Where we’re at: I’m recapping my travels in 2020, including this Wander Women Cabarete Retreat in the Dominican Republic in January. Interested in aerials? I’ve got two exciting announcements! (1) We still have space in or High Flying Tel Aviv Retreat in Israel this June! (2) Good Karma’s next Aerial Yoga Teacher Training is coming up this February, and you can use the discount code TEACHERSARE100 to get $100 off the training. Or consider joining me for a restorative aerial yoga training that’s coming up soon as well!
Can you believe it? I couldn’t — and I can’t. It was the last day of our Wander Women Cabarete aerial arts and yoga retreat, already…
And that meant it was photoshoot time! I always joke with Jess that she’s a true circus ringleader, leading the blissful madness at Good Karma Studio. Well, when we run a retreat together I absolutely love joining her with our metaphorical tophats on. And never have I felt more in my Britney Spears Circus music video feels than I did this final morning, as we got all dressed up in our best glittery lycra, and dumped a massive stash of face jewels, flash tats and more out for the girls to go to town with.
It was an aerial party, baby!
I absolutely loved incorporating a dedicated aerial photoshoot into this trip. While we’d gotten incredible photos during our first aerial retreat together in St. Pete, Florida, I craved more time to let everyone get really creative and express themselves on their fave apparatuses.
The results were beautiful, if I do say so myself! Personally, it was another chance to push myself out of my comfort zone, try something new, and create beautiful memories for our guests. And dang was it fun! We threw a party playlist on and then just let the magic happen, with so much joy flowing as we watched everyone get all dolled up and cheer each other on from the sidelines.
We started with lyra photos on a palm tree out on Kite Beach. While Jess and Sarah prepped everyone back in the aerial space and helped them finalize their favorite moves, Emma and I were rotating through everyone on the beach. While I worked it behind the camera, Emma assisted the girls into their poses, scaled palm trees to set up hoops, and took insta stories behind the scenes!
Gosh do these bring me back to a beautiful — and sweaty — moment in time.
Meanwhile, back in the yoga treehouse, Jess had been rigging up our silks set. Silks are a little more challenging that lyra to get into a basic pose in, in my opinion, so some of the group were a bit more hesitant about getting a shot with them. But in the end, everyone was able to achieve something — and I hope they were proud, because I sure was.
And of course, I was thrilled to snap a few shots of our incredible instructor team as we wrapped up, too!
As each girl wrapped up on set, we sent her right over to the trapeze. The girls loved our two sessions here — so many named it as their favorite apparatus of the trip and even the ones that had been petrified earlier in the week were amazed by what they could accomplish.
Now I have two more trips in the works that incorporate trapeze: my aerial trip to Tel Aviv this May and a yet-to-be-announced aerial trip to Thailand that I started dreaming up last year with Jess.
After seeing these incredible photos Emma took while scrambling all over the rig with her camera, I’m hoping we’re lucky enough to have her along on both trips! Don’t these take your breath away?
Vagamundo is yet another social enterprise cafe in Cabarete, supporting Niños de la Luz, a non-profit organization that works to home street kids in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and South Sudan. Life Cabarete Coffee, many of the staff here are also young adults who have graduated from the program. Eating here tastes good and feels good!
There were a lot of tough decisions to make, such as the one between sweet and savory waffles, or green or fruity smoothie bowls. Not to mention the wide array of coffees and teas. Honestly though, it’s low stakes — you can’t go wrong.
I couldn’t get enough of this scenic setting and like the classic Group Mom I always strive to be, I forced everyone to take a group photo that I swore they’d thank me for later.
After we fueled up, we were off on our next adventure. As many of you know, all Wander Women Retreats include a clean up of some kind — including, if we’re on a diving trip, an underwater version! In this case, we were doing a beach walk back to the retreat center, cleaning as we walked.
I like throwing these into all our trips because they show that something like a beach clean up doesn’t have to be a big organized event. It can be a social thing, just you and a friend getting together to catch up for an hour; it can be a way to get yourself moving; it can be a guilt-free way to use the plastic bags we all seem to collect occasionally despite our best efforts.
