Latin America, Travel

Experiencing Real Relaxation at Tabacon Springs in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

I was wrapped in a towel damp from my wet swimsuit.  It was raining, but I didn’t care.  The canopy above our outside bed kept us dry enough.  The rain actually accentuated the tropical environment that surrounded us – the lush green foliage, the rambling creeks, the birds cawing, the occasional volcanic rumble, the steam from the hot springs.  At Tabacon Springs, for the first time in a long time, I felt truly relaxed.  And not just in a spiritual sense, but a physical sense as well.

Those of you who are regular readers know that my spiritual retreat is the beach.  I am fortunate to wind up in one of many coastal cities for my work travels.  On those occasions, I can usually be found after work at the beach walking with my toes in the water or sitting with my ass in the sand.

The beach is my meditation.  

It’s here where I can allow my mind to totally unwind and be still.  I breathe in and out with each crashing wave.  I feel my soul dance to the sound of seagulls and children playing.  But I can’t say it does much for allowing my body to let go as well.  My muscles are still wound tight twitching to move forward.

I tend to live by a work hard play hard philosophy which dates back to my fraternity days.

The brothers of the Ohio University chapter of Delta Upsilon were expected to be in involved in fraternity and school, to study hard, and, most importantly, to party hard.  The older I grow, the more tiring this still practiced philosophy becomes.  Monday through Friday evening, I give 200%.  I rise at 6:00am to work on my novel.  From 8:00am until 5:00pm, I plow into my job, often squeezing in hard workouts during my lunch break.  In the evenings, I work on blog writing and developing ideas on where this little site can lead me.  Then there are the weeks that I travel where this schedule is augmented by rushing to catch flights and sleeping in strange beds.  Come Friday evenings, I’m tired, often falling asleep over cocktails with our neighbors (I have embarrassingly earned the nickname Sleepy Head).

My free time on the weekend isn’t much more restful.  It is filled with cooking elaborate dinners, entertaining friends, attending college game watch parties, brewing beer, volunteering at church and in the community, and running errands.  Heck, even my vacations seem to be go, go, go.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about any of this.  It’s my life by design, and I do enjoy it.  But it’s physically draining at times, and I’m not one to accept rest.  I run until I crash.

I don’t believe that Tabacon Springs is a place that I would have intentionally sought out.  If I had, I would have most likely been turned away by the price tag.  You want me to pay how much to sit in a pool of hot water?  But on our trip to Arenal, Costa Rica, we happened to be staying at the Tabacon Grand Spa and entrance to the hot springs was included with our room.  It was exactly what I needed (Especially after my hair raising experience zip-lining and learning the art of negotiating on the side of a volcano the week prior).

For the first time in a long time, I could feel the knots in my back untie. 

The tension that always exists in my shoulders loosened.  It was a relaxation I felt through my muscles and into my bones.  We started in the cooler pools, splashing amongst the rocks and then slowly made our way through the maze of tropical foliage to the warmer pools as the paths wound closer to the source of the hot springs.  We played under waterfalls allowing the water to breathtakingly cascade our bodies.  We lingered in pools with temperatures bordering scolding even as the outside temperature reached the upper 80s.  The sweat was detoxifying.

Last, we retreated from the spring water to Shangri-La Gardens – the adult only section of Tabacon – where we lounged around like lazy alligators for hours enjoying the silence and stillness of just being.  The rain clouds moved in and the skies began to thunder, crying out against the constant moaning and rumbles of Arenal Volcano.  Such powerful forces that further humbled our souls.  We thought of heading for cover but the main building was too far away, and we were enjoying being at peace with the power of nature.  We lay still under our canopy and surrendered as it was the only thing we could do.  Tabacon Springs was the perfect end cap to our wild week in Costa Rica.

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When was the last time  you felt totally relaxed?