Panacea de Montana, a yoga retreat in the northwest of Costa Rica on the Pacific coast, was a fabulous place to forget about the Boston winter. My husband and I felt like we were staying with friends at a luxurious outdoor camp. Three gloriously gentle and aware individuals run it, each bringing something different to our visit. Debbie, Mary, and Peter have created a no-fuss, no-pressure yoga retreat in a restful rural setting and are great at accommodating guest requests. I was so relaxed by the end of this retreat that just breathing felt like deep meditation.
A flight on either of the local airlines into the Tamarindo airport is the easiest route in, since the local roads resemble a video game. You can also take flights into Liberia airport which is only an hour from Panacea. The airport is rural; the cows are kept off the runway by a cursory fence. It’s a short drive to the resort, and the Montana staff will help arrange transportation if you plan ahead.
After an impromptu car rental, we arrived on the mountain tired, hot and dusty (as it is during the dry season) only to find that our Three Amigos had waited to eat lunch in anticipation of our arrival. They made us feel like we belonged there from the moment we arrived. We ate the first of what would be many simple but delicious meals.
The main building is the gathering area, housing the kitchen and a dining area that overlooks the pool (where they teach afternoon water aerobics every day) and the mountains in the near distance. The building is completely open on one side (a new experience to those of us from the frozen north).
The trek up to the cabinas (guest bungalows) qualifies as your aerobic exercise for the day, keep this in mind when packing, (especially shoes). Each charming cabina is outfitted with a front porch (including a hammock), outdoor shower, full bath, comfortable mattresses, fabulously simple and luxurious linens and window screens: a Costa Rican necessity. They are all situated with care to become part of the natural environment and have maximum privacy. The cabinas take advantage of the spectacular view overlooking the Pacific Ocean -- perfect for sunset meditation.
I felt like I was outdoors the entire time we were at Panacea. We became part of the simple beauty of the natural flora and were thrilled to see spotting monkeys, fabulous birds and the occasional giant iguana. Even the insects (large by anyone’s scale) were a point of interest.