Islas Secas: The Adventure that Changed My Life
January 2nd, 2019, I received a message that said: "Would you like to work as a yoga teacher on a remote island in the Gulf of Chiriquí? You would start in a couple days..."
Waoo! The Universe had been listening to me; my economic situation in Panama City wasn't exactly great and I was looking for ways to turn my life around, get away from the city and start doing yoga on the beach. When I told my mom about this opportunity over the phone, I remember that she said to me, "Listen- don't go there. It is too good to be true. They must be narcotraffickers..." A mother's concern is priceless. However, my intuition was so sure that this was right for me that I listened to it more than to my mom... My boyfriend, Cullen, also helped by saying, "I never thought I would have to tell you this, but don't listen to your mother." (Sorry Mamá, but he was right.)
February 3rd, I took a bus for 9 hours from the city to David, another smaller bus for 30 minutes to Punto de Tierra, then a 2-hour boat ride from Boca Chica and finally arrived at the Islas Secas archipelago and was greeted on the dock by a sea turtle and an eagle ray, as if they were saying "Welcome to your new adventure!" The view from here left me astonished, an island paradise en the middle of nowhere, completely self-sustaining with solar energy, waste-water renewal, and a machine that composted absolutely everything! This would be my home for the next 9 months.
Leaving everything in the City, changing my life and lifestyle 360 degrees was one of the best choices I ever made. It made me grow so much internally and realize how big the world is. It was here that many of my passions began to fit together and take shape- my whole life was going to change.
Working on the island, I wasn't just teaching yoga and giving Thai Massages; I also helped with maintenance, gardening, cleaning pools and carrying a lot of heavy boxes. I had the opportunity to learn from everything and everyone. I learned many lessons from all of the different departments, but without a doubt the one that most filled my heart and mind was the Water Activities Department- diving, snorkeling and kayaking. I was certified as an Open Water Diver and had so many adventures both in and out of the ocean! I fell in love with each coral, fish, eel, turtle and shark. There exists nothing more perfect than nature and when you are below the water, you can really appreciate it in a different way- synchronicity and harmony are always present under the water.
Of course, in order to have balance, you need the other side of the coin too... I had very dark days, when all of my light stayed under the water or up on the mountain. I got to know parts of myself that I didn't know existed and, although it sounds incredible to live on an island paradise with crystalline waters and dream-like sunrises, it also could transform into a prison from time to time. Spending 21 days or more without seeing my favorite people, without stepping onto terra firma and to not have a consistent group of students were my biggest challenges. It was in this period when I began journaling and it saved me more times than I can say; it really is a magical tool!
Each guest that came to my classes left me with lessons that I could never have learned in another place but also with an enormous emptiness knowing that I wouldn't get a chance to see them again. The biggest lesson for me has been learning to detach, let go and to trust that which I cannot see or touch.
In September of 2019, my family came to visit and we were lucky enough to witness the beauty and grandeur of the migration of the Humpback Whales with their young. The ocean is such an enormous place that it is hard to even imagine its size, and we are so small in comparison. When you see these huge animals as part of this vast ocean, it gives meaning to the word immensity.
I remember, during one yoga class around 8pm, the guests were in Savasana with their eyes closed as an electrical storm was coming in. There was a lot of thunder and lightning (something that I enjoyed seeing so much! I used to be afraid of thunderstorms, but being there I was able to appreciate their beauty.) The place where I was teaching had a spectacular, panoramic view of the sea, and I turned to watch the lightning. It was at that moment that I saw something so perfect that I thought to myself, "It's like I'm in a movie." The sky illuminated with a silver-violet light at the same time that a humpback whale jumped playfully out of the water and into the air. I wanted to scream, but my yoga students were resting in Savasana and the ephemeral spectacle was over in a flash of light. It was one of those gifts that nature prepares only for you.
How many times have you decided to make a change in your life?
How many times have you taken the risk to let go and to trust?
How many times have you sat with your darkness and held it tight?
I returned to Ciudad de Panamá on November 1st, 2019. The day before, I stood on the highest point of the island where I had lived, seeing some of the most incredible sunsets in my life, in the company of my greatest teacher, the ocean. It was there that I realized I would never return to this place, that I would leave the next day at 6am and not be able to return to swim every afternoon, to see that world so calming and fascinating after a day of work. But I knew that it was right.
We always return to a sort of "Start Point" where we feel uncertainty, fear, nostalgia, joy... Personally, I feel a sense of infinite gratitude for this adventure and for everything that has happened in my life and the way in which it has happened. I would not change anything and I would love it if you would accompany me in my adventures still to come.