Coming Out of My Shell and Falling Into My Love in Costa Careyes
When I used to think of Mexico, margaritas, sombreros, and memories of college spring break trips came to mind. But now I see infinity pools overlooking the ocean and hillsides cascading with beautifully colored villas. I feel memories of the cool breezes accented by the warm sun and smell of blossoming orchids.
I recall romance and picture myself basking in moments of complete happiness. Porqui you ask? Allow me to share how a small town on the coast of Mexico changed my life.
Over two years ago, I received an email from my yoga teacher announcing a retreat she was planning in El Careyes, Mexico. I casually mentioned it to Chris, who I had been dating for two months. “We should do it,” he said. After I recovered from the initial shock of his enthusiasm to commit to a five-day trip six months away, I began to research. Costa Careyes lies along the Pacific Ocean about three hours south of Puerto Vallarta and was discovered by an Italian developer more than thirty years ago. Its name is owed to a specific breed of turtles (“careyes” means “turtle” in Spanish) who call this coastline home and return to its beach each year to lay eggs. Next, I looked into the destination for the retreat, Elixir de Careyes. As soon as I saw the pictures of the Italian inspired villas overlooking the horizon and sprawling open air yoga room, I booked our trip.
Yoga mats in tow, we arrived at Elixir de Careyes in the evening and were warmly greeted by our house man Manual, whose English I discovered was almost as good as his vegetarian fajitas. As we settled on the plush sofas in the open-air living room, Viviana, the lovely manager of the resort, told us of the macrobiotic menu, fresh hibiscus tea, poolside snacks, and spa treatments we would be enjoying. I had been there a total of thirty minutes and I already felt the knots in my shoulders melting away. And so began my journey of healing, pampering, and falling in true love with and in Costa Careyes.
Our twice daily yoga practice took place in an expansive room surrounded by a babbling creek. Each vinyasa brought glimpses of the flowing white curtains and the array of exotic flowers that adorned the landscape. I noticed that my practice in Mexico was different. My breath was deeper, the natural heat allowed my muscles the space to stretch, and my mind was quiet.
There was something about being in this magical place that was touching my soul and opening my heart. For the first time in my life, I felt myself shedding my “city skin.”
In between the yoga practices, heart-pumping hikes, and scrumptious vegetarian meals (although Manual did tell my hunky boyfriend that he could have meat), I indulged in several healing treatments. The therapists would come to our villa carrying baskets overflowing with essential oils emitting fragrances unfamiliar to me like bergamot and sweet chili. My favorite treatment was the sea salt and almond scrub followed by a milky seaweed wrap and reflexology foot massage. A close second was the side-by-side full body massages Chris and I had together. I blissed out while listening to the rhythmic sound of the ocean coupled with the sound of his breath. In that moment, I realized I was passionately in love with this man my fellow yogini, amigo, and travel partner.
Our trip to Careyes transformed our relationship our connection deepened and our commitment to each other was solidified. I believe the environment created a space where we both allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. The combination of the atmosphere, yoga, and healing treatments gifted us the opportunity to heal ourselves and then truly see each other. I had been left by a fiance shortly before meeting Chris and he had spent years being unhappy in relationships. Needless to say, we both had some walls up. Costa Careyes hosted the demolition of those walls.
Soon after our trip to Mexico, Chris and I knew we wanted to be more than just travel partners, we wanted to be partners for life. When we got engaged and began discussing where to tie the knot, we pictured our heart-opening oasis, El Careyes. It was what Chris refers to as a “no brainer.” We chose to get married at the El Careyes Resort, a Starwood Property, just down the hill from the Elixir Villas since it could accommodate all the guests we hoped would be able to join us.
In February 2006, Chris and I returned to our home away from home with eighty of our closest friends and family. Drunk with gratitude we watched our loved ones bask in the warm Mexican sun, wine and dine on spa cuisine handcrafted by the gourmet executive chef, and melt away their stress as they indulged in spa treatments and lounged in the cabanas.
I knew the healing magic of Careyes was contagious the moment I saw my mother-in-law’s blissful face as she emerged from her Hot Rock Massage treatment. She described how the therapist began with a warm oil massage and then used smooth, round stones heated in a crock pot to perform a penetrating, yet relaxing deep tissue massage. “It was the best treatment I have ever had,” she proclaimed this coming from a woman who had been dubious about a Mexican wedding.
The day of my wedding, any cold feet or jitters were exfoliated away as two therapists softly scrubbed me head to toe with the signature El Careyes cucumber, sand, almond butter, lavender, and aloe mixture. A full body aromatherapy massage from two therapists at the same time followed; the sensation was so incredibly soothing I never wanted it to end. But I did have an important date with a minister and a ring.
When the sun set, all my sun-kissed loved ones gathered on a grassy knoll overlooking the Careyes coast. I took in the view from the suite overlooking the resort and reveled in the beauty, both physical and emotional, I was experiencing. Calm and peaceful, I took my father’s arm and began a ceremony I wish I could freeze in time. As I slowly walked down the coconut-adorned aisle, I looked into each person’s eyes and knew that we all would share a special connection forever Careyes. Their presence in my life was their gift to me; exposing them to this untapped oasis of beauty and healing was my gift to them. Gracias El Careyes.
Address Book and Photo Credits:
Elixir de Careyes Villas, www.elixirdecareyes.com
Costa Careyes www.careyes.com.mx