and new year. During the xmas to new year week, they have a 7-night minimum stay. Other parts of December are 4-night min.
  • "June-August and Nov-Dec is light rainy season and the weather and temperatures are very similar."
  • Here is more on the weather at various times of the year from the FoL website:
Contrary to popular belief, it is not blistering hot in Costa Rica. As one moves closer to the equator, temperature ranges become less extreme — at Farm of Life it is generally between 70-95 F degrees from January – April and 60 – 85 F degrees from May – December . At our elevation, we enjoy cool evenings. During the day, the sun is hot and the shade is just right. The sun is strong year round since we are only 9 degrees from the equator.
 
December to April is the dry season with the warmest temperatures. In May, rainy season begins with more cloud cover and cooler temperatures. [The weather is often electrical in May with storms and lightening.] It is rainiest in October and November. The farm is often closed in November because the weather isn’t conducive to operating a hotel in the tropics. December is when the weather transitions back to dry season. All this said, weather patterns have not been predictable lately. Insects are light from January – April, and more of a nuisance from May-December.
 
So it looks like our options are the following:
 
  1. Visit FoL as part of one of their upcoming retreats during the dry season. There are several, but they are all 7-nights and all cost ~$2000 per person, including transportation to/from airport, activity fees and prepared meals/snacks (est. ~$500+ total if purchased a la carte). Retreats that might be of interest including:
  2. Visit FoL in the off-season, which basically means either June 2017 or Dec 2017. Except for the week between Xmas and New Year, this would allow us to do a shorter visit (4-night min). The weather isn't supposed to be as nice (cooler and rainier in the off season - see above). We'd also have to arrange for our own transportation from/to airport, which is about $100 each way by cab (less if shared), and pay for excursions / activities. But I estimate a 5-night stay with airport transportation and excursions would probably be around $800-900 per person. Round trip flights from Pittsburgh to San Jose Costa Rica are generally $300-400, for a total of around $1100-1300 per person. Possible dates include the following. Note: I'm listing 5-night stays wed-sun unless otherwise noted, but people could go longer or shorter (4-night min) if desired:
  • Jun 1-5th (Thurs-Mon)
  • Jun 7-11th
  • Jun 14-18th
  • Jun 21-25th
  • Dec 13-17th
  • Dec 20-24th
  • Dec 24-30th (7-night min, Sun-Saturday)

 

Given all these options, I've put together a survey to gauge people's overall interest, and to rank the various alternatives.

 

Even if you are deadset against it, or highly doubtful you'll go, I'd really like you to fill out the survey, including your Forum Username, so I won't pester you directly about your level of (dis)interest.

 

Here is the survey link.

 

I'll report back in a few days with results. In the meantime, feel free to also express your opinion on this thread about the various alternatives.

 

Thanks!

 

--Dean

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Money isn't really an issue for me

Wouldn't it be cool if everyone could say this? Why just the lucky few I'll grasp never, but for me, if I could say money ain't no issue fuck if I'd not be wandering the world staring out train windows. Rattatat for several years on and maybe hopping off a crowded train every now and then thin and barefoot down in some beaten town to eat my red cabbage in peace. What's the point of money? Outer space -- which is where we belong.

 

Ayahuasca, yes well, a million lessons but one is plants are in control, and without plants, well, we understand, no reason for affected profundity.

 

With all that money, keep planting more and more plants, Mother Earth needs you.

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Hi Dean and others. I got a few messages from Dean about this but have had the fantastic opportunity to travel abroad and am just now having regular (or non-firewalled) access to the Internet.

 

I love the idea of the FoL trip, or really even just a meetup somewhere domestic. I've been to Costa Rica before and it was fantastic. Do pack whatever packaged food you need because options are limited and otherwise quite expensive. Local fruits and veggies are abundant though, and the food options at FoL sound awesome.

 

I'm really not interested in a packaged retreat that costs $2000 for many of the reasons already provided by others.

 

My major limitations are that I teach and have the typical academic breaks, so winter and summer breaks would work best. Even a long weekend isn't very convenient for international travel.

 

James

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James,

 

I got a few messages from Dean about this...

 

Sorry to pester you. But you were one of the coolest people I met at the CR Conference in Tucson, and I thought this retreat might be right up your alley. Glad to hear I was right, and you are on-board if the timing and cost works for you.

 

I'm really not interested in a packaged retreat that costs $2000 for many of the reasons already provided by others.

 
My major limitations are that I teach and have the typical academic breaks, so winter and summer breaks would work best. Even a long weekend isn't very convenient for international travel.

 

You are far from alone on both the preference for a self-organized (less-expensive) retreat at FoL as well as having timing constraints dictated by the academic calendar.