Plus, it’s an excuse to wear your fave clean-up gear like my There is No Planet B shirt from Wholesome Culture and my Fuck The Plastic shirt from Rebel Soul — sadly, it’s out of stock, but they do have the keychain still.
This might have been my most succesful retreat clean-up yet. We can back with bags bursting, but more importantly, everyone loved it — several of the girls listed it as a highlight of the trip, and one, a real estate agent, vowed to return home and start the tradition with her teams in the neighborhoods they sell in.
Good ideas and good vibes are infectious!
After a quick cleansing dip in the sea, we were back in our rooms to get dolled up for our big final fancy dinner — wait, already? I’m not crying, you’re crying! — at Blue Moon.
After twisting up the foothills of the Septentrional Mountains, we wandered out to stunning hilltop views, just in time for sunset. Needless to say, first stop was a photoshoot — and a rainbow even came out in that moment, as if to thank us for being so patient with the week’s weather!
We took group shots and individual pictures of all the girls who wanted them, as well as some pairs — like these two cuties who booked and came together. One of the big misconceptions we see about Wander Women Retreats is that most people come with a friend.
In fact, the vast majority of our guests arrive solo! However, the duos who do book have always been incredibly open to making new friends, too. We’re all one big happy family.
While we headed to the bar for drinks, I peeked into the thatch-roof dining hut and pinched myself at the cute setup. The fusion Indian Caribbean cuisine at Blue Moon is served on the floor, the traditional way, strewn with colorful cushions and fabrics, and banana leaves spread out as the ultimate eco-friendly plates.
When it came time to eat, Blue Moon quickly shot to one of my favorite Cabarete restaurants. Much of the ingredients come from their own organic gardens and their own dairy cows, and I was super impressed with their handling of our array of dietary needs and requests. And once again, I was touched to learn that like so many Cabarete eateries, they also have a charitable arm — they sponsor and manage a kindergarten and a Community Center.
I couldn’t have asked for a more special final dinner with this incredible bunch.
But of course… it ain’t over till it’s over! While the final day of many retreats and tours is nothing more than a departure, with primarily afternoon flights leaving the small Puerto Plata Airport, we were able to have a soulful send-off.
After a lazy breakfast, with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, we shared one last slow flow to thank our tired bodies before a soul-filling closing circle. It was my favorite class I’ve ever taught.
Hearing the women I always grow so close to in such a short time sharing their highlights and challenges of the retreat so beautifully always has me feeling some kinda way. I often think how I wish I could record these moments and relive them over and over again — but instead I just live them fully, soak them up, and let the memories of that shared experience and connection keep me glowing for long after our final shared savasana.
With everyone packed and ready to roll their suitcases right through departures, we headed off for one final meal at perhaps my most frequented Cabarete cafe — Fresh Fresh. With the greatest variety and healthiest offerings of anywhere in town, it’s hard to beat!
And of course, their cute outdoor patio doesn’t hurt either. It was the perfect base for heart-felt goodbye hugs.
My first retreat of the year didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. (And little did I know, it would end up being one of just two of the ten we’d had on the docket. This was Jess and I’s second Wander Women Retreat together, and we were about to launch a third and I was researching a fourth when the world stopped spinning due to COVID-19.)
There were times Jess and I looked at each other and all we could do was laugh. And, of course, be grateful we had the absolute best group of girls, who danced in the rain and went with the flow as we rearranged the schedule and sought new surprises.
At the time, we meditated together on how even though the unseasonable weather wasn’t what we would have hoped for our trip, it was nourishing the island’s lush beauty we so enjoyed immersing in, and gave life to the beautiful food the island fed us, too.
Yet it’s wild to look back now and see what an absolute pleasure it was to be inconvenienced by such insignificant changes to the overall plan. I hope when the world welcomes us to run our retreats again, we look at the absolute privilege it is to do so with fresh new eyes.
Speaking of your eyes, I’d love to invite you to treat them to this short video of our adventure, set to the song Merengue by Dusty G — named a dance form born in the Dominican Republic. My heart has a little joy explosion when I watch it!