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Dean Pomerleau

CR Mini-Retreat in Costa Rica?

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OK.

 

Thanks very much, Dean.  I do indeed look forward to seeing you, your daughter, Grace, Gordo and all the others in June.

 

And the beautiful rainforest, fruits and vegetables.

 

:)xyz

 

  --  Saul

 

P.S.:  Hope that you can make this an official CR Society event -- and maybe even make it semi-annual!

Edited by Saul

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Grace, Saul and Gordo,

 

I'm so happy to hear we have a core group of folks who (like me and my daughter) are committed to a retreat at FoL next June. As far as I'm concerned, anyone else who joins us will be gravy.

 

Saul, I'm working on getting permissions for the CR Society Board to designate the trip as an 'officially sanctioned' CRS event. It looks promising, but I haven't got official word back yet from the Board. Sponsorship / subsidies for people with financial need looks doubtful at this point, but I figured it didn't hurt to ask...

 

I hope to share more details with everyone about this as well as about logistics of reservations, but I'm still waiting to hear back from both the Board and from Jody at FoL.

 

Mechanism, I really hope you and your wife will change your mind and join us too. But I understand if it's not her cup of tea. My wife feels the same way. That's why Kendall (our daughter) and I are abandoning her and going anyway. Sounds like Saul is doing the same. Good for you Saul!

 

Regarding Pura Vida - Saul and his wife loved the place, and that's why I checked them out as well. It is obviously a lot more luxurious than FoL, with fully prepared meals and upscale accommodations. But it seemed quite a bit more expensive and yoga-focused. It also didn't seem to have quite as many fun activities, or the same one-big-happy-family vibe that you get from the FoL proprietors and guests. But for anyone who is looking for a more traditional resort retreat experience, and especially if you are into yoga, Pura Vida looks like a very good option. Perhaps Saul can say more.

 

As for me and my daughter, and apparently quite a few others, we're up for a back-to-nature adventure, and it looks me like FoL offers it in spades!

 

-Dean

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Thanks for the info Dean.

 

Tought a little discourse helpful here.... Accomodations do not bother us-

 

For example, they do not have air conditioning in any of their accomodations but this is not a concern to us personally, though we should be aware of this as a fmgroup since this is Costa Rica in June. Our greatest recreation are "simple living" so not a problem - we both love nature and the outdoors and have enjoyed camping and minimalist accommodations.

 

 

I'll preface this with applauding all your efforts Dean, you are really a Hero all of your efforts researching & coordinating. You even found a time maximally available to everyone. And I apologize below if I miss any facts/videos etc as I am sure your Eagle Eye will pick up various things we missed at first glance but then bringing this to the general forum where other mortals may have missed, misunderstood , etc may be helpful , and it is with benevolent motivations to share for general awareness & discourse I ask the following -

 

Reviewing the videos, did you have and how address any concerns regarding ( not necessarily my objections but may help in discourse for others considering this too):

 

1) Food choices for lunch (we are told dinners may be purchased for extra from a selection they provide in the morning in a jam, although no menu available and the reliability and quality of this would of course depend on their "cook"):

- Freshness and palatability of food: in the video a fair portion of the presumably carefully selected for public viewing plants look sick or wilted and it was in large part exotic fruits. For more than one fruit the promoter / owner mentions he never tried them ( elsewhere he mentions he lives in US)...

Another fruit was mentioned to eat carefully because of bugs inside it).... Flavor for several was described as "unique" and we never saw for example a meal prepared from these.

-Adequate food: Almost all features exotic fruit but aside from bannana and a few others may not work well with diet. Also feaured very few vegetables ( mostly exotic fruit)

-Adequate calories ( vegetarian but did not notice any basic starchy vegetable staples such as tubers, legumes, rice, or even ( sorry Saul I know you avoid) basic grains. No nuts or seeds either. They indicate you can ask them to buy them for us at "the market" ( i.e., local village) but it sounds a little vague and the quality, options, & safety of this is not clear and would make us highly reliant on our hosts

- Mostly rare fruits with apparently few vegetables --> creating consistent entrees each meal, some of which would also need to transport to day's activities: what is your action plan for this in this setting?

 

2) Remoteness of camp: granted this is Costa Rica but they advised a slow 4 hour route that requires 4x4 traction with apparently no other retreat center, hotel/lodging, etc. in this more remote part of Costa Rica. If things aren't working out and you don't choose to rent your own full jeep it leaves you a bit more vulnerable and less independent.

 

3) The host you linked too seemed probably nice but a little hyper, jumpy, and kind of flakey, jumping on the trampene as something fun you can do, abrupt transitions in his promotional oratory etc, as something you can do.. It did not leave a strong sense of confidence in the reliability and level headedness of the host.

 

A relatively small small # of guests were interviewed. The tripadvisor ratings were high, but I am not aware how much these can be self-selected, etc.

 

3.5) Since host and owners are two private individuals ( one of which lives in US?) apparently bought it as a small business entrepreneurial activity, standardization / reputation applies less to this situation and it can be great or a flop but either way a greater vuknerability to us as a group and dependency on our hosts since it is less clear what you are getting compared to more established vegetarian tropics home bases. Even smaller wild cards in the middle of remote Costa Rica hours away from more established Costa Rica may be disconcerting.

