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Oct
25

Year Anniversary

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Hola Friends,
I am approaching my year anniversary of living in Costa Rica and being part of the team at Shaka Beach Retreat. I can’t believe a year has already flown by! It seems like just yesterday that I was carving pumpkins with my nephews back in Denver, preparing for my departure to Costa Rica. I arrived to Shaka on Halloween last year, and spent my first night in town with Jerry and Haydee dancing at the local club La Lorra. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! La Lorra
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A lot has happened in years time. Shaka built the new, beautiful yoga studio where I am now teaching, which was huge! I’ve helped build two new websites and am currently working on the third. In addition to the websites,  I’ve also created a YouTube channel called Solalunayoga.  I’m learning Spanish and I’m able to mostly communicate and not feel like a complete moron….well, I still feel like a moron, but not as much as I used to! http://www.youtube.com/user/Solalunayoga.

One of the things I am most proud of is my surfing, I’ve only been at it a year and have made some amazing progress….helps to have awesome instructors like we do at Shaka. It feels really good to tackle something as physically and mentally challenging as learning to surf has proved to be.  pinta and me

I have also acquired a few new furry friends. My first new friend is my dog Pinta Pants, she is freaking adorable and quite the little entertainer. She came with my apartment by the super market. I am so grateful for her company, she follows me around everywhere I go….me and my shadow.

BlanquitaThe latest addition, is my goat Blanquita, I got her about a month ago and she just had a baby!! Mulita Chiquita Bonita Cabrita is her full name, but I call her Mulita for short! Baby goats are some of the cutest little creatures on the planet! So, in addition to teaching yoga, surfing and learning Spanish, I’ve taken up goat herding too! I love Costa Rica!!!

I’ve been a busy girl! We only get one go at this life, so we might as well live it up and do the things we love to do! If a year goes by as quickly as this one did, a lifetime can slip by just as fast! I hope next year will be just as wonderful and exciting…… I guess only time will tell :) Mulita

Gratitude,
Megan

 

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Jul
22

Is Learning Spanish Hard?

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do you speak spanish?Come to Costa Rica and this is the first question most people ask when they attend their first Spanish lesson. When you’re not splashing about in the water at our surf retreat or enjoying a relaxing massage, you might be sitting on a beach learning to speak the language of this Central American paradise.

You know it’s important and fun to learn a new language, but you still have some butterflies floating around in the pit of your stomach. We have everything you need to know about learning Spanish at our surf camp, though.

Language Difficulty

Every language has a certain level of difficulty. You’ll find a lot of websites which attempt to rank languages in order of difficulty. Whilst we won’t discuss the various drawbacks of such ranking systems, the consensus is Spanish is one of the ideal languages to learn for novice language learners.

There are a minimal number of tenses and pronouncing the words is simple for an English speaker. The most difficult part is learning to roll some of the words off your tongue.

This is why we always get people at our surf camp who claim they can’t speak a word and within a few sessions they’re forming coherent sentences.

Fear

Languages are difficult mainly because of the various tenses and conjugations. In the case of the Oriental languages, you’ll also have to deal with difficult symbols on top of this. Spanish is easier to learn than English. One of the reasons why people find it so hard is due to their own fears of failure.

It’s no secret the US and the UK rarely put much stock in learning languages. Once you leave school, these language skills tend to fade away. Be confident in your abilities and you’ll find learning Spanish enjoyable.

Total Immersion

If you’re going to try learning from a textbook without any immersion, you will find it difficult. It’s tough to stay motivated in this sort of environment. At our surf retreat, we seek to immerse you in the language. For a start, you’re in Costa Rica where the national language is Spanish.

During your excursions, you’ll encounter local people who speak fluent Spanish and English. Try your skills on them and get acquainted with the language in the real world.

It’s still important to use textbooks and so-called traditional learning materials, but they shouldn’t be the only things you use. Studies have shown students who’re immersed and integrated into a language will learn it much faster than someone who has no real world contact with it.

Fun

Learning a language should be fun. You’re on holiday in a delightful corner of the world and there’s no time for boredom. Boredom is when learning Spanish becomes hard because you don’t really want to be there. At the Shaka surf camp, we introduce games, fun conversations, and things which are actually beneficial to you.

