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Last minute, long drives and cosmic encounters is the theme of this adventure. After I got over the grief of leaving Valencia (short lived, not to worry), I started to get excited.

I’ve always longed to travel to Málaga since university – I really should have studied here, but that’s a whole other story for a different day.

Last minute: In pursuit of more yoga retreats, I came across La Crisalida – a 4 day retreat with Yoga, life coaching, relax and rejuvenate, and detox/weight loss programs. The diet was vegetarian and vegan, a complete 180 from my existing diet that consisted of pure indulgence. It was October 10, and I wanted to book for October 13 (the Friday) but they only had availability starting on October 14.  What was a girl on the move to do?

I couldn’t stay in Valencia past Friday so I was in the search for an affordable stopover somewhere en route to the retreat to break up the drive. I came across this bed and breakfast in Benissa called Casa Blanca Suiza. The drive was stunning – I only wish I had pictures to share. That’s one thing about driving solo – if you want to take a scenic photo, you have to stop and safely pull over. A bit difficult on the highway hehe.

It didn’t take me too long to get there – about 1.5 hours (the long drive is coming). After almost turning onto a one way, I found my way to my villa and was greeted by a lovely Swiss couple who made me feel right at home. There was a pool and hot tub in the backyard, a trampoline, seating areas – things with the exception of the hot tub that I had growing up, so you could say it was a little of piece home.

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I was getting hungry, so wanted to venture out for some food – keep in mind this was around 5pm, so pretty early for dinner in Spain, but I was determined. I googled ‘restaurants near me’ and found a beach bar – done. So I ventured. I was told that via car there were a lot more choices in the town of Moraira, but I really wanted to walk.  So I ventured to the beach bar only to find that the kitchen was only open from 1:30-3:30… the joys of travelling in off season. That being said, I got a great view of the sea and the rocky beaches which was good because rocky beaches would be a deal-breaker for a future house by the sea, just sayin’.

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So once I took it all in, the dinner mission continued. I ventured to another spot but they weren’t serving until 6… so close… then, I went to a Chinese restaurant (I was desperate at this point) and it was also closed! I had 30 minutes to go ’til 6, so it was either drive somewhere or chill back at the villa and go back for 6 (tough choices, I know). I chose the latter and when it was time, I went back and had a salad to start and lasagna mmmmm.

The mosquitos were in full effect to my surprise, at dinner they were at my feet and when I got back I tried to last outside but no such luck. After dinner I read inside and went to bed early. Super relaxing 🙂 The next morning I had a very yummy breakfast and chilled poolside writing, fighting off mosquitoes here and there. At around 1, I was off to la Crisalida.

Again, it wasn’t too long of a drive, but it felt like it – it was the most stressful because I hit some rain… ok a lot of rain… and may have even hydroplaned for a split second. After that, I just took it slow and steady… I can tell you though, that it was the first time that I could use my breath to keep me calm and focused.

Since practicing yoga and meditation more diligently these last few months, I have learned to really calm my thoughts and connect with my body and mind. For years, I have tried breathing exercises in times of stress like for a presentation, but my nerves or emotions always seemed to get the better of me. I can’t explain the feeling, but when I realized that I found calmness with my breath, finally, it was glorious.

At La Crisalida, the programs they had were wonderful. The detox element took me a bit by surprise, one because I booked so quick that I didn’t prepare myself and two, because it was such a radical change to my diet. I’ve done a detox before through a wellness challenge we did at work last year, but I think with all the indulgence it really hit me hard on the second day. I felt awful that second night, but let me tell you that by the time I left, my head was clear, and I was feeling wonderful.

Cosmic encounters: when I arrived, I did my orientation with a woman, K, who had come with a group of friends. They were training for Invictus Games which is like a tough mudder challenge. They had an amazing story – they all moved to Costa Blanca and found each other through a Facebook group focused on people new to the area wanting to come together for fitness. This group had bonded over the past year, especially with this challenge, and they will soon celebrate their one year anniversary. If you had met them, it was like they knew each other for years, which to me was really special.

The next morning we were up at 7 and did this walk up to the lighthouse where I really got to know one of the other girls from this group as well on the way back – let’s call her L. L shared her story about how she came to live in Costa Blanca, originally from Scotland. She listened to her heart and took a chance to change, and moved her life down here and she hasn’t looked back since. It turns out we shared a lot of common interests and goals, like we were meant to meet. We had painted some rocks the night before with symbols of our intentions, and at this moment, I threw mine in the water and am letting the universe take it from here…

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As the retreat came to an end, K invited me to stay at her home the night I left the retreat and L and I have stayed in touch to see if we can make our dream a reality…. in the meantime, kick some butt this weekend ladies!!! V, my Yoga instructor was also amazing – she shared her story about how she overcame challenges and how she got to where she was, learning Yoga and following her heart. She taught me some great tools to help me navigate through this wonderful adventure of life. A very special experience with great people.

Long drives (told you it was coming!): the drive to Málaga was the longest so far – just over 5 hours. I wish I could share with you the beauty that I saw. I wish I could’ve taken more in as well but I was focused on the road 😉 I drove through mountains and a natural park – just stunning. It made the drive so well worth it, and thankfully no rain this time. My car, Ty – short for Toyota Yaris – bless his heart struggled up hill at times, but we got through.. and now… after a few wrong turns on some roundabouts, we’re in Málaga!

Lessons Learned:

  • You can control your environment – whether it’s driving in foreign places in tough conditions or living in a space that isn’t your ‘happy place’, if you remain calm, go slow, and reframe, you can overcome and do anything
  • Take time to envision your dreams, paint a picture in your mind and the more specific you can be, the better able you are to get there (think vision board)
  • Chance encounters are everywhere – take advantage, and don’t let any moments or people pass you by

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Natalia Edelmann

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