 

4) Natural surrounding ( and Costa Rica in general ) look beautiful but from the video an impression it is mostly a fruit farm, (not clear if the produce is high quality / palatable in general), with basic accomodations with anything extra costing significant extra $ via outsourcing.

 

5) Integrated experience. Not that anybody here is looking to be entertained but imagining a week at the farm the home base looks to be pretty remote compared to the options so you need to pick and choose more than in a consolidated experience closer to a Costa Rica city or even more easily driveable to a modest established community. What are your thoughts on what a daily schedule would look like, imagining the farm vs outsourced excursions for extra $, how do you imagine a daily schedule that is coordinated into the experience rather than disjointed ( together? Each of us doing our own excursions as we see fit? A tangible overall proposed schedule or approach to this may allay some concerns making this into in overall positive community shared experience.

 

Costa Rica looks beautiful but I think addressing the concerns above may help allay concerns some may have raised over the farm vs a more established and/or developed Costa Rica home base for the retreat.

Edited by Mechanism

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Mechanism,

 

Thanks for your very thoughtful and thorough list of questions / concerns. They are certainly worth considering, and coming to terms when one is deciding how to spend one's all-too-limited vacation time and money. I'll see if I can address them, or point to FoL information that addresses them:

 

1) Food choices ...

 

This is definitely one everyone should consider. It's all vegan, and as I've pointed out, and the videos point out, it's likely to be lean heavily towards fruit. If you want nuts or grains, you'll need to bring your own. 

 

For more than one fruit the promoter / owner mentions he never tried them ( elsewhere he mentions he lives in US)... 

 

I think you are mistaking John Kohler (the high energy person in the video of the kitchen @ 19:30 I pointed to) for the proprietors / owners (whose names are Brian and Jody). John is not affiliated with FoL, but instead visited as a guest in 2012, and like he always does, he made a video of it. You see, John is a relatively 'famous' YouTube 'celebrity' known for his enthusiasm for home gardening and a low-fat, whole food, raw vegan lifestyle. Here are his two Youtube Channels, one focused on growing your own fruits and vegetables and one focused on eating a healthy, raw, plant-based diet.  He is a great guy, and a great resource. I based much of my approach to gardening and growing my own food on his sage advice.

 

I actually bought exotic seeds from John (malabar spinach and bolivian cucumber). I've even spoken with him on the phone (consulting on gardening issues). Yes, he's a little crazy with energy, but he is very sincere, and tells it like it is. You should see him diss many a raw food restaurant during his travels.  Some he likes, but others he doesn't hesitate to rip to shreds. John is a man after my own heart, and his obsession with health will appeal to many people. Here is a good video of him about tips for eating a healthy, plant-based diet when traveling and staying at a hotel:

 

 

Anyway, enough about John. In short, John is an honorary "one of us" when it comes to healthy eating and lifestyle, and so I consider his very positive review of FoL to be very important. It's one reason I've wanted to visit there for several years. Note, John's video review of FoL is from 2012. They've done many upgrades since then (adding a nice pool and spring-fed hot tub). Both their fruit orchards and vegetable garden have matured since then too. 

 

Between John's review, the rave reviews on TripAdvisor, and the fact that several well-known raw vegan health fanatics (e.g. Chris Kendall from RawAdvantage) keep coming back year-after-year to hold their retreats at FoL speak volumes to me. Here is the latest review (5 stars) from a random guest who stayed in late June 2016 (a little over a month ago), exactly when we're planning to be there:

 

“From the sun gazing beaming faces as we arrived to the beautiful two FULL moons at our departure, PURE LOVE, gratitude”
 
5 of 5 stars  Reviewed June 28, 2016
 
Our duplex made of hardwoods was perfect to share with our two teenage stars gifted to us temporarily from the Sun. The experiences were transformational in the most magical and high vibrational frequencies possible. The food and education is demonstrated in the improved health of all four of my family members throughout our stay and we have learned life changing skills and habits which aid us in continuing an optimal health life individually and collectively . Our family has added the bond created when preparing meals together and the love shared through energizing our bodies with nourishing real food created by the sun water air and earth. We will be back. To your farm and as neighbors. We salute your pioneering undertaking in creating such a truly magnificent sacred space to heal and be reminded of our true essence. Love always, my tribe .

 

Sounds a little flaky, but they definitely had a great time as a family!

 

 

A relatively small small # of guests were interviewed. The tripadvisor ratings were high, but I am not aware how much these can be self-selected, etc.

 

Hmmm.... Have you seen the other 153 videos from Farm of Life alone, many with guest interviews? Plus there are a ton more videos from guests unaffiliated with FoL (like John's video) if you'd like to learn more. Simply search "Farm of Life Costa Rica" on YouTube. I've not seen any that say negative things.

 

But if you (or esp. your wife) aren't into really clean eating, and willing to prepare you own simple meals from exotic fruits and vegetables, FoL isn't likely to be a good fit.

 

Regarding calorie sufficiency - they do offer plenty of avocados and coconuts. Maybe even durian by now, if their trees have matured enough since John Kohler's video in 2012. But in addition, I'll probably bring my own nuts and seeds as backup, just in case. My daughter will probably bring some granola.

