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

imageLast week on yoga retreat with Missy Balsam Yoga, we had an amazing group come together at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge. For our service “karma” yoga project, we reached out to a local tico family — a mother and daughter — to give their house new life with a fresh coat of paint.

Having endured hard times of late, the mother and daughter had been robbed the week before. What’s more is that their grandmother was also in the hospital.

imageHere is a letter written to us by our TNE Village Representative, Lindsay Padilla, that she sent after the end of a very rewarding day:

It was a great experience! Missy and every one of the group are amazing. We had fun!
The house looks beautiful now. It was very deep to see Ligia’s family SO happy and thankful.
Daisy made three beautiful dolls (handmade) for Missy and two more ladies. They just had mango and they shared it! We painted both outside and the inside of the house, and it looks so good!
imageWe noticed there was a really big hole in Ligia’s bedroom wall. It was there because their home had been robbed by a group of people. 
They had no money for buying the piece of plywood and a lady gave them $20. Osvaldo came back some minutes after that in order to say thanks and to show her the hardware store ticket. It was very nice. Daisy and her mom had a white blanket, and they wanted to have the participant’s hands printed on this, as a good memory.
Daisy told me her mom was so happy to decorate her small (really small) living room with that piece of cloth. That made me cry!
After a beautiful SUNNY morning (yes!!!) we came back home and the group enjoyed the company and hospitality of the mother’s home.  Especially the kitchen and, of course, her food.
imageWe had a cooking class, we practiced how to prepare coffee (real Costa Rican style). After that, I invited them to come and see my house and garden.
I shared some words and I got too many hugs. Enough to last for a life time, I guess 🙂

True Nature Travels Blog

Just for now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness.

Just for now, lay down the
weight you so patiently
bear upon your shoulders.
Feel the earth receive
you, and the infinite
expanse of sky grow even
wider as your awareness
reaches up to meet it.
Just for now, allow a wave of breath to enliven your experience. Breathe out whatever blocks you from the truth. Just for now, be boundless, free, awakened energy tingling in your hands and feet. Drink in the possibility of being who and what you really are so fully alive that when you open your eyes the world looks different, newly born and vibrant, just for now.
I shared this poem by Dana Faulds in class in Costa Rica, reminding the group to allow themselves time to really be in the beautiful magic of Costa Rica and use it as a space and time to take care of themselves and to get back to who they are.
Over the course of the week, we softened our grip on our lives and responsibilities and let ourselves sink into stillness (or something similar).  Staying at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, a biodynamic farm, allowed us to have a direct connection to nature. We ate food that was grown and compassionately raised by inspiring land stewards; we practiced yoga surrounded by the cacophony of of the rainforest; we observed nature in her own pace – the sun rising, the sloths traveling up and down trees, watching the weather shifting constantly.
We explored beyond Finca Luna and our comfortable limits: stand up paddle boarding on Lake Arenal, the world’s largest man-made lake, hiking the resilient ecosystem that surrounds Arenal Volcano, rappelling down waterfalls, rafting the rapids, and sinking into the healing warmth of the hot springs.
Between our multiple yoga practices each day and our explorations, we found time to practice sinking into stillness – massages, reading, walking & running on the property, and napping in hammocks.
Throughout all of this we discovered “moments” in which we had insights into who and what we really are.  Some of these moments were in the quiet reverence of nature, and many were in the time we spent together at meals, on bus rides, on porches, and during our yoga practices.
These “moments” were revelations that we are boundless and free and that we have access to the energy within us.
These “moments” showed us that maybe we do give too much of ourselves and offer ourselves too little protection. Maybe we don’t make enough time to do the things that make us happy. Maybe we don’t step out of the cacophony of our wired trance to see, hear, and experience our lives as unique.  Maybe we don’t recognize how much energy we have to spend on our own lives and how beautiful life is.
This energy and these insights are not to be squandered – they need to be nurtured and protected. Leaving Costa Rica, we understand that this is special and belongs to us. It should not be doused by jumping back into old patterns that block us from this knowledge.
So, pardon us if we seem a bit different as we return from Costa Rica. Excuse us if we become more deliberate like the sloths. And don’t mind us if we take more risks and have different perspectives on our day to day lives. We just got back from Costa Rica – newly born and vibrant, just for now.
We send out much gratitude to the staff of Finca Luna Nueva, True Nature Education, and the dozens of Ticos that made our trip to Costa Rica so wonderful.  PURA VIDA!

True Nature Travels Blog

A note from Joshua–

In a time where our world is becoming more and more of a global community, what better way to become part of the bridge of support we are creating than by finding a way to give back to those in need.

As Thanksgiving approaches our united focus comes to that of sharing appreciation for all that we have as well as sharing with those that might not have as much.

The essence of Thanksgiving lies at the heart of True Nature Education. We planted the seeds of this grassroots company fresh off of moving into a small rural village in Costa Rica. So moved by the authentic openness, generosity, and hospitality of the local, simple-living Costa Ricans, we then vowed to implement a service component into all of our programs, from yoga retreats to corporate retreats to travel abroad programs.

The CREER Service Organization, TNE’s sister organization, continually strives to do in-depth research to understand the true needs of the people in the villages of Costa Rica which we visit. Here are the three areas of service which our volunteers take part in when joining us in Costa Rica.