A Trip to Remember
Also check out our Community Singing Circle & Yoga Retreat wrap-up slideshow HERE.
Imagine relaxing, exploring and SINGING with friends at one of the most spectacular locations in the world, surrounded by the sweet smells and sounds of a tropical rainforest and an array of exotic wildlife.
Well, we didn’t just imagine it, we actually did it – and it was fantastic!
Last month’s TwoCan Retreats’ Community Singing Circle & Yoga Retreat featuring Glen Phillips was great fun.
Singer/Songwriter, lead man for Toad the Wet Sprocket, and solo artist Glen Phillips has been singing professionally around the globe for nearly 30 years and has grown increasingly inspired to share with others the invigorating and uplifting power of Community Singing. Holding our singing circle in the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica made it not only a spiritually connective event, but also an adventure we will not soon forget.
Day 1 – We’ve arrived!
Our singing circle group, ready for action! From left: Kris, Laura, Stacy, Mike, Glen, Elyse, Daisy, Whitney and Bob. Not shown: Tina, Curran and Freya.
We arrived at Casa Amarillo to a refreshing welcome highlighted by tall glasses of delicious passion fruit juice on ice and chilled lavender towels. We settled into our rooms and then gathered on the terrace to get to know each other and take in this breathtaking property that would be our home for the next five days.
Situated on a ridge 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean and a short walk to Playa Dominical, Casa Amarillo is a 18,000 square foot compound unequaled in its tropical ambiance. A beautiful infinity pool is one of its features, which is where most of us spent the afternoon, cooling off and enjoying the incredible view.
Left: Casa Amarillo, our home away from home. Right: here’s a great place to cool off after a day on the road.
Before we knew it dinner was served – fresh-caught mahi mahi with all the fixings, along with some delicious dishes for the vegans among us.
Left: Freya and Curran find a patch of shade on the edge of the jungle. Center: dinner is served. Right: all in the family — our culinary staff — Marcela, sister Esmeralda, and Mom.
After dinner, our song leader Glen invited us into the spacious main room for our first singing circle. Community singing is a safe environment for all levels of musical ability, with a focus on participation rather than performance. Group singing awakens the mind and the heart, leaving you inspired and enlivened. You don’t need to be a singer, you just need to love to sing and be willing to connect with others through song. As Glen describes it, “The experience is a little like church without religion – no dogma, just the feeling of connection with ourselves, spirit and each other. It was the perfect ending to an exciting first day in paradise.
Glen leads the group in a series of songs ranging from unison melodies to layered multi-part pieces.
Day 2 – Let’s go exploring!
Dawn awoke with a whisper, and as the sun slowly took hold the group gathered for our morning yoga session, followed by a traditional “Tico” breakfast of gallo pinto, eggs, fruit, banana bread and more.
Left: we started each day with an energizing yoga session. Center: breakfast featured fresh foods in the Tico tradition. Right: Stacy enjoys a morning hug from son Curran.
Then it was off for adventure. First stop: a visit to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to the protection and conservation of Costa Rica’s wildlife by providing rehabilitation, environmental education and the implementation of wildlife research. The Sanctuary’s goal is to rehabilitate and release as many of these animals as possible, but for those that cannot be returned to the wild, the Sanctuary provides lifetime care.
This, of course, costs money, so as part of TwoCan Retreats’ belief in, and commitment to, giving back to the community, after enjoying a fascinating tour of the facility and all of its animals, we took some time to help prepare for the benefit concert that Glen offered to put on at the end of the week to help the sanctuary raise money for critical equipment.
Left: the tour of the Sanctuary’s facility was interesting and enlightening. Center: Glen prepares a bamboo donation box for the upcoming benefit concert. Right: resident sloths were not too impressed with our visit.
After the work was done the group split up – half headed south to see the famous Whale’s Tail, while the other half headed north to explore the little surf town of Dominical. There they met some new friends at the Danyasa Yoga Retreat & Eco-Lodge who, after learning about our singing circle, invited us down that evening to hold the circle in their yoga studio.
Left: Bob, Whitney, Daisy, Laura, Tina and Kris on their way to Whale’s Tail. Center: It’s easy to see how the beach got its name. Right: low tide revealed a flawless beach we had all to ourselves.
Later that afternoon we rendezvoused back at Casa Amarillo, got in some pool time and an afternoon yoga session, sat down for a Caribbean chicken dinner, then headed down to Danyasa for the night’s singing circle, where we were joined by a number of local song circle fans. After that it was back to Casa Amarillo for a night of cocktails enjoyed poolside.
Watch video of Glen leading our song circle at the Danyasa Eco Resort HERE.
Left: enjoying some quiet time and a fabulous view. Center: locals join a singing circle we held at Danyasa Eco Resort in Dominical. Right: a cool dip in the pool is the ultimate finish to a wonderful day.
Glen rocks out with song circle attendees. Watch HERE.
Day 3 –Manuel Antonio!
This would prove to be a big day, so after yoga and breakfast, we loaded up in the van for our trip to Manuel Antonio National park, a half-hour scenic drive up the coast.