 

- Mostly rare fruits with apparently few vegetables --> creating consistent entrees each meal, some of which would also need to transport to day's activities: what is your action plan for this in this setting?

 

My personal plan is to eat most of my calories for the day at breakfast (like always), and perhaps bring a couple pieces of fruit with me for snacks during the day's activities. If you want to "consistent entrees each meal", FoL is probably not for you. They will prepare meals for you (for around $20/person/meal), but I haven't looked into it, since it isn't an important issue for me or my daughter. I will note that at exactly 19:14 in his review video, John is standing next to the FoL prepared meal menu. He also says they will prepare specific meals at your request as long as you give them notice.

 

2) Remoteness of camp: granted this is Costa Rica but they advised a slow 4 hour route that requires 4x4 traction with apparently no other retreat center, hotel/lodging, etc. in this more remote part of Costa Rica. If things aren't working out and you don't choose to rent your own full jeep it leaves you a bit more vulnerable and less independent.

 

Agreed, it's remoteness is a bit of a pain, but also one of the draws for me and my daughter. We are looking for adventure and something off the beaten path.

 

The host you linked too seemed probably nice but a little hyper, jumpy, and kind of flakey, jumping on the trampene as something fun you can do, abrupt transitions in his promotional oratory etc, as something you can do.. It did not leave a strong sense of confidence in the reliability and level headedness of the host. 

 

Once again, that's John Kohler, a guest at FoL, and not Brian or Jody the owners/proprietors. But Brian is quite an enthusiastic character as well, no doubt. In my interactions with her, Jody seems to be the level-headed one ☺.

 

3.5) Since host and owners are two private individuals ( one of which lives in US?) apparently bought it as a small business entrepreneurial activity, standardization / reputation applies less to this situation and it can be great or a flop but either way a greater vuknerability to us as a group and dependency on our hosts since it is less clear what you are getting compared to more established vegetarian tropics home bases. Even smaller wild cards in the middle of remote Costa Rica hours away from more established Costa Rica may be disconcerting.

 

Neither Brian nor Jody live in the US, that's John again. But you are right. This isn't a Marriott or Hilton. It's more like a big bed-and-breakfast. If you or your wife have serious reservations about that, you probably should look elsewhere for your Costa Rica vacation.

 

4) Natural surrounding ( and Costa Rica in general ) look beautiful but from the video an impression it is mostly a fruit farm, (not clear if the produce is high quality / palatable in general), with basic accomodations with anything extra costing significant extra $ via outsourcing. 

 

Many of the activities I listed are local, but some are tours Brian and Jody will help arrange for us. Everyone should definitely expect to spend some additional money for off-site tours, like snorkeling, ziplining, whitewater rafting. E.g. an all-day snorkling trip is $100/person. I could be wrong, but I suspect that this model (pay for most activities a la carte) will true for almost any resort in Costa Rica. I do note that Pura Vida has packages that include a couple tours, although they didn't sounds as interesting to me as FoL's tours.

 

5) Integrated experience. Not that anybody here is looking to be entertained but imagining a week at the farm the home base looks to be pretty remote compared to the options so you need to pick and choose more than in a consolidated experience closer to a Costa Rica city or even more easily driveable to a modest established community. What are your thoughts on what a daily schedule would look like, imagining the farm vs outsourced excursions for extra $, how do you imagine a daily schedule that is coordinated into the experience rather than disjointed ( together? Each of us doing our own excursions as we see fit? A tangible overall proposed schedule or approach to this may allay some concerns making this into in overall positive community shared experience.

 

If you're looking for night-life, shows, shopping, museums and other activities/amenities that a more urban or built-up community has to offer, FoL isn't for you. Refer once again to the list of activities above to see if they appeal to you and your wife. If not, and you think you'd be bored in a 4-5 day visit, definitely look elsewhere. 

 

Regarding joint or separate itineraries, and just what'd we'd do, it will be up to the individual. My daughter and I plan to do at least one major outdoorsy activity per day while we are there, and will welcome anyone to join us, or just hang out in a hammock on the beautiful campus if that's what you prefer. Here are two days of sample itinerary from organized retreats that are offered during the peak-season at FoL, to give you an idea of what days are like:

sckNdUY.png

 

 

Costa Rica looks beautiful but I think addressing the concerns above may help allay concerns some may have raised over the farm vs a more established and/or developed Costa Rica home base for the retreat. 

 

Whether or not the above helps allay your or your wife's concerns/reservations, I thank you for asking, so that you and others can make an informed decision.
 
--Dean

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I trust the reviews from tripadvisor, and the place has stellar reviews.  Example:

 

 
Reviewed March 28, 2016

One of the most beautiful places to visit while you're in Costa Rica - the property is gorgeous, the food is fantastic, and Brian and Jody (the owners) are a beautiful couple that own the place and make you feel completely at home. They have a brand new natural pool that is cleaned via UV light and the rooms are spectacular. A place you should go if you want to learn how to totally heal and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit! 100% recommended.

 

I also love "off the beaten path" type places, this place looks like a gem as far as I'm concerned.

