By Andrea Smalls
[Editor’s Note: ELIXHER is not affiliated with this event.]
My name is Andrea and I’d love to introduce you to a holistic approach to the traditional women’s retreat. I am inviting women of color to join me in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica from June 13 to June 20, 2016 to enjoy my new project: Women of Color Healing Retreats. The goal of the retreat is to provide a custom-made, safe, and natural community of healing tailored to the needs of women of color. The retreat will focus on meditation, decolonizing yoga, and learning tropical plant medicine.
Two years ago, I left New York City to experience Central America. Though I enjoyed the Big Apple’s blistering pace, I was drained by racist ideology hovering over U.S. culture, and I wanted a different experience. I had a magical experience traveling around Nicaragua and Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica, I volunteered at a majestic butterfly garden and consequently traded in my heels for sandals only to find that I was happier barefoot. I climbed mountains and rode my bike under the stars. I meditated more than I ever had in my entire life, and it was here in Costa Rica where my spiritual journey uncontrollably blossomed. I learned a different way of living, a more holistic and organic way of seeing the world. I learned that our lives are really our own and we can create any beauty we want. I found a community of many travelers from all over the world and we enjoyed the spiritual fruits of togetherness. I love the people of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. It has become my home. When I was in the United States, I would always say to myself, “I’m leaving the country for a while at some point.” I had not realized that those thoughts would later manifest into my future.
I created Women of Color Healing Retreats out of the desire to connect Black Americans to nature and to the beautiful Afro-Latino people of Puerto Viejo. The retreat’s goal is to bring women together for six days and seven nights of healing and community-building. Puerto Viejo is an Afro-Latino town in the gorgeous Caribbean coast of the country. We will have enriching women-centered workshops. We will go hiking on waterfalls. We will swim in the bluest oceans, and we will learn about herbalism. The retreat will be a safe space that will allow women to hear and see themselves in nature. It will also be a space to unwind and disconnect from the psychological trauma of systemic racism. This retreat is a custom-designed for women of color. I have partnered with the local community of Puerto Viejo to make sure that this retreat will contribute to their community. We will eat at local restaurants and we will also support Black Costa Rican- and American-owned businesses. All of the teachers for the workshops and activities will be women of different colors. I believe that it is important for all of us to come together, to heal and learn from each other.
I am extremely excited to bring other women of color to Puerto Viejo. This is the perfect opportunity for anyone who is afraid of traveling alone to begin their travel story. Each woman will receive the support that fits their needs from their traveling sisters, the instructors and the town. This is a retreat dedicated to wellness, traveling, and uplifting ourselves and our communities by tapping more into self-care. I look forward to having you as a guest as we share this magical country.
Andrea Smalls is the creator of Women Of Color Healing Retreats. Drained by the relentless pace of New York City and stifled by the weight of systemic and cultural racism, she decided to travel around Central America. While traveling she found herself in love with a majestic town in Costa Rica called Puerto Viejo — a place she now calls home. Out of her desire to contribute to her community, she has cultivated a space for black women to experience the magic of Costa Rica in a supportive community nature. For more information, visit www.womenofcolorhealingretreats.com. You can follow Andrea on her personal journey around Costa Rica on Instagram @twistedelegnce.