True Nature Travels Blog

white roof tops

From sprawling mountains, sparkling coastlines, rolling countryside, ancient history and sumptuous cuisine Italy is a destination not to be overlooked.


True Nature Education is ecstatic to announce we are now offering yoga, wellness, and adventure retreats to Italy! And our center we are partnering with has us swooning…..
Quietness, Peace, Nature, Yoga, Sharing, Heart, Love: these are the key concepts to convey the spirit of our Italian retreat center, set by the countryside at about 5.6 miles from Martina Franca, in Apulia, the place is immersed in the splendid nature of Valle d’Itria.

The center is located on a hill at about 10 yards of height, halfway between Adriatic and Ionic Sea, a place that is totally immersed in peace and quietness.


It’s an ancient 17th century “Masseria” (farmhouse), recently restored and renovated by keeping its original structure intact, thus meaning to convey a good perception of space and time absence and better awareness of the present, here, now.Pool

As of four years ago, a small community of people gathers here in order to opt deeply for a life made of sharing, far from traditional systems and life schemes: a merge arising from the awareness for the importance of life as spent together with others, based on freedom, heart, love and yoga as a discipline and a lifestyle, a chance for merging one’s inner universe and the others.

Partake on meditations, yoga practice, sight seeing, mindful cuisine, and immerse yourself in the passion of Italy!


Where do we sign-up??? Be sure to check out our retreats and book your adventure today! We would love to have you.

Be sure to take a look at our retreat video for more information.

Interested in learning more on why you should travel to Italy? Check out Huffington’s post on some sights and outings not to miss here!

True Nature Travels Blog

l-View to San Pedro volcanoGuatemala is a magical land that is so rich in tradition, culture, and natural beauty. Heavily influenced by it’s Mayan background, everyday life in Guatemala still keeps that authentic vibe. History is living, and the people truly embrace their ancestry and honor those who have come before.

So it is no surprise the food in Guatemala reflects these values. Many traditional foods in Guatemalan cuisine are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chilies and beans as key ingredients.
There are also foods that are commonly eaten on certain days of the week. For example, it is a popular custom to eat paches (a kind of tamale made from potatoes) on Thursday. Certain dishes are also associated with special occasions, such as fiambre for All Saints Day on November 1 and tamales, which are common around Christmas. (See here for more info)

The food is diverse and rich. And everything is made with love, soul, and tradition. And did I mention yummy?

As much as sound so very tempting, I wanted to share something on the sweeter side. I have to admit I have a sweet tooth and these little desserts are a delicious snack.

empanadas-de-leche-credit-natalie-rose-main (1)

Empanadas de Leche are among the most popular street foods in Guatemala, especially around the time of Semana Santa. These are made with a buttery, achiote red-tinted dough that is filled with creamy milk custard and baked to flakey perfection. I discovered a fantastic recipe for these little guys at

For the Dough
3 tablespoons very hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground achiote or achiote paste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 3/4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract For the Milk Filling
1 1/2 cups milk
Zest strips from 1/2 orange
1/4 stick cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine salt

Make the dough: Stir the hot water and ground achiote or achiote paste until dissolved. Add an ice cube to cool the water and set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Add the butter cubes and toss to coat in flour. Using your hands, press butter between your fingers into the flour, so butter pieces become smaller and mix well with the flour. Add the egg, 3 tablespoons of the achiote paste water and extract. Mix until just combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
To make the filling bring the milk, orange zest and cinnamon stick to a slow simmer over medium heat. Watch the milk carefully so it doesn’t scorch or boil over. Simmer for 10 minutes; remove cinnamon stick and zest and reduce the heat down to low.
Mix together the yolk, sugar, cornstarch, extract and salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Repeat with another tablespoon milk. Add the egg mixture to the milk pot and whisk over low heat constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, on a well-floured surface, roll until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles from dough. Collect dough scraps, reroll, and repeat until all the dough is used. You should have about 24 circles.

