Miraval: Different Kind of Arizona Spa

Aaron Rasmussen Abby Tegnelia Miraval Arizona spasMiraval Resort & Spa, outside of Tucson, Arizona, is an unusual place, sort of a hippy-dippy summer camp for adults. But I only wished this camp was a three-month, all-summer-long affair! Instead, I spent a relaxing long weekend there, soaking in the calming desert landscapes and melting away at the spa. Miraval stands out among Arizona spas; it is the type of place where everyone is either strolling the serene walkways in a robe on the way to and from the spa, or donning their cutest Sporty Spice wear to the gym, a hike, or one of the activities the retreat is famous for. But we’ll get to that.

First, I want to show you the grounds.

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What a difference a year makes

My former hometown of Coco had the nerve to grow while I was gone! I lived in the small town in Costa Rica for a year, and then it took me 15 long months to find my way back. In my mind, Coco will always be a quaint little fishing village with a rough little beach and a barrio outside of town where chickens and roosters roam free.  (Ok, the barrio‘s still there, but none of my friends still live near the chickens.)

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Colors of Costa Rica

Lest you think my entire recent trip to Costa was all rained out, I wanted to add a post on the colors of Costa Rica. I hope that shots of flowers like these are a reminder of why the tropics needs so much rain! I’ve seen these same areas after months and months without rain — I promise you that I will never again take the lush green plants and colorful flowers for granted!  The first time I visited Costa Rica, a trip that lasted one year almost to the day, it was bone dry. While I saw spots of green, for the most part, the trees and dirt roads were brown and dry. I didn’t complain — dry weather meant more days in the sun, cleaner roads while walking home, and much easier driving (not that I had a car myself.)

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Rain, rain, go away?

I love the rain. Maybe it’s the nine years I spent living in Florida, but to me, nothing beats a hot shower in the tropics. So when my insane work schedule made it so that my last Costa Rica adventure landed during the tail end of rainy season, I didn’t bat an eye. Obviously, it was sort of a buzzkill when it rained during my one boat day, but we didn’t let it stop us. And the beach here in Guiones proved that stormy weather can be absolutely beautiful. I’ve collected some of my favorite photos that show off the wet weather. This first one here is the Club at Coco Bay, a beautiful beach club that just recently opened to the public. One minute we were sunning ourselves in the searing hot sun, the next we were grabbing our towels and running for cover, as the sky tore open. I thought it was beautiful, all part of the Costa Rica adventure. I love how the rain makes everything so green — none of that lushness exists long after the rains have stopped for the year, usually in November. Instead of “summer” and “winter,” Ticos enjoy “wet season,” “windy season,” (which affects all sports and tourism at the beginning of each year) and then dry season again until about September.

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My Mini Sea Turtle Rescue in Costa Rica

sea turtle rescue playa guiones costa Rica turtlesDuring a routine early-morning walk on Playa Guiones during my recent trip to Costa Rica, my friend and I came upon a scene that was way more than we had bargained for. We had brought my friend’s dogs (two huge boxers) down from Coco, so we were on a section of the beach that was pretty much empty except for us. It had been a cloudy morning after some storms, so the air already had a moody feel, the still-ferocious waves lapping at the shore. The dogs started running after something, so we knew something was up. Then we saw the vultures — lots of them. And then… we came upon the first skeleton.

We had stumbled upon a turtle graveyard.

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No Judgements on a Stormy Day

No cranky clouds could keep us off that boat!

On my first day of vacation in Costa Rica, visiting for the first time in the 15 months after I left the good life to follow my career dreams in Las Vegas, my friends had gotten the entire group together for a day on Lisa and Mau’s fishing boat at North Pacific Tours. It was all set up to be a perfect day… The weather, however, was not in a party mood. Nothing can stop this group though! We laughed during the entire wet, cold trip out to our favorite beach, Playa Juevos. Being with the old crew gave me a lot to think about – I have such amazing friends in Las Vegas, but we don’t have this same sort of light friendship, where we can laugh all day at nothing, and everyone feels themselves. Maybe it’s just that we’re all so busy there that we don’t get to spend the same amount of quality time together as I did during my year in Costa Rica, where I saw my friends literally every single day.

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