In some cases, visitors to our surf camp have even sat under a thatched roof with a Spanish notebook and a cold beer in their hands. Now that’s the best way to learn to speak a new language!

Contact us for help organizing your Costa Rica surf camp adventure.

 

 

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Costa Rica has a reputation for being one of the prime surfing spots in the world today. Only Hawaii and Australia can realistically compete with the diversity and beauty of this exotic destination. For new surfers, or those who have only surfed domestically, they often wonder what all the fuss is about and why people keep coming back to this Central American country year after year.

We answer why staying at a surf school in Costa Rica is such a fantastic way to enjoy the sport you love.

Surfing Surfing Everywhere

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Costa Rica is almost entirely a coastal nation. If you trace the entire coastline of the country, it’s longer than both the land length and width. It borders the two largest oceans in the world (the Atlantic and Pacific), which allows for so many options in when and where you surf. If you think a beach is too full, it’s not a problem because you can easily find another one.

Many of these beaches are also deserted, so you can have the waves to yourself.

Range

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If you learn to surf in Costa Rica you’ll be struck by how many sorts of waves and surfers there are. You can find people like you who are tackling their first waves. You can also find people who’re surfing along huge waves with massive amounts of power. Many of these areas are mere minutes away from each other.

It’s what’s led many surfers to make permanent homes here. You’ll find lots of these enthusiasts in hippie towns like Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Bring the Family

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Bring the whole family along with you. It caters to a family surf vacation just like it caters to backpackers traversing the various forests and jungle rivers. It’s a country which is safe and where everyone is welcomed. Not many people know Costa Rica’s main problem with crime is pickpocketing. Murder and other violent crimes are almost unheard of outside of the major cities.

Surf Camps

mikebaird / People Photos / CC BY

You won’t have any problems finding a surf school in Costa Rica. Wherever there’s a popular surfing location you’ll find a camp nearby. Some will teach you some new moves, whereas others just offer a place for you to stay before you head out again. It’s this diversity which makes it a surfing destination for everyone.

Stay at our surf camp. We know how important a family surf vacation is and can teach even the most inexperienced surf lover how to start riding the waves through professional and qualified tutors.

The Culture

ryankozie / Travel Photos / CC BY

Costa Rica has developed a surfing culture outside of the major cities. You’ll find surf shops in almost every small town because of the immense number of people who visit each year. You’ll find beach bars, surfing experts, and Costa Ricans who just love to surf with a smile and an utterance of ‘Pura Vida’.

Whilst you learn to surf here at Shaka, you’ll become immersed in one of the biggest and brightest surfing cultures in the world.

Begin planning your next amazing journey today! Contact us with any questions regarding your stay at the Shaka Beach Retreat

 

 

 

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Costa Rica is an exotic nation in Central America. It’s bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with only a 50-mile gap between the two at its widest point. It’s a hotbed for volunteering. If you don’t want to have the conventional surf and yoga holiday and want something a bit different, consider volunteering. There are so many things you can get involved with.

What Can I Do?

Costa Rica is a diverse nation with lots of things to do. This makes it one of the richest places for volunteering. You can join up with a wildlife sanctuary and care for the animals, teach English, or even work in a beachfront bar. As long as you can prove you’ll be an asset, there’s no reason why you can’t volunteer to fund your surf vacation.

Here at Shaka Beach resort we offer two choices for volunteers, you can choose to get involved as an adaptive camp volunteer, or become a live in assistant. Click here for further details on our volunteer programs.

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Google It

The first port of call for finding volunteering opportunities is Google. Type in ‘volunteering Costa Rica’ and you’ll soon find hundreds of organisations offering some sort of volunteering role. Generally, it’s best to stick with the larger companies for your own safety. Costa Rica is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world, but this is no excuse for letting your guard down, especially if travelling alone.

The Central Valley

Rainforest Action Network / Foter / CC BY-NC

The Central Valley provides an ideal place to volunteer. You’re never far from the beaches and you can feel good about bringing real positive change. The San Ramon-based Community Action Alliance runs things here. It’s a joint venture between Costa Ricans and foreigners, so expect lots of form filling and waivers.