Description/Descripción > AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Guatemala License. Bajo licencia Creative Commons: Reconocimiento-No comercial-Compartir bajo la misma licencia 3.0 Guatemala. Photo: Rudy Girón/ Foto: Rudy Girón/ If you would like to use this photograph, please get in touch with me through my contact form at LAGDP. Si le gustaría usar esta fotografía, por favor ponerse en contacto conmigo a través del formulario de contacto de mi sitio personal.
Fill each circle with about 1 tablespoon cooled filling. Carefully fold the dough in half, taking care to keep the filling inside the pocket. Press the edges shut and then seal using the tines of a fork.
Place the sealed empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Interested in visiting Guatemala? Reconnect to yourself and your yoga
practice? Explore a new and exciting land? Try new foods? Well you are in luck. True Nature Education has some amazing retreats happening! Click here to learn more!

Room 4 - JaguarMaya RoseVery Spacious Patio AreaRelax in a Hammock!

True Nature Travels Blog

2015-01-29 10.19.48Cooking is one of my favorite activities.  I enjoy it more when I am learning how to prepare new dishes from my mother.  She is not a chef, but she cooks with love.  To me, her food is the most delicious food in all the world!  She likes to stick to cooking a simple, traditional Costa Rican recipe that is a part of common tico cuisine.
Today at coffee/tea time she prepared what’s called Tamal Asado.  It’s yummy, simple Costa Rican corn cake that is wonderful to have as a mid afternoon snack.  My mother makes the best version, I think, and we love sharing each other’s company together over a piece of eat and a hot cup of cafe.  I’ve included the recipe for you below.
To go along with it, she also prepared a special picadillo called Ropa Vieja that we eat with tortillas or with a salad.  Yes, it sounds funny if we consider that ropa vieja means old clothing.
The name comes from our recycling devotion.  This is the way we recycle food:  After tasting a vegetable and meat soup that traditionally is called Olla de Carne (great for lunch on a rainy day), we put some olive oil in a pan, then we add the veggies that are still in the Olla de Carne pot and mix it up.  You can add the broth to make sure that the vegetables are covered, keeping them covered for 15 minutes. When it is ready, you can leave it on the wood stove on low until dinner time, so it gets dry, smells delicious and the taste incredible.

Tamal Asado

  • 1 1/2 cups grounded corn
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, we use the one from our área and the brand is Dos Pinos
  • 1 cup of grated white cheese (homemade)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla or almond
Mix the grounded corn with milk.  Add sugar, melted butter, cheese, eggs and vanilla.  Mix and place in a baking pan.  If you use a oven, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  In our case, we use the wood stove oven which takes around 25 minutes.  Wait until cooled, call your family, relative and friends, make sure to have boiled water, prepare coffee or tea, and serve!

True Nature Travels Blog

Dear Friends,

A beautiful sunny morning, after almost a week of rain, rain  and more rain. I like rain, however I honestly enjoy when the sun shines! I am sitting on my table, typing this letter and baking a cake for my sister.

A mom’s life is something like this… We can work, clean, cook and care of the kids at the same time… The cake smells delicious and it is also for my mom, who came back home yesterday after her monthly stay in the hospital, the cake is almost ready and this is also for you…


Yes, for you!

Thank you for booking your vacation through True Nature Education and for giving a special value to your fun, to your time, to your expectations. There are too many reasons for us to be thankful. I am so blessed! I have a wonderful family, a mother who is fighting against cancer and you know what, she will be the winner!

It feels great to be the bridge between cultures and languages. It feels amazing to know that your visit will make a possitive change in the life of so many people, because every step you do in my country, you are making a difference.

Behind the volunteer service, there is a happy family getting the benefit and a happy community improved. Behind the school presentation there is a group of ladies preparing a special present for the kids. And, it is possible because of you.

This year, we will have a party for the people in the community, on December 21. We do not have the Thanksgiving day tradition in Costa Rica, however it will be something like this after your visit. We are going to have a party, food and presents for the people in town, for the neediest families. If you want to join this cause, you are invited to bring something, anything counts. It is fine if it is a second hand article or if it is new.

Cake is on my table now. I wish I could send you a piece of cake…

Pura Vida and Happy Holidays,


Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.

Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.

