Colorful San José

I will never stop showing you the colors of a place.

I will always ask you to stop and smell the flowers.

Orchids  

Orchids  

Some journeys are long, hot, dusty and tiring. But if you lift your eyes, maybe you'll find a plant nursery next to the dirty high way; a place filled with orchids and whispers of life. And maybe that will make you smile again. 

San Jose  

San Jose  

As I've mentioned before, Few travelers enjoy big cities (unless that's their aim of the trip) and even fewer like the necessary visit(s) to Costa Rica's capital San Jose. Next time you come, why not stay in the old historic neighborhood Barrio Amón or Aranjuez. And when you're there, why not stroll around the old buildings, enjoying the architecture and the art covering the walls of this area. And maybe you'll find a secret world hidden within green walls and trees and maybe you find a new favorite cafe in the corner of a street you haven't been on before. And maybe you also find the way to mama earth's delicious gifts at Fería Verde.

 

And if you still haven't seen the arts, colors and flowers of San Jose, this oasis is the place to soak it all in. It is here where I ask you to stop and smell the flowers. And while you sip your Costa Rican coffee with cashew milk, enjoy the colorful smiles around you.

 

where do you find flowers in your city?  

Feria Verde

Feria Verde

 

Stories from the North

In the tradition I study and practice, Mexica, the direction North gives teachings about transformation, death, re-birth, ancestral memories and wisdom from our grandfathers and ancestors. The past few years during the peak summer month July in Sweden, I travel to the edge of this direction: our family house in the far north. Situated in Sapmí and the Swedish Lapland, just east of the World Heritage Laponia, this truly is the far north. Reindeers show us the way as the car drives further and further along the empty roads in the forest. The outback and wilderness of Sweden live precisely here.

Every year I go with my sisters and brothers, blood or heart family or both. This year, Hubby and I went on a long road trip to get there. It amazes me that every year I long for the tranquility, the wild rivers and deep forests surrounding the mountains and it seems I have forgotten about the Story of the North. Every year I seem to forget about the hardship of North’s transformational journey. Or, most likely, that is why I go. To remember. To transform.

The trip itself is a long and, in many ways, challenging one of about 1700 kms. Last year, as some might remember, my partner and I hitchhiked and tried to find various cheap options to travel thru Sweden. We crisscrossed the country with free rental cars, local buses and trains to get here. Previous years, I’ve taken the over-night train or driven all the way with only a few bathroom stops. This year was a compromise with driving divided into smaller journeys. Upon arrival, everybody always gives a sigh of relief, happiness and gratitude that we made it. And then we rest. For several days we rest, with some occasional sauna bathing in between. After about four days the restlessness arrives. It takes over the entire body by allowing tiredness to linger while heaviness starts to make room in the emotional, mental and physical body.

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

remains of a Sami Kåta (tipi), with the fire in the center

One year, I tried to cure this restlessness by going for a run. It was a late summer afternoon, still warm and bright as daylight as I tied my shoes and went off. Outside the house runs one narrow dirt road and I figured it was best to simply follow it for a few kilometers and then turn around or I would get lost. After a couple of minutes, my skin was warm and moist, attracting mosquitos from the nearby village but I decided to keep going. Running the restlessness away. Suddenly, I see a big four-legged mammal some 300 meters in front of me! In the middle of the road, it stood staring at me. I tried to determine weather it was a moose or a reindeer, but it was too far away to tell for sure. My heart started pumping faster as I knew encountering an angry Mama Moose is nothing I wanted to do by myself in the middle of the forest (i.e. their territory!). The mosquitos bit hard, my pulse pumped and I decided to carry on (nothing could stop me in the pursuit for a cure against restlessness!). The four-legged ran into the forest before I got to see it properly but as I neared the place where it had stood I got the feeling of being observed. I slowed down again and started to listen. Nothingness. Slowly, I continued to run and turned my head to look over my shoulder. And there, in the edge of the forest it stood curiously starring at me! I jumped in surprise! Thankfully, it was a beautiful light grey reindeer that wanted to accompany me. But I had reached the point of return and instead started my way back.

Filled with mosquitos and bites by now, I ran faster while looking down at my feet in an attempt to keep them out off my eyes. Luckily, I kept my gaze at my feet as I turned onto the path towards the house and had to jump half a meter up in the air and to the right because of a fat and sun gazed snake that angrily opened its mouth and rose towards me! My instant jump made me avoid its jaws by just an inch. Back home, I went strait to the sauna to contemplate and decided that the mosquitos were reason enough not go running in this environment again.

