We love our work at Bliss Farm and Retreat, and part of the experience we create is in sharing the experiences, cultures, tastes, and practices from around the world. In order to provide this enriching experience and to be present in our work, we must feed the desire within both of us to venture out into the world and replenish our souls by traveling, wandering, and immersing ourselves fully in other lands’ beauty.
In fact, in our wedding vows, we promise one another that we will keep traveling the world together. So in business and in love, we’ve made an annual tradition of getting away from the retreat center and farm, and finding bliss abroad.
Here’s a recap of our most recent adventures!
We departed out of Asheville for our 13 day journey to Panama and Costa Rica. This is us on our way out!
2. San Jose
We don’t necessarily love San Jose, but we typically stay at this sweet little hotel called Hotel Aranjuez. They have an amazing buffet and the staff is really sweet! We spent the night in San Jose before heading out the next day on a tiny, tiny airplane. These mini plane rides are fun and scary all at once! They hold only 8 people and it feels like riding a roller coaster...with butterflies in your stomach the whole way! The landings can be a little sketchy, as well.
3. Taxi ride with great cab!
We had a delightful ride with a lovely cab driver named Ronald, who told us about all sorts of unique and interesting cultural phenomena.
4. Airbnb in Puerto Viejo
This time, around we elected to stay in an Airbnb “casita” or “villa,” as we planned to live like the locals, cooking our own meals, and laying pretty low. In the past, when we have traveled here, we stay a bogue b&b’s, dine out for every meal, and do all the things that tourists do... at tourist prices! This time, we wanted to get a feel for what it would be like to live here. It is important that I give compliments to our Airbnb hosts, Evi & Leonardo! They were absolutely fantastic and we couldn’t have hoped for better. They gave us great recommendations, were great conversationalists, and oh so kind! We adored them.
5. Bike rentals
In the spirit of living like the locals, we rented bicycles as our day to day transportation. That’s what’s really nice about this area we visit, Puerto Viejo. It’s the quintessential beach town. You can bike everywhere you go...where the jungle meets the beach, the breeze is fantastic, and the people are kind. This experience is truly the “pura vida,” or “pure life.”
6. Beach days!
We went to the beach every day. We read, slept, played, and swam. Retreat. Everyday.
7. Panama border + a boat ride
After about 5 nights of utter relaxation, we made our way to the Panama border, taking one bus to the border and then crossing the border on foot, and then another bus to the shore, where we took a small boat to Bocas Del Toro.
We had been through a lot of teeny, tiny airports, but this experience was very foreign. We speak very little Spanish while most other travelers we were around spoke reasonable Spanish... making any English translation minimal.
Our experience included dirt roads and a Customs and Immigration encounter that was nothing like I had dreamed up. The rooms were maybe 8x8 with dirty concrete white walls, plastic tables, and 1 old guy wearing sunglasses in a very dark room. He looked us up and down, gave us a once over, really just to see if we were extra nervous (and therefore likely running drugs)... and then, just like that, he let us through. Phew! I felt like we were in locked up abroad and going to be detained any second.
Surprisingly, you had to walk around the town from building to building to do all the things necessary to complete the transactions, like pay taxes to enter and stamp out of Costa Rica. We crossed a very long bridge on foot, went through a customs building, stamped into Panama, and were finally finished! Somehow, with no signs, no arrows, and very little Spanish, and we made it.
We took a boat taxi from the main island, Bocas, to the more remote island, Bastimentos. We were staying at a lovely little B&B/ resort reminiscent of Bliss. It was owned by an American couple. The woman is a chef and the man is in the music industry and they’d done a lot of the construction on the property when developing it. We didn’t get to meet the female owner, but we did meet the guy and he was very kind and gracious. Any time we see another couple doing what we do, we have a lot of respect and appreciation for them... because we know what it’s like. To be married, run a business together (a business in the service industry at that), and to grind day in and out, we bow down! This place was a bit different from ours and had two managers, Michelle & Kevin. Michelle was also a chef, lived there year round, and actually runs the place throughout the season. They were a delight to chat with and we absolutely respect their hard work and finesse. They had five rooms, dinner by reservation each night, and breakfast each morning. The decor and overall aesthetic was very much “wanderlust” oriented... and, they offered a yoga class! Hence... the reminiscence of Bliss.
9. Scuba diving for Frank!
While we were in Bocas for only 2 nights, the main goal was for Frank to make use of his newly acquired SDI Open Water Certification! Within our only full day, he planned one day time dive and another night dive. He toured with a company based out of Bastimentos, which was owned by a sweet older couple. He witnessed coral, stingrays, parrot fish, and crystal clear blue water. He had the time of his life. While he was certainly tired after two big dives in one day, it was worth the trip and the memory of a lifetime.
10. Beach days
After a couple days away, we returned to our home away from home. Beachin’ it! Every day. We met a lovely couple from Canada, our neighbors, in the Airbnb next door. We had breakfast with them one morning and drinks with them on several occasions. We enjoyed nice conversation, sharing travel stories, and recommendations.
11. Spa Day
We did decide to one touristy thing, but hey... what’s better than supporting the local economy.😀 We splurged on a spa day! Frank and I had a couples massage, foot scrub, and facials. Oh, how yummy this was! It was fantastic to have all of the aches and pains worked out of our necks from the days of travel.
12. KK’s Birthday!
Kelly’s birthday was the last day of the trip. We had plans to take a day trip to the nearby national park, Manzanillo, and to dine at our favorite restaurant in town, Koki Beach. Unfortunately, we both got food poisoning the night before. After an excruciating night, we spent Kelly’s birthday in bed watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
13. The Road Home
We weren’t even close to being recovered, but we were at least strong enough to travel. We made our way back to Limon, San Jose, and then back to the states. After a two week vacation, we were super excited to see our kids (our DOGS!) ...and all of our other animals, especially our goat mamas, who were super pregnant and ready to deliver baby goats at any moment! We healed from food poisoning with more rest and our trusty Ninja soup recipe, ready for temps to rise, seasons to change, and more amazing memories to be made….