Envision: Fat Stacks of Funktion Ones, Swampy Jungle Heat & Pura Vida Vibes!

I just finished doing some yoga with an adorable hostel kitty here at the lush Cascada Verde hostel in Uvita… ahhhh! We just returned from 4 days at Envision Festival, which was amazing and I’m still processing it all. We’ve all had very little sleep this weekend, but have definitely had our fill of sunshine, days by the waterfall and beach, humid jungle heat, and soooooo much mind-blowing live music and art and food. The people here are beautiful and friendly and we’ve been meeting lots of fellow travelers and Envisionaries along the way.


We took a long but very scenic bus from San Jose through the hills and down to the Pacific coast on Tuesday. The bus was full of other festival goers and we made friends along the way. We arrived in Uvita and grabbed a ride in the back of a taxi’s (or maybe it was just some local’s?) flatbed truck with our luggage up the hill to a lush shady oasis called Cascada Verde. This adorable hostel makes me feel like we’re staying in a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse – with big open terraces full of hammocks and a chorus of cicadas, birds, and jungle life to sing us to sleep.


Before Envision we got to cool off at a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole just down the road from the hostel, where we also ended up going to escape the daytime heat during the festival. We got to slide down a waterfall, sip frosty beverages (my favorite is a gingery lime blend called agua de sapo, which translates as toad water but tastes way better than it sounds), jump into cool pools and spin in the shade.


Envision had the vibe of a lot of our favorite west coast transformational festivals and was full of positive, inspiring, talented people—locals and travelers from all over the world. It was held at a big private ranch in Uvita with direct access to Playa Hermosa. We walked in to see huge stacks of Funktion One speakers and gave them a big hug as we realized we were home… they kept us rocking all weekend to many a crunchy beat. Ruben, one of five in our travel group, had an early arrival pass so he went in with all our tents and nabbed us a shady camping spot. We spent most of our time dancing at one of the stages, gawking at amazing visual and performance art, body surfing in the ocean, hanging in hammocks, cooling off by the waterfall, and walking around a lot. We saw so much excellent music! I finally had my first live Tipper experience.  Tipper played two sets, one Saturday night and one to welcome the sunrise this morning. The Polish Ambassador, Mr. Rogers, Whitebear, Plantrae, kLL sMTHWildlight, Pumpkin, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Papadosio, Rising Appalachia and many other great acts shared the stage with fire spinners, dancers, aerialists and performers. Our feet ache from all the dancing and exploring for sure. James and I got to spin fire at sunset at the beach, which was beautiful except that we used citronella tiki torch fuel after our fruitless searches for white gas (it works, kinda, but it was gross, don’t do it!)

Sunset at Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica 2014 California Homies at Envision James Spinning Fire on the Beach at Envision 2014


The heat and humidity here are oppressive and even at night it barely cooled down enough for us to dance or spin for too long at a time. We are happy to be back at Cascada Verde hostel today to rest and relax before we plan the rest of our journey. We met up with a friend from Mendo whose Dad lives near here on a small organic farm, and he offered cheap lodging and a chance to learn about cacao harvesting for a couple days in exchange for helping with the harvest and around the farm, so we are headed to Earth Rose Farm in nearby San Isidro. We hope to hit up Monteverde and Arenal after that as we head north to Nicaragua.

It feels like we’ve been here forever already, but it’s only the end of week one of our adventure! Now for some rest before the next chapter unfolds. 🙂

Mucho Fruta!

Well, we’re alive! No issues on our red eye flight other than lack of actual sleep, and we managed to find the right buses and the place we are staying in Atenas with one of James’s dad’s friends. Atenas is a super cute little hilly town FULL OF FRUIT TREES!!! We walked around town picking not quite ripe mangos, guavas, starfruit, bananas, and searching for elusive avocado trees. We mostly just chilled and rested yesterday, but we did get to enjoy some piña coladas and smoothies made with lots of local fruit and Nicaraguan rum.

Fruit Hunting in Atenas, Costa Rica 2014

James, Zac, and I took a bus to San Jose today to get our Uvita bus tickets and check out the city. This place is CRAZY. Super narrow streets, cars and people everywhere, and man are internet cafes hard to find! But we did find a vegetarian restaurant. Now to get bus tickets, check out the Contemporary Art and Design museum, and head back to Atenas tonight only to come back here in the morning to catch our bus to Uvita.

James Spinning in San Jose, Costa Rica 2014 A Park in San Jose, Costa Rica 2014 Bromeliad on Palm: the Beginning of Plants on Plants in Atenas, Costa Rica 2014

Envision starts Thursday, until then we’re staying in the beautiful and rustic looking Cascada Verde hostel in Uvita. It is beautiful here and the people are super friendly (other than all the cat calls Genevieve and I have been getting as we walk around – but even those are friendlier and less vulgar than the ones in the states).

