Find out where I moved to….! HINT: It’s a healing place

If you’ve been following my travels and adventures around the world for the last 15+ years, then you know I’ve been to a lot of places! I lived in Thailand for 6 years, traveled all over SE Asia, explored Central and South America for almost a year and most recently, lived in Tel Aviv Israel for the last 2 years. So where do you think I would have moved to next…and how/why did I choose it?

First I have to say that I am sorry for not updating my blog in such a long time! I was super busy in 2015, working at new detox retreats, traveling for work, and being blessed with many new coaching & Iridology clients over Skype. Did I mention that I also left Israel, got married, moved to a new country AND found a house?! Yep, we were beyond busy. And, truth be told, I’m really not a fan of announcing things until they’re a done deal. Luckily, my husband is the same way on this one. We cherish our privacy in making important life decisions, and wanted to stay focused on what was best for us, not getting distracted by other people’s goals or opinions.

More time in nature is cleansing for the soul

More time in nature is cleansing for the soul

Where we ended up

Drumroll please….ok here it is: we are now living near Asheville, NC in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, USA. We have divinely clean well water to drink, fresh mountain air to breathe and are surrounded by mountains, trees and creeks. It’s the most quiet and peaceful place you can imagine.

The best part is that we plan to have cabins and invite people (like you!) here to do detox programs & retreats. Yes, a real chance to unwind, de-stress and get back to basics with 100% organic smoothies, juices and food. Literally, this is the place to feed your soul. We are so excited and have a lot of work to do, but finally I can offer the best detox and fasting programs that I know work with a focus on spiritual growth and health too.

For the summer of 2016, we may just be open for “glamping” …that’s “glamorous camping” in case you didn’t know! Imagine sleeping in a tent right on the edge of a mountain creek with the sounds of water and birds, and open campfires at night under the stars to discuss healing and health topics, or just to play music and get back to living in the moment. We are waiting for you!

We're about 20 miles outside of Asheville in the mountains, real country living!

We’re about 20 miles outside of Asheville in the mountains, real country living!

Why we chose North Carolina

Lots of people want to know – what’s so special about North Carolina?? It all goes back to 16 years ago when I thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, yep…just like the movie A Walk in the Woods. Except I actually finished the whole 2168-mile trail, but that’s another story! Anyway the trail goes through North Carolina and Tennessee through the Great Smoky Mountains, a beautiful area of lush green mountains and wilderness. While on the trail I had heard about the nearby town of Asheville and what a cool place it was. In fact, a lot of people got off the trail to visit Asheville and wound up staying there for good! I didn’t want to stop hiking so I never visited the town, but it stayed with me as a place I would like to check out someday…

Secret pocket of natural beauty - Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina

Secret pocket of natural beauty – Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina

Fast forward 15 years later and I was living in Tel Aviv with my partner. We decided that we wanted to leave Israel for a few years and started thinking about where to go. Out first thoughts were to stay in the Mediterranean region since we both love the climate and the food (mmm…pomegranates and fresh oranges!). We considered Cyprus and even Spain or Portugal; however things seemed to be getting more tense in Europe with migrants, instability, etc and we decided that maybe now is not the best time to move there.

We've got gorgeous fresh local organic fruit and veggies galore in Asheville

We’ve got gorgeous fresh local organic fruit and veggies galore in Asheville

From there, we did the whole “well, where else can we go?” and it just organically, magically and serendipitously fell into place. We had already traveled a lot, in SE Asia, Central America and even South America…and we were pretty sure we knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We were ready to grow our own food so we needed clean farmable land and a good source of water. We wanted to be in nature, in the peace and tranquility of mountains and trees. We wanted to be in a safe place where I could feel comfortable walking or hiking alone. We wanted to be closer to my parents, who live in USA and are in good health but are getting older and may need my help more in the next several years. We wanted good internet since we both work online. And we wanted a nice vibe of a place with some type of interesting art and music scene, good farmer’s markets and nice people.

Fresh local (and organic) food - that's my kind of place!

Fresh local (and organic) food – that’s my kind of place!

After scratching our heads for awhile over that long list, I finally said, “Hey I know this place in North Carolina that I always wanted to check out. Why don’t we go there, rent a house for a month and have a look around?” So that’s what we did. Found a place on airbnb and after 2 weeks in Asheville, we both said YES, we really love it here. From there we started looking at property, and as they say, the rest is history.

How can you know it’s right?

Because it feels right. I’ve followed my instincts my whole life, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet. That’s pretty much how I live. I’ve never been one to talk about doing things; I just do them. And I’m not afraid of trying or making a mistake. How will you ever know what you want if you never get out there and give something new a try?

We wanted nice people and good vibes and a chance to live in nature

We wanted nice people and good vibes and a chance to live in nature

You have to take chances in life if you want to really live. I thought about how I wanted to feel in my next home, and I kept that vision strong. Suddenly the idea of Asheville, NC came to my mind and it felt right. Going there confirmed the feeling. Most people think we are pretty crazy for making such a dramatic move, but it seemed perfectly natural and logical to us.

The Law of Attraction really works if you stay focused on what you want (not on what you don’t want). I even got a book deal just from using the Law of Attraction!

What’s better about North Carolina

I get a lot of emails from people who want to move to Thailand, Ecuador or even Costa Rica, and they ask me questions like “how do you compare this country to that one?” or “where should I move?” These are really impossible questions for me to answer because what’s best for me is probably not what’s most important to you (and that’s perfectly ok!). Thailand was an amazing experience and I cherish the 6 years that I lived there. Having walks on the beach and access to tropical fruits was a dream. Eventually I wanted more challenge with my work and I was also seeking a more balanced life (since my whole life was work!). That led me to my (now) husband and moving to Israel which, in my opinion, is one of the most amazing places on earth. To float in the Dead Sea or to wander through the ancient streets of Jerusalem…it’s just pure magic. We lived 300m from the sea in Tel Aviv and I loved having weekends off, like a normal person finally!

We eventually decided that we were craving more time in nature, and a chance to grow our own food. Even though we had access to a weekly CSA delivery in Tel Aviv, it just wasn’t enough. We wanted to know exactly what was in the soil and we wanted the very best water for our vegetables too.

We have a different Tailgate market (aka farmer's market) every day of the week!

We have a different Tailgate market (aka farmer’s market) every day of the week!

The only solution was to move to a place where we could grow our own. In the meantime, we wanted to be able to buy directly from the farmers. Asheville is literally buzzing with farm-to-table restaurants and there is a different organic farmer’s market every day of the week. I was very impressed to see raw goat’s milk for sale, raw sauerkraut and fresh organic wheatgrass shots in addition to the most amazing organic grapes you will ever taste in your life, truly. Quality of food is a huge priority for us and it was at the top of our list in deciding where to go. Next to that, we wanted to be around genuinely nice people, and we definitely found that in Asheville. It’s a sheer pleasure to meet people who are friendly and actually seem happy!

Our neighbors :)

Our neighbors 🙂

We knew we needed a place with good water and we wanted to be able to afford to buy some land too, not a small lot. Again, Asheville ticked all those things for us. And it still has an urban music scene and enough culture to feed our creative souls. I can own land in NC (unlike Thailand); it’s safe to walk around alone as a woman (unlike Ecuador) and the roads are excellent and it’s a safe area to live (unlike Costa Rica). Not to say that you can’t be happy, healthy and successful living in any of those other places, but North Carolina has more of what we need for where we’re at. Since life is impermanent, all of this can and will change!

By the way, did you know that Obama wants to move to Asheville? We had no idea! It would have never been the reason for us to consider this place as a home, but his interest in the area has definitely put Western North Carolina on the map. Now the New York Times, Washington Post and lots of other national newspapers are writing article on Asheville as the newest, coolest place to visit. Interesting!

We're really excited to explore the area - there are a lot of hidden gems (including us!!)

We’re really excited to explore the area – there are a lot of hidden gems (including us!!)

This is truly a healing place. It’s in my vision to have juice fasting, water fasting and spiritual fasting here for the right guests who are interested in genuine healing. I’ll be offering Iridology, Crystal Healing, workshops and detox retreats in addition to fermentation classes, raw food cooking classes and clean food eating. Stay tuned!

Reconnect with Nature in Guatemala with Fresh Juice, Raw Food, Mayan Ruins & Volcanoes

Guatemala is a country full of culture, colorful handicrafts, Mayan ruins and lots of nature and it’s a great place to visit for a health holiday! I recently spend 1 month in Guatemala and I’m going to share my top-picks, favorite restaurants and must-see things to do.

Central Courtyard in Antigua, Guatemala

Most people fly into Guatemala City when they arrive to Guatemala. Since the quaint, picturesque town of Antigua is only 45 minutes from Guatemala City, it’s a good idea to take a taxi or arrange hotel pickup directly from the airport to Antigua and start your adventures there (it’s about $30 for a private taxi). Antigua is the former capital of Guatemala and is full of Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets and many courtyard gardens behind the ancient walled streets. This is a good place to spend 4-5 days so you have time to take a tour, explore the local market, visit a nearby volcano or Mayan village, soak in natural hot springs, enjoy some of the restaurants and maybe even schedule a massage. Now that sounds like a holiday!

Old and beautiful downtown Antigua

Guatemalan decoration, handicraft, style, love!

