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by Isabelle Jones


15 friends, a beautiful resort, Lake Arenal and a snake bite… Yes, you read that right a snake bite!
Leah, has been yoga-certified for over 8 years, has a yoga studio in Atenas and she loves sharing her passion for yoga. In her classes, everyone is welcomed, nurtured and inspired. Leah hosts annual retreats and she works hard to provide amazing locales at incredible prices. They include everything – lodging, transportation, meals and of course most importantly several fabulous yoga sessions. This year’s yoga weekend was August 1st – 3rd at the Mystica Lodge at Lake Arenal.
This small, mysterious lodge is surrounded by beautiful fruit trees and exotic flowers which lead you to the organic garden, the natural pool, the tree-house healing space, and the sanctuary by the river. Our theme for the weekend was “Relax and Renew”. Mystica lets stresses dissolve as you receive a massage, unwind in the hammocks, walk the trails, swim in the pool and wake up to the powerful practice of Yoga.
Of course, plenty of laughter and fun was had until Saturday evening when Tina was bitten by a non-venomous snake. Tina had come to Judi’s and my Jungle casita a.k.a. as the party cabaña for a quick evening glass of wine prior to dinner. We had a very private cottage with a spacious deck overlooking the stunning jungle. Almost everyone else had rooms at the lodge so ours was the obvious location for an evening glass of wine after our last yoga session. Tina barely sat down on our deck when she jumped up and said “I have to help Jan – her roommate.” Judi and I proceeded to get ready for dinner and thought nothing of it… After about 20 minutes, we thought, what happened to Tina? We figured she got delayed at her room.


We packed up her bottle of wine and headed to the restaurant. As soon as we approached, there was an open sitting area with a Red Cross Paramedic and Tina on the couch. I thought, oh no what happened? Tina was calm, cool and collected on the outside, but I can only imagine the thoughts she was having on the inside. Tina told us,” I got bit by a snake walking over here”. The staff immediately called Red Cross and one of the participants, a young incredible son attending with his Mom, another yoga instructor, ran to get Leah. One of the staff went on the snake hunt. She found it, killed it and saved it. The Red Cross took Tina, Leah and one of the hotel managers to the local clinic for an anti-venom shot and to see a doctor. From there, off to Liberia to ensure everything was going to be okay.
We were all on full-alert since Leah was calling us with updates on the situation. I also contacted Howard my husband since we’ve been friends with Tina/Jim in case he needed a ride to Liberia. Her husband did not need to make the trip as Tina was released the next morning enabling her and Leah to return for our closing ceremony.

Our Yoga Relax and renew was close to the Arenal Volcano

One of my favorite comments was when Tina said “I did this so I’d be the center of attention”. Grace, humor and beauty in a possible life-threatening situation truly shows someone’s character. Tina and Jim have only lived in Atenas for about a year. One of the reasons Tina came was to meet and bond with friends and neighbors. Well she sure did. Another benefit of Leah’s retreats, you ALWAYS connect with your fellow yogis. It’s an amazing way to really get to know friends on a deeper level.

Here are some of Tina’s words of wisdom:
This entire ordeal turned out to be one of the best weekends I have ever had…
1. I learned just how wonderful my yoga class is and I formed some amazing friendships at the yoga retreat.
2. I saw firsthand what socialized medicine in Costa Rica means and how kind and incredibly strong and appreciative the ticos/as are. I would not want to be really sick and have to go to the CAJA for long term care but coming from the U.S. I am spoiled.
3. The CAJA hospital in Liberia never has toilet paper or soap in their restrooms and the ticos know this. They come to the hospital prepared bringing their own toilet paper and soap with them and I have made a note to have an emergency kit ready for my next trip to the ER. Oh but the cost, 2 ambulance rides, 3 IVs of anti venom, two IVs of penicillin, 2 IVs of saline and a tetanus shot. The final cost of my excursion??? $150!!! No I did not leave off any numbers. The cost was only one hundred and fifty dollars!
4. Although previously we discussed the possibility, Jim and I will not be giving up our private insurance. The private hospitals here are fabulous and in many ways they are much better than most hospitals in the U.S.
5. Life is precious, appreciate everyone and every moment
6. Last and most importantly I learned to never go outside in the dark without a flashlight and wearing only flip flops!

The entrance to the sanctuary

I have made quite a few friends here and many of them have been living in Costa Rica more than 10 years. Not one of them knows anyone that has been bitten by a snake.
And on that note, Namaste…
Please email or call Leah at 2446-3170 for info on her yoga classes.

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