I will be leaving LAX bound for San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua in a week to go to a Gracious Living surf/yoga retreat by Grace Van Berkum. I am very excited but it’s time to get serious about preparation.
Many people are still concerned about the safety of traveling to Nicaragua but aside from scattered robberies due to the poverty there, it is safe enough to travel to. At least that’s what the Nicaraguan tourism site says (great info & photos on the link, worth clicking on!). I am fortunate enough to be provided safe transport from the airport in Managua to San Juan Del Sur by the retreat. Managua is a questionable city for tourists, safety-wise, so it’s better if you have a guide or know where you’re going if you plan to stay there. On the other hand, San Juan Del Sur, close to the border with Costa Rica, is becoming a popular tourist destination for surfers. Outside of San Juan Del Sur there are a myriad of travel options in the country. Nomadic Matt, a well known travel-on-a-dime blogger has several tips and suggestions for a Nica visit.
The CDC recommends a myriad of immunizations for your visit but I chose to only go with the one for Hep A. I’m a bit of a vaccine-a-phobe anyway but Hepatitis A, a water & food born virus that attacks the liver, seemed serious & prevalent enough to want to prevent. This vaccine is given in two stages, the first shot should be obtained a month before your visit then the second you will get 5 months after you return from your trip. The other commonly recommended ones, Typhoid & Hep B, simply weren’t relevant for me. Typhoid is only recommended if you are in the country for longer than 3 months. Hep B is recommended if you plan on having sexual contact with the locals or getting a tattoo. In LA I was able to find tourism vaccination one stop shops for these, prices ranging from $60-$120. You may be able to find similar places if you live in a major or well traveled city by googling “travel immunizations _______ city”. If there is no such thing where you live then you may want to give your Dr the heads up that you need a certain vaccine that they likely won’t have in stock as they tend to expire. Additionally, you could check the local health department where you live, they tend to have more varieties of immunizations on hand. I’m not overly concerned; I’ve been beefing up my immune system for travel, more on that later.
Those photos are from Grace’s past retreats there. I was more drawn to the yoga and the raw food eating aspect of it initially but now I’m just as stoked to be learning to surf! After all, I live in California now, it would be a shame not to glide across the waves while I’m here. What better place to learn to surf than within a peaceful but wild yoga/raw food/personal growth retreat located where the jungle meets the Pacific Ocean?
In that vein, I’m loading my suitcase in a minimalist way. Trying to pack clothes that are versatile for yoga, surfing, volcano trekking and a trip to Granada. Granada is the oldest city in Central America that’s still in it’s original spot. Think St Augustine on steroids for all you floridians out there. I’m thinking the basics; no jewelry, bar soaps that can be used for face/hair/body (I like Nubian Heritage’s African Black soap), plain coconut oil for moisturizer, sunscreen… I don’t need to make sunscreen this time because we are lucky enough to have a sponsor for the retreat (Raw Elements USA out of FL, an award winning eco-friendly, natural sunscreen company). For footwear I’m going basic, two pairs of flip flops, one pair of Vibram Fivefingers for walking all day in Granada & for volcano trekking. Overall I want to keep it to a carry on back, my backpack & my yoga mat bag.
Grace also, graciously (haha) emailed all of us 17 retreat attendees a list of recommended things to pack. Standouts for me that I hadn’t already thought of were a skin brush for detoxification since we will be exploring natural skin care & probiotics. Coincidentally, as a person already interested in all natural skin care to the point of making my own products, I had stumbled upon dry skin brushing before as a way to break up & get rid of cellulite! I ordered this brush and should have it before the trip. To read more about the benefits of dry skin brushing, read Grace Van Berkum’s article on the subject here.
SO, probiotics? Duh, why didn’t I think of that before?? I had already been looking for an excuse to add them into the food budget because they are so important to maintaining healthy intestinal flora in our industrial age. They help people with IBS & Candida and just keep you regular in general. That in turn keeps your energy levels up, your nutrition absorption at peak performance and finally your immune system is located in your gut. Remember what I said I would get back to later back in the immunization paragraph? Taking probiotics prior to and during a trip, particularly one to a third world country where you’ll be exposed to many new little germies the body isn’t used to, will support it’s efforts to keep you healthy. Here is the handy article Grace provided us the link to explaining the advantage of adding probiotics to your suitcase.
In addition to the probiotics, I have been preparing through my diet. I haven’t consumed anything other than water, tea, vegetables, fruits, healthy oils (Coconut, cod liver, cold-pressed olive oil), organic eggs & meats and a few nuts & seeds. I removed alcohol from my diet over 5 weeks ago (more on that in my other blog here) and recently gave up caffeine, both of which are dehydrating when consumed regularly. Last but not least, I want to mention all the yoga, yoga, yoga (if you have 10 mins for yoga, you owe it to yourself to click that last link) and exercise I’ve been doing. With all that support my body feels vibrant, healthy, glowing, amazing. It is ready to handle the excitement and strain of exotic travel.
So that’s my preparation for a trip to Nicaragua! Mind, body and soul are ready to go. I can’t wait to report on my first impressions after arriving there, we’ll see if my preparations were adequate so stay tuned!!
☼ Namaste ☼