Inside Pitaya Juice Bar in Antigua

My favorite morning stop in Antigua was at Pitaya Juice Bar, across from the Antigua Gym. It’s a small but very cute place and they serve fresh juice or superfood smoothies with moringa, ginseng, flax or wheatgrass, for a healthy start to the day (Pitaya Juice Bar: 6ta Calle Poniente, #26). For lunch, I frequented Sabo Rico, an outdoor garden restaurant serving salads, juices and smoothies in a gorgeously romantic courtyard (Sabo Rico: 6a avenida sur #7).

Dinners were typically made at the hostel using fresh raw foods bought at the local market and raw apple cider vinegar or coconut oil from the main health food store in town, Organica (5 calle poniente No. 6, just 1 block from the main square). Organica also has a small range of gluten-free foods for sale. Everything in Antigua is walkable which makes it very nice as a tourist.

My top picks for things to do in Antigua

Walking Tour with Elizabeth Bell

Definitely take Elizabeth Bell’s walking tour which runs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30am to 12:30pm and meets at the central fountain in the main square. Elizabeth’s knowledge and enthusiasm over all things Antigua and Guatemala is absolutely amazing, impressive and inspiring. This was absolutely a highlight of Antigua form me; the $20 was well spent for the tour.

Santo Domingo Hotel’s restaurant on the hill: Santo Domingo del Cerro

If you plan your day correctly, you can continue on your own at the end of Elizabeth’s tour at the Santo Domingo Hotel in downtown Antigua and from there, take the hotel’s free shuttle up the hill to their restaurant, the Santo Domingo del Cerro. Most likely you’ll be hungry after the tour and in daylight hours, you can enjoy all their unusual outdoor art sculptures and take in the views of surrounding volcanoes while enjoying a nice healthy salad. I had a delicious apple and watercress salad and was very happy to see that on the menu as a reasonable raw food choice. For anyone looking for a nice place to do work online (to write blog posts or update twitter feeds a-hem), the Santo Domingo del Cerro has a very nice terrace with free wifi, so you can spend the rest of your afternoon there and catch up on some work!

Wednesday at the Kawilal Hot Springs

Every Wednesday, the Kawilal Hot Springs and Spa offers a free shuttle that leaves at 9am from the Cathedral (it returns back to Antigua at 3pm). It’s a 1-hour ride to the hot springs so the free Wednesday shuttle is really the best option for tourists. The spa offers different packages with or without massage and it’s a bit expensive ($85 for hot springs and massage) for what it is and for Central American prices. For that reason, I would recommend a cheaper package using only the hot springs. The pools are still great and I fully believe in the healing powers of natural hot springs, so I personally seek them out wherever I go! This is a nice break from Antigua and a good option for a quiet afternoon soaking in the natural healing energy of thermal waters.

Outside Antigua: Tikal, Semuc Champey & Lake Atitlan

Tikal National Park

If you have the time, take an overnight bus to the northern part of Guatemala where you will find the ancient Mayan city and UNESCO World Heritage Site at Tikal National Park. We managed to find an honest tour company to book our bus tickets directly across from Pitaya Juice Bar. I don’t remember the name, but the staff wore Lonely Plant t-shirts and we received the correct price for the bus (not always an easy thing to achieve in Guatemala!). Speaking of which, be sure to book your accommodation before arriving to Flores; otherwise you will be absolutely mobbed by booking agents trying to lure you into other hotels and various park tours. We booked online in advance directly with Los Amigos Hostel, and we arranged our Tikal sunrise tour and onward bus tickets inside the hostel, at the very back, during office hours only. Flores is known for thieves operating as tour guides preying on the weary traveler arriving at 5am; we heard more than a few stories of this during our brief 2 days there. So be careful!

A great option for your first day in Flores is to rent kayaks at the hostel and paddle around the lake. It’s a wonderful feeling to get out on the water and to just glide with every stroke closer to the other side, then power-paddle back. Get to sleep well and truly early, because the the sunrise tours leaves at 4am! The tour takes you into the park to sit atop one of the Mayan temples and experience ‘the jungle waking up’ with sounds of howler monkeys, toucans and other birds. It’s great! A few more hours to explore the park gets you back to the hostel in early afternoon.

Ancient Mayan Civilization at Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park, in the jungles of northern Guatemala

Imagine the sounds of tropical birds and howler monkeys all around you…amazing!

Semuc Champey

The next day, you can head to Semuc Champey, about 6-8 hours by minibus from Flores. It’s not as comfortable to travel by minibus but there is no big bus that goes to Semuc Champey. Once you get there, you will see that it is well worth the effort! Semuc Champey is a gorgeous set of natural limestone bridges that’s located deep in a mountain gorge and covered with crystal blue-green water. You have to see it to really appreciate how magnificent Mother Nature can be. You only need one day to see the park, but many people stay at either one of the hostels for a few days just to relax and well, mainly to party. The backpacker party thing wasn’t my scene so I only stayed 2 days to see the park and do the cave tour, and I continued on my way to Lake Atilan.

Semuc Champey…simply amazing natural wonder!

Reconnecting with nature…is healthy bliss! At Semuc Champey

In awe of Mother Nature’s beauty at Semuc Champey

Save the Best for Last: Lake Atitlan

My best advice is exactly that: Save Lake Atitlan for the end of your Guatemala travels and take some time to rest, relax eat good food, or even rent a house along the lake and plan to do your own juice or water fast while there. Lake Atitlan is a popular destination for yoga, healing, raw food, meditation and spiritual retreats due to its magical energy field. It’s claimed to be one of the worlds’ energy vortexes, alongside the great pyramids and Macchu Picchu. The lake itself is surrounded by volcanoes, and when we were there, San Pedro volcano was visibly active, which was just amazing to see!

Beauty and nature at Lake Atitlan

Local fruit and vegetable market

Many of the health-enthusiast tourists stay in the village of San Marcos on the lake. In my opinion, it was a bit too hippie and we searched for something a bit more scenic and peaceful, with good views of the lake, good internet and decent sense of security. We found exactly that at Sakcari Hotel in San Pedro. While not cheap by Guatemala standards at $40 per night, Sakcari was everything we were looking for – it was quiet and on the lake with incredible views from the room and a real feeling of nature. Nearby in the village, we could get fresh fruit, fresh juice and smoothies every day. There is also a great health food store in San Pedro; it’s small but well-stocked with herbs, supplements, natural body products and some dried organic nuts and seeds. What more in life does one need?

A nice place to contemplate life, on the shores of Lake Atitlan

Fresh air, views of nature…this in and of itself is a cleanse!

Isla Verde Eco-Resort with its famed ‘slow-cooking’

We checked out some other spots and also looked at a few houses and apartments to rent on Lake Atitlan because we considered staying longer, up to 1-2 months. After a good amount of searching, there is only one place I would recommend and that’s the PasaCap property, owned by Pierre, a Frenchman living on the lake for more than 15 years. Pasacap has very modern and clean furnished apartments with perfect lake views on a secure property with a private dock to access the lake. We seriously considered renting an apartment here for 1-2 months so I could do a long water fast, but unfortunately the units were fully booked at the time and I didn’t want to wait a month for availability. I would definitely consider returning at a future date, and securing the booking in advance online. To have the chance to do a water fast on a major world energy vortex….well that’s just ‘Wow!’

There were a few other highlights on the lake for healthy eating and raw food, both in the village of Santa Cruz. The first, Isla Verde Resort, is a beautiful place with a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the lake. They are known for their ‘slow cooking,’ but we found that they may have taken this term a bit too far…by adding ‘slow ordering,’ ‘slow service,’ ‘slow preparation,’ and ‘slow to settle your bill.’ In short, the entire experience was SLOW. But, they did have some nice juices, salads and a great homemade kombucha drink that is worth waiting to order, receive and pay for!

View of Lake Atitlan from Isla Verde Resort

Mayan Cacao Energy Balls at Villa Sumaya

The other place is also in Santa Cruz, but in the opposite direction from the dock. When you exit the boat taxi, walk to the right and follow the maze of planks and boardwalks (which is really fun by the way!); after about 30 minutes you will arrive to Villa Sumaya.

Villa Sumaya is a yoga and meditation retreat center and it’s a great place to consider staying for a few nights if your budget allows. Otherwise, do what we did and visit during the day, enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie, sample their raw cacao superfood snacks and take a few raw energy balls home to nibble on later.

Whatever extra time you have in Guatemala, definitely spend it at Lake Atitlan. The views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes change with each day’s cloud formations and sun, a real-life painting waiting for you to slow down and simply enjoy its natural canvas. It’s a place that really grows on you after awhile.

Quiet time in nature is good for the soul

Safety in Guatemala

This is something worthy of noting and needs to be addressed for your personal travel safety. While absolutely nothing happened to use during our 4 weeks in Guatemala, we did meet a few tourists who had been robbed, mugged or ripped off. Some important things to remember: Do not show your iPhone or smartphone in public areas; Do not wear expensive jewelry; Carry a purse that hangs across the body from shoulder-to-hip and not on one shoulder only; Do not carry valuables at night; Do not carry a lot of cash at any time; Ask around at several travel agents to compare prices before booking anything. Again, we had nothing happen to us, but we heard quite a few stories. Personally, I always lock all valuables in my suitcase in the hotel room at all times. The temptation for a cleaning lady or other hotel staff to look around is just too great, so why take the risk? Once you get into the habit of doing that, it becomes very easy and it’s much ‘safer’ than a front desk safe where other staff may also have a key. You can definitely enjoy Guatemala without any problems if you follow these simple safety tips. With so much to see and enjoy; it’s a country worthy of a visit!

