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  • JoAnn Gustave

Why traveling is the best Self-care! Costa Rica edition.

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Anytime I travel, I get an acute sense of self-awareness that I only experience while being away. It's like stepping out of myself and getting a bird's eye view of my life as someone else. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it in writing but something about being able to be whatever or whomever I want to be and immersing myself in a world totally unknown or perhaps somewhat familiar, helps me to grow into the person I aspire to be.

When I was maybe twelve years old, my mother enrolled me and my sister into a seminar for developing teens which taught me a lesson I have been applying to my life ever since. The psychologist who led the retreat said something that resonated with me. She said: "Anytime you are experiencing trauma or going through a difficult time, whatever escape route you choose, make sure that your future self will thank you for it."


Of course I have worked out like a maniac or tired myself at painting, pottery, planting and other creative outlets but nothing really beats travel! It's the fuel my creative side so widely craves.

On my last trip to Costa Rica, I attended my first ever wellness retreat along with 10 other women who were all in search of some peace and self-care. I didn't ask precisely who was going through a rough time but I knew that people always needed to regroup at some point to feel alive.

I was putting together a custom trip when my contact over at G Adventures told me that the product we had discussed earlier in the year had just been created and Costa Rica was on the list.

It wouldn't be my first time there, but my third time visiting this land which had stolen a piece of my heart 14 years ago. I wanted to share that feeling with as many as I could, so I offered the trip to my tribe.

Costa Rica just like my home, Haiti, has an element for each emotion that goes through my body. It is a destination that appeals to most travelers, whether you are a thrill-seeking body or in search of a Zen retreat, there is something for you.

This country alone is responsible for 5% of the world's biodiversity. Needless to say, it would take a lifetime to really get to see everything it has to offer so most will never get tired of going back to it over and over again. With only 51,100 sq. km, this small piece of land is filled with beauty and excitement and a people so warm and welcoming that you naturally feel like you belong. Our guide Noelia told me: "If you consider America to be a woman, just think of Costa Rica as her womb."

I remember the first time I set foot in Costa Rica, I told myself how I had found the terrestrial version of paradise; At least in my mind. It was a crazy trip with my fellow classmates from college when my best friend and I connected with each other. We realized how much her Dominican heritage and my Haitian culture were very similar.

This time around I was surrounded by women of all age groups, from all corners of the world each with their own bag of emotions and challenges they'd wanted to face:

I watched a young woman conquer her fear of water by paddle boarding across a 180-foot deep lake in the rain and surf in the Pacific Ocean without knowing how to swim. I witnessed a 6-month pregnant first-time mother from New Zealand inspire so many of us simply by being brave and present. I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful soul who had been on her very first trip outside of the United States and witness her open up to strangers.

All of us there experienced a spiritual journey in the most beautiful setting one can imagine. Some strangers, some friends but all in search of the light within. A perfect combination of both challenging and heartwarming activities that helped the group come together:

We surfed, chased whales on the Pacific Ocean and got our adrenaline rush but we also stood still in the forest. We shared some amazing meals, learned about coffee at a community project, covered ourselves with mud, dipped into thermal hot springs and meditated to a beautiful sound ceremony at yoga to re-center ourselves: Balance!

That is the purpose of travel when it is done well; to come with chaos within and leave feeling whole again. Traveling will force you to step out of your comfort zone, sharpen your critical thinking skills, create amazing new friendships and ultimately make you become your own hero.

Pura Vida!

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