Well-known for its beautiful beaches, lush jungles and hiking trails, and don’t forget the wildlife, Manuel Antonio is considered one of the world’s most beautiful national parks.
Left: the beach at Manuel Antonio, and we had it all to ourselves. Center: Kris leads the group on an eco-hike through a lush jungle. Right: the park is home to dozens of species that don’t pay us much attention as we pass.
We enjoyed an invigorating hike through the park, then cooled off at what we all agreed was one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen. And even better, it was all ours. Virtually deserted but for our group, we swam in the warm waters and soaked up the sun. It felt like we were the only people on earth.
We didn’t want to leave, but it was time to return home for a shower, swim, and a little more relaxation before our afternoon yoga session and incredible dinner featuring red snapper fresh from the ocean.
Left: hanging out in the pool is not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Center: Bob and Whitney take a well-earned siesta. Right: as the sun goes down, Freya is ready for another evening of fun.
The singing circle that night was both a surprise and a treat. As it turned out, the local people who had joined us at our singing circle at Danyasa – some of whom had never heard of song circles before they met us, but now were hooked – came up to Casa Amarillo to join us for another night of singing. We figured, the more the merrier, and it was magical.
Day 4 –Farmer’s market/waterfalls/concerts – oh my!
We awoke and began our day like this was how we lived all the time, and it was getting addicting. After yoga and breakfast, we decided today was going to be a “relax and explore” day, so that’s what we did.
We started out in Dominical at the farmer’s market, a fun and energetic place bursting with fresh fruits and veggies, live music, and local artists selling their crafts. From there we broke up into twos and threes and went off in different directions to enjoy our day. Some played at the beach in Dominical, some went back to the house to swim in the pool and enjoy some quiet introspection. And others headed south to Catarata Uvita, or the Uvita Waterfall, to enjoy an afternoon of splashing in cool water.
Left: The farmer’s market was lots of fun and loaded with cool local arts and crafts. Center: Laura and Kris, ready to take another dip in the swimming hole at Catarata Uvita. Right: we’re wet, happy and loving life in Costa Rica.
By the time everyone returned to Casa Amarillo it was time to get cleaned up and head off for Glen’s benefit concert. It was held at Villas Alturas, a beautiful resort located next to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. Upon arrival, our group was treated like royalty; we were escorted to a VIP table where excellent food and delicious drink flowed all night long.
TwoCan Retreats and Dr. Sandy Quiros talk about the good works of Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. Watch HERE.
Glen and Elyse pose for some pre-show photos. Center: Curran warms up the audience, many of whom traveled by bus for four hours to see Glen perform. Right: Stacy introduces Dr. Sandy Quiros, the resident veterinarian at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mike and Stacy’s son Curran and his guitar opened the show. After a few songs he was joined by Glen’s daughter Freya, a delightful singer in her own right, for a couple of duets, which warmed up the crowd for the main event.
Glen Phillips’ reputation as an entertainer, and the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary’s reputation for the good environmental work it does, created the perfect event where visitors could have fun for a good cause.
WATCH TwoCan Retreats introduce Glen, kicking off the main event to benefit Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
Glen took the stage to enthusiastic applause and proceeded to play for close to two hours with two encores, followed by meet and greets with his fans and an interview with a Costa Rican newspaper.
It was an enjoyable and very touching evening with lots of music, food and fun, all while helping to give back to the local community.
Watch another clip of Glen performing at Villas Alturas for the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary benefit HERE.
Close to 200 people showed up for the concert -- some were hard-core Glen fans who came from as far away as San Jose, a four-hour drive. Glen had no idea he had so many fans in Costa Rica, and he really enjoyed and appreciated the welcome.
Left: (left to right) Rosie and Loyal with the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, Stacy and Mike with TwoCan Retreats, and David, the general manager of Villas Alturas. David went above and beyond to make the evening a resounding success. Center: Glen hangs with his super-fans, who traveled from the nation’s capital of San Jose to attend the concert. Right: Glen gives #1 super-fan Jason an autographed bamboo donation bank to remember the evening.
Left: the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary team (left to right) Christina and Rosie, program coordinators, Loyal, operations manager, and Dr. Sandy, veterinarian. Right: The Singing Circle gang after an unforgettable night of entertainment and community bonding.
Day 5 – We refuse to leave!
We couldn’t believe it. In what seemed like a flash of time our adventure was at its end. After our morning yoga and another fresh Tico breakfast, we gathered for our final singing circle. Glen led us in song, and the circle closed with a round of hugs and heartfelt goodbyes.
Left: a final yoga session is just the ticket to prepare for the trip home. Center: Tina and Daisy, new friends. Right: Whitney thought if she stayed really still maybe we’d leave without her.
Loading up in the van for our journey to the airport, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure this hadn’t been a dream. Or maybe that’s exactly what it had been. One thing’s for sure: it was an unforgettable adventure shared with unforgettable people.
Some of the group discuss whether they’re really ready to go home. From left: Curran, Stacy, Bob, Glen, Elyse and Kris.
And so we close the book on this Singing Circle experience, and look forward to our next TwoCan Retreats adventure.
Check out our Community Singing Circle & Yoga Retreat wrap-up slideshow HERE.
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