Costa Rica Retreat – Days 6-8
After breakfast by the pool to a cacophony of screeching parrots, we set ourselves a bizarre challenge this morning: use what we have learned this week to collaborate, in just an hour, on the plot outline for a novel! We explored different ways to generate ideas, warmed up with a 15 minute free write, then in less than an hour, we outlined a complete novel. Our inspiration was a simple question: what is essential for life? What would happen if one of those essentials was taken away?
This morning, we also shared, critiqued and celebrated the character pieces we worked on yesterday – several participants were so inspired by these that they have already worked them into short stories!
This afternoon, several group members went zip lining while I accompanied two others on a hike to Arenal Volcano. Not only was the view spectacular when we reached the end point of our walk (volcano on one side, Lake Arenal and hills on the other) but we saw so much in the forest, particularly on the way back. The biggest, tallest tree we had ever seen, so magical it took our breath away. A basilisk guarding its nest of little white eggs. Orchids by the dozen. And then, as dusk settled, a group of more than 15 Coatis burst out onto the trail in front of us. Such an incredible sight.
This evening, most of us settled down to a couple hours writing, after a pleasant dinner together.
Our final writing workshop already! We spent half our morning on poetry prompts designed to appeal equally to prose writers who wanted to explore new ways to think outside of the box. The second half of the morning was spent on editing techniques. This afternoon, everyone went on a walk to the famous Hanging Bridges with Ishmael, the amazing nature guide at Finca Luna Nueva. Throughout the day, writers spent their spare time either swimming, walking the farm one last time, or editing ready for our reading this evening.
For our final dinner tonight, the restaurant fired up the wood-burning oven and we shared some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, combined, in some cases, with the incredible ‘Rainforest Salad’ they make here, and finished off with Coconut Pie.
This evening, our final writing celebration. We took our wine to the open patio where we write each day, and with a full moon shining above us and night insects chirping in the forest, we read to one another, celebrating all the week’s achievements. It’s hard to believe it’s over already. For the past week, the rest of the world has seemed a million miles away.
After a hearty breakfast, we boarded our minibus for the 2 hour trip back to San Jose airport. We made a stop along the way for snacks and souvenirs, for the benefit of those of us who have mostly hidden away and written all week (!!) then we said our goodbyes in the terminal, and parted for our various flights. I know this group will stay in touch, though. And it’s only another 51 weeks to the next Costa Rica Writing Retreat.
Below you will find a photo-journal of our week. To find out more about our Creative Writing Retreats, go to www.artsacademy.ca. Our next retreat will be in February 2018, and registrations will be accepted from now onwards. Happy writing!