True Nature Travels Blog

costa rica lifestyleBefore you pack and take a plane to Costa Rica, consider reading this.

Sometimes I am jealous of the ones that work in a building, with air conditioning and luxury lamps and decorations… But then I take a step back. Look where I live, look where I work. I just sit on my porch and look at nature’s decorations on my floor. There is a butterfly that almost looks like an owl when you see it, and it is same color, like my tiles. I feel the wind instead of the air conditioning.

After the hard work I did feeding the turkeys, chickens, and rabbit in my parents home, I decided to rest for a bit in my hammock, considering that Andres is still in the school and Gabri is enjoying his nap.

Many people would like to visit my country, and I deeply feel I should advise them of something before they go to pack…

I wish I could write this blog in a faster way, but there are too many birds singing in my garden, and I can’t help but be distracted. Having too many birds is a real inconvenience for those visiting my village; it can be difficult to see and listen to the birds of all sizes that flock around.

There are many trees. It seems that this is the season for mamones, guayabas, pejibayes, bananas, oranges and more fruits. There are too many butterflies, humming birds, toucans, parrots and even macaws eating the delicious treasures from the trees.

So I will move to my yard, where perhaps it will be more peaceful for writing…

Organic-Fruits-Produced-in-a-Small-Eco-Organic-Micro-Farm-in-the-Osa-Peninsula-Costa-Rica-copyThe green grass looks like a rug. There are some insects climbing up the colorful plants, the day is sunny, and I am sitting under a palm. I think of the day when Keilor and I planted the palm trees in our property; now they are big enough, almost 4 meters. The soil here is rich… Poor farmers: I guess it is hard to them to have lots of kilograms of yucca, tiquisque, ñampi or malangas per every single plant. Yet maybe it is not all too bad because they are getting stronger from their hard work. It makes them to save money and time, because it is the equivalent of going to the gym!

Well, my neighbor is asking for mom, she was calling her, but mom didn’t respond. When mom gets into her kitchen, she forgets the world, and there is a new world for her. She makes delicious food, and this is another problema to add in our “think about it list”… She wants you to taste all of her food creations. Sometimes I have to taste homemade bread, gallo pinto, tortillas, and picadillo in the morning, then when I come back from work, I usually get her sopas or tamales or any other kind of dishes, that include fresh vegetables such as carrots, squashes, pumpkin, potatoes, yucca, plantain, tiquizque and an endless list of products from Costa Rica.

cacaoThere is a sound in the house. It is Gabri waking up, and he is hungry… I have been writing, and there is not lunch prepared for him, so I will give him a cup of sugar cane juice, the one we prepared yesterday at home. There are some pieces of guanábana, papaya and watermelon in my freezer, and some anonas and caimitos that my friend from school gave me yesterday.  She has lots of fruits, which she shares with her friends, otherwise she wouldn’t know what to do with her harvest. Anonas and caimitos are not so popular here, so I appreciate her gifts, and I like to give her back some cacao or chocolate fruit. There are some cacao trees on my in-laws property. It was a big problem to me. It was a heavy bag full of fruits and love. It was also a big problema for my co-workers, who had to experience the same experience… Costa Ricans are so friendly, it is hard to stop every time you see someone you know along your way. They want to ask about you, about your family, your pets, your plans for the future and finally, they all give you lots of blessings and hugs, it makes your arms so strong, after giving and receiving too many hugs.

Gabri is happy but thirsty. Sugar cane juice is so sweet, so he probably needs something different now. We have many coconuts here, but I don’t know how to use the machete. This is something to consider… Take a lesson about how to use a machete in Costa Rica! There are many fruits and vegetables that require the right use of this tool.

Let’s drink water, it is pure and good for our health… Then we will have more time for learning how to use the machete and of course, for describing my “hard life” in Costa Rica, the things nobody explains you before you come.

There are not concrete walls around me; what I see is just the green pastures, the unpaved road and the neighbor’s cows enjoying their happy life. The light comes directly from the sky and sometimes, when we have enough time, we make a fire at sunset and sit around it, just to listen to the Mother’s Nature voice.

God bless you, and God bless Costa Rica!

Pura Vida,



CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.


Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.