More on Traveling Raw:

14-21 Day Travel Itinerary for Organic Vegan Raw Food, Hot Springs, Beach & Detox in Costa Rica

If you’re looking for a new destination for your next detox holiday, you may want to consider Costa Rica in Central America. A year-round tropical climate offers plenty of fresh fruits such as papaya, pineapple, banana, coconut and passionfruit. Add mountains, volcanoes, beaches, hot springs, zip-line adventures and rain forest and you’ve got nature + raw food + sun…the perfect combination for a fantastic health holiday!

My suggestion for Costa Rica is to plan for at least 14-21 days; if you want to do a raw food retreat or fruit feast then plan for 28 days or even more. I recommend to hire a car for the first 2 weeks of your journey to give you a chance to get around more quickly and easily. After that, you may want to return the rental car and settle in to a retreat center for another week or two of organic raw food bliss. Scroll down to the end of this article for important tips on renting a car in Costa Rica.

14-21 Day Itinerary for Costa Rica

Day 1-3 at Playa Montezuma for Natural Beaches & Coastline

Fly into San Jose, pick up your rental car and head straight for Montezuma Beach. It should be about a 2-4 hour drive to the car ferry depending on traffic; the ferry takes you to Puntarenas, and from there, it’s about a 45-minute drive over partially dirt and pot-hole filled roads to Montezuma, but well worth it! This is a great place to relax, work on your tan, walk the beach, eat raw foods and have a nice introduction to Costa Rica. We stayed at Mariposario Bed and Breakfast which I really liked for a few reasons: 1. clean and quiet, 2. nice gardens, 3. nice owner, 4. wifi and breakfast included, 5. a small kitchen to make salads and chop fresh fruit every day and 6. a good price at $50 per night. Our days in Montezuma consisted of an early morning beach walk from Ylang Ylang Resort, in my opinion one of the most beautiful and easily accessible beach walks in the world, followed by a fresh juice or spirulina smoothie at Ylang Ylang’s gorgeous restaurant. Another option is to take the daily yoga class at 8:00am, as an outside guest it costs $12 pp.

The beach at Montezuma, Costa Rica

Ylang Ylang Resort in Montezuma, Costa Rica

Yoga Sala at Ylang Ylang Resort

Afternoon activities can include taking a surf lesson, sitting in the sun, wandering the shops in town or driving along the coast to nearby Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, both beautiful beaches worthy of exploration. My favorite daily treat was to walk 10 minutes up the road from Mariposario to Anamaya Resort and Retreat Center and use their far infrared sauna – a bargain at $10 pp for 60 minutes! Without a doubt, Anamaya has the best view ever from a far infrared sauna! Imagine watching monkeys play in the papaya trees and 180 degree views of beach and sea while sitting inside the sauna, contemplating health, love and longevity!

Infinity Pool at Anamaya Resort

Anamaya Resort, a Yoga Teacher Training Center

Slice of Paradise at Anamaya Resort

Organic Market in Montezuma every Saturday

If you’re in Montezuma on a Saturday, be sure to check out the organic fruit and vegetable market in the center of town starting at 11am. Raw food fans of Victoras Kulvinskas may want to look up his schedule of workshops and retreats offered from his home in the Montezuma area.

Day 4-6 at Nicoya Peninsula for Jungle Forest

Raw Cacao treats at the Cacao Bar

After a few days in Montezuma, you may be ready for some adventure.

On Day 4 head towards Nicoya Peninsula and stay at Pachamama for a few days to experience living in a hippie commune in the jungle forest with simply divine gluten-free food made by Alon, their Israeli master chef and yummy raw cacao treats at their Cacao Bar.

Choices of accommodation include camping, casita or cabin, depending on your budget. Daily yoga classes and meditation are included in the cost of your stay.

Plan on driving to Pachamama during the day since there is about 20-30km of dirt road and not the best road signs in that area in general. If unsure, stop and ask the locals.

Pachamama’s Tara Garden for yoga classes & evening talks

Daily Silent Meditation at Osho Hall in Pachamama

I stopped by Hacienda Del Sol Retreat Center which is also in the Nicoya Peninsula and actually very close to Pachamama, but found it to be pretty run down and energetically uninviting. The local staff member at the restaurant didn’t speak any English and told us the restaurant was closed; we were unable to find any other reception or staff; the grounds appeared overgrown and bungalows seemed shabby and no one ever answered my email enquiry sent several weeks before my arrival. I’m not sure if they were closed temporarily or what but based on my experience, I would not recommend this place for detox.

Day 7-8 to Zip-Line and Hike in the Cloud Forest at Monteverde

On Day 7, drive from Nicoya inland towards Monteverde via Liberia. It’s about a 7-8 hour drive but gorgeous views as the scenery changes from rain forest and beach to pasture to cloud forest. Plan to spend 2 nights at Monteverde, and if you can, book a bunk bed room at the Arco Iris Lodge for only $35 USD per night. We felt very lucky to find this resort with nice staff, beautiful gardens, banana trees and lots of flowers…a real gem compared to other places in town! Spend one day checking out the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the next morning book a zip-line tour before heading off for the 4-hour drive around the lake to Arenal Volcano. From Nicoya to Monteverde to Arenal, plan to stock up on fruits at roadside stalls as there isn’t much in the way of raw food restaurants in these areas.

Cabin at Arco Iris next to Banana Trees

Bunk rooms at Arco Iris, a great bargain!

Nicer cabins also available at Arco Iris Eco Lodge

Day 9 for Natural Hot Springs at Arenal Volcano

Depending on your schedule, stay 1 or 2 nights in Arenal, Costa Rica. With only one night to spend there on our schedule, we headed straight for the hot springs. A great choice is Tabacon Hot Springs, the only 100% natural hot spring resort in Arenal. If you arrive after 6pm, you get a discounted rate of $45 pp (as opposed to the daytime rate of $60 pp). We decided to splurge on the all-natural experience at Tabacon and it was well worth it! A second day in Arenal would give you the opportunity to check out the National Park and have another evening at the hot springs. We tried to stay at the Arenal Backpacker Resort but it was full, so we checked-in next door at Sierra Arenal and actually enjoyed it very much, with a nice grassy garden area and a great view of the volcano for $35 USD per night.

Scenic drive from Monteverde to Arenal, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano…Gorgeous!

View from Sierra Arenal Hotel near Arenal Volcano

Day 10-14 for Raw Food, Detox and Nature at Finca de Vida or Farm of Life

On Day 10, plan to head south for more organic raw food and the chance to do a detox at Finca de Vida, or Farm of life, my #1 pick for a raw food retreat or juice fast in Costa Rica. If you are on a 14-day trip, you may want to keep the rental car and make the 8-hour drive from Arenal to the Dominical area to be able to experience Finca de Vida for the last 4 days of your stay. Or, better yet, plan for 21 days or more and spend your last week or two at the farm to rest, juice fast or fruit feast, take raw food cooking classes, enjoy daily yoga and meditation or join an organized retreat for a detox with colon cleansing. If staying longer, you may not want to waste money on a rental car; in that case drive the car from Arenal back to the San Jose airport to return the rental and from there book a 4-hour shuttle from the airport to Finca de Vida (they can arrange this for you).

Either way, on the drive from Arenal back towards San Jose for sure plan to stop at Lands in Love. This is a must-see for animal lovers. Anyone who wants to support the rescue cats and dogs can even stay longer, either in their hotel or as a volunteer. Lands in Love is an Israeli-owned rescue center for cats and dogs with over 200 animals on site. Their restaurant is a welcomed oasis on the road from Arenal with a good menu of salads, Israeli food, and several vegan and gluten-free options as well. For any veterinary students, surgeons or physicians looking for a international volunteer job, Lands in Love is perfect and in need of your expertise! What an opportunity to work in Costa Rica, experience the culture and sights but also put your skills to work with these gorgeous rescue dogs and cats that need your help!

A project of love, and this place is full of Love!

Israeli Salad at Lands in Love Restaurant, Costa Rica

Lands in Love Restaurant, Boutique Hotel & Animal Rescue Center

Natural mineral spring at Finca de Vida

From Lands in Love, continue south towards Domincal and then turn inland to find Finca de Vida.

This place is truly an oasis and is best saved for last, after all the driving and travel around Costa Rica you will be happy to reach the quiet, beauty and organic raw food at Farm of Life.

The owners, Brian and Jodi, set a top-notch standard in caring for their guests and with smaller groups and a limited number of bungalows, you’re sure to get more personal attention and a true sense of community between staff, volunteers and guests.

If you have the time, book a room for 1 month and to eat 100% organic raw foods, be in nature and enjoy having the time to heal. Be sure not to miss the on-site natural mineral spring pools and the nearby weekly local organic market.