 

I too was/am a bit concerned about adequate calories and food.  I get the sense that some of these places' average guests are looking to "cut back" and/or "cleanse" which might mean eating far fewer calories than normal.  I'd like assurances that we will get 2200-2500 calories a day (with all the activities, maybe more) and without a megadose of sugar (for example from heavy fruit content).  I'm perfectly fine with bringing my own big container of mixed nuts, lentils, black rice, sweet potatoes, beans and barley however, so I'm not all that concerned about this.  The fact that they've been doing this for years with glowing reviews gives me very high confidence.  Also I'm not a picky eater, if their produce is "interesting" that's fine with me, and I eat bug damaged produce all the time, does not bother me in the slightest (this damage is an indication the produce wasn't repeatedly drenched in toxic chemical pesticides).

 

-Gordo

Edited by Gordo

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Gordo,

 

I too have always found TripAdvisor reviews to be spot on.

 

Mechanism and Saul, they aren't in Costa Rica but here are two all-inclusive resorts that my family and I have visited over the years and had wonderful times:

 

Atlantis (Bahamas) - Stay in the Cove. Much quieter and adult friendly.

Royal Playa Del Carmen (Mexico) - Adult-only resort in Playa Del Carmen, a few miles south of Cancun

 

They were both very luxurious, with huge pools and swim-up bars, lots of shows and nightlife, fine dining, local tourist shopping, along with on-site and off-site activities galore. Really wonderful times. They are obviously a lot more expensive, and a lot less adventurous than FoL.

 

I figure if we're going to Costa Rica, one of the most eco-friendly countries on earth, it would be fun to experience nature more directly, rather than mediated via a cushy resort. Epcot Center at Disney World is great too. We had a wonderful time there when the kids were young. But sometimes it's good to go a little more "native" and stretch beyond one's comfort zone.

 

--Dean

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Thank you Dean for your characteristically detailed reply which will no doubt be helpful to those on the fence including my better half. I was not aware of John Kohler but his site sounds neat and I will be checking out his raw food extravaganza and other entries. Thanks also for links including to video library as per the retreat.

 

When your corresponded with them, did you get a sense whether the first impression it is mostly fruit but not many veggies on their farm?

 

We are wondering in particular whether they have any legume options ( i.e., any bean, pea or other core energy base of food pyramid choice) at all in the common kitchen, which can go a long way.

 

We have been in touch directly & can contact to see but if you have the info, I think participants looking for a choices for lunch ( dinner available at extra charge) besides a pure fruitarian all fruit experience may find it helpful.

 

I think our public discourse may help generate even more potential interest although it is wonderful a critical mass of yeses has been achieved thanks to your intitiative.

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Mechanism,

 

When your corresponded with them, did you get a sense whether the first impression it is mostly fruit but not many veggies on their farm? 

 

It is mostly fruit, plus virtually unlimited greens from their garden, and supplemented with "chunky" veggies they purchase from the local market. I'm sure Brian and Jody would be happy to stock up on more vegetables from the market, perhaps at a slightly higher cost, if we let them know ahead of time. In one video (I can't remember which) Brian said they are more than happy to support people who are going to FoL for a vegetable juice "fast" (they supply the slow masticating juicer), but such guests may need to pay an extra $20 per week for the additional produce required to support their program. Apparently produce is very inexpensive in that part of Costa Rica. Here is a good short video of Chris Kendall (left) and Brian (middle) stocking up on fruits and vegetables for Chris' RawAdvantage FoL retreat at the local farmer's market:

 

 

We are wondering in particular whether they have any legume options ( i.e., any bean, pea or other core energy base of food pyramid choice) at all in the common kitchen, which can go a long way. 

 

No. I don't believe so. Not unless you bring them with you, or (perhaps) purchase them at the local market. 

 

I think our public discourse may help generate even more potential interest although it is wonderful a critical mass of yeses has been achieved thanks to your initiative

 

Whether or not it increases or decreases interest is besides the point. Hopefully our discussion helps everyone considering the trip to be more aware of exactly what they are signing up for.

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I think this all provides some excellent info for my better half. I think this info helps dispel some misconceptions while demonstrating most of these concerns can be mitigated if not eliminated. Every location is a tradeoff and won't have everything, but I think FoL represents an exceptional location for a retreat - grateful you have brought this Gem to our attention.... Will talk to Ms Mechanism about all the above tonight, for my part, I am sold!

Edited by Mechanism

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Terrific Mechanism - Good luck convincing your better half! ☺.

 

There are only four things right now I can imagine keeping Kendall and me away from FoL in June of 2017:

  1. A family emergency.
  2. A crazy weather event, e.g. a hurricane that devastates Central America.
  3. The world going to hell as a result of a freak turnaround in the US elections.
  4. Zika turns out to be more of a threat to non-pregnant adults than is now believed.

Thankfully, 1-3 seem quite unlikely. Troublingly, #4 is now seeming more plausible than it did when we started this thread.

 

But at least FoL has a generous cancellation policy:

 

We require a 20% paypal deposit to confirm your reservation. Deposits will be returned for cancelled reservations as follows:
  • Cancel more than 4-weeks prior to your arrival and we will refund your deposit, minus paypal service fees.
  • The deposit is non-refundable if you cancel within 4-weeks of your reservation.

