By Taraleigh Weathers
Costa Rica is one of my favourite places on the planet, which is why I keep coming back year after year and stay longer and longer every time. This year will be my sixth return back to this amazing country and the fourth Rocking Life Retreat. Before I ever visited Costa Rica, I was intrigued. To me, it seemed like this magical oasis where you could eat mangoes right off the tree, go for a dip in the warm sea and drink fresh coconut water straight from the nut all in one day. When I was offered a free trip to come down to check out the music festival Jungle Jam that took place in Jaco, I was a hard yes!
The second I got off the plane, and my flip-flopped feet touched the ground, I knew that Costa Rica was a place I was supposed to spend time in. After the festival, I ventured down to Santa Teresa with a group of fire dancers and the musician Ryan Montbleau. We all slept on mattresses on the beach under the stars. It was something I’ll remember forever. At the end of the trip, Ryan placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “We have to find a reason to come back here again.”
One of my favourite things to do is make people’s dreams come true, so two years later, I created a reason for us to go back there again. Together with twenty of Ryan’s biggest fans, we hosted our very first international retreat together in Santa Teresa – and it was a huge hit! Getting to listen to Ryan sing and play guitar for just our little group under the light of candles and the moon was a moment in time that I will hold forever in my heart.
Ryan and I hosted two more retreats together, one in Montezuma and one in Dominical. But Ryan has such a heavy tour schedule, both with his solo music, as well as his theatrical duo Yes Darling with Hayley Jane, and was unable to return in 2020. This sparked a new idea for me. What if I partnered with a local musician and created an experience for live music fans in a different part of Costa Rica each year? It would afford the chance to add new flavour and experience to each retreat! I loved Dominical so much that I had to return again.
Dominical is great for so many reasons. If you’ve ever been to a Grateful Dead or Phish show, there’s an area in the lot like this called Shakedown Street. That is what I would liken this market. There are so many nods to the band Phish there. It is an adorable little surfer town located on the Pacific Ocean. Along the beach, artists and others hock their wares to tourists and locals. There’s an organic market that has the best spring rolls I’ve ever had called Mama Toucans, and they are always blasting Phish, which makes this jam queen feel right at home. They sell amazing coconut milk ice-cream, and the freezer is decorated with donuts that match Phish drummer Jon Fishman’s mumu that he always wears on stage. Tourism signs decorate the market and pay homage to the band’s music: “Surrender to Flow” with lizards on it.
When heartstorming up this year’s retreat, I remembered meeting Dominical local Drew LaPlante years ago at his gig at the Jolly Roger and hit him up about being a part of this year’s retreat. He also happens to offer music for retreats, so it really is the perfect fit. This year, we’re going to two of his gigs, one on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean at sunset and another at the brewery Fuego, where the hip hop duo The Middle Ages that I formed with my husband will be opening.
Danyasa is where I’m hosting my retreat this year, and working with them has been a dream. Their yoga studio is located in one of the most interesting landscapes I’ve ever seen, is fully stocked, and has an amazing sound system, which is awesome for live music yoga and dance parties. Since we have the whole place to ourselves, we will play music poolside until we get tired and go to sleep. I’ve been dreaming about consuming the food that they made for us ever since my lips touched it last year, and I am looking forward to sharing it with this year’s attendees. Retreaters will practice daily live music yoga with me, watch the most epic sunsets, participate in a breathwork sound healing experience, frolic in super-secret waterfalls that only locals know about, eat the most vibrant, healthy, locally-sourced food, stay in air-conditioned, upcycled shipping containers and cool off in the mermaid pool at Danyasa. We’ll also be going on various excursions like snorkelling, surfing or zip-lining, all with like-minded music fans!
One of my favourite parts about this retreat is the bonds that are created. People from all walks and ages of life come to my retreats; some with lovers, others solo, and some with a friend or three. Many people have never left the United States or Canada before and are super nervous about it – and we want them to feel comfortable and welcome. I make private Facebook groups for all of my retreats, where I share all the info people need to know and for people to get to know each other better before they arrive. Those groups are still active years after the retreat’s end. I love seeing retreaters out together at shows when they return home.
I’m looking forward to meeting the retreaters this year. If you’d like to book your spot, you can do so at rockinglife.com/experiences/costarica.