Paradise found…view from the guest bungalow at Farm of Life

Staff and guests joining together for a Breath Workshop

Early morning view from the restaurant at Fica de Vida, Costa Rica

If you have more time, check out Osa Peninsula in the south of Costa Rica. We didn’t have a chance to get there in our 14-day trip, but we heard it’s amazing and worth a visit. To drive onto the peninsula, you will need a 4wd vehicle.

Budget for Costa Rica

Anyone who has traveled in Thailand or SE Asia will find the prices in Costa Rica to be very high! In researching online before our trip, it seemed that every hotel was a minimum of $80-100 USD per night. By looking around and not booking in advance, we managed to find places more in the $35-50 USD per night range. That said, with the rental car and cost of food (an average salad to be $10-15 USD), 14 days in Costa Rica was expensive. If you live in North America, you’ll save money and time on the flight so that is definitely something to consider. There are many other countries in Central America which are cheaper than Costa Rica, so research and plan according to your budget. If you have the time, consider volunteering for 1 month or more on an organic farm or at one of the retreat centers – it’s a reasonable way to experience Costa Rica for just a fraction of the cost.

Practical notes on renting a car in Costa Rica

Car rental rates in Costa Rica are not cheap since the car rental companies seem to require mandatory insurance which is not listed in any online booking form. Our 2-week car rental cost over $700 USD, but there was no way we could have seen as much as we did without a car. (One word of advice: do NOT use Thrifty Car Rental). The roads in Costa Rica are not marked and it’s easy to get lost…also the GPS is not very accurate due to many dirt roads that aren’t listed in the computer. The only real way to get around is to stop in every small town and ask which way to the next town. Well, it’s the old-fashioned way but it works! We were happy we didn’t bother with a GPS, and actually we rented a Toyota Yaris 2-wheel drive which we drove everywhere ‘Costa-Rica style’ and didn’t have any problems getting stuck on river crossings or 4-wheel drive dirt roads. January being dry season makes it possible to have a 2-wheel drive car (January to March is the high-season and best time of year weather-wise to go). If you rent a 4-wheel drive car, be careful to not rent the Jimmy or if you do do not leave any valuables inside; apparently it is very easy to break into and gets robbed more often than any other rental vehicle.

Safety in Costa Rica and Where to Stay Near the San Jose Airport

With all the warning about robberies and safety in Costa Rica, it’s always important to keep your street smarts; that said, we did not have any problems at all and found the Costa Ricans to be very helpful with directions and quite friendly and nice overall. If you need to spend one night near the San Jose airport either at the beginning or end of your journey, I highly recommend Hotel Pacande in Alajuela as a clean, safe affordable option with friendly staff. I hope you enjoy your trip. Eat lots of papayas and….see you on the road!

More Articles on Costa Rica

Read my article on Pachamama: Gluten-Free, Raw Food and Detox at Pachamama, Costa Rica.
My awesome experience at Finca de Vida: Fasting Retreat, Organic Raw Food & Total Relaxation at Farm of Life in Costa Rica.

More on Traveling Raw:

Fasting Retreat, Organic Raw Food & Total Relaxation at Farm of Life in Costa Rica

Fruit feasting at Farm of Life!

If there is such a place as the Garden of Eden, this could be it! Finca de Vida (or Farm of Life) is a raw food, juice fasting, yoga and detox retreat center in the hills of Costa Rica and just gives you that “this is a place to heal” feeling as soon as you arrive. The owners, Brian and Jodi, are a young American couple whose commitment to health and healing is truly inspiring, especially because their own journeys from sickness to health brought them to create Farm of Life. They really care about their guests, and it shows.

I actually found Finca de Vida thanks to their excellent rating on Trip Advisor, and wow, I felt so grateful to have the chance to check it out. The farm is large compared to a typical detox resort in Thailand, but doesn’t have so many rooms, which is a good thing in my opinion, because smaller groups means more space to relax in nature, and a chance to get one-on-one attention and personal care.

The center hosts several juice fasts, raw vegetarian food and 80/10/10 retreats throughout the year; additionally guests can come and stay on their own simply to eat raw organic fruits, relax, do daily yoga, learn sun gazing meditation from Brian (the master!), get massage, do colonics, dig into their library of healing books, learn from the raw food chefs, soak in the natural mineral springs, and most of all, take time to reflect, rest, rebuild and heal. I did say Garden of Eden, didn’t I?! I just didn’t expect to find it in Central America!!

Fresh organic herbs from the garden at Finca de Vida

Cabins for guests…a real raw food nature retreat!

Staff and guests joining together for a Breath Workshop

Paradise found…view from the guest bungalow at Farm of Life

Natural mineral spring: a place to soak and heal!

There are a few key highlights that really made Farm of Life stand out for me. First, the food is all raw, vegan, gluten-free and organic (a lot of the food is grown right on the farm). Second, it really is in nature, with views of mountains, trees and the distant sea. Imagine waking up to the sounds of the birds, walking up to the yoga sala to do an early meditation, or joining Brian at sunrise for his sun gazing lesson.

It’s very, very peaceful.

And third, the type of guests and volunteer staff that Finca attracts is absolutely top-notch. I never met a nicer group of people gathering to do detox and eat fruit, really! There was no feeling of competition or ego, which can often plague larger detox resorts. This place is pure, from the heart and created for people to have a place to heal, as it should be!

Finally, a major factor to consider is how affordable Finca de Vida is compared to other fasting/cleansing resorts both in Costa Rica and worldwide. A couple can stay in a bungalow with private shower/toilet for $1500 USD per month, that includes access to eat whatever food is grown on the farm. Wifi is also included. Organized juice fasts or raw food retreats are priced differently, depending on who is running the program and how many days it lasts.

If you choose to do water fasting during your stay, there is no additional charge, and that includes cleansing support from Brian. Other places in Costa Rica charge $10,000+ per person to do a 21-day water fast, so you can quickly see what an incredible value that is. Brian (the owner) was clear to point out “I want to make this place affordable so cops and teachers have a place to come and heal. It shouldn’t just be available for rich people.”

Brian giving me a personal tour…and a taste of the hibiscus leaf!

Both Jodi and Brian shared their personal stories of healing with me, all explained in detail in my youtube interview with them. Brian was a professional athlete whose life took a detour into drugs and eventually led him to chronic fatigue and other illness which required him to be on several different pharmaceutical drugs daily. Miraculously, one day he saw a book on raw food in a bookstore, decided to buy it, and essentially went 100% raw food overnight. He is absolutely living proof that you can heal yourself as long as you are willing to change your diet and lifestyle.

Jodi suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for nearly her entire life and probably knows the meaning of pain better than anyone! But, she didn’t give up. And when she met Brian, the idea of doing a raw food diet seemed like a good thing to try. Since doing detox and raw food, she is almost 100% cured and is even a certified yoga instructor now! Amazing!

Early morning view from the restaurant at Fica de Vida, Costa Rica

Finca de Vida is about a 4-hour drive from San Jose. They can organize your pickup and transport directly from the airport to the center. The beach is about a 30-minute drive from the center (or a $25 taxi ride). There are weekly trips to a local waterfall and organic farmer’s market (for a nominal fee). The property is remote and there is no chance of temptation from bars or convenience stores, which is great for most people but challenging for some, especially anyone suffering from addictions. Be prepared to go deep into your healing when you’re there. If you are ready, Finca de Vida can really change your life.

For more info, contact Brian and Jodi at http://fincadevida.com.

Video Interview: Raw Food Success Stories

At Finca de Vida Detox & Juice Fast Retreat Center in Costa Rica

Jody and Brian Calvi have 2 of the best Raw Food Success Stories I ever heard! Jody suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis for 35 years before finding relief from daily pain (and many medications) after doing detox and raw foods. She tells the story of how her chronic asthma disappeared after getting her amalgam fillings removed. Brian suffered from chronic fatigue and then depression as a result of being chronically fatigued! He cured himself on a 100% raw food diet and become inspired with Jody to open the Farm of Life Retreat Center in Costa Rica. This is a place I highly recommend for detox, juice fasting, or having a health holiday in nature to de-stress and heal.

Check out my entire 14-21 day Itinerary for Costa Rica here!

More on Traveling Raw:

Gluten-Free, Raw Food and Detox at Pachamama, Costa Rica

Raw Cacao treats at the Cacao Bar

Pachamama is a place I recently discovered on my travels in Costa Rica: it’s a eco-community of about 80 residents from all over the world (mostly from Israel) with an organic farm, daily meditation, yoga classes and a simply divine raw cacao dessert bar! They offer various retreats on meditation, juice fasting and yoga and also offer accommodation for guests wanting to stay and simply enjoy the ‘Pachamama experience.’

It’s a place that has gained some interest in the raw food world in recent years thanks to supporters like David Wolfe and the film crew of Food Matters (it’s listed in the Food Matters’ International List of Detox Centers). I felt lucky to find this place and get a feel for it myself!

Raw Carrot, Pumpkin & Avocado Soup

The best thing by far about Pachamama is the food: they have an amazing Israeli chef (Alon) who adds the best kept ingredient of all to his food: love and joy! You can definitely taste it! I was very impressed to see a 100% gluten-free and mostly vegan menu for all 3 daily meals offered at Pachamama and decent raw food options as well – there were always ample chopped and shredded raw veggies to make a yummy veggie salad with homemade tahini salad dressing that left me feeling happy and satisfied!

