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Last week I packed up my paints and brushes and headed for an adventure in Costa Rica to attend the Pura Vida Retreat hosted by Mati McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills.  It was a dream come true! We looked forward to a week of creating with paint, nurturing relationships and relaxing in paradise. Little did we know how special the week would be or the silliness that would follow. More on the silliness in my next post!

As soon as I arrived in the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, I got to meet 3 of the girls: Anjanette, Annamieka and Barbara. We rented a car together and headed for the Jungle Beach House in Nosara. Our Google Maps app took us a different direction than we expected and we ended up on mostly bumpy dirt roads and let me tell you it was wild!  Literally! We felt like we were on the Indiana Jones Ride at Disneyland and expected to see a giant rock rolling towards us at any minute!


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We spotted howler monkeys in the trees and we just had to get out of the car and take some pics. I’m the kind of suburban girl who gets excited to see chickens along the side of the road so for me to see monkeys that weren’t in a zoo was such a treat! Thank you, Google Maps!


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Once we arrived at the Jungle Beach House in Nosara we were greeted with hugs by Faith and Mati and the other girls. I knew instantly that it was going to be a great week!  Who doesn’t love hugs?  The property is surrounded by gorgeous, colorful flowers.


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We all agreed that the house reminded us of the Swiss Family Tree house that used to be in Adventureland at Disneyland (It’s now Tarzan’s tree house). This is the walkway leading to the living room and kitchen and living area of the house.



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For our first morning activity we walked around the property and collected leaves, flowers, sea shells and seed pods to create mandalas with.


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This is Mati creating her mandala.


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This is my mandala.


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Aren’t these gorgeous? The possibilities for creating out of natural materials is endless!


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Here is Angela creating her Mandala. On the bottom is Faith’s mandala. Yes, I love saying and writing mandala!


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This is Molly and she belongs to the owners of the Jungle Beach House. We got to enjoy her company all week long. Anytime we went anywhere as a group, whether it was to the beach or out to dinner in the evenings, Molly went with us. It was super cute!


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After making Mandalas, Faith showed us how she creates her Watercolor Warm Ups. This was a great way to get the creative juices flowing that allowed us to just create without any pressure or expectation for a finished product.


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This is one of my watercolor warm ups. LOVE it!


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In the afternoon Mati showed us her approach to colorful collage.


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Here are some of the beautiful collages that we created. Don’t they look so amazing together?


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Mati demonstrating on a canvas.


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This picture shows the amazing open air space that we got to create in. One whole side is open to nature and allows you to really enjoy the flora and fauna.


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One morning I popped into the sport fishing place to check out pricing and when I walked out this guy, Big Daddy, was just meandering along right in front of me. Of course I screamed, just a little, because I’m not really used to 4 foot long lizards crossing my path. But, he was actually more scared of me than I was of him. It figures that the guy from the sport fishing place had walked out the door right behind me so I gave him some entertainment with my basic white girl antics.


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Photo by Lily Uoka

On one of the nights we went to a wonderful restaurant called La Luna and enjoyed the yummiest food alfresco. Aren’t we a bevy of beautiful souls? These are gorgeous girls, inside and out.


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Faith demonstrated how to do a drip technique.


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Sweet Lauran, who reminds me a lot of my friend, Michelle Geller, painted a canvas that matched her dress.


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One afternoon I rode horses on the beach at sunset with Lily and Angela. My ride was named Slow Motion and that was the perfect name for him. No matter how much I kicked him he just looked back at me as if to say “Are you serious?” We were about 10 horse lengths behind everyone else. The. Whole. Time. Crazy horse!


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Lily and Angela, on horses with some giddy up in their step. LOL!


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Enjoying time on the beach, which was just a minutes walk down a private path from the Jungle Beach House. Did I mention that these girls are beautiful inside and out?  Do you know how sometimes you’re in a group and there’s always that one person who isn’t the most positive of people? And you just want to ever so politely ask them to just stop it right now? That didn’t happen with this group. Every single soul was amazing, generous, loving and full of sparkle. The mix of people, especially our instructors, Mati and Faith, along with our enchanting surroundings, created a magical place where pura vida, possibility and dreams became real!


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Angela, me and Barbara


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Sunsets in Nosara will absolutely take your breath away!


I was inspired and took so many pictures that I’m going to be posting another update with the second half of the pictures in a couple days.


Thank you for joining me for a peek at my trip. I can’t wait to share the rest with you!





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