Participants teach English, host job fairs, promote economic development, and run little sales to raise money for local charities and for the poorest in the community. In short, you could be doing something entirely different each day. It depends on what tasks are available at the time.

Southern Caribbean

Theron Trowbridge / Foter / CC BY-NC

If you can’t afford to stay in a gorgeous surf retreat on the southern Caribbean coast, all is not lost. On this coast there are two main animal rescue centres in desperate need of volunteers. The Sloth Sanctuary protects injured two and three-toed sloths, whereas the Jaguar Rescue Center protects animals ranging from big cats to howler monkeys and parrots.

The Osa Peninsula

Speckled Jim / Foter / CC BY-NC

The Osa Peninsula is on the southern Pacific coast and organisations here protect the endangered marine life of Costa Rica. The Osa Conservation Group is one of the main ones and actively defends Pacific Green and Olive Ridley turtles from harm.  You don’t necessarily have to be a strong swimmer to volunteer here.

How Much Does it Cost?

Fees vary depending on where you’re volunteering. Some will ask you pay for everything from accommodation to food and travel. Others will supply you with basic accommodation and some foods. If you’re lucky enough, you might even nab one of those volunteer roles where the organisation pays for everything apart from your flights.

Most volunteer roles last anywhere from a few days to a few months. If you want to stay for longer, you should set up multiple volunteer positions before you go. You’ll struggle if you just intend on showing up and hoping they’ll accept you.

Contact us for more details on our volunteer programs.

 

 

 

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surferCosta Rica is a beautiful country with lots of prime surfing opportunities. Only Hawaii is more popular than Costa Rica. If you’ve never been abroad on a surfing trip before, you might worry about the condition of your surfboard by the time you return home.

Choosing to stay in a dedicated surf camp in Costa Rica is the best way to ensure your board will be well taken care of, but if you’re more of a free spirit use these tips:

Cover it Up

A chip or a crack makes a board less responsive and poorer to ride. Most of the damage caused to a board doesn’t happen in the water. It happens on the ride to and from the beach. Public transport in Costa Rica is the way to get around some of the more remote areas.

On a bus ride, just throwing your board in the luggage compartment isn’t going to cut it. Don’t rely on the staff to take care of it or do anything other than chuck it in and lock it up. A surfboard bag can keep a board pristine for many years.

The Sun

The waters of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais have been kissed by the sun. As much as you love the sun bouncing off your skin, your board doesn’t feel the same way. Heat damage changes the dynamics of the board. You won’t notice these subtle differences, though. Always keep your board in a shady spot.

On a crowded beach, hide it under your bag or a small covering. On isolated beaches you could use the forest covering at the back of the beach.

Dealing with Crowds

You’ll find no end to the crowds in some of the more popular surf spots. Everyone is competing for a wave and you always have a few greedy people who don’t want to give others a turn. How you handle the crowds defines what condition your board will leave the beach in.

One option is to simply wait for an opening. Most surfers are upstanding sportspeople who know about etiquette. If the beach is totally overloaded, don’t risk your board. Losing your board or colliding with another surfer can leave cracks and dents which can keep you out of the water for days. Surf safety should always be your top priority.

There’s no shortage of beaches in Costa Rica. Find a different one if you have to surf right now. Alternatively, come back another time. Try to arrive in the late evening or early morning. There’s a bigger risk of encountering jellyfish and crocodiles, but it’s when there are fewer surfers and you’ll have a lot more beach to yourself.

The Locals

This country has a very low crime rate. A murder or an assault is almost unheard of. Hippie towns like Montezuma have a population of laidback residents and friendly backpackers just passing through.

The one crime which is still rampant near busy tourist towns is petty theft. If you have an expensive surfboard it could disappear whilst you’re out on safari somewhere. Keep it hidden and locked away. If possible, ask if someone can keep it safe for you. Some friendly surf shops will store boards from tourists for a small fee.

Ideally, you shouldn’t bring something you aren’t prepared to lose. If the loss of your board would crush you and ruin your holiday, leave it at home and settle for a cheaper board. There’s also no shortage of rental stores available.