For 80/10/10 folks, there is a store on the property that sells fresh fruit daily, so you can easily add more fruits to your daily intake. We bought fresh papaya, bananas and passion fruit to make an amazing fruit salad every morning. In addition, they have another small store selling superfoods, fermented coconut water (kefir) and goat’s milk and goat’s cheese for anyone who wants to add a bit more to their diet.

Tara Garden for yoga classes & evening talks

Yummy Raw Cacao Frozen Dessert Bliss!

The property itself is huge, and one thing I really like about Pachamama was the feeling of being in nature, with plenty of green jungle views and waking up to the sound of monkeys in the trees every day. It’s about a 1-hour walk to the beach (one-way); there is also a daily shuttle service to take you there ($3 pp) or the option of a private taxi ($40). While not an easy place to get to, a 7-8 hour drive from San Jose over some rough terrain, it’s a place to get away from the world, feel close to nature, de-stress and have access to healthy food. (Keep in mind, you can also fly there from San Jose, but there is a 12kg weight limit on the commuter planes). And the best part about the food at Pachamama: The raw cacao chocolate bar! Wow, what a creation! Every afternoon this seemed to be the place to congregate…people meeting over a frozen almond milk-cacao-date-tahini bar dipped in raw cacao and honey, all for $2.50 (by far, the best bargain there!).

The ‘Detox Counter’ or Prana Clinic

They also offer a juice fasting retreat: they call it the Body Cleanse, a 5-day organic juice detox held monthly at the center and run by resident detox experts at Pachamama. I was there during their January cleanse and had a chance to join some of the talks and speak directly with the detoxers. It’s a good program for a short, gentle cleanse. They offer all organic juices, daily enemas as well as daily nutrition and detox talks. The juice fast also includes a liver gallstone flush mid-way through the cleanse. My recommendation in doing their cleanse is this: Arrive 2-3 days before to relax, unwind and get a feel of the place. Do the 5-day cleanse, then stay an additional 5 days to eat the food and continue with your daily yoga and silent meditation practice. After all, if you are going to spend the time and money to get there, why not stay and enjoy?

Noni, turmeric & orange juice shots with beet and green juice

I highly recommend Pachamama as a health holiday destination for families with young children. With 26 children living on site and their own school, it’s a very kid-friendly place which is rare to find in the raw food and gluten-free world. Any parent of a gluten-free or celiac child would be grateful to find a place where their child can eat anything and also have other kids to play with too!

Cabin for guests, one of the accommodation options

Overall, I think Pachamama is a great experience, but it is important to remember that it is ‘an experience.’ Some people may feel overwhelmed but its remoteness or even intimidated by the ‘hippie-ness’ of the place, and for that reason I can say that it might not be everyone’s cup of herbal tea. I can assure that there were no naked people running around and the community is actually very organized and business-like, perhaps even too business-like for some! The prices are on the high side when compared to Thailand or with the rest of Costa Rica ($80-100 per couple per night, tax included, for a private room with bathroom), $40 to go to the beach (a taxi is the only option that fits into the detox schedule), extra costs for internet (the only place in Costa Rica where we encountered this, all other places we went it was free), and all food, raw food, etc is additional as well. (Note: They do offer camping at a reduced rate.) The cost of the detox does not include accommodation, and they have a rule of a 10-night minimum stay with all expenses to be paid 100% in advance and absolutely no refunds.

My question to a detox guest would always be this: how do you feel now vs. how you felt when you arrived? 100% of the time the answer is always: I feel better, lighter, and more healthy. It’s important to remember that! (I did a few video interviews with Pachamama guests for my youtube channel, and even with just a 5-day cleanse, I was motivated to hear their stories of transformation!).

Osho Hall for 7pm Daily Silent Meditation..all welcome to join

Daily Silent Meditation at Osho Hall in Pachamama

Enjoying a Green Smoothie at the Cacao Bar

Well, I still think back so fondly to the food and to waking up to the sounds of the monkeys…and I can appreciate so much what the community of Pachamama has created…after all, 13 years ago they arrived to the jungle with nothing and now have a beautiful thriving community with a gorgeous meditation hall complete with marble floors! It’s certainly been a lot of work to get to where they are today. If you have the money, I do recommend Pacahamama as a quiet place to be in nature, eat good healthy food and get to know some very interesting like-minded guests and volunteers on their work-exchange program.

Outside the meditation hall

Costa Rica is such a short plane ride from the USA and Canada and so much cheaper than flying to Thailand. If you are looking for something different and want to try a new destination for your raw food or detox holiday, then consider giving Pachamama a try!

One logistical note: There are actually 3 places in Costa Rica called Pachamama, so be sure you are going to the right one, and most important, be sure you have directions to the right one! Their website is: http://www.pachamama.com.

Video Interviews: 3 detox guests at Pachamama

Doing a Juice Fast Detox on your honeymoon?!

Meet Lior, yes..on her honeymoon for a 5-day juice fast at Pachamama in Costa Rica! Hear her experience with the liver flush on Day 4, dealing with food cravings during her fast (pasta), her emotional release during the cleanse and how she is preparing for fertility by doing a juice fast with her newlywed husband on their honeymoon! Thanks Lior for sharing your story!

What to Expect as a Volunteer in Costa Rica at the Pachamama Body Cleanse

Thinking about volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica? Meet Jenna from Canada; she came to Costa Rica to volunteer at Pachamama and decided to stay permanently! Listen to her talk about her first detox ever, how she dealt with hunger and how she managed to not cheat during the fast, her reaction from the liver cleanse, what her family thinks of enemas, what it’s like to volunteer at Pachamama and why she has decided to stay in Costa Rica. What a great woman, thank you Jenna!

From feeling toxic to fabulous: Juice Fasting on Day 5!

What’s it like for a regular guy to do a juice fast detox? No, this isn’t Joe Cross…but it could be! Meet Tim from Australia. He went to Costa Rica to do the 5-day Body Cleanse Detox at Pachamama after several months of toxic food eating in the USA. Tim talks about why he decided to do a detox, how stressful his life was prior to traveling, how he prepared for the juice fast, the mental discipline required to succeed, how he felt after the liver flush, his favorite part (daily yoga) and how now, on Day 5, he feels 20 years younger and went from feeling toxic to fabulous with just 5 days of a juice cleanse! Wow!

Check out my entire 14-21 day Itinerary for Costa Rica here!

More on Traveling Raw:

International Directory of Detox, Juice Fast, Healing Centers and Retreats

From Food Matters

Detox, Juice Fasting Retreat and Healing Center Directory

World Destinations for Detox, Juice Fasting, Healing Clinics

USA and Canada

Gerson Institute – San Diego, California
Gerson Therapy is tailored to treat cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis using natural treatment methods such as organic foods, juicing and detoxification.
www.gerson.org

Hippocrates Health Institute – Florida
The Hippocrates Health Institute provides a tranquil haven for peace and health restoration. Guests are treated with enzyme-rich vegan food, educational classes and exercise facilities.
www.hippocratesinst.org

An Oasis of Healing – Arizona
An Oasis of Healing offers natural options for treating cancer, whilst promoting immune strengthening and health restoration.
www.anoasisofhealing.com

The Kushi Institute – Massachusetts
The Kushi Institute is an international expert authority on the macrobiotic lifestyle for health and well-being, offering residential educational programs.
www.kushiinstitute.org

Creative Health Institute – Michigan
The Creative Health Institute is a learning facility designed to help people reclaim health through raw food nutrition and detoxification.
www.creativehealthinstitute.com

Holistic Medical Clinic of the Carolinas – North Carolina
This holistic medical facility uses combined conventional and natural therapies to provide integrated mind-body-spirit healing for a wide variety of diseases.
www.holisticmedclinic.com

Optimum Health Institute – San Diego; Austin
The Optimum Health Institute aims to rejuvenate physical, emotional and spiritual health through vegetarian raw food, juicing, lymphatic exercise, colon hydrotherapy and prayer.
www.optimumhealth.org

The Issels Foundation – Arizona
The Issels Foundation offers alternative therapies for cancer and chronic illnesses, with the dual aim of treating disease and preventing its recurrence.
www.issels.com

Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center – Arizona
Under the guidance of world-renowned health and spiritual practitioners, The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center is a healing haven for a wide range of diseases. Expert teaching on raw food nutrition, spiritual growth and natural living is also available.
www.treeoflife.nu

Rudolf Steiner Health Center
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
This program is designed for ambulatory individuals with chronic illnesses, or anyone seeking a restorative regimen. The Health Center follows the Anthroposophic medical guidelines of Austrian scientist-philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
www.steinerhealth.org

Weimar Institute – Weimar, California
The Weimer Institute offers nutrition and lifestyle guidance, imbued with a strong spiritual focus, to remedy disease.
www.weimar.org

Oxygen Life Spa – Texas
The Oxygen Life Spa offers a spiritual space for healing through the use of Ozone saunas, Chi Tables and Tesla Coil Photon Generators.
www.oxygenlifespa.com

Rest Of Your Life Health Retreat – Texas
Under doctor guidance, guests may fast and detoxify in a remote country environment. Education about natural hygiene and raw-food healthy living is also provided.
www.roylretreat.com

