The holidays can be a particularly stressful time with few antidotes in sight. Fortunately, the cure for family, traffic, nasty lines, merchandise purchases and returns, and oh, all that wrapping, is in a land not so far away.
Costa Rica can be the perfect setting for detoxification from stress and the daily grind, especially if “earthing” is what you have in mind. Earthing in the right environment puts seekers in direct contact with nature and spirit, grounding and lifting at once for an exquisitely centering experience. The practice involves physically touching the ground with hands or bare feet, perhaps with a short barefoot walk — easily accomplished along any one of the many pristine beaches or deep in the mystical rainforests of Costa Rica.
Studies have shown that this method of connecting with the earth allows the body to absorb free electrons that enter the body and act like antioxidants—to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. Out in the surrounding highlands of the Central Valley region of Costa Rica, visitors can discover earth’s natural energy with a visit to Irazu, one of two active volcanoes, or to Braulio Carrillo National Park. It has been shown that this type of communion aids in diminishing chronic pain and inflammation, combats fatigue and improves sleep. Visitors to the Osa Peninsula in the South Pacific region, will find a haven of unspoiled beauty, perfect for practicing Earthing.
Forest bathing is a preventative healthcare and healing technique that continues to grow in popularity. It is not actual bathing but the practice of taking a leisurely stroll through a forest as a way to clear the mind and open up the senses. Enthusiasts who visit Costa Rica’s magnificent volcanoes, rain forests and tropical landscapes will find plenty of options to put mind to nature.
Arenal Volcano National Park, found in the Northern region, is home to 75 percent of Costa Rica’s bird population and provides visitors with endless opportunities for connecting with nature. Unlike traditional nature walks or hikes through a park or forest, Forest bathing therapy involves using the senses to bond with the natural environment. The technique simply puts an individual in the moment, by asking the participant to “be here now.” A number of studies have shown a significant positive impact from Forest bathing, indicating benefits such as lowered cortisol levels (the stress hormone), lowered blood pressure and reduced depression.
Monteverde, in the clouds high above the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines of Costa Rica, is another tranquil location for Forest bathing. The area has been recognized worldwide for its conservation and preservation efforts, in large part due to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve which border the region. Similarly, Atenas in Alajuela is surrounded by lush mountains and coffee plantations—a serene location for calming the mind and taking in the moment. With year-round warm climates and a biodiverse terrain, Costa Rica is the ideal backdrop to be present for this holistic practice, although these rainforests can particularly special as places to heal after the holidays.
Crazy in Costa Rica for Christmas
Contrast the post holiday calm with some cultural holiday revelry in Costa Rica. As the storm before the calm, visitors can celebrate a variety of festivals and merrymaking. Tico Style, before heading into the woods for wisdom.
Festival de la Luz kicks off Christmas with lights, lights and even more lights. During the month of December, the entire city of San Jose lights up just in time for Christmas. Throughout the capital, all buildings can be found adorned with glorious lighting displays and fun holiday decorations. On the third Saturday of December (Dec 16), the main event takes place and includes concerts, dances, an evening parade of beautifully-lit floats, local marching bands and a fireworks show.
For families interested in learning about traditional indigenous celebrations that honor Costa Rica’s rich native history there is Fiesta de los Diablitos (Dec 30-Jan 2), which takes place on the Boruca Indian Reservation in Puntarenas. This four-day celebration honors Ticos’ original roots with battle reenactments, a traditional dance and typical foods.
Traditionally, Costa Rican families attend a large Mass on Christmas Eve and open their gifts at midnight on December 24.
A Very Tico New Year. Following Christmas Eve, public countrywide year-end celebrations take place all throughout the last week of December (Dec 25 – Jan 1). New Year’s Eve is celebrated with family and New Year’s Day is a national holiday where most Costa Ricans observe the day resting at home.
Starting on Christmas Day, the Festejos de Fin Y Principio de Año kickoff, which is a week of celebrations throughout San Jose that lead up to the New Year. Fireworks light up the sky, while street parties everywhere celebrate with music, dancing and food. In San Jose, New Year’s Eve festivities are centered around the downtown area and in the Zapote district.
Zapote Fiestas—on the Zapote fairgrounds, offer carnival rides, fair and street food, bullfighting and plenty of typical drinks from Dec 25- Jan 1. El Tope Nacional, on December 26, is an annual national horse parade where thousands of people from all over the country proudly display their equine traditions by showing off their beautiful breeds, riding skills and fancy footwork, during a procession through downtown San Jose.
From January 18 – 22, the Palmares Fiestas is a week of concerts, bullfighting, folklore dancing and family-friendly fun. Another popular event is el Dia de Santo Cristo de Esquipulas (Jan 15), where visitors will get to see an oxcart procession to the iron cross, which is situated on the mountain above Alajuelita—where a blessing is given.
The warm tempered climate, friendly people, a no-worries attitude and plenty of natural calm, a vacation in Costa Rica may be the hidden Christmas present that means the most.
For more information on Costa Rica, visit www.visitcostarica.com