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176 Community and Wellness in Costa Rica

176 Community and Wellness in Costa Rica
176 Community and Wellness in Costa Rica

Podcast Transcription


[Richard Bexon]
Good morning, Alana. How are you doing?

[Alana Ortiz]
I'm doing well. How are you, Richard?

[Richard Bexon]
Very, very good. I appreciate you joining me on the podcast here just before Christmas.

[Alana Ortiz]
Yeah, holidays are among us.

[Richard Bexon]
Exactly. It feels a little, well, I mean, you know, when I first came to Costa Rica about 20 years ago, the idea of Christmas being in a sunny, warm place was very weird, but it's actually kind of cold here in the city at the moment. Like I'm in the city and it's like 18 degrees Celsius at night, so I've got like a jacket behind me which I'll wear today.

[Alana Ortiz]
Whoa. Yeah, that's a weird thing for us on the coast.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, I know. Yeah. So, but, well, as I said, I appreciate you joining us here on the podcast.

I always like to get an idea of like your perception of what's happening here in Costa Rica. I mean, you've kind of been bouncing back and forth, spending probably the majority of your time here in Costa Rica, if I'm correct, over the past couple of years. So, I mean, what are you seeing happen recently?

Just because quite a few people in the States at the moment are trying to get an idea of like, is things slowing down? Are they speeding up? Like, what does it look like from an overall, I mean, a lot of the time real estate investment point of view?

I mean, what are you seeing Elena?

[Alana Ortiz]
I'm seeing a lot of flux in, it is now high season is among us. So, the October, September months have been a lot slower. Construction is everywhere.

I'm inside a little town between Ibiza and Dominical. It hasn't, there's something always blossoming open, whether it be a business opening or houses or another property hopping up. It is abundant with people, with nature.

I think that's something that I love so much, regardless of how much construction, there's always something that keeps me grounded here, whether it be the ocean, whether it be trees. I'm sensing that people are getting really excited, especially the locals about high season. This rainy season was pretty chill.

Some big rains, but there wasn't power outages for days in this area specifically. And I think what I'm also seeing is connection here because holidays are a little different in Costa Rica, but we've been celebrating from Halloween. Dominical was packed and the Christmas parade was last week.

And so, there is this beautiful sense right now of community and something that I didn't know I'd be a part of when I left the States, because this is a third world country, but there's still so much sweetness and seeing families come together. So, it's a really nice time of seeing a lot of connection and closeness between families, but also people. So, it feels like we're gearing up for the high season, which is strange because I'm from the States and it's cold time and it's time to be indoors with snow.

So, it's an interesting one to flip your life to have the rainy, those two months where it's not actually cold and you're not actually bundled up, but winter's here. It's November or summer, excuse me. So, it feels exciting and there's some anticipation building for thriving jobs, for people to get back to work and have more opportunities.

[Richard Bexon]
Are you seeing more people trying to make Costa Rica home than you ever have done over the past couple of months?

[Alana Ortiz]
Yes. And because I've been doing this for a couple of years, I'm also connected with a lot of expats that have been here for 20 years or so and they have the same kind of story of people try it for a couple of years and they come and they build their home and their dream home and then it's maybe not what they want and they leave. And so, I think that happens a lot with real estate as well.

It's like people come and they realize that it's not just pura vida and beautiful all the time. It can be, but it challenges you. It makes you work for your life and feel there's amazing abundance and connection, but power goes out.

You know, you get flat tires. It's not as easy as the States and I love that rawness. I love having to kind of be part of nature and a creature to anticipate what's coming next.

But there's so many things out of your control here, which I think is beautiful. But that doesn't stop people. You know, people will come, we'll try it on.

There's so much to learn and to see and the people who have stayed, the people for 20 years, this is home. They're not going anywhere. They love it.

So, it's just juxtaposition that keeps people here, pushes people away.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree. I mean, look, Costa Rica, I think, has a natural filter. I mean, I always say there's beauty in the chaos here.

