Northern Nicaragua Fitness Holiday!


Sometimes people want a holiday where they can do absolutely nothing. Eat, drink, sleep with a book on the face. Sometimes that leads to extra pounds added to the extra you were trying to get rid of anyway. Stress fades a bit and life seems more tolerable. It’s great!

But it could be oh so much better! What we are offering you is a recalibration week that feeds the soul, mind and the cells. Come adventure with us in the wild and rustic Northern Nicaragua. This is a perfect retreat to loose weight, slow down, get reconnected with your body, reflect on where your at and have some fun adventure. Plus hang out with some stoked individuals who are there to support your personal journey.

I spend a good chunk of the year in my southern home. Playing in the sea, surfing, fishing, eating from the local abundance and working as a life coach and fitness instructor with my company Stoke Your Fire. I am so grateful to have an amazing community here and I am pumped to be working with the talented and rad human – Grace Van Berkum of the Gracious Living Oasis.  It’s such a gift to meet people like myself; living their dream and sharing it with others.

March 10-17/ 2018, we are offering a fun filled week of Yoga Fitness Fusion. Daily fitness and yoga classes, plant based menu for optimal cell health, life coaching and lots of laughs! We have tonnes of additional activities available. Surfing, SUP, massage, horseback riding and so much more! This is a Co-ed retreat for all levels of fitness. Check out all the details here and book your trip!

Summer of YES.

find the fish

There are many times in life when we ride the crest and the fall of waves and tides. From utter bliss to complete devastation. As I grow older, I see more and more that there are deep troughs of challenge, peaks of ecstasy and the sigh of reprieve before it all begins again.

I can say I’ve had a few shit years of health. No, it was not cancer, war, world atrocity, injustice or slavery. So who the hell am I to talk. Yet we all have our challenges depending on where we live, culture, age, and country. Highs and lows, ebb and flow.

But you know what? I just had my summer of YES.

What can I say? I was a hooligan. This last summer, I turned 43 and maybe had the best summer of my life. I don’t recall saying no, sleeping in much and definitely pushed the responsibility envelope.

After almost 3 years of a disabling back injury, topped off with a .01% case of Zika that turned into a mad case of encephalitis and migraine brain change, I was finally pain free and illness free. Able to work again in all my industries and play like a kid.

I realized early on in the summer that I had the inherent potential to overdo it physically. It was the hottest summer in the Canadian Rockies in years, I was healthy, working, no kids, had a super active dog and a stoked husband.

Finally, I embraced a bunch of life lessons and chose to not climb, bike and over hike, as I would normally do. I learned to fly fish, to ride paved or gravel trails in town, to wander with my pup. And it felt amazing to be pain free and have my brain back.

I took a lesson in a soccer field how to cast and put my rod together, and marched into the woods searching for quiet mountain pools dappled in sunlight. Oh I caught fish! The joke is – none of them were more that 5 inches long! “Kiss and release,” a fellow female angler calls it. Did it ever bring me Joy.

I remember one day biking trails around town, fishing rod in the backpack, tunes on my mobile speaker blasting and a beer in my water bottle holder, thinking “This is living!”

I tell you I was worn out by October, exclaiming, “Thank god I can have a break!” when the rain and snow rolled in.

These are the lessons of the highs and lows of life.

I am very thankful I can celebrate life. Make decisions consciously. I had all intentions to work on my business, work more in all modalities, write, and be focused with the new return to health.

Then the sun rose again. It swept the stars twinkling over mountaintops and the morning alpine air called me to a new day. Get outside. Be a kid, explore, and that was that. It was worth every moment.

Boat dancing was my other sport. Thankfully we have great friends with fast boats and massive speakers. Being a personal trainer, all the crew wanted me to put them through workouts or join them in stair runs before the day’s shenanigans on the lake got started. My standard reply this year was, “ I will tell you what to do from the hot tub with a mimosa in hand.”

I swam hard, danced, surfed, and hugged myself with glee under a blazing star filled sky,  feet in the lake and not a sole around. I hiked a few peaks, mountain biked a bit, floated in the lake on my floaty chair by myself many a day, sun on my face and heart full.

Now I reflect on health, after having it for almost a year. I am baffled at the incredible amount of brain space and energy that pain and illness consumes. I am in wonder at all the things I can achieve with a clear mind and healthy body. But then again, how does it get any better than just taking time to really live and enjoy our life in all moments? Perhaps those are the greatest lessons and gifts.

The Return


Traveling is sometimes easy and sometimes a complicated dance ranging in varied levels of difficulty. From the minor headaches to the challenges that leave you shaking your head while marching for the nearest beer to slug down, followed very quickly by another one.

Our return south was challenging, yet after a few cold ones and a night panting in front of the fan blowing an inch from our faces it feels as though we had never left!

In our latest stint away from our heart home of Nicaragua, we had been to Canmore Canada, Spokane WA, Cache creek BC, Pennsylvania, New York City, Washington DC, Holland, back to DC to pick up the dog we had left on her own short vacay, threw her on a plane to go south. Dragged ourselves onto our flights and in what felt like the blink of an eye we found ourselves enjoying a rum cocktail while floating on paddle boards on a lake. The setting sun leaving brilliant streaks of pink and gold across the sky, content in the company of lifelong friends.

I keep shaking my head at how time can seem so irrelevant, as well as how much a person can fit in a short period of time if motivated. I enjoy a peaceful morning at the keyboard, savoring the moments while others still sleep. The first few days in a new location have me way too excited to sleep for long. Picture the hyperactive and overexcited five year old that ate too much sugar, minus the meltdowns.

Morning in the historic city of Granada, is filled with tropical birdsong, the breeze off the lake rustles the leaves on the mango trees above. Roosters announce the new day, although I am curious where they actually live, now that I think about it. A massive iguana blinks at me from the roof above, as the dogs pant at me feet; tongues as wide as they can go, and bellies pressed into cool tiles.

Heat and humidity opens the pores wide, allowing a person to sweat profusely from strange places like ones scalp. I recommend a cloth handkerchief or in a pinch a folded piece of paper towel to dab the upper lip and occasionally make a full swipe of the forehead, under the breasts or the classic sternum or belly wipe catching the rivulets making their way to the belt line.

During the acclimation phase little is worn in the home, shirts are off and shade with a bit of a breeze is a coveted piece of real estate.

Time slows down, as it just seems too hot to complete anything at a fast pace. Already I have slid into the lazy flip-flop walking pace of the tropics. Time in town is fun, but the sea murmurs in the back of our minds.

We heed the surfer’s call for the salt on our skin and waves beneath our feet.

Our return to the beach is filled with warm smiles, and many days of bumping down the dusty back roads at 5 kms an hour to greet old friends after almost 9 months away.

For the first time we truly feel home. All errands that used to be arduous due to lack of translation, extreme heat, and figuring out the ropes, now are performed as old pros.

We know where to go, how to keep cool, how to negotiate the chaotic streets in the city filled with bike taxis, horse and cart, and a plethora of wild dogs and people.

We retrieve our stored car, that although has a coating of dust and bird droppings, needs air in the tires and new