Life,  Travel

Maderas Magic: Jungle Waves 2016

I couldn’t be more grateful that my personal retreat turned out to be two weeks in Nicaragua, one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever traveled to, and with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

Not knowing what to expect, I made the following (unedited!) goals for myself going into the trip:

  • Disconnect from technology – connect with people
  • Free form movement – daily yoga and ocean swim
  • Be true to myself – beautiful, radiant, loving – open and not intimidated
  • Fear less, love more
  • Be present, in the moment, feel
  • Listen to my heart and gut
  • Breathe deep and relax
  • Remember why life is beautiful
  • Practice self love, care and acceptance
  • Live simply
  • Experience nature
  • Try new things

Looking back it’s amazing to see how much of this I achieved and grew as a person during this time. I feel so inspired to carry these practices forward into the new year and hope others will as well ?.

The Place

A small boutique resort nestled in the hillside of Playa Maderas, near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, Maderas Village is a special haven for those who want to step away from the daily “grind” and get back to the basics of what makes life so beautiful. Whether you’re inclined to relax and de-stress, cultivate new creative ideas, collaborate, work in an alternative environment, build relationships, or practice yoga and surf, the possibilities are endless.

Post-workout Maderas mornings

2015 Maderas Jungle WavesLooking out over the Village in sweet @beats headphones / Photo: @nickonken

  The “Secret beach” at Playa Maderas

The People

For me, it is the people who make Maderas Village such a gem. The entire staff is wonderful and the collective community that comes to stay at Maderas is one of a kind. They are truly inspirational, genuine souls, living with passion and purpose. The people I met changed my world for the better and hope to have as life-long friends 🙂

You can check out some of their many ventures below (I know I’m missing plenty!):

  • Soma ~ Sustainable water filters
  • Wellthily ~ Experientially-driven wellness + travel design firm
  • nionlife ~ Brand #CreateYourMoments
  • SHOPTALKradio ~ “The Synergy of Art, Commerce & Inspiration of the Creative Entrepreneur Lifestyle”
  • Love and Paint ~ The original sexy, safe abstract art made with love
  • Parsley Health ~ Cutting edge holistic medicine
  • Brittan White ~ Editorial, commercial and celebrity hair stylist
  • Maderas Collective ~ Sustainable hand-made furniture from Nicaragua
  • Uhuru ~ Brooklyn-based design + build furniture company dedicated to sustainability and timeless design

  Pool day crew

 Beach day crew

The Event

Maderas Village put on a special event for the new year called Jungle Waves 2016…an intimate gathering celebrating the people and ideals that make it come alive. I was so excited to be a part and experience Maderas for the first time.

I arrived late the first night and through a combination of missing people and bags, we waited 2.5 hours at the airport before a 2.5 hour drive to Maderas. But the beauty was that no one seemed to mind. There was no complaining or frustration, just a peaceful understanding that you can only make the best of the situation. So everyone grabbed beers!

Little did I know then, that while arriving solo, I would leave with a whole new family ❤️.

The next four days at Maderas Village were a truly incredible experience that words can hardly describe, though I will try! Staying at the nearby Casa Maderas (to accommodate the large group), my days consisted of a hilly but energizing walk to the village, morning yoga or a run/circuit on the beach, delicious and relaxing Nicaraguan breakfast, and a walk down to the beach for some therapeutic ocean water – taking in waves, rest, ceviche, the “Secret Beach” and learning about others’ lives and endeavors. An afternoon shower + nap helped to reset before the uniquely curated evening events, with music (so incredible – thank you to all who performed!!) and dancing that captured the group each night.

 Nearby Casa Maderas

 Beach activities

The week’s lineup was as follows:

Dec 29 ~ Maderas Sunset Sessions at Tacos Locos

*Highlights: Dancing on the beach at sunset and into the night!

 Photo: @celiacamacho

Dec 30 ~ Pacific Pool Party at Casa Bahia

  • Music: Grace Lee, Mario Sacasa, Jonny Famous
  • Food: Nicaraguan BBQ

*Highlights: EVERYONE in the pool #epic

Photo: @harrisordfish

Photo: @exhaleyogaretreats

2015 Maderas Jungle Waves

Photo: @nickonken

Dec 31 ~ New Year’s Eve at Maderas Village

*Highlights: Full stage, 3-story views and some pretty incredible artwork

 Maderas on NYE…choose your level 😉 / Photo: @brittanwhite
NYE stage / Photo: @istillwanttobeanastronaut

2015 Maderas Jungle Waves
Practicing my human art skills #loveandpaint / Photo: @nickonken

Free spirits / Photo: @alexesguerra

The aftermath / Photo: @meyer_may_i

Jan 1 ~ Unwind 🙂

  • Pool day at neighboring Hulakai
  • Trip into San Juan del Sur

  Ladies in San Juan del Sur

Gents in San Juan del Sur

Streets of San Juan del Sur / Photo: @alexesguerra

Yoga game strong at Hulakai

It was a week of total immersion, living fully in the moment and embracing all its opportunities.

They say that if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done.

What a better way to bring in 2016 than with so many entirely new experiences and connections. My firsts included watching the sunrise on New Year’s Day, covering myself in paint, ocean skinny dipping (? ha), and many more to share at a later point 😉 My heart was full.

The Magic

Reflecting back on the week, I see how truly special it was.

What mattered was the present, and how you connected with and treated other people. There was an atmosphere of openness, love and freedom. You could let your guard down and get to know and appreciate people for who they truly are. 

I can’t wait to return to Maderas Village – to work, reset, be inspired and reconnect with the pure joy of life. Not only is the environment so conducive to healing and creativity, but the community is what sets it apart. I am so thankful for this life-changing experience and the people I met who made it so impactful. I love my new Maderas family and look forward to many more reunions!!

If you ever have the chance to see what makes Maderas Village so magical, take it and you’ll never look back.

Yours Jenuinely,


Next up: Nica Series ~ Ometepe and Granada!

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