You have to kind of just really, you know, embrace it, but you're not really in control of much. And I think Costa Rica shows you that. Like, we try and control everything, you know, in the Western world, like every part of our life, whereas really you understand is the only thing you control is yourself.

Whereas we think we control everything else, but you don't, like you really don't. So, and Costa Rica, I think, amplifies that, you know, and just kind of just tears away, you know, all of these layers that we put on ourselves and just brings us back to, you know, essentially what we are, which I think, again, is very refreshing. And, you know, a lot of, I was at a property the other day, which is a very, it's a community-based hotel in Santa Juana, just above Manuel Antonio, that a friend of mine, Jim, has.

And he was like, Rich, it's incredible that we get, like, CEOs and high-flying executives here from Fortune 500 companies coming to this very rustic lodge in the middle of nowhere. And I'm like, look, it makes complete sense. I mean, you know, these people just want natural, like beauty and rawness and authenticity, and they can't get that at a beach hotel a lot of the time.

You know, so it's, it's, it's beautiful. I mean, that's the, that's the real thing about Costa Rica. It's real and it's authentic, you know.

And some of that stuff is great and some of it's not, but, like, I think if you're a control freak, this is definitely not a country to live in, you know. So, yeah. But how did you end up in Costa Rica, Lana?

[Alana Ortiz]
Oh, my story goes back to 20, oh, I think it was 2009, the first year I came here. And I was up in Arenal, up north. And I was a senior in high school, and I came with a group of friends, not really understanding the magic of this place.

But I remember this spiritual connection with a mountain I had at one point. And I sat there and I sat down and I put my feet on the ground. And I had this knowing, if you will, of I need to be here at one point.

Fast forward 2018, 2020, COVID happens. I was, like everyone, facing the dilemma of who am I? What am I doing?

Is this what I want? And I answered those questions really authentically and real and knew that I was running in circles in the States and chasing. And it didn't feel like more would ever be more.

And I remembered how I felt in Costa Rica, which was grounded. And me, so me, so authentically me and raw. And then I made the choice to, for the first time, come down here for an extended amount of time.

And it was lovely and also challenging, the things that we said. I'm a recovering control freak. So I like to have my things a certain way.

And when the Wi-Fi shuts out and when the power goes out, it's, you know, it brings you to this place of surrender, whether you want to or not. The more you surrender, the easier it gets. And now, I mean, a starter fell out.

My driving shaft fell out of my car the other day and I just kind of giggled. And my friend is like, how, what? You're not upset?

I'm like, that's going to change nothing here. So I pat myself on the back. I'm like, who do I be that's working?

Like, it's really out of your control. So and with that first time of moving here, my dream has always been, since I was 18 years old, to have my own property, to have a wellness space that I could gather people to have transformative, authentic and creative gatherings. So my first idea was with Kevin, who you know, and we had this dream of building something pretty extravagant and beautiful.

And things shifted and plans changed. And after that, I knew that I needed to be here to make that happen. So I took it more seriously.

I tackled back and forth like a lot of people do. Should I stay? Should I go?

And I had a dear friend, Ruben, who is no longer here with us, but he believed in my company and my mission as a yoga teacher and wellness facilitator and was trying so hard to get me to stay here and not go back to the comfort of America because of lack and because of all the things that, you know, bind me to the comfort of the United States. And since his passing, I feel a duty and an obligation, not only for him, but for myself to continue to persevere and to make my dream a reality, because I know it's coming. And now I'm here, I'm in it, I'm meeting people, I'm connecting, I'm seeing people's land, and it feels like I found a community and a home.

[Richard Bexon]
It's funny that we talk about land, Alana, because I just remember talking with you and Kevin, about when you walk on land, it gives off an energy. And I say this to all my clients that sometimes, I've had people look for signs on land, you know, and it's pretty, you know, again, I think land gives off an energy. You can walk onto it and naturally feel of like, okay, this is good.

This is what, this makes sense to me. And then there's other stuff where you're like, get me off this. It's just something that does not feel right.

Have you felt that on land before?