Pura vida! Hasta luego!

It’s All Gettin’ Real!

Envision BannerA week from now, I will be in San Jose, Costa Rica, exploring a bit and getting supplies and a bus ticket to Uvita before Envision Festival. OMG. This is really happening!

I returned home from a retreat for work on the icy east coast last weekend, and apparently brought the winter weather back with me, because it’s finally raining on the North Coast, and with the drought we’ve been in, I am very happy to see it. It also makes me even more excited to escape this wet and cold wintery weather to a lush, warm, sunny tropical paradise where I can eat papayas as big as my head and sip frosty beverages from coconuts.  Sorry, I can’t help but rub it in! This will be my first time “escaping” to somewhere tropical in the winter and the first international trip I have planned myself (actually, only the first week is planned, after that… it’s pretty open). I’ve never gone on a trip with a group of friends before, and I’ve definitely never been out of the country for a month at a time, so this will be an exciting adventure indeed! I just hope it’s not too expensive, because it’s been a slower winter than we were hoping for. But thanks to friends and family, and having places to stay in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for much of our journey, this magical journey is going to go off without a hitch, I can just feel it! If you’d like to help us save up some last minute trip money, please see this post and shop for crafty creations!

I’ve been listening to Envision Festival’s Soundcloud to get pumped up for the music we’ll be seeing there. Two sets of Tipper will be mind-blowing enough, but we are about to shake so much booty to great music in the jungle, it’s unbelievable. The fact that I was lucky enough to earn Envision tickets by street teaming will make this festival even more rewarding. I love being able to be involved in a festival more than just experiencing it as a spectator.

It’s been a busy rainy weekend full of laundry and dishes, laying out and eliminating clothes, piling up stuff to pack, getting last-minute gear and figuring out logistics (plus dying my hair – now this week I just need to chop it off). I’m feeling pretty ready at this point. Just a few more pieces need to fall into place and we’ll be ready to have the time of our lives! Pura vida, I am ready! Vive la experiencia!

Be sure to check out this blog for updates during our trip and I’m sure I’ll upload a few photos to Facebook along the way. And please get in touch with me or leave a comment if you’ll be traveling in Central America and want to meet up, or have places to see or stay to recommend. Thanks for the support! 🙂

Why I Love Working With PETA

For almost nine years now, I have worked with the interactive media team at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as a web design contractor. As the largest animal rights organization in the world and one who fearlessly confronts animal abuse on many levels, PETA tends to get a lot of press, and unfortunately much of it paints the non-profit organization in a negative light. But anyone who pushes to change the status quo or stand up for the rights of the disenfranchised and oppressed is met with opposition and resistance, so I see this as a sign that we are moving in the right direction.

I invite you to check out this feature on PETA’s Community Animal Project. This division of PETA deals with the tough and heart-wrenching realities of very desperate animals who have nowhere else to turn. Animal overpopulation due to breeding instead of adopting is a huge problem that PETA tackles by offering free and low-cost spaying and neutering and encouraging animal adoption. But when severely neglected, sick, abused, and dying animals have nowhere else to turn or languish and suffer in “no-kill” shelters, PETA isn’t afraid to step in and deal with the brutal realities of the overpopulation crisis. The video below gives a glimpse into CAP and the animals they help, and gives some context to PETA’s numbers and stance on animal euthanasia. In a cruel world, the most humane option in some animals’ cases is a painless end to their suffering. PETA is one of the few organizations that has the guts to do whatever it can for each animal it helps and for as many animals as possible.

I may only play a small role at PETA by updating their web sites and designing bits and pieces of their online presence, but I am continually blown away by the compassion, dedication, talent, creativity, and brilliance of the people I work with. I just returned from Norfolk, Virginia, where our department got together for a retreat to train, plan, and meet face to face since we are spread out all over. After a week of crazy winter travel, playing in the surprise snow, learning and training, meeting and strategizing, hanging out with the people I work with, and petting plenty of adorable rescued animals, I return home inspired, awestruck, and with renewed dedication to this brave and hard-working organization.

The hardest part about working with PETA has always been dealing with people’s misunderstandings of what we do and ugly comments and misguided hate towards the organization. And the best part, that far overshadows having to deal with the bullshit, is the people I get to work with. I am so grateful to be part of such a big-hearted, talented, dedicated team and organization. Thank you for all you do for animals, PETA people! And thanks for taking in a silly circus freak like me and giving me a flexible job that allows me to use my skills for a good cause. I love my job!