Nowadays, I do my practice outside every morning and together with the mosquitos (sure, some mornings this might mean lighting all the incense at once) and the occasional reindeers passing by. I’ve learnt how to accept and embrace that they are too part of my practice and part of my story. But the deep and true teachings come from the hidden allegories inside the vast mountain stories; the endless forests filled with berries, the powerful rivers, and reindeer medicine, never ending daylight, the sauna and the stillness of Nature. Here lies the restlessness and all you have to do is to listen. Listen to the stories of the north.

The teachings of North are the stories of the un-imaginable amount of mosquitos and a never setting sun in summer, of the deep, dark, and cold winter, and of the dark energies that rest here. Dark energies coming from the history of the land(s), from our collective ancestral memory, and for me also from my ancestral blood linage memory. Here, in the silence between the mountains, death is always present. Few of the original habitants remain as they one by one grow older and pass on, their kids being long gone to the city. The abandoned villages and houses become more empty each day. Empty with stories that no one cares to listen to. And every here and there, houses and trees hold the souls that refuse to travel on because they never got to tell their story. They linger on until someone listens, giving the whole area a greyish gloom of unwelcoming bitterness and perhaps a protective shield against intruders. In the midst of this, my ancestral stories come to the surface as I climb the mountain or walk the swamps. Ancestral memories from the blood linage that are planted on this land, as well as those from my own personal story that needs to be healed reveal themselves inside the restlessness, darkness and silence. And just as in Costa Rica and the Mexica tradition I turn to the Temazcal (sweat lodge) for purification and to peel of layers to refine my being, here in the North I retreat to the firewood sauna where I can hide away from mosquitos and let my body and soul heal by listening to the stories wanting to be told. Over and over again.  

Festival summer: creating Peace in Borlänge

The adventures of the Swedish summer continue North. As you might understand by now, there is a special glow to be found in northern Sweden. Dalarna is situated just above the middle of the country and I interpret the area to be the heart chakra of Sweden. All around the villages and towns ancient myths, stories, fairies, creatures and ceremonies still live. The deep lush forests whisper of stories yet to be told and journeys yet to unfold. The deeper you walk into the soft moss and green surroundings you’ll see Mother Earth open her heart for you, show you her vulnerable inside. And you can’t but listen. Listen to the waterfalls, the birds in the tall pine trees and to the fairies playing in the moss.

Styggforsen

Styggforsen

Many gatherings, ceremonial work and festivals take place around the area and for July 3 and 4 I am invited to share some sweet Bhakti Flow and healing Yin and Drum sessions at the Peace and Love Heartflow Yoga festival. The festival is put together by my strong and magical soul sister Emelie Steen. Her heart is wild and pure and she is a true inspiration for the world. I am truly grateful that we are connected and to be part of this creation of Peace and Love in Borlänge. The schedule is full of various yoga styles such as Ashtanga and Virya; inspirational lectures about the knowledge of life Ayurveda; and music workshop such as transformational Gong sessions.

Come and join us as we, once more gather the tribe to connect our hearts to ourselves and to one and other.

yogafeet

Journeying the Costa Rican Mountains

As I write this, I am watching the sun setting behind the mountains in the West. The nightly forest sounds are slowly increasing and the soft quiet rain surround us like a comfy greyish blanket where we sit on the deck. Mountains have always fascinated me and they carry strong medicine; the reminder of how small man is amongst other.

After months of ceremonies, studies and practice I am now spending a few days close to Mother Earth in the mountains south of San José. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities life brings me; studying shamanic traditions with teachers from all over the world; having brothers and sisters across the globe who invite me to their home.

Last weekend we were in the jungle mountains East of San José in Guapíles, to cut bamboo and join a traditional Mexica pipe ceremony. Sunday afternoon, we drove from there, around the mountains and the capital to get to these hills in the South where we are now.

My friend’s house is beautifully built in cedar, overlooking a mountain garden, the river and the hills. What a blessing to be journeying in this world!

Food Haven in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

In 2013, I wrote an article about the best places to eat in Puerto Viejo- you can read it below. Already back then it was hard to choose which places to include on the list and nowadays it's even more difficult as more places are popping up! Puerto Viejo is indeed a Food Haven with its many delicacies in every street corner. The Farmers' Market has almost doubled in size and, nowadays, also includes local handicrafts, skin products, chocolate and everything from salsa picante to tofu. Last week I got the hands on the last bag of cooked pejibayes and kale- happy! My point is, I am now extending the food list with a new organic, vegan friendly café and the always magical ayurvedic pirate.