[Alana Ortiz]
Yes, I have. And seeing properties over the past couple years, there's been some where it's exactly like you said, there's like a tightness or there's something in my body that's like, this doesn't feel right. And then there's pieces of land and property that I've been on.

And I'm crying tears of joy, because I feel so moved and connected to nature and feel elevated. And Costa Rica, not this part, but there's a blue zone here. And that's for a reason, there's energy, there's this vitality that is inescapable when you're here.

It's not just in nature, it's in the people, it's in the culture, it's in the energy here. And that's something to be felt. And when it's out of alignment, or something is not in that kind of flow.

It's very clear.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, yeah, I mean, walking to a house, sometimes you just can see that a house is just not lined up right, whether it's Feng Shui, whether it's energy, I mean, I'm sure it's all the same stuff. But just sometimes it just doesn't feel right. You know, and yeah, that's why sometimes working with great architects and interior designers, I'm like, oh, it's so beautiful.

They make this look so easy. And like, it feels great. So yeah, I think I've walked in a handful of houses where I'm like, I could live here.

Like, this is pretty spectacular. So but yeah, you'd mentioned the blue zone there. You know, I mean, I think for a lot of people listening, you know, here is, you know, a blue zone, I mean, would probably be described as like a very healthy area of Costa Rica, where I think there are more people over 100.

You know, per the population than any other places. I think that there's a Netflix documentary on it as well, which, you know, I think there's a guy on there. It's like a Costa Rican who's like 100, 102.

And he looks like he's in his 70s riding around on a horse. It's pretty incredible, right? Yeah, yeah.

I think it just goes back to a lot of the stuff there is just, you know, community and people just not stressing that much. Yeah, I mean, I, I was about to say I would hate to, you know, sometimes I get a little stressed here with the work that I do, where I'm like, Oh, God, man, if I took a measurement of my internal age of my organs, I don't think I really would like to do that. But yeah, I know that they do blood tests for that at the moment.

But I mean, what are some of the special places in Costa Rica for you Elana and why?

[Alana Ortiz]
Can you repeat that one more time, Richard?

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, what are the special places in Costa Rica for you and why?

[Alana Ortiz]
Here, obviously, Uvita and Domenical are very special to me because, well, we have the Whale Tail National Park, which the beaches, I'm surfing now, I'm a surfer. So I love this part, especially because I get to choose five beaches that I can go be in the waves with. I love the rustic raw feel that they still have for now.

Somewhere like Nosara, which is beautiful. And I love it, but it's populated and it feels different than down here. It's not right.

It's not wrong. It's just different. And I still love that there's a strong Tico vibe here.

And it's, you know, you still in Uvita, there's a handful of restaurants that keep popping up, but there's one or two supermarkets, a couple gas stations. It's very simple and quiet and small. And another part of Costa Rica I really love is Manuel Antonio, Osa, anything that's closer to nature and removed.

I was able to go down there and that's really nothing out there. You take a boat to all of these hotels, but somewhere where I can feel small. I love feeling big, but when I feel small in terms of being in your giant waterfall, near giant trees in the ocean, it just makes me remember that I'm human.

It makes me remember that I'm connected to everything. And that's so much of our stress is caused from our brain and our mind, just creating stories nonstop. And it's less likely it's not impossible, but when you're in somewhere so beautiful, immersed in a jungle, it's less likely that you're going to be stressing about all the emails you didn't do.

That just becomes a little more quiet when you give yourself space and time to remove from all of it.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. And I think those areas, just because they're remoteness, the disconnection is pretty amazing.

So I always say that I think the future we're going to be needing these digital detox vacations where you have to just give in all your technological devices when you arrive and then you just can't use them because it's basically a drug, which is kind of just one more hit. But I mean, you run yoga retreats, you're a wellness facilitator. I mean, can you tell us a little bit more about this, where you guys do it, and kind of, I suppose, yeah, just give us an idea of what it is that you do here.

[Alana Ortiz]
Yeah, I wear many hats in the wellness world. I first started teaching asana, the physical yoga practice, 10 years ago, New York City, moved my way to Colorado. And I come from a dance background.