 

Stay tuned for my next message about the consensus from responses to the survey.

 

--Dean

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CR Costa Rica Retreat Survey Results

 

Thanks to everyone who has filled out the survey to gauge level of interest, preferences and timing constraints for the CR retreat we are trying to plan. I've been very please with the response so far, and for those of you who haven't take it, it's not too late.

 

So far we've got 11 people who filled it out. Three said they are very unlikely or definitely not going. I've heard the same thing from a few other people (5) I've pestered directly via email, Facebook and/or direct messaging. But overwhelmingly the response has been very positive, with 8 people responding their likelihood of going are 50/50 (1 person), "likely but not definite" (4 people), and "wouldn't miss it!" (3 people). I've also got another positive response directly from someone independent of the survey, which makes 9 people. With spouses, family and guests that these people mentioned in the essay question in the survey and/or earlier on this thread, that brings us to a potential pool of participants of 13 people. If everyone of those could make it, I think that might rival the number of CRS members who travelled to the CR Conference in Tucson earlier this summer! In addition, I've heard from three other CRS members who are interested and check on logistics. I've reached out to 8 other people directly (including lots of familiar names to many of you) and am still waiting to hear back.

 

Getting back to the survey.

 

As for the question of whether to do a pre-organized, more expensive retreat during the peak-season or our own, self-organized, less expensive retreat during the off-season, the strong consensus was for self-organized. In fact, there was only one of the respondents who strongly (or even weakly) preferred the pre-organized option. Everyone else was either nearly neutral (5 people) or strongly preferred the self-organized option (5 people). From the essay questions and responses on this thread, the main reasons for this preference appear to be cost and scheduling (i.e. academic calendar constraints) - both quite understandable and important considerations.

 

But the most remarkable result were the dates. Obviously with a group this large, we can't hope to accommodate everyone, especially with their top choice. But what surprised me was how close a single week comes to fitting everyone's constraints. That date range is June 21-25th, with leeway on either end for people who want a longer stay. Remarkable, the only person (and his wife) who said he strongly preferred an organized retreat said June 21-25th doesn't work for them, and even he is checking on it to see if they can make it work.

 

Everyone else (all 8 positive respondents + 4-5 guests) said June 21-25th either "works ok" (2), "works pretty well" (3), or "one of my top choices" (3). No other set of dates came anywhere close to accommodating so many people.

 

So amazingly enough, it looks like we've got more than enough critical mass to identify June 21-25th at the Finca de Vida Wellness Center in Costa Rica as the first (semi-official, semi-annual?) CR Retreat.

 

In other developments, I've contacted the CR Society Board to see if we might designate the retreat as an "officially-sanctioned" CRS event, so perhaps we can advertise the retreat on the website & FaceBook forum, and use the email list from the recent CR Conference to contact the adventuresome folks who attended (but who may not read these forums) to see if they'd like to come. I'm also waiting to hear back from a bunch of people I contacted directly. 

 

I can easily imagine at this rate we could reach the FoL limit of 20-25 people, which would be really exciting!

 

I'm going to leave the survey open for a few more days, and hope to hear back from the other folks I've contacted, before trying to get a serious headcount, reserve a block of rooms with FoL and start organizing in earnest (i.e. investigating organized travel arrangements to/from airport, identifying tours & activities we'll want to do, etc.)

 

I'm so excited - Stay tuned!

 

--Dean

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Thanks much, Dean!

 

I really appreciate your efforts in working to set this up!  It would be great if this became a CR Society officially sanctioned semi-annual mini retreat -- it would be fantastic getting together with our fellow CRONnies (and maybe some of their families) semi-annually in such a wonderful environment, not just biannually (which of course is fantastic as well -- I learned a lot at CR IX)

 

 

investigating organized travel arrangements to/from airport, identifying tours & activities we'll want to do, etc

 

And I greatly appreciate your efforts in that direction, too!

 

:)xyz

 

  --  Saul

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Saul,

 

My pleasure. I too would love to make something like this a regular event - although I guess I shouldn't say that until we've successfully executed the first one!

 

Regarding logistics, and just to keep everyone in the loop, here is the list of questions I just sent Jody, the co-owner of FoL:

 

Jody,
 
Amazingly enough, it looks like things are coming together for our group to visit you next June. In particular, the date that works for us is June 21-25th, (hopefully) with leeway on either side for people who want to stay longer. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that that window still works for you. The list of people who are "probably" or "definitely" going to attend keeps growing, and now stands at 16-19, including spouses, family and friends. There may be some attrition, but also a couple more additions, so it looks like we would likely have that ballpark of people who'd like to participate.
 