--Dean

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I had seen that same article on Zika that you did today, that is not good news at all.  I was only (half) kidding about wearing a full body mosquito net suit, but I think now it honestly might be a very good idea. Zika is not widespread in CR yet, but might be a year from now.  But besides zika, mosquitos there carry many other serious diseases, especially dengue.  See:  

15 Things to Know About Costa Rica Before You Go

The good news is that it's actually pretty easy to protect yourself from mosquitos if you have the nerve to look like a dork and do what it takes.  A full body mosquito proof suit is only $16 on ebay and the same product has excellent reviews on amazon. Couple that with some spray and you won't get bit. Might be a good investment in preparation for when zika hits where you live anyway.  The sprays alone might be adequate though, I'm not sure?  I definitely wouldn't want to risk it over there.

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Gordo,

Your full-body mosquito net suit may be a prudent idea, but beyond the dorkiness factor, it would definitely make some activities more difficult and less enjoyable.

Think about doing yoga, swimming at a waterfall, eating or hanging out by the pool in one of these suits. Doable perhaps, but man, I'd really rather not...

--Dean

 

XSV4fpS.png

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Dean, not to confuse things, but I just looked at weather outlooks ("outlook" = long-range forecast) for Canada/US and Costa Rica for both Feb/March and June. June seems both a bad time to leave the north, and a bad time to be in Costa Rica.

 

How about renting our own finca/casa in Costa Rica in late winter not too far from a town/city big enough taht we'd be able to buy food that suits us? Leave bad weather, go to good weather, and probably save money.

 

But if you really like the Finca de Vida, maybe we book the time for Feb/March 2018, and arrange something more local for sooner -- heck: in a few weeks!

 

Brian

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Brian,

 

Thanks for the feedback and great to hear from you again on the forums!

 

Dean, not to confuse things, but I just looked at weather outlooks ("outlook" = long-range forecast) for Canada/US and Costa Rica for both Feb/March and June. June seems both a bad time to leave the north, and a bad time to be in Costa Rica.

 

I too would prefer a mid/late winter (in the northern hemisphere) retreat. But based on the survey results, there were no winter date windows that would work more than a couple / few people. 

 

How about renting our own finca/casa in Costa Rica in late winter not too far from a town/city big enough that we'd be able to buy food that suits us? Leave bad weather, go to good weather, and probably save money.

 

That seems like a pretty big organizational undertaking, including lots of up-front cost and coordination. Is that something the CR Society would be interested in sponsoring? If so, I might be willing / able to help facilitate it, but it would be a lot more planning and effort on the ground (in country) to make it happen, and a lot more financial risk if people don't show up. 

 

But if you really like the Finca de Vida, maybe we book the time for Feb/March 2018, and arrange something more local for sooner -- heck: in a few weeks!

 

Obviously nothing precludes local get-togethers by a few CR folks, like what Alex and Mechanism did recently when they both attended an aging conference in Boston. But coordination of a significant group on short notice isn't likely to happen, given scheduling constraints.

 

Regarding booking FdV (aka FoL) in Feb/March of 2018, Jody and Brian have a core set of repeat organized retreats that book every year during the peak season (Jan - April). Jody alluded to the possibility of a slot opening up during the peak season in 2018 for us to book the entire facility, but she said she wouldn't know for a while whether that would be possible, and didn't let me know the dates she had in mind (if she even had specific dates in mind at this point). Booking the entire facility would require significant upfront financial commitment. Again would the CR Society be willing / interested in financial support for such an event? If so, that would be great. But again there is the issue of scheduling. Lots of folks who responded to the retreat survey were tied to various academic calendars, which seemed to preclude a date in the late winter / early spring that works for most (or even many) people.

 

--Dean

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How close was the head count comparing those dates? If it is close, either date may be reasonable, but I'd say that is Dean's call after all this energy pinning down a date & location. Also not sure of Zika or other discussions such as my post and Dean's rely may have impacted expected attendees and/or preferences since the initial vote.

 

Sympathetic *sigh*. - It is hard to be an organizer!

:)

 

Either way, tip of the hat to Dean for taking this on.

Edited by Mechanism

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Mechanism,

 

How close was the head count comparing those dates?

 

I'm not sure which dates you are referring to, but here is the graphical representation of the preferences of the 10 people who responded. In computing the score, I've counted "doesn't work for me" as -1, "might work but prefer not" as 0, "would work ok for me" as +1, "works pretty well for me" as +2 and "Works great for me, one of my top 2 choices" as +3.

 

Feb   4-11   -6

Feb 12-19   -5

Mar   4-11    0

Mar 12-19    0

Apr   7-15   -3

Apr 16-23   +1

Jun    1-5   +4

Jun   7-11   +6

Jun 14-18   +9

Jun 21-25   +9

Dec 13-17    0

Dec 20-24   +4

Dec 24-30   +7

 

As you can see, all the Feb/Mar dates are at best 0 by this scoring metric, and many are in the hole (i.e. "wouldn't work for me" overwhelms all other answers).

 

The only viable dates were really Jun 14-18, Jun 21-25 and Dec 24-30 of next year.

 

Earlier in June were out for Gordo and his wife. Since they are two people who've been committed from the start, I thought it unfair to favor Jun 14-18 over Jun 21-25 since the earlier time wasn't better for the group as a whole.