Yoga Oasis – Hawaii
The Yoga Oasis offers intensive yoga and detoxification programs, with food preparation classes and nature excursions also available.
www.yogaoasis.org

Ann Wigmore Foundation – San Fidel, New Mexico
An educational and healing retreat, the Ann Wigmore foundation prescribes live, organic vegan foods and natural detoxification methods for health and recovery.
www.wigmore.org

Dr Gonzalez – New York
This clinic is headed by medical doctors who offer treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergies and chronic fatigue.
www.dr-gonzalez.com

The Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning – Kansas
This clinic founded by Dr Hugh Riordan uses the approach of finding the cause of illness and to correct it rather than just treating the symptoms.
www.brightspot.org

Canada

New Life Retreat – Ontario, Canada
Situated on a lush organic farm, New Life Retreat has an interactive, practical approach to teaching eco-friendly and healthy living. In addition to a fresh, organic vegetarian diet, guests will benefit from meditation, relaxation, juicing, fasting and exercise in nature.
www.newliferetreat.com

Nonpareil Natural Health Retreat – Stirling, Ontario
This natural haven provides a range of services for detoxification and health rejuvenation. Raw-juice cleansing, nutrition counselling, colon therapy, mud baths, yoga, relaxation in nature, reflexology, reiki and meditation are available in their programs.
www3.sympatico.ca/nonpareil/

Europe and the UK

Paracelsus Klinik – Switzerland
Paracelsus Klinik is an integrative conventional/complementary medicine clinic, treating a wide array of diseases.
www.paracelsus.ch

Vortex Vital – Spain
Vortox Vital is a resort-style health retreat providing fasting and numerous other detoxification programs.
www.vortexvital.com

Detox International – Spain, Portugal
Detox International provides 7 day holistic detox retreats supported by a team of nutritionists and therapists.
www.detox-international.com

Australia and New Zealand

The Vita Centre – Edgecliff, New South Wales
The Vita Centre offers a holistic, integrative blend of conventional and complementary therapies for a wide range of diseases.
www.vitacentre.com

Yarra Vallley Living Centre (home of The Gawler Cancer Foundation), Victoria
This clinic has a combined orthodox and mind/body medicine approach to treating disease, utilising treatment advice from medical doctors and natural health practitioners. Set in 40 acres of natural bushland at the foot of rolling hills, they host Wellbeing retreats in a nurturing and peaceful environment.
www.gawler.org

Fountainhead Organic Health Retreat – Maleny, Queensland
100% organic health retreat focusing on stress, detox and fitness programs.
www.fountainhead.com.au

Asia

The Farm – Phillipines
The Farm is a lush eco-friendly resort, with medical doctors that tailor individual detoxification and healing programs. Guests are luxuriously pampered during their program.
www.thefarm.com.ph

The Spa Resorts – Thailand
This Spa Resorts provide detoxification programs, fasting, massage and reflexology in the lush comfort of resort accommodation.
www.thesparesorts.net

Kamalaya – Thailand
Kamalaya is a luxury resort that offers detox and yoga retreats in Thailand. Their Wellness Sanctuary offers colonic irrigation and speciality detoxes including weight loss, sleep enhancement, optimal fitness and stress & burnout.
www.kamalaya.com

Atsumi Detox – Thailand
Atsumi Retreat Healing Center is a natural detox & therapy education facility in Phuket, Thailand where people come to fast and cleanse their systems of toxins.
www.atsumihealing.com

Julia Jus’ Innergetic Health Rejuvenation Retreat – Bali, Indonesia
This 7-day retreat provides a comprehensive detoxification program involving raw-food cuisine, pilates, meditation, colonic irrigation, detox baths, massage, ozone therapy, nutrition/lifestyle counselling and infra-red saunas.
www.juliajus.com

Central and South America

Gerson Plus Therapy – Tijuana, Mexico
Dr Dan Rogers is a trained Medical Doctor and Naturopath. He has been treating patients using integrative medicine since the late 1970’s. Dr Rogers believes in the use of the Gerson Plus therapy which is a nutrition based form of detoxification and healing from within.
www.gersonplus.com

An Oasis of Hope – Playas de Tijuana, Mexico
This is an integrative medical facility specializing in conventional and complementary cancer treatments.
www.oasisofhope.com

Sanoviv Medical Institute – Baja California, Mexico
This is a holistic medical facility offering integrative treatments for numerous chronic or general diseases.
www.sanoviv.com

Health For Humanity – Ecuador
Provides information and services for QHM technology and cancer treatment.
www.cancercuredresearch.com

Farm of Life (Finca de Vida) – Costa Rica
This remote eco-lodge is a natural sanctuary for the exploration of health-fulfilling activities such as yoga, raw food/vegetarian eating, eco-adventures and self-improvement. Farm of Life is a smoke-meat-alcohol-free environment.
www.fincadevida.com Read my article on Finca de Vida!

Pacha Mama – Costa Rica
This retreat offers numerous healing services such as yoga, detoxification, colonic irrigation, reflexology, acupuncture, nutritional consultation, meditation, spiritual teachings, juice fasting, massage and reiki.
www.pachamama.com Read my article on Pachamama!

Ann Wigmore Institute – Puerto Rico
This is an educational health retreat that practices Ann Wigmore’s methods of detoxification and raw-food health restoration.
www.annwigmore.org

Africa

Detox International – South Africa
Detox International provides 7 day holistic detox retreats supported by a team of nutritionists and therapists.
www.detox-international.co.za

Cancure.org
A valuable resource for investigating natural therapy clinics worldwide and considering treatment options.
www.cancure.org

If you know of other reputable spas, fasting retreats or healing centers around the world, please let me know!

More on Traveling Raw:

Is it safe to detox while pregnant or breastfeeding?

To detox or not when pregnant?

This is a question I get asked over and over by new and expecting mothers who are concerned with high-boosting their mineral reserve, detoxifying for a healthy baby and losing weight and getting in shape after giving birth. They think that if they do a detox while pregnant, they may start to feel better and gain energy during their pregnancy and maybe even increase the chance of having a healthier baby. While breastfeeding, many new mothers feel tired and toxic after having gained weight and given birth and hope that a detox will give them a reboot. This an important issue to discuss especially with all the over-the-counter at-home detox programs that people have access to do on their own with no guidance or support. My answer to this question is unequivocally without exception: NO.

It is not safe to detox while pregnant or breastfeeding under any circumstances in any country at any age for any woman.

When a woman is pregnant, her body needs to focus on doing one thing: making a new life. It does not need the distraction of splitting energy between detox (internal housekeeping) and creating new life. Pregnancy is a time for abundance in healthy, clean, vibrant foods and plenty of relaxation and rest. Most detoxes require cleansing supplements, something that should never be done during pregnancy because #1) some supplements are not safe to take while pregnant and #2) detox supplements split the body’s energy between detox and making baby. Additionally, during the process of detox, toxins are temporarily stirred up into the blood before they are broken down and carried out through the kidneys, colon, lungs and skin. Having toxins in the blood is the last thing a pregnant mother would want or need. Some detoxes include taking high amounts of Vitamin C. Vitamin C, when consumed in high doses, can stop the body from making progesterone, a vital hormone in pregnancy. (This is why doctors advise against eating too much pineapple while pregnant. Pineapple is particularly high in Vitamin C.) Please do not consider doing any type of detox while pregnant.

The same goes for breastfeeding for all the reasons listed above. Furthermore, if a woman does a detox while breastfeeding, she can actually still up toxins (including heavy metals) into her breast milk, and unknowingly feed those toxins directly to her newborn. While breastfeeding, the focus should not be on losing weight.

Eat foods rich in nutrients and high in vegan plant-based protein so your body has the power to make the healthiest milk ever for your baby.

When you are finished breastfeeding, you may consider doing a detox. Actually, the best time to do a detox is one year before you get pregnant. Yes – one year! That way, you have plenty of time to do multiple cleanses including kidney, colon, gallstone/liver and heavy metal detoxification and then have ample time to rebuild with a nutrient dense diet to best prepare your body for a safe, clean and healthy pregnancy. If you are thinking of having another baby, the time to start your detox is after you are finished breastfeeding and before you start trying to get pregnant again. Even if you only have 1-3 months, it’s worth it.

If you’re suffering from constipation during your pregnancy, please do not consider doing an enema. The main reasons why I do not recommend enemas during pregnancy are because #1) you can temporarily stir up toxins into the blood while disrupting the fecal matter before it is released, and #2) the inflow of water into the colon can put pressure on the uterus and fetus.

Rather, I suggest you increase high-fiber foods and reduce wheat and white breads as much as possible to relieve constipation due to pregnancy. Think of wheat as concrete in the colon and avoid it especially if you are feeling backed up. Try adding 2 Tbsp of ground flax seed to every meal (either a smoothie, fruit salad, veggie salad or even mix in with cooked veggies). This will significantly increase your fiber intake and should get things moving. If it is ‘too much’ movement, reduce to 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed at 2 meals daily or even 2 Tbsp. at 1 meal per day (Note that the flax seed must be ground and not whole).