So here are a few questions for you:
  • Do you have enough room for 16-19 people around June 21-25th? Would slight (1-2 day) adjustments to that window in either direction help you accommodate us?
     
  • How many people could you in theory handle, if we were willing to maximally share rooms?
     
  • How do we go about reserving rooms, a block of rooms, or the whole resort for that time window? Could we get a deal if we book your entire facility?
     
  • When a group like ours visits, do you find it works best to have people make arrangements individually, or work through a single point of contact (i.e. me)?
     
  • I know many of the cabins are meant to be shared. We're a friendly bunch, so most of us won't mind doubling/tripling up with others in a room. Do you have a list cabins, their capacity and any internal privacy features (walls or screens, private toilet, etc.) each has? If we're not going to book the whole place for a flat rate, I guess we'll also need to know the pricing for the cabins individually.
     
  • I'm hoping to arrange it so that most people arrive on the same day in San Jose, so we can share transportation. Can you recommend a company we could use to transport a group of 8-12 from the airport to your place?
     
  • When do you need to know about tours and activities we'd like to sign up for and have you organize? Do you have a comprehensive list of the options somewhere you can point me to?
 
Sorry to barrage you with questions, but we're very excited, and we like to be organized!
 
Thanks,
 
--Dean
 
If anyone can think of other questions we should ask Jody before committing, let me know. Some of the details I've asked about above (including deposit and cancellation policies - which are pretty generous) are available on their reservation page. I'm hoping by going as a group, and potentially booking out the whole place, they might give us a special deal.
 
Note - If I'm counting right the maximum occupancy according to that web page is 20 guests, and that includes sharing rooms and occupying bunk beds. So be aware it's going to be a pretty communal retreat, where we'll all get very friendly! ☺
 
Now I'm worried about the possibility that we'll be oversubscribed - a problem I couldn't have imagined even a couple days ago...
 
--Dean

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All,

 

I think it is important for truth in advertizing for everyone to realize just how rustic FoL is likely to be. Be sure to check out yourselves, and show your spouse / significant other their photo galleries, including this picture from one of the cabins:

 

QHQ9CZW.png

 

It was the last nail in the coffin for my wife's ambivalence over going. But my daughter and I are undeterred. I love snakes as my profile picture attests - larger version.

 

The Finca de Vida retreat promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

 

--Dean

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Looks great to me, Dean!

 

(Although I don't know if my wife will want to come.)

 

Several questions:

 

(1)  I've been at Ashrams where everyone is required to contribute some work daily -- e.g., meal preparation, greenhouse, washing dishes or similar.  Is that the case at Finca de Vida?

 

(2) At what time (or times) is yoga?

 

(3) [important]  Are all meals made with included grains, past, noodles, or -- hopefully -- no such junk?  And, hopefully, one can eat a salad without added dressing?

 

  --  Saul

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Saul,

 

I hope your wife won't wimp out like mine, but I'd totally understand.

 

Those are reasonable questions. I'll address each:

 

(1)  I've been at Ashrams where everyone is required to contribute some work daily -- e.g., meal preparation, greenhouse, washing dishes or similar.  Is that the case at Finca de Vida?

 

No. While FoL does enlist the help of unpaid volunteers, who stay and work at FoL for several months in return for room and board, they're paying guests aren't expected to work. Just relax and have fun! 

 

But that said, unless you want to pay an additional $20/meal for them to make your food, you're expected to make your own in the communal kitchen using the fruits and vegetables they stock it with. Naturally, you are also expected to clean up after yourself once you're done food prep and eating.

 

(2) At what time (or times) is yoga?

 

That's a good question. If we have over 10 people, I'm sure we'll be able to set our own times. I'm hoping we'll have the place entirely to ourselves. One sample itinerary I saw for a retreat had daily yoga at 7am. They offer yoga instruction, but I know for a fact that one person who is likely to be joining us is an extremely experienced yoga instructor who could lead us as well.

 

(3) [important]  Are all meals made with included grains, past[a], noodles, or -- hopefully -- no such junk?  And, hopefully, one can eat a salad without added dressing?

 

The only grains, breads, nuts, seeds or oils available at FoL will be whatever you bring in your suitcase. They offer fresh organic fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on fruit. Much of it they grow themselves, and some of it they buy at the local produce market (which they will arrange to tour for us if we'd like). Starting at 19:30 of this video (direct link), John Kohler gives a great tour of the communal kitchen facilities and the fruits and vegetables typically available (although he doesn't show the greens):

 

 

It's like the way many of us operate at home, where you select your own fruits and veggies, including picking your own greens from the garden, wash, peal and chop it yourself, eat, and clean up your own mess.

