Costa Rica Writing Retreat – The Adventure Begins
It’s day one of our 2017 writing retreat week, and I’m excited, nervous, eager to meet this year’s writers as I thread through the manic crowds of San Jose’s international airport. It seems everyone is shouting, the voices echoing the thrill I feel inside. I join the throngs of tour guides and drivers, each of us holding aloft a sign, jostling for space outside the terminal as the doors swing open to reveal the next batch of travelers.
I’m early, as always, so there’s a long wait before my first writer emerges. She steps from the air conditioned, newly refurbished terminal, into the heat and noise of a tropical city and I LOVE her expression – surprise, turning swiftly to delight. Then, she sees me with my sign and a smile flashes across her face.
It’s like this for each new arrival in the 50 minutes it takes for our group to assemble, and by the time I rejoin the swelling mass of our group with the final writer, everyone’s chatting as if they have known each other forever.
Our driver is there, too, welcoming each of us with a handshake, insisting on helping with the heaviest cases, and we follow him to his van and clamber eagerly inside. He explains that we will travel for an hour, then stop for a break. Momentarily, conversation pauses as we pull out of the airport. We’re in Costa Rica! The sights, the smells are so familiar and exciting for those of us who have visited Central America before, but for some of us, all this is new, and we experience a childlike wonder. The light rain that gives way to dazzling sunshine. Children emerging from schoolyards in their starched white uniform. Multicoloured birds that disappear into treetops. Its all so new – and thrilling. Conversation resumes as we emerge from the city into a vast and natural world. People share their reasons for attending. Their hopes for the week. The doubts they experienced about this new adventure – doubts that seem a world away, now.
We stop briefly at a viewpoint on the peak of a lushly forested hill. Even though it’s just a simple stop on the way to our destination, I love this place. There’s a spectacular view, and also a shop packed with local and handmade souvenirs, snacks and drinks, that is a feast for the eyes. One of our writers stocks up on snacks for the week, while another buys all her gifts. She wants to finish her novel this week, and she has no intention of leaving the retreat for any reason, once we arrive. Several of us sample the local liqueurs, then it’s back on the bus, and we climb upwards into the clouds.
Finca Luna Nueva is always a delightful surprise. The road into the lodge snakes between pretty cottages, and there are view through the open air restaurant, down to the pool. We have our noses pressed to the window, taking it all in, eager to see it all for real. It’s late afternoon by now, the sun is setting, and the pretty evening lights glitter warmly through the trees. Danny is waiting for us with a greeting as we tumble from the van and stretch. He has a golf cart, and while we nose around together, studying the map of the farm and hiking trails, checking out the hot tub and spa, he delivers our luggage to our rooms.
Moments later, we’re sitting in the restaurant, choosing from a wide range of local and familiar dishes, ordering smoothies, wine and kombucha, experiencing new foods, chatting about our writing goals, laughing together and feeling completely at ease. The rainforest chirps and buzzes around us, and we can smell the flowers by the pool. We have a brief meeting to go over the structure of the week, and the options available for everyone, then one by one, we meander off to our rooms to unpack and sleep.
Day begins early in a rainforest. Some of the writers meet at dawn to climb the viewing tower and watch the forest come to life. The songbirds always wake me at six, and I like to shuffle out to the hammock in my pajamas, waking slowly as the singing rises to a cacophony, and the rainforest swells with life around me.
By 9am the next morning, we’ve enjoyed an ample breakfast of eggs, yogurts, home made breads, pastries and jams, pancakes and tropical fruits. Two members of our group are accompanying writers as a friend and family member – they have headed down for a swim. The rest of us are eagerly assembled on the patio overlooking the gardens, our notebooks in hand. Our lodge is always a pleasure, but now that we’ve explored the grounds, had a great night’s sleep and satisfied our appetites, it’s time to do what we came to do. Write. I love teaching writing. I love the atmosphere of this place when ten people lose themselves inside their heads, emerging with stories they had no idea they could write. I love the ‘aha’ moments that happen for each of us when we put pen to paper.
“We’re going to start, today, by exploring inspiration,” I begin. “I want us to look at where ideas come from for our writing, and how we can tease the best ideas from ourselves. Let’s start with a freewrite…”
If you are interested in joining us for our next writing retreat starting February 3rd 2018, please contact us at 416 766 7124 or email@example.com. Only 3 rooms remain.
A complete tour package – with itinerary and booking form can be found here: http://www.centauriarts.com/retreats/creative-writing-retreats-and-holidays/