I was a professional ballet, modern dancer. And that also comes with a lot of other stuff like, you know, eating disorders and questioning who I am and depression, which I know we all face in one way or another. We're all very hard on ourselves.

And through yoga and wellness, I was able to learn how to genuinely love myself, not like rainbows and butterflies, but get real with how am I treating myself? How am I talking to myself? What am I consuming?

And is that in alignment with who I want to be? And as I started to ask myself those harder questions, it required more of me to show up and to get radically honest and to learn how to accept all parts of me and to befriend them. And how can I take my human experience and relate it to people so that they feel empowered to live a more meaningful and deep life.

And that's the gift that yoga taught me. And I made a commitment since then to share this with people. And in Costa Rica, I've gathered people in retreats, which is my favorite place and thing to do in the world because of what we're talking about digitally detoxing, taking people out of their everyday lives and giving them tools that when the retreat's over, it's not just, okay, you're back to the office, Tim.

It's you leave feeling a sense of purpose, of grounded, of connected to who you are through random interactions that retreat family, retreat people become family. So many times I see people have these aha moments, these breaking open moments of, oh, I can put down the mom, the worker, all of the masks that we wear all of the time and get to really know how we feel and who we are. It's, it's a lot, it could be very confronting and challenging.

And also life is precious. So why not do that. And I love to create yoga atmospheres that feel accessible and inclusive because so much of the West is taught that yoga is like in these white Kundalini robes, and we just meditate all day.

And that's one way. And that's beautiful. But I want to bring authentic connection to people through wellness practices.

And I'm determined to do that through these micro orbs of coming together and movement, wellness, meditation, connecting with nature, blue clay, doing all these things that remind us of who we are when we lose track and get so caught up and the other things. So my goal is to bring people back to themselves and to remember that we are not prisoners to our minds, that we have full agency of our body and our mind, and that choice is something that we think we don't have, we can choose how we relate to ourselves, to our bodies, to nature. And permission slips is a big one that's been coming up of just giving others and myself permission to, to be in the muck and know that something else is going to come because discomfort is everywhere.

It's, it's contracted. That's what it is with life. And the more we can ease our way through that and accept it and not suppress it, I think, you know, less hatred, people can be kinder people and we're kinder to ourselves, we're kinder to the world.

And that's what we're seeing right now is so much division. So that's a long winded answer of what my, my duty and my vision is as a wellness facilitator.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, you mentioned something there, which is the word community, a lot of people coming to Costa Rica and trying to make Costa Rica home, you know, whether it's their families, I mean, I just see so many more people wanting to be like, look, I'm, I want out like the, you know, I mean, we called it the rat race, but I like to call it the treadmill, you know, mortgage payments, house payments, like you just can't get out sometimes.

And sometimes people just want to push the button, let everything go, you know, eject and come down to Costa Rica. But a lot of people worry about community, Alana, down here in Costa Rica, like, am I going to find my tribe? Is there a community here?

What would you say to people that have that concern?

[Alana Ortiz]
That you have to get out of your own way and get uncomfortable meeting new people. Yeah, I've lived about, you know, 10 or 12 places now. And at this point, I'm grateful because I'm hyper independent.

And I get excited to do that. And I know not everyone is that way. And if you makes people are drawn here for a reason.

And I think trusting in that like mindedness, that you have something in common with someone here. And there are places and communities everywhere. If you tap into things, there's jujitsu, like there's a jujitsu academy here, there's awake, a spiritual conscious community here, there's the surf community.

So if you step into what you love about this country, you're going to find your people, it doesn't matter where you go, I really believe that the energy of this place brings certain people here to in that way. And you have to be open to it. If someone's closed off and is in the woe is me victim mentality, I don't want to see anyone.

That's probably what's going to happen. But if you're open to being here and to be a participant with your life and with this country and this place, you'll find your people, I have no doubt.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, you know, and I say to people sometimes, look, if there's, I don't know, you're into something that's not out there, like hiking, you know, but there probably is a hiking community and group in your area, like just post it on Facebook in two seconds, you know, 50 people will respond. But if there's not just started, like there are a lot of people, everybody is looking for community. So, you know, just throw it out there, throw the energy out there.