 

Other videos of interest, include a market tour (where we could go if we want to choose our own F&V), an orchard tour for the fruit they grow themselves, a garden tour where they grow their own greens, and some of the exotic fruit likely to be available while we are there. Here is a good 5min tour of the whole property.

 

Finally here is a list of the available activities:

 

Options for Tours and Excursions are:
  • Hikes to amazing, local waterfalls and swimming holes
  • Visits to nearby beaches for swimming, surfing, relaxation and sea kayaking
  • Canopy and zip line
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird watching
  • Whale watching
  • Rappelling
  • Eco-farm tours: permaculture; organic, sustainable off-grid living
  • Wild food foraging
  • White water rafting (full-day)
  • Hiking to Diamante Falls and Sanctuary (full-day or overnight)
  • Deep sea fishing (full-day)
  • Visiting the Baru Indian Reservation (full-day)
  • Snorkeling Cano Island (full-day)
Farm of Life offers Yoga instruction, raw gourmet food preparation classes, healthy lifestyle
workshops, sungazing classes and individual health coaching.
 
Options for evening activities for retreats are: drumming circle, campfire, Kirton or
chanting, movie night, game night, salsa instruction or meditation. 

 

Not listed is the ayahuasca ceremony offered at another wellness center a short distance away from FoL that Brian can help arrange.

 

--Dean

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Terrific Grace! It will be great to see you again, with or without your family. You are the best judge of whether your son would enjoy FoL or not.

 

Stay tuned. I hope to have a major update on logistics tomorrow.

 

--Dean

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Hi Dean!

 

My wife has looked the place over, and likes it -- but, like many, doesn't want to go in June.  (Our family of 4 had our best vacation ever at a much more expensive place, also in an elevated location, in beautiful Costa Rica.)

 

She would like to go, just she and I, this December (late in the month) or early January, if not to FoL, to some other place in Costa Rica.

 

I know that you've determined that FoL is fully booked for this year during that period -- but you've also found several other nice locations, in Costa Rica, that are more pricey.   I'd be very interested in that information.

 

  --  Saul

Edited by Saul

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Saul,

 

My wife has looked the place over, and likes it -- but, like many, doesn't want to go in June.

 

The June date hasn't been the showstopper for most people. In fact late June was date that worked for the most people. But I will admit a winter retreat would be preferable from my perspective but December 2018 is the only winter month available at FoL, and even then scheduling is difficult due to the holidays when people like to be with family.

 

I know that you've determined that FoL is fully booked for this year during that period -- but you've also found several other nice locations, in Costa Rica, that are more pricey.   I'd be very interested in that information.

 

I looked briefly at the Pura Vida yoga retreat you went to for comparison with FoL, and while checking it out on TripAdvisor I happened to notice several other more expensive resorts, which sounded nice but which I did not investigate.

 

Does all this suggest that you too are considering bagging out on the FoL retreat? Et tu, Saul!?  Or are you considering two trips to Costa Rica in the coming year?

 

--Dean

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No way!

I 'll see you there in June!

But if possible I'd like to take my wife somewhere nice in Costa Rica, even though it will costore than FoL.

Maybe one of the raw foods places that you discovered? (I guess you've already found several places while lookingfor FoL

I Reason I'm not emailing you personally -- I figure that others on the List might be interested in your answer, as well.

 

-- Saul

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Saul,

 

I very happy to hear you are still on-board for the June FoL retreat. I'm really looking forward to it, and so is my daughter. She'll have just graduated, and is up for an adventure. She's extremely straight-laced, but says she may even try ayahuasca. 

 

Maybe one of the raw foods places that you discovered? (I guess you've already found several places while lookingfor FoL

 

As I just said in my previous message, I haven't found (or seriously looked for) Costa Rican retreat centers other than FoL and Pura Vida. I suggest you search TripAdvisor.com.

 

--Dean

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The list of activities you posted sounds fantastic.  My wife and I are definitely looking forward to it!

 

"She's extremely straight-laced, but says she may even try ayahuasca."

 

If she is prepared for it, I think you may become the coolest Dad ever  B)xyz 

I've been doing some reading about how best to prepare, and it seems the consensus is for the most part doing the things many of us already do (plant based whole food diet, no dairy, no alcohol or other drugs (prescription or otherwise), no fried food, little salt & oil, lots of fruit and veges, fasting 4 hours before partaking).  Some other things I've seen mentioned are no fermented foods including fermented bean type foods.  If you follow those guidelines for at least 3 days prior, you may avoid the common negative side effects.  Others say the common negative side effects are just part of the experience and should be embraced, so best to have a good attitude going in... (I plan to eat a bunch of bananas that day).

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