I’ve advised many female clients on preparing their body for pregnancy and also eating the right foods while pregnant and breastfeeding, all with great success. I’ve even seen cases of infertility and IVF with no success until they followed my specialized preparing for pregnancy detox plan. After 3 months, I had one client get pregnant after being on IVF for 8 years. I’ve also helped women to start menstruation again, even after years of not having any cycle. All of these things are possible with the right detox and follow-up diet, but timing is key to make sure it’s safe for baby, mother or mother-to-be.

More on Pregnancy:

After Your Detox: How to Eat, What to Do

Keep Your Results After Your Detox

How are the stress levels lately? Pretty bad, huh? Have the post-fast fruit platters been replaced with too many fast food fixes and late night binging? Are you secretly dreaming of going back for another detox, fast & cleanse, a chance to rest, recharge, reset and renew? Well you are not alone! If you’ve been to one of my Healthy Habits Detox talks in Koh Samui, you’ll remember my story and know that I have been down that path before myself. Long-term, the real challenge lies in making long-term positive change to your daily habits outside of the fasting times. You don’t have to wait until you can make it back to Thailand, or after the friend’s party, work project, holiday weekend, or after New Year’s to start. Remember, your health is your biggest asset! If you don’t spend money on your food, you will spend it on a doctor! You deserve only the very best in life, so start giving your body the very best too! You can start to make positive change today. Imagine starting your next detox, cleanse or fast being more healthy than when you left last time – you can do it! I believe in me, and I believe in you too!

Remember, the real work starts after your detox. Knowing what to eat and how to continue detoxing will ensure you keep the weight off and stay healthy. Going back to what you did before will only get you back to how you felt before: tired, bloated and toxic. You will have to implement some long-term changes to make sure your post cleanse results stay around for the long-term.

Here are 4 Healthy Habits you can Start Today:

Fresh fruit day, More raw foods

 

1. One day a week fruit day

Remember my recommendation to make Mondays your ‘Fruitday’? Just by eating one day a week of only fresh fruits, you can give all of your organs a rest and a cleanse, clean out the bowel, have a mini-detox, high-boost on vitamins and re-calibrate your mind for healthy food choices for the week.

If you do one day a week of fruit only for 7 years, you will have eaten a 100% fruit only diet for one full year of your life! Don’t underestimate the power of a one-day cleanse! If you are more advanced, you can consider doing a one day a week juice feast. I recommend green juices, such as cucumber, lemon, ginger, apple, parsley and celery.

2. Eat more raw foods

You don’t have to go 100% raw food vegan in order to reap the benefits of fresh, live, high-enzyme, nutritious raw foods. Try to eat one raw food meal a day, whether it be a yummy fruit salad for breakfast, a delicious salad for lunch or a Green Smoothie for dinner. Watch as your energy levels naturally increase. See how your skin clears, your eyes brighten and you begin to emit a nice, healthy glow. Feel your clothes loosen and enjoy receiving compliments from others who notice the positive difference in you!

3. Forgive, Love & Let Go

Yes, we have to go there too! The spirit needs healing just as much as the physical body. You can eat a perfect 100% raw food, organic diet and still manifest dis-ease if you do not start forgiving, loving and letting go in life! Always remember, nothing can hurt you unless you give it your consent! Happiness has to start within. We cannot depend on others for our happiness. The search for a happy man’s shirt found a happy man who did not own a shirt! Do you get it?? Start loving today! Smile!

4. Live More Natural, Whole & Pure!

This one is easy. What kind of deodorant are you using? Get an aluminum-free version that works. Replace your cleaning products with vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. Buy local and organic when possible. Save money and make your own fresh delicious sprouts and nut milks at home with reusable cotton sprout and nut milk bags! Replace your chemical makeup with healthy, natural, organic alternatives! A good website for chemical-free makeup is earthsbeauty.com.

Replace any old toxic body products with fluoride-free toothpaste, all natural soap and virgin organic coconut oil (a great moisturizer for the skin). I buy all that stuff online at vitacost.com. You can get $10 off your first purchase and get $10 back for every friend you refer, so spread the love! The thing I love about vitacost is that they offer free shipping and a lot of 2 for 1 deals. They also have cool trials and free samples, so be sure to check out the trial link before you place your final order. Making better choices for your body products gives you better overall health. When you reduce the amount of ‘retox,’ you can keep the benefits of your detox!

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Raw Food, Detox & Organic in Tel Aviv, Israel

A Mediterranean climate combined with nutrient-rich soil make the perfect conditions for year-round seasonally fresh raw foods in Israel. Whether you are looking for a healthy holiday destination or are simply ‘raw-curious’ about what to eat in Israel, Tel Aviv is a great place to start. On my recent trip to Israel, I was impressed not only by the availability of organic raw food but also amazed by the flavor of everything. Finally, cucumbers and oranges that have taste, wow!

Fresh Juice at Carmel Market

Depending on what time of year you visit Israel, you will find locally grown pomegranate, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, peaches, bananas, guava, watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, tomatoes and of course olives! When you arrive, a good place to start is the Carmel Market, or ‘Shuk Ha’Carmel,’ Tel Aviv’s largest fruit and vegetable market. While not organic, the market does have an abundance of fresh produce. I found the best thing to buy at this market is a freshly made juice. Be sure to walk to the bottom end of the market; at the top end you will get charged 20 ILS for a juice; keep walking down and the prices go down too…near the bottom half you will find a nice man on the right side who sells his juice for 10-12 ILS.

Organic Produce at Shuk Ha’Carmel

Also at the lower end of the market, you will find one organic store on the left-hand side. It’s called Nizat Ha’duvdevan (Hebrew for “The Cherry Bud”). Look for the large cherries on the sign and the nice baskets containing dried fruits and nuts. All the prices there are fixed, but be sure to check your change…a few times I was given the wrong change, and it was not in my favor! 🙂 Nizat Ha’duvdevan has other locations through Tel Aviv like the one near Rabin Square (which used to also have a raw food cafe but the cafe is no longer there).

Inside Shuk Hanamel At Tel Aviv Port

If you like olives, you may want to taste them at the Carmel Market, but don’t buy…they are not overly good and every vendor tried to over-charge me. A normal price for Kalamata olives is 40 ILS per kilo; here they will try to charge you 60-80 ILS per kilo! For the best olives, wait until Friday and go to the Organic Farmer’s market at Tel Aviv Port. The market is outside of the Shuk Hanamal and across from the Aroma Cafe. They have the best olives, and they always charged me the right price too! Try the lemon-infused green olives, or the black olives with fresh herbs, or the green olives with garlic – well, actually try any of them – they are all delicious! Yes, organic really does taste better!

Teva Eden store in Kfar Saba

Another good store for buying organic fruits and vegetables is the Eden Teva store. They have several locations throughout Tel Aviv, including inside Rabin Square Mall and at Kfar Saba. This is a good place to find gluten-free products, organic produce and nutritional supplements. Look for the raw tahina made with sprouted sesame seeds…it’s in a glass jar and is stocked with the normal tahina. It comes from Ethiopia and it’s amazing!

Organic Salad with Tahina at Barzilay

For eating out, Israel is a raw food paradise. Every restaurant has a salad on the menu, and usually the portions are very big! You can always get fresh lemon for dressing or ask for a side of tahina (sesame seed paste). If you want to try a nice organic restaurant, there is a great place just 20 minutes outside Tel Aviv in Hod Hasharon. It’s called Barzilay at the edge of Yarkona and Hod Hasharon. They have an indoor dining area as well as outdoor seating in their own organic gardens. This is a great place for a late brunch or a nice afternoon lunch so you can sit outside and enjoy the sun while eating your freshly picked veggies.

BLOG UPDATE: Meshek Barzilay Restaurant MOVED to Neve Tzedek. The new address is: 6 Ehad Ha’am st. Neve Tzedek, Jaffa 6514206, Israel and the website is http://www.meshekbarzilay.co.il (currently only in Hebrew). They are still making vegetarian, organic and vegan foods on their menu.

After all that delicious food, you may be in search of some detox. I checked out the colonic place at Tel Aviv Port called the Saker Institute. To be honest, I was not impressed by this place and felt that their focus was too much on selling more colonics and detox kits than actually taking care of the client. I recommend to eat some delicious organic dates – they usually help to get the bowel moving, spend your money on food, and book your colonic back at home.

Beautiful views in Amirim, just bring your own food!

For a nice day trip out of Tel Aviv, consider visiting the vegetarian community at Amirim, a village in the north of Israel. It’s about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Tel Aviv and offers great views of the Sea of Galilee. The village is nice and quiet and a good place to stay for the night while exploring the northern region of Israel, but strangely enough it doesn’t boast any decent vegetarian or raw food restaurants, even though there is a community of raw foodists living there.

Back in Tel Aviv, you might be tempted to try some of Israel’s famous hummus. Head to 14 Shivtai Israel Street in Jaffa for the best hummus in Israel, at Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan). There is always a line, so be prepared to wait, and get there early because when the hummus is out, the restaurant closes. It’s best to get there between 10am and 2pm. While not raw, for vegans or vegetarians, trying a local hummus is a must for the full Israeli culinary experience.

If you’re planning to stay in Israel longer, check out some of the new vegan communities that are springing up everywhere and look for the new “Meatless Monday” options available on the menu in many restaurants in Tel Aviv. A great place to start is on Facebook with the VeganFriendly.co.il page. You can find vegan support rallies and different workshops and lectures on raw food and vegan living in Israel. (Simply copy and paste the Hebrew text into Google Translate to understand in your native language.)