 

A pretty good set of people could make Dec 24-30th, but that would require a 7-night minimum stay due to the Xmas / New Year holidays, and I'm not sure people would really want to stay that long during the holidays once they really thought seriously about it (even I'm not sure 7 days at FoL would be preferable to 5, especially around the holidays), plus traveling at the holidays is a hassle and more expensive, especially since many people were concerned about total cost (not to mention 7 says costs more than 4-5 days). And finally my daughter wouldn't want to commit, since that xmas break would be her first vacation home from college. In contrast, a vacation in late June, a few weeks after graduating from high school, would be a good graduation present for her, a good way to unwind from a long school year, and a great opportunity for a father/daughter bonding adventure before she goes off to college, and out of my day-to-day life forever ☹.

 

Such was my reasoning for identifying June 21-25th as the best dates.

 

--Dean

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In addition to the far higher airfares, the "Christmas Week" also probably wouldn't work for anyone that has kids they were not planning to bring with them to this retreat.  At least one site makes it seem like June may actually be the best time to visit Costa Rica.  Regular afternoon/evening showers may not be so bad.  Regarding mosquitoes - I had a chance recently to put picaridin to the test (after seeing encouraging test results from consumer reports). I was camping in the Pennsylvania woods last week for 4 days and never got bit even once, the stuff goes on easy and lasts for 8 hours and is considered safe for direct skin contact.  I watched one mosquito actually land on my arm then immediately fly away without biting.  I was using this particular brand, fantastic reviews on Amazon and only costs $4, and a big bonus (for me) is that it's also very effective against ticks.

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Hi Dean and Gordo!

 

I agree totally with Mechanism's praise of Dean's efforts.  :)xyz

 

I am confused about one thing, though:  Why, Dean and Gordo, are you concerned about the Zika virus?  My understanding that a Zika infection is trivial, similar to a minor cold, if you've never been infected previously -- unless you're a pregnant female, or a female planning to get pregnant soon.  Perhaps Dean is concerned about his daughter?  That would make sense.

 

Gordo, I don't know much about you -- perhaps your wife is of child-bearing age?

 

Or am I missing something?

 

Please advise.

 

Thanks,

 

  --  Saul

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Saul,

 

Or am I missing something [regarding Zika health effects]?

 

Yes - you missed the memo. A few posts up, I posted a link to this Washington Post story about the new scientific evidence that Zika has the potential to infect progenitor brain cells in adults, not just fetal brain cells (at least in mice). Since it was a rather indirect mention of the story, without any details, which you (and probably others) apparently missed, here are a few of the specifics from that story:

 

But some neural progenitor cells remain in adults, where they replenish the brain’s neurons over a lifetime. These pockets of stem cells are vital for learning and memory. Gleeson and his colleagues suspected that if Zika can infect fetal neural progenitor cells, the virus might have the same ability to infect adult neural progenitor cells. That’s precisely what they found [in adult mice infected with Zika].

 

Gleeson is the first to admit that the findings represent only an initial step in discovering whether Zika can endanger adult human brain cells. For starters, the study was conducted only in mice, and only at a single point in time. More research will be necessary to see whether the results of the mouse model translates to humans, and whether the damage to adult brain cells can cause long-term neurological damage or affect behavior.

 
But the initial findings suggest that the Zika virus, which has spread to the United States and more than 60 other countries over the past year, may not be as innocuous as it seems for adults, most of whom never realize they have been infected. Researchers found that infected mice had more cell death in their brains and reduced generation of new neurons, which is key to learning and memory. The possible consequences of damaged neural progenitor cells in humans would include cognitive problems and a higher likelihood for conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
 
“Zika can clearly enter the brain of adults and can wreak havoc,” Sujan Shresta, another study co-author and a professor at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, said in a statement. “But it’s a complex disease — it’s catastrophic for early brain development, yet the majority of adults who are infected with Zika rarely show detectable symptoms. Its effect on the adult brain may be more subtle, and now we know what to look for.”

 

“Here’s the deal: The more we’ve learned about the Zika virus, the nastier it is,” said Schaffner, who was not involved in the study. He said scientists have had concerns all along about Zika’s ability to damage the brain, but until now the worries have focused mostly on the developing brain. “This mouse study will increase our anxiety. ... It’s an additional potential way that this virus can cause human illness.”

 

Obviously this research is preliminary, and based on this evidence (and the message from Jody that there have been no reported cases of Zika in their part of Costa Rica) my daughter and I remain undeterred. Nevertheless it appears now to be somewhat of an open question just how serious Zika is for non-pregnant adults. Hence Gordo and my heightened concern, and reopening of the discussion about Zika we had at the beginning of this thread. We'll obviously be keeping an eye on further develops regarding Zika as the date for the retreat draws closer. 

 

--Dean

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Major Update on Costa Rica Retreat Logistics

 

OK everyone, here is the update you've been waiting for.

 

First off, I've not yet heard back definitely from the CR Society Board about making the Costa Rica CR Retreat an official CRS-sanctioned event. But the feedback I've gotten from individual Board members has all been positive, so I suspect they'll approve that part of my request sometime soon. From the feedback I've gotten it sounds unlikely the Board would approve my (stretch goal) request to not just sanction, but (modestly) sponsor the event, i.e. to help defray the costs for those who find even the relatively inexpensive flight to Costa Rica and the Farm of Life lodging rates too much. I've still got modest hope for sponsorship, but honestly it's not looking good, unfortunately. 