And again, it will come back to you.

[Alana Ortiz]

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. So I mean, it's amazing some of the stuff that I've I've seen people do and families do, you know, when they come down here of like, okay, there's not a baseball, you know, team, you know, for the kids. Okay, but then let's start a baseball team.

And before you know it, they've got more kids and they know what to do with that, you know, and then the parents turn up and then from the parents, you know, I mean, it's yeah, it's I feel that sometimes it's certainly easy when you've got kids to create community because you already have the school and then the parents get together, those kind of things. But as an adult coming down here, you know, it doesn't need to be that difficult, though. I mean, just find people that have similar interests and just throw it out there.

And, you know, again, everybody's looking for it here, I think.

[Alana Ortiz]
Yeah. So it's true. And it's something that we're open to because there's lots of distraction everywhere.

You know, yeah. And everybody sunsets and sunrises. You could see so many communities on the beach just coming together because that's that's what you do.

It gets dark at 6pm here. So gathering is essential.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. A lot of people, you know, are looking to have a second home here in Costa Rica or making Costa Rica their full time home. I mean, what advice would you have for them?

[Alana Ortiz]
Take your time. Yeah. Yeah.

Don't be in a rush. Release, control our expectations. I know we went through some of the processing with you, Richard, of taking steps to get some property and some land and yeah, just surrender to all of the unknowns that you'll face, the due diligence, that this that that change is inevitable.

And I'd say stay the course. It's important, but also release control of how you think it's going to go, because it'll probably take a lot longer than you think. It might be a little different and it's worth it.

I've been friends with tons of homeowners who've been in the process the past five years building new homes and doing things. You know, it's not easy. I don't want to say it's great, but there's beauty in the struggle.

And now I see their homes and how happy they are. And it's I've seen it play out in a beautiful, beautiful way.

[Richard Bexon]
Awesome. Well, my last question is, I've kept you long enough, but one that I love to ask everyone, if you inherited five hundred thousand dollars and you had to invest it into a business or real estate in Costa Rica, what would you invest it in and why?

[Alana Ortiz]
Gosh, I'm just thinking of all the mountains and the properties that I would get.

[Richard Bexon]
But there's a concept point of view. I mean, what kind of things, you know, start to go off in your mind as far as what I would build or what you would do with it? I mean, you've got five hundred thousand, you know, you need to put it into a property, put it into a business in Costa Rica.

I mean, you know, a lot of people are coming down here with, you know, that amount of money. It's a question I love to ask everybody just because everyone's viewpoint is very different.

[Alana Ortiz]
Yeah. Property and business in the same regard, I am a big wellness and yoga retreat person, so I would love to build, buy some land, build from the ground up, harvest my own food, have a space to bring not only adults, but children onto the land, learn how to plant and give back to nature. I see so much building that's going on and I would want to preserve a larger chunk of the land to be jungle and to be continuing to thrive.

And the part that I would build on and expand is Alana Grace Yoga and my retreat company and getting more of a word out there for all humans to hear the call to come home and to be in an immersive experience where they can get their hands dirty, get their feet dirty, be a little rugged, get out of their comfort zones and be able to give back a little bit of what Costa Rica has given me. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that, but that's the dream is to have property and to spread wellness.

[Richard Bexon]
Awesome, awesome. Well, Alana, for anyone that wants to contact you, I'll put all of your contact details down in the description. I appreciate you coming on and giving us your viewpoint, opinion, advice for people looking to make Costa Rica home or invest here.

But yeah, really appreciate it. Thank you.

[Alana Ortiz]
Thank you so much.

[Richard Bexon]
All right, have a good one.

[Alana Ortiz]
You too.

Let's Get in Touch!

Alana Ortriz explains life in Costa Rica: the pros, cons and the things that are just different. We also discuss yoga, wellness retreats, and Alana's future goals in Costa Rica.

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