Israel has so much to offer for raw food and anyone interested in healthy eating, so get out there and enjoy! Bete’avon or Bon Appetit!

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How to Improve Your Detox: Top 5 Detox Tips

Taking the time to do a detox is a commitment to health. The money spent is an investment in your future. Energies used to travel are well worth the effort.

Finally, you have the opportunity to recharge, rebuild, cleanse and heal.

With a ‘reboot,’ moving forward, you can continue with positive change in all areas of your life. With all things considered, don’t you want to get the most out of your detox?

A few simple tips can help you maximize your results.

Eliminate Salt for 1-week before

Don’t forget to do your work at home. It doesn’t matter how mant fasts you’ve done; everyone needs to prepare correctly for a detox just the same.

For at least 7 days before the start of your program, eliminate all salt from the diet. Keep in mind that most salt is hidden in foods and not actually added. Look out for restaurant food, airplane food, sauces, salad dressings, curries, pickled foods and packaged snacks.

Having no salt in the diet allows the body to start loosening built-up plaque and toxins in the colon. A no-salt diet for 14 days as a pre-cleanse is ideal, but at a minimum, try to commit to 7 days. By doing so, you will maximize your results during the detox.

Bring Herbal Teas

Most detox programs offer various fresh juices in addition to herbs and detox drinks. They also allow for herbal teas using fresh or dried herbs, but often charge more for tea or may not mention that organic herbal teas are permitted. Herbal teas support the organs during the cleansing process, and even better, they provide a nice flavor to enjoy while fasting!

Be sure to buy organic and bring a variety of flavors to choose from. Peppermint or ginger tea are great for nausea. Turmeric tea is very cleansing for the liver and tastes delicious! Parsley or uva ursi tea help to support the kidneys. Juniper berry tea is excellent for the heart and circulation. Coriander tea supports heavy metal detoxification. All can be bought as dried tea bags at any local health food store.

Avoid Gossip, Drama & Violence

Many people successfully achieve the physical act of detox, but leave behind the emotional and spiritual sides. I can’t even count how many nights over the years that I’ve seen a tv room packed with fasters, all eyes fixed on a horror flick or violent drama. How can the body let go and heal when the mind is being distracted with such images?

Be careful, especially when doing a detox, to avoid negative talk, images, news and events. The body is so sensitive while cleansing. The more you surround yourself with positive energy, motivational stories, happy people and inspiring thoughts, the more your body, mind and spirit will benefit.

Negative energies can attach to toxins in the body. The more you let go of those thoughts, the deeper you can go in your cleansing. It’s true! For more information on the science of this, I recommend Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.

Get Adequate Rest

Most detox programs offer a full day of activities to choose from, including meditation, yoga, group walks, tai chi, chi gung, pilates, water therapy, massage, colonics, nutrition talks and more. It’s easy to get quickly overwhelmed with all the choices, and you may actually find yourself feeling stressed, trying to run from one program to the next.

Be sure to listen to your body and make time for yourself, even if that means skipping a few activities. The more you rest during your detox, the more the body can internalize its energy and go deeper into healing. As Daniel Reid says in the book Tao of Detox, ‘Save you breath.’

Try to spend at least one hour a day on your own, reading a book or listening to music, without talking to or engaging with others. Getting back in touch with yourself is one of the great benefits of doing a cleanse.

Powerful Affirmations

You can easily optimize your cleanse with your choice of thoughts and words. Be sure to spend a few minutes each day focusing on what you want to achieve as a result of doing the detox. Visualize yourself at home in a continued state of excellent health, high energy and balanced spirit.

Affirmations really help in training the mind to think positive thoughts. On the first day of your retreat, write 10 affirmations of things, people or feelings that you would like to have in your life. You can write them in the form, “I am…” or “I have…” Every day, spend 5-10 minutes alone, repeating your affirmations to yourself. You are creating an energy of success that the physical body will have to follow!

Some examples include: “I am healthy, balanced and strong.” “I attract positive, loving people and relationships into my life.” “I make the best choices for my health and my body every day in every way.” “I love myself and others love and support me too.”

‘Fasting helps reverse the ageing process
for a healthier and longer life.’

-James Balch, M.D., Co-Author
Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing

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True Story of Faith & Healing with John of God in Brazil

An inspiring read!

If you’re looking for an uplifting, inspiring story about spiritual healing, Divine connection and the power of believing, then I’ve got the book for you. Newly released by Cash Peters, ‘A Little Book About Believing: The Transformative Healing Power of Faith, Love and Surrender,’ is a personal account of the author’s visit to the Casa de Dom Inacio in Brazil, where the extraordinary faith healer John of God freely offers his healing services to thousands of visitors every year. Even Oprah did a show on this guy!

The book is quite funny because initially, Cash is a non-believing, cake-eating, over-worked, unhappy-with-his-job kind-of regular guy who happens to be open for adventure and new experiences. So he goes into this Brazilian village full of people from all over the world with an open mind, and when he leaves…well, you will see for yourself when you read the book!

This book resonated with me on many levels, especially thanks to references from Bruce Lipton, Carolyn Myss, Esther Hicks and T. Colin Campbell. It brought a lot of ideas together which reinforce the power of positive thinking and the importance of detox and a plant-based diet for long-term health and healing.

Some great quotes include:

‘How was I to know, as a mere layman, that, for many surgeons, whipping out gallbladders is their bread and butter?? Half a million gallbladders are removed every year, oftentimes unnecessarily, when really all that may have been required was a change of diet perhaps, or a thinning of the bile, or a simple flush of the system. No mention, however, was ever made to me about viable alternatives.’

‘Trust yourself. Trust life. Embrace uncertainty. Dive fearlessly in, holding nothing back. Expect a positive outcome always, and marvel at how things turn out. Remember: the unknown is where all the fun happens.’

‘All the success, wealth, power, influence, status, stockholdings, wives and homes in the world aren’t worth a red cent if you’re too sick to enjoy them.’

‘It’s not what happen to you that’s important; it’s what you do with it. Just because something seems bad, or because people tell you it’s bad – or incurable or unstoppable – doesn’t mean it is. We can, if we choose, be the architects of our own destiny.’

‘There was no cancer in ancient Egyptian times – did you know that? Scientists have run tests on mummies. Cancer is a modern plague. A sign of our times. It’s something we’re doing to ourselves. It’s environmental, it’s a lifestyle thing, it’s what we’re putting into our mouths.’

‘Life is not a competition. If you really must compete, compete with yourself. Work at being better, kinder, more loving, more grateful, more mindful, more forgiving and more generous.’

‘Your body is like an exquisite temple. It will stand firm and strong for the longest time if you look after it. Neglect it, though, and the roof caves in.’

‘Healthcare companies are in the profit business, not the people-helping business, the way their name suggests.’

‘For years I thought, ‘If only I could change him, make him understand…,’ when really it was I who needed to change and understand.’

‘Even when drug companies and medical practice do come under scrutiny, it’s always done in a deftly political way in the name of ‘balance,’ when really they’re just dodging the issues. To that end, an ‘expert’ doctor will usually be hauled in, paid to attack anything remotely alternative or groundbreaking.’

‘Fear tears down the spirit. Anger chews away at the body. You could eat all the organic fruits and vegetables in the world, and do everything else right, but if you’re anxious, angry, resentful, fearful or bitter the whole time, you are still paving a road to disease.’

‘Refuse to give (your disease) a label. Starve it of attention. Instead, refocus. Align yourself with divine consciousness, which knows only of perfect health. Let your reaction to your condition be only high-vibration thoughts.’

The book is available on amazon.com.

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Total Reset Detox: A Women Only Retreat at the Dead Sea in Israel

Join me for this fantastic event! From 13 – 20 November, 2011, a Women’s Only Juice Fast Retreat and Detox in Israel. What better place for healing than at the magical Dead Sea, in the ancient Holy Land itself!

Dead Sea Detox, Israel

During this program, you will have access to nature walks, detox yoga, guided meditation, swimming, sun, mud bathing, enemas and of course rest and recovery for your body’s healing.

Jennifer Thompson

Inspirational and informative talks on natural nutrition and your ‘food life’ post detox will be offered by me. Every day we will cover a different topic, building on the information learned from the day before, and focusing strongly on how to continue making positive change after your cleanse. Whether your goal is to lose weight, quit smoking, de-stress, eat better foods, increase raw foods, balance lifestyle, handle social and family pressures or simply to learn more about nutrition, you will benefit from each of the daily nutrition talks.

I will also be available for private consults and individual Iridology Analyses.

This is a special event and a wonderful opportunity to ‘reset’ and ‘reboot.’ After a cleanse, when your body is pure, it’s much easier to continue with positive change in every aspect of your life.

A fast is the best gift you can give yourself. And you deserve the very best in life, so why not start now?

We are coming together to create something special just for you – A Total Reset Detox! With guided expert support, you are sure to experience your maximum potential. Press the ‘Reset Button’ on your life, feel the energy of the ancient Holy Land and give your body the gift of natural healing.

The entire program is conducted in English. For more information, please contact me.

I look forward to seeing you from 13 – 20 November 2011!

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