Como en Mi Casa Art Café

When I first got to Puerto Viejo I remember there was a beautiful woman with a loving smile that sold brownies on the beach. Later on I bought her delicious cakes and food as she sold them in the market. And so one day she wasn't there anymore and I wondered what had happened to the amazing food I used to snack on Saturdays. Last year Como en mi Casa opened and I found the woman and her magical food art again. Their menu is simple traditional breakfast, snack and lunch. Their creations are colourful, flavourful, arty, innovative and pure bliss in your mouth. Everything is organic and made from scratch and there is a wide range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and raw options. The owners are Italian and not only know their food, but their coffee! 

In this place I eat delicious food, created for all senses and made with true love; my body feels strengthened and happy; and my heart is filled with warm joy after each food experience. Gratitude. 

 

Puerto Pirata Deli

Since the first day I ate the ayurvedic food made by pirates, it has been one of my favourite places where I keep coming back. Located in the town's oldest building, it is literally ON the beach and offers a true Pura Vida vibe. The magical woman who runs the place is an Ayurvedic nutritionist with Nigerian and Italian roots- which offers a flavourful, healthy and innovative food medicine menu. This, too, is a place for great coffee, breakfast and lunch, and is of course vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free options. The other day I asked for a "vegan surprise" as dessert and was served a vegan mango ice cream with a vegan carrot cake on top- yum! So much Love.

Brunch by Puerto Pirata Deli Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Brunch by Puerto Pirata Deli Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

When you are in the Caribbean you also have to try the Rice and Beans made with coconut. It differs greatly from the tico rice and beans and is (also) delicious! Any local place in town will serve Rice and Beans with patacones. Have you tried the various rice and beans dishes- which one is your favourite? Comment below!

Pura Vida

 

 

Top 3 Places to Eat in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

About a four hours bus ride south east of Costa Rica’s capital San José lays the relaxed reggae town and culinary paradise called Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. If you are a food-loving traveler this village is a must-visit! Puerto Viejo has an interesting mix of cultures including the Afro Caribbean heritage, expats from Europe and United States and of course Tico influences in its blend. To me, this cultural vibe is what defines the town and part of what makes it special. To be sure to truly experience the culture of Puerto Viejo I recommend eating your way around town. Below I have listed my top three places to eat and drink, enjoy!

1.    The Farmers’ market

The local farmers’ market is held Saturday mornings in the center of the small town. Head towards Casa de la Cultura and you’ll see it! This is the place to find the food you can’t get in the regular super market. Beside cheap organic fruits and vegetables, there is locally produced cheese (including feta!) and milk, chocolate and coconut oil to mention some goodies. Tasty and different kinds of cheese are in general hard to find in Costa Rica, since Ticos like their cheese simple and without flavor. This could be hard on a cheese loving European visitor but the solution is to visit the farmers’ markets.

Farmers' Market Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Farmers' Market Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Personally, I like to make my visits to the organic market in Puerto Viejo a half-day event. This friendly environment is where you mingle with people from all areas around Puerto, buy veggies for the week and maybe get a vegetarian empanada for lunch. There are vendors selling yummy and healthy cakes, juices and pies to please your appetite as you are walking around. In addition, you can buy environment friendly and handmade soap, clothes and more. One time I even found organic tahini! (edit: now standard)

2.    CariBean

I am sure you think you have had chocolate before. Maybe even good, dark, pure chocolate. Visit CariBean and no other chocolate will ever satisfy you again (you have been warned!). At OM Yoga café in Cocles you can buy healthy snacks, breakfast and lunch. Their selection of cakes is varied and baked buy different local cake magicians. But there is more. CariBean at Om Yoga is the place I visit when I need a boost of energy: a chocolate espresso. Yes, you heard me! Thick, dark, soft cacao in a shot gives you a refill with antioxidants and healthy energy. The owners practice sustainable ecological farming on their cacao farm, located behind the house, where they make the chocolate by hand. Be sure not to miss the chocolate tour where you learn about producing, try surprising flavours and enjoy Puerto Viejo’s best view.

Chocolate Tasting Tour, CariBean's Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Chocolate Tasting Tour, CariBean's Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

3.    Bread and Chocolate

This breakfast and lunch place is probably the most famous restaurant in Puerto Viejo. Before I had ever even been on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, my friends living on the other side of the country told me I had to visit Bread and Chocolate. They were right of course. Craving French coffee instead of that brewed stuff? This is the place to go. Choose from a bunch of creative and chocolaty cakes with innovative names to go with that. Or my personal favorite: veggie sandwich. They bake their own bread that is rich in flavor, not sweet and to some extent whole grained. There is a bunch of sandwiches to choose among and they are all served with fruit, green salad or potatoes. Since Bread and Chocolate is mentioned in Lonely Planet, it tends to crowd up quickly during high season so keep that in mind when you are planning your visit.