I thumbed past a magazine article that read “A Road Trip Down Puerto Rico’s La Ruta Panoramica” with a subhead promising a rugged 167 mile “scenic route” that leads to waterfalls, coffee plantations and a wild side of the island you won’t forget. The images were of adult tree houses set in the jungle, horses on the side of the road, green landscapes and delicious coffee. I said to myself “This looks like my kind of trip. I want to do this one day!” So I cut out the photos and saved them deep within my dresser drawer.
That was five years ago. Fast forward to today and I run across a yoga retreat to Utuado, Puerto Rico that was at the exact location and hotel from the article I clipped years before. I wanted a trip that would boost my self esteem and build confidence by doing something physical, going alone and meeting all new people. It was a big step outside my comfort zone. Then it happened, I was booking my first yoga retreat and was going solo!
“Waterfalls, coffee plantations and a wild side of the island you won’t forget.”
On day one the group of ladies arrived and we got situated in our bungalows. We were each given journals and I wrote one word that I wanted my trip to represent. My one word was peace. I laid there on my back in the yoga temple, palms up breathing long thought out breathes. The instructor guided us through a meditation, the coqui (frogs) sang outside the open doors and I drifted in and out of sleep. Yoga every morning and meditation every night…..perfecto. I was ready to feel at peace.
Day 2 – Theme Earth:
The morning’s yoga was a grounded flow. We pictured ourselves as being part of the earth. A tree rooted deep, strong and yet with flowing branches. Going along with the Earth theme, that afternoon we did a 3 hour hike in the jungle. I battled in my head as to do the hike or stay and relax but the adventurous person inside me said “where do I sign?” (because apparently there was a liability form?!)
Jose, the hotel’s vegetarian chef, was leading the hike. Right when we arrive at the “drop zone” we saw two horses grazing in the jungle. Five minutes into the hike we were immediately told, “Watch out for the fire ants. Oh and please crawl under this barbed wire. Oh oh and in this part of the hike we need to walk really fast because coconuts will fall on our heads.” I was starting to understand the whole signing of a liability form concept.
“I was starting to understand the whole signing of a liability form concept.”
Down the trail we were stopped by a flowing river and the tour guide jumps right in. “Come on in ladies!” What?? So we are just jumping into a waste high jungle river? Sounds like a bad time. At that point I was glad I had put my iPhone in a waterproof case.
All five ladies carefully placed our feet on slippery rocks and around deep holes under the water. We were told about poisonous plants and of course, I got stung by one immediately after he warned us. We then climbed 10 foot walls, screamed past water snakes and then arrived at a tall waterfall with a pool below! Before any of us could ask if we could swim in it, one of the ladies had already jumped in and was under the cascading water.
After the cold swim and an alternate route back down the jungle terrain, Jose grabs a fish with his bare hands. What he didn’t know was that it was peeing all over one of the ladies in the group as he held it up to show us! After the laugher wore off we noticed the fish’s skin was made of a hard black armor. I’ve never seen anything like that before…or a fish pee stream for that matter! (see video below) The jungle hike was my best memory and bonding experience of the whole trip. Those things always are.
Day 3 – Theme Water:
What’s a trip to Puerto Rico without going to the beach? Off we went for a one hour drive to Playa Sardinera. Our small group camped out under a palm tree and ate our packed lunches of hummus, pita bread and peanut butter sandwiches. Unfortunately it was the sand blasting hurricane force winds that ended the beach trip early but it was redeemed with a pit stop at a food stand for some legit Puerto Rican food. Hello homemade Tres Leches cake!
Day 4 – Theme Fire:
Today was an early one. I wasn’t sure I was going to make the 6:00 a.m. fire flow sunrise yoga session. But I had to, I didn’t want to miss the sunrise action! As we flowed through the yoga session, the sun quickly poured into the yoga temple doors warming up the cool air. I also should have guessed that “fire” session also meant fire in the quads. Ouch! Afterwards, I passed out for a 45 minute nap. It was heaven in a hammock with the sounds of the coqui singing in the trees. The humidity also wasn’t 110% that day….bonus! The pure idea of not having anywhere to be, responsibilities to do or an alarm clock to set was BLISS. The rest of the day was free to do as we pleased so the group sat by the pool reading, swimming and talking. The day ended with an evening candlelight chakra meditation.
“My soul honors your soul. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me.”
Day 5 – Theme Air – Fly Home:
This day started with an intention setting yoga session. We did some easy yoga and wrote ourselves a note that would be mailed to us in 6 months. During that last meditation session, my eyes watered up as I bowed my head and said the last namaste. I had done it. I felt incredibly thankful and so excited that I had done this trip. I wanted an adventure, a challenge, to meet new people, be me without any judgement, do something physically and mentally refreshing and a trip that I did on my very own. The yoga saying “My soul honors your soul. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me” rang so true with this group of ladies. And you know what? I did it and I felt my peace.
About Christin Marie
Christin Marie, or as her friends call her Christy, is a land locked Kansas native, graphic designer and photographer with a passion for fitness, nutrition and most importantly travel. When Christy isn’t creating art behind a computer, she is either lifting weights, out on a standup paddle board, kayaking, walking her sheltie Rico Suave or planning her next trip. To Christy, travel is all about exploration, pushing past comfort zones and realizing just how big your world really is and how little you know. She believes travel changes you and leaves it’s mark. It cuts down on hatred and creates understanding. She encourages others to get up off the couch, experiment, find new adventures, open your mind and to purely move. Resist the normal! Follow some of Christin Marie’s recent adventures here: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or on her website www.thechristinmarie.com