A guest post from Geoff McCabe, eco-friendly entrepreneur and owner of the Anamaya Yoga Resort in Costa Rica

 

Anamaya Yoga Resort in Costa Rica

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Apr
23

The Yoga Rancho

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yoga studio3

We’ve had such a busy season, with so much going on,  I haven’t had much time to write. The past couple of blogs have been a whirlwind of experiences that all took place within a few days of one another. With all of the excitement, I neglected to announce the most exciting news! The newest addition to Shaka….the brand new, yoga studio….the yoga rancho!

 

Beautiful….all hand done teak, from floor to ceiling! She’s nestled under the jungle canopy….a stones throw away from the original Rancho…the heartbeat of Shaka. Her energy is sweet and inviting, welcoming the next group of adventurists to grace her with their presence.

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No walls to contain her, allowing the sounds of the ocean and the jungle to mix and mingle with the energies of the class. Nature appears to be bursting at the seams, an ecstatic expression singing itself into creation! The high pitched hum of the locusts, a continual pulsation holding the space. A rich layering of information, woven together with a myriad of melodies…all singing to the beat of their own drum!

 

In addition to the sounds of nature, you will also experience the sights too! My favorite characters are the howler monkeys….to watch and to hear! I spent the whole morning in the studio today and was accompanied by a troop of monkeys! They were literally twenty feet from the studio! I’m not sure who was watching who! They seemed to be as fascinated by us, as we were them!

 

I love teaching and practicing in the new space, it feels good under my feet….and my hands…..connected and rooted to the earth….in the middle of the jungle….with the sound of the ocean in the background…..Gracias!

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Apr
18

Something Lost and Something Gained

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Om Mani Padme Hum

A couple of days ago I was helping Mo’e with a surf lesson, a very nice family from Seattle. I was giving the little boy a send off when my beloved bracelet was caught in the leash and torn from my arm. This wasn’t just any bracelet….it was a gift from a dear friend and longtime student back in Denver. He had purchased it in Tibet, it was solid silver and had the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum inlaid upon it.

The powerful and hungry ocean

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I had worn it everyday since he given it to me almost two years ago. I was heartbroken and trying my best to let it go….”svaha” a Sanskrit term, meaning throw it in the fire. What was done was done, yet another thing lost to the powerful and hungry ocean. Where does all that stuff go? There is probably some underwater pawn shop that is killin’ it!

Moira

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Later that evening, I was talking to Moira, one of our guests, a film producer from Ireland. She is here filming the Irish television show called ” In Your Shoes”, a reality based show, where they pair up two teenage kids, one disabled and one able bodied. They are here with the “Ocean Healing Group”, Shaka’s non profit organization for kids with disabilities.

Surfing and yoga

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The kids and crew are touring around the world and have different adventures at each destination. While they are here in Costa Rica, they are surfing, quading and zip lining. The first two days were spent on Playa Hermosa where they all learned to surf! I am continually amazed by the courage and trust these kids have! Imagine surfing blind, or without the use of your legs….I get scared out there myself!! In addition to these more daring activities, the kids also did yoga with me, a wonderful and powerful practice that everyone can benefit from!

The bracelet

bracelet

So back to Moira, I was telling her how I had lost my bracelet that day and was pretty bummed. She then begins to tell me that she has the exact same bracelet, only not in silver but in bronze and she said she would like to give it to me. I was like….really?!? Wow! Gracias! Not exactly something you see everyday….kind of an obscure piece of jewelry….very interesting. I was then adorned with a new bracelet and a new friend.

The quad tour

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The following day the group was heading up toward Manzanillo for a quad tour. The film crew including Moira and myself were waiting for the kids to come by for their first shoot. We were standing on the hillside along the beach road and right after the kids and chaperones passed by….Moira took a bad fall and had appeared to have broken her leg…tibia…fibula?

Emergency response

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Frank and Grant, who both have training in emergency response, quickly splinted and iced Moira’s leg. Keep in mind that we are in a very remote location on the Southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula….no cell service….no hospital…the closest clinic is in Playa Carmen, which is about eight kilometers away.

Kate

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We get Moira ready for transport and I am her driver, Kate her nurse while we make the journey to the clinic. We now have the task of driving on the rocky, bumpy roads to get help. That thirty minute ride seemed to never end….every bump I cringed, as Moira’s pain escalated. Kate was in the back seat, also with emergency response training….she sat with Moira and continued to help us all remain calm and kept a close eye in our patient.

