It is Friday, November 8, 2019. I have found myself, and I truly do believe this, in a place I needed to take myself. I think, to all of our credit, we all do this so often and forget that inside ourselves we have a guide that knows where we need to go. I did some light internet research on places to stay in Santa Teresa, and I found a place that kept calling to me after reading their website and the reviews. Horizon Hotel and Yoga Center: a Place….to be. I read of the warm and inviting owners, Gali and Yoav, this beautiful Israeli couple that moved to Santa Teresa in 2002 and built Horizon in 2005 to create a place of pure relaxation. To warmly welcome you to their home and treat you as though you are family. They offer daily (some days 2x) yoga classes in a rooftop yoga center overlooking the pacific ocean, a few small pools to relax, and a spectacular vegetarian breakfast with Mediterranean and Israeli twists. They have built a hotel consisting of eight rooms which are so delicately designed with detail and warmth that it is nearly impossible to not feel welcome. This is not lavish luxury like the Four Seasons, but rather a true jungle villa with handcrafted wood and stone work that calls to the pure, agrarian side of us. And in this spot, I have started to allow myself to just…be.
Santa Teresa is spectacularly beautiful. Sitting on the western side of the country, at the bottom of the Nicoya Peninsula, it is a small beach town inhabited by a mix of local Costa Ricans and now many surfers, yogis, nature lovers and soul searchers that find this place and find there is some magic speaking from the ocean and the lush, verdant hills that sit behind it to the east.
Like most places I have traveled before, particularly internationally, I came with big ideas of doing this, seeing that, going here, meeting these other travelers, seeing awe-inspiring sights and having late nights drinking with random strangers. I have seen some spectacular sights and tried surfing a couple days with one of Gali and Yoav’s friends, Mickey, who is a great instructor and genuinely good guy born and raised in Santa Teresa. I have also spent the week seeing some spectacular sights without traveling too far outside my villa, outside the one mile radius I seem to walk on the beach and mostly inside myself.
I flew here, literally and in the most figurative of ways six days ago. I have been running from myself, from my past, from my fears and anxieties that I have allowed myself to live with and dwell on for decades. Fear and anxiety have always played a large place in my life, and while it sounds painful or uncomfortable, I credit those feelings for driving me with a force that I have rarely understood to be better, be more, keep pushing, keep going. In some ways, they have yielded me great personal accomplishments and brought me wealth, friendships, connections, experiences, and knowledge, because I have always been fearful to not know what else sits out there in this vast and complicated earth we live on. I have been curious along the way, without a doubt, I find some of the most invigorating and thought provoking conversations and experiences with all the new places I have taken myself over the years and challenges I have put before me. And all along the way, I have rarely stopped in my steps to enjoy what it is that I have spent 35 years working, really working, so hard to achieve. I have ignored countless opportunities to really feel alive. Absent the moments I’ve pushed myself physically so hard to the edge, felt threatened for my existence, felt awe for something I have not seen before, taken drugs (that includes alcohol which is a drug), or challenged myself so much in my career to be so much more, I have been walking around a bit like a corpse I now realize.
I have been running my whole life. I love to run at this age for pleasure and my health, despised it as a child, but I have been running physically and mentally my whole life. I have run because it felt right to escape some of those nasty feelings we all carry with us from somewhere along the way. We all have them and it is hard to admit to them regardless of who or how they were inflicted upon us. And somehow I finally slowed myself down this week and started exploring deep inside myself. This is not some epiphany for me to look inside, I am a huge proponent of introspection and psychotherapy, but I noticed I have always been looking backwards and trying to make sense of it all. Why this, how come that? Why would he or she do this? Why did I not do that, pursue that, talk to her, chase that? I have spent a great deal of time trying to rationalize all these feelings I have in the hope that my intellect could carry me towards a deeper understanding and ultimately acceptance of the past. But usually, when it has become deeply confusing, I have just run. And now, in the moment, I am not running.
My life has been blessed/fortunate/graced in countless ways and has also seen considerable dysfunction along the way too. I’ve let that dysfunction guide me, be my chip, be that dirty feeling I have tried to shed. I have accumulated so much, and I am constantly quantifying in my mind what I am accumulating and counting what I have not. I have done this for most of my life, because that was a model that made sense, and like so many places we find ourselves, I have found myself exactly where I needed to be this week.
No one has come and hypnotized me, I have not joined a cult, I haven’t taken any weird drugs (surprisingly), and with some serious focus on being present, I finally am feeling like I am here. That I have arrived in the present moment and what lies ahead or lurks behind is not where my brain needs to be.
I adopted some not so wild ideas, but rarely practiced in my hectic career and everyone else’s hectic career, of being here. Being in the now. I came here with that intention and it was aided by a book a good friend and deep thinker gave to me, You Are Here. It is written by a Buddhist Monk, but it is not a plug for “join my religion” like I so often see in the American culture. It is, simply put, a heap of ideas and reminders on how to live our lives to the fullest. So I read it and realized that through reading it, a lot of these ideas had been calling out to me from deep inside. It has helped to affirm what I knew I needed, which was to slow down and allow myself to take the space I need.
I have spent my days and will spend the rest of my days here in Santa Teresa, moving at the pace I need to move at, moving intently and observing intently. I have watched the sunset over the pacific each night from the beach, strolling to a spot near a cove where waves crash over volcanic rock and the sun drifts into the horizon, lighting the sky with vibrant hues of maroon, orange and red over the navy blue of the ocean. I have found a wonderful restaurant called Zula where I have eaten most nights, because it’s nice to start to see some familiar faces each day and their food is economical in price but not in portion. I could rave on about some other must hit spots, but ask Gali and Yoav, they are so connected here and they will not steer you wrong.
I believe I have realized, not found, another side of myself. I feel less fearful in the moment, I feel less anxiety to go attack the day and take so much from it that I cannot squeeze any more, I feel less pressure to be this or that. So now is just the beginning and the difficult task is ahead of me. I need to try to retain this headspace when I go back to Colorado, go back to my demanding job where people depend on me, go back and practice daily that if I want to be fully alive, then I need to be fully here, in the now.
Submitted by Anonymous Traveler