 

Now for the big news, which isn't perfect but we'll have to deal with it.

 

I asked Jody about whether we could rent out the whole facility for the 4-5 day window of June 21-25, and perhaps get a discount by doing so. She said unfortunately not, and explained why. She says they like to accommodate several long-term guests (2-4 week stays) who visit FoL for healing during the off-season (which includes June). If we took over the entire facility for 5-days smack in the middle of that time period, it would prevent them from accommodating these long-term guests.

 

I told her I understood. I asked if we could make individual reservations as individuals or as small groups (2-4) for that same time period, and if we did, how many such reservations would she allow us to make while still leaving room for her long-term guests. She responded that they would welcome individual and small group reservations, but didn't say how many total spots (out of the 19 available) she would let us reserve. I got the sense that she'd probably like to hold 4-6 slots for long-term guests (leaving 10-12 for us - about how many I'm optimistically hoping for at this point), but I figured it best not to push her on the subject, and instead simply submit our reservations until she says they can't take anymore.

 

So, in order to put a stake in the ground, and see what the reservation process was like, I went ahead and made a reservation for Kendall and me. 

 

Important note - everyone is free to pick their own dates, given that we won't be reserving the whole place as a group. But I decided to shift the start of our stay 1-day later (to June 22nd), to accommodate Gordo, who said June 21st was iffy for him and his wife. After looking over the activities, I also decided that 5-nights would be a good length of stay for us. So we'll be checking in the afternoon of June 22nd (Thurs), for a 5-night stay, checking out the morning of June 27th (Tues).

 

One other thing to mention: Kendall was enchanted by the Butterfly Suite, which I have to admit looks really cool. But given the fact that it has only a single queen-size canopy bed, and is billed as a romantic couple's getaway, we figured it best that we leave the Butterfly Suite for two people who can actually take full advantage of it! ☺ So we booked one of the two rooms in the Orchard Cabin, which can be configured with a King bed or (our preference) two twins, and which has a (supposedly-very-neat) outdoor shower.

 

Here are the details of our reservations - basically our answers to the questions they ask on the reservation request page:

 

Arrival Date:  June 22, 2017
Number of Nights:  5
Number of Guests:  2
Number of Children:  0
Accommodation Preference:  Cabin in the Orchard (1-2 guests)
Wants to Receive Health Coaching?  No
 
Health Goals:  I'm already a thin and healthy mostly-raw vegan, and so is my daughter who'll be visiting with me. We are looking forward meeting both of you and enjoying a fun adventure! I'm also hoping to get some friends to join us, and have been talking to Jody about it. Hi Jody!
 
Meal Service Preference:  Occasionally
 
Preferred Diet:  Vegan
 
Will Be Juicing:  No
 
Interests:  We'd definitely like to do a waterfall hike, snorkeling, Eco-farm tour, horseback riding, yoga, sungazing and maybe canopy / zip line. We'd also like to participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony if that can be arranged. 
 
Wants to Receive Driving Directions?  Yes
 
Wants to Receive List of Tours?  Yes
 
Comments:  We'd probably only do one or two dinners for the meal service during our stay. We can't wait!

 

It took a couple days after placing the reservation request (so be patient), but Jody got back to me earlier today to confirm. She says the total cost for the two of us for the 5-nights (6-days) will be $612 (incl. tax) . That works out to $61/night per person. Given that includes food and lodging, that is a pretty amazing deal!

 

The 20% deposit came to $122, which you must (and I did) pay with PayPal.

 

At the bottom is the email Jody sent me back when she confirmed our reservation. It has details that everyone might be interested in, including a note that they offer Yoga instruction for $5/class. We are also free to use the open-air yoga platform on our own anytime we like. 

 

So barring hell or high water (or more explicitly, barring one of these four possible reasons) Kendall and I will be at Farm of Life in Costa Rica June 22-27th, 2017. We hope a bunch of people will join us. If you are interested, you'll need to submit a reservation request individually or (better yet) in small groups, since we aren't able to book a block of rooms or the whole place.

 

If you are planning to come alone, I highly encourage you to post to this thread about your intention, and find someone you'd be happy to share a room with. All of the accommodations are designed for 2-4 people, so if we book rooms as single folks we'll quickly run out of available rooms. Plus it costs more if you book a room alone, e.g. the Orchard room was $61/night per person when we booked as two (double occupancy) vs. $90/night per person if you book it all for yourself.

 

And speaking of running out of room. It's not clear to me after all our discussions of late just how committed other people are to participating in the retreat in June. But if a large fraction of those people who have expressed at least modest interest in attending decides to request a reservation, we could easily exceed the number of spots Jody has available for us, particularly if we try to make reservations as single individuals. 

 

In short, it is first-come, first-served, every-man/woman/couple-for-themselves when it comes to FoL reservations for this retreat. And it goes without saying that if FoL runs out of room for us, there aren't overflow hotels nearby to pick up the slack, to put it mildly ☺. So if, as I hope, you have your heart set on joining us for a Costa Rica adventure, I suggest you coordinate with others and sign up very soon to insure you get a spot. It promises to be an amazing time!