A lifetime

We finally arrived at the clinic after what seemed to be a lifetime. We got Moira in and they began to treat her. One of the other things we don’t have down here is an X-ray machine….and we are still a few hours form the nearest hospital…by car anyway. So, the doc says we need to be airlifted by helicopter to San Jose and get Moira to Cima Hospital.

The football field

Kate and I run back to camp, gather the important items and we race back to the clinic. We make the arrangements to be airlifted to the hospital and I will accompany my new friend on her journey as Kate heads back to camp to care for the kids. We load into the ambulance and drive to the football field where the helicopter lands. The sweet nurse Wendy rides with us to monitor Moira and also to catch a ride back to San Jose, which is where she lives.

The helicopter

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Juan Carlos escorts us all onto the helicopter and I am immediately relieved by his calming energy and obvious experience. Our flight from Santa Teresa to Cima Hospital in San Jose takes us about forty minutes. We arrive safely and they quickly admit Moira, take X-rays and determine that she has broken her tibia and her fibula…no bueno…she needs surgery.

Life

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I make all the needed arrangements with the help of Frank and Allen and get Moira all set up. She is a tough woman to endure that kind of pain and difficult transport…not to mention selfless…as she was more concerned about her kids, crew and any inconvenience she had caused anyone. I assured her that she was loved and certainly not an inconvenience…there is never a good time for something like this to happen…it’s just life….svaha!

Svaha

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As the were preparing her for surgery I said my goodbyes, as it was getting late and I needed to catch the six am bus to camp. So, here I am on the bus writing this, looking at my new bracelet and wondering about my new friend. I don’t have a phone and no wifi around on my trek back. I am eagerly awaiting to hear how Moira is today. I hope that she is recovering well and throwing this one into the fire….Svaha.
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Apr
14

La Cocina

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cristelia

I decided to write about La Cocina, which is where it all goes down….The Kitchen at Shaka. When I left Colorado six months ago, I was trying to leave La Cocina….been in La Cocina since I was sixteen years old. The last Cocina that I worked at was an amazing French Bistrot in Denver called Z Cuisine…www.zcuisineonline.com…. similar….but differente.

More fun to write

I figured this story would be much more fun to write and much more entertaining to read, than the work I have been compiling for five years regarding the Sanskrit alphabet, the orbit of the moon around the earth and the orbit of the earth around the sun….boring…right?

Many faces

It’s funny how life pulls us away from the things that we feel we were put on this planet to do….or does it? The truth is, we have many faces, the cook, the housekeeper, the yoga teacher, the dishwasher, the food server, the maintenance man, the surf instructor, the mom, the business owner, the financial planner, the web designer….the list goes on.

Our purpose and our gift

The point being, is that we all have roles to play…whether we like them or not. Continually being pulled away from the things that we feel are our purpose and our gift. Por que? No se…..to slow us down I guess! To make us realize the value in those many faces and what each contributes?

La Vida Loca

La Cocina is where I learn Spanish, traditional Costa Rican cooking, local natural medicinal remedies and of course laugh my ass off with my friends, talking shit about everything that goes down around camp and living  La Vida Loca!!

La Jefa

The best thing about La Cocina is la Jefa….the boss…Cristelia….my best amiga in Costa Rica. She is bonita…..in addition to cooking, she also has many roles. One of which is my Spanish professor….tough job….but somebody has to do it! My first day in La Cocina, my Spanish consisted of…Gracias…uno mas cervesas por favor….and donde esta el bano. Ahora mi espanole es mucho mejore…malo, but mejore.

Spanish lessons

The Spanish lessons I have received during my many hours of washing dishes have saved my ass time and time again. I realized the value in these lessons during a recent trip to Nicaragua….bus to taxi, taxi to border, border to taxi, taxi to bus, bus to ferry, ferry to taxi, taxi to mi casa….gracias por ayuda mi! Nessacito yo hablar espanole….muy importante!

Find the good

These lessons are worth their weight in gold, dish by dish…..day by day. This is where the yoga comes in….find the good and recognize the benefit of being pulled away from the things that you think are most important. Life has a funny way of giving you what you need, as opposed to what you want….trust in the process and remember that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should!
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