 

Speaking of amazing time - in the email from Jody below, she send me a link to a 26-page pdf document with details about the Tours and Services they offer. It contains detailed descriptions, great pictures, and prices for all the services and excursions they offer themselves, or that they'll arrange for us upon request. It is really worth checking out if you are committed to going, or on the fence. BTW, it mentions the Ayahuasca ceremony, which is somewhere between $60 and $100 per person. Count us in!

 

Even if you are unsure about participating, you might want to reserve a spot. The deposit for the two of us was only $122, which is (almost) fully-refundable up to 4-weeks prior to the visit (see cancellation policy below). We don't plan to buy plane tickets for a few months, so there is literally very little to lose, and so much to gain(!), from reserving a space at FoL for this retreat.

 

So come join us!

 

--Dean

 

----------

Here is the email I got from Jody with details about our reservation:

 

Hello Dean,

 

Thanks for your patience. 
 
The price for a cabin in the orchard room is $115 per night for 2 persons.  The total for 5 nights will be $612, including the sales tax.  
 
The deposit is $122.  I will send a paypal money request next for the deposit.  
 
The nightly rate includes using our communal kitchen and fruits and vegetables to prepare your own meals, salads, smoothies, juices (up to 16 ounces per day), etc.  We have pantry and fridge space for your personal grocery items (e.g. bring your own nuts, seeds, superfoods, seaweed, grains or foods that you may want to eat that we don't provide).  And, we have a menu and daily specials which you can order for an additional expense.  For example, dinners may range from $16 - $20 per person plus sales tax and gratuity.
 
Health Coaching (optional) costs $60 one-time fee.  We give you an initial consultation where we instruct you on the raw food diet/ lifestyle, as well as meditation and practices to help you deepen your connection to nature.  Then, we - and the entire team here at Farm of Life - give you continual support and guidance throughout your visit. 
 
We offer tours to waterfalls ($12 - $45 per person) and beaches ($25 per person) and more.  Nearby tour companies offer ATV tours, rappelling, horseback riding, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, etc.  Health services also cost extra.  Health Coaching $60.  Colonics are $30, Massages $60-$80, Raw Preparation Demonstration $40, Yoga $5 (classes offered daily), for example.  A list of our tours and services is available on dropbox at this link... https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/100423818/ToursandServices.pdf
 
We are a 4-hour commute from San Jose.  You can travel to us via airport shuttle-taxi; bus-taxi combos; or a door-to-door airport taxi.  Transportation instructions are available.
 
 
Our policy for deposits, cancellations and payments are:
  • We require a 20% deposit.  

  • Deposits will be returned for cancelled reservations as follows:  Cancel more than 4-weeks prior to your reservation and we will refund your deposit, minus paypal service fees.  The deposit is non-refundable if you cancel within 4-weeks of your reservation.  

  • Payment for your accommodation is due on the first day of your visit.  (While 20% of the accommodation is paid with the deposit, the balance is due upon check-in.)   I will send you an invoice about a week prior to your arrival.  If you elect to depart early and not complete your full reservation, we will refund 50% for the nights that you don't stay at Farm of Life.  

  • Throughout your visit, we will track your incidental expenses and give you a final bill the day before you check out.  Your incidental expenses may include health coaching, yoga, meal service, tours and health services.  

  • Also, we apply a 10% or 20% discount from the nightly rate if you stay 14-or-more or 30-or-more-nights.  If you elect to depart earlier, then the discounts will not be applied. 

  • We accept cash and paypal.  You are responsible to cover pay pals 4% service fee.

To help you prepare for your visit and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit here   
 
We look forward to hosting you soon,

 

Jody Calvi, Farm of Life, Costa Rica
The Vacation for the Healthy Lifestyle and Natural Healing Center

Join our Journey:
Farm of Life YouTube Channel
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Possible death of brain cells from a zika infection -- I imagine that that would not apply if you'd had the disease

and recovered, so possessed immunity -- it is something to think about.

 

-- Saul

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I just reserved a bottom bunk bed in Toucan and Macaw. I am happy to share the room with 3 others.

 

---

 

Toucan and Macaw sleeps up to 4 guests, 2 sets of bunk beds in each room, indoor bathroom, balcony. Two rooms are available side-by-side.
 

Edited by gracezw

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Grace,

 

 

I just reserved a bottom bunk bed in Toucan and Macaw. I am happy to share the room with 3 others.

 

Terrific! Kendall and I are looking forward to spending time with you. We should definitely have time for that long walk we were planning but never found time for at the recent CR Conference!

 

Anybody else planning to join us? I know you're out there. How about sharing your plans!?

 

--Dean

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My wife and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary, so I've requested the butterfly suite.  I haven't heard back yet, if that's not available we might be bunking it up with one of you guys ;)  (technically our anniversary isn't until August).  My wife says she will not share accommodations with "stinky garlic eating people" haha.  We are really looking forward to this.  I'd like to do the waterfall hike(s), snorkeling, ATV tours, drum circle at night, maybe yoga (which we've never done before), and for me an ayahuasca ceremony if possible (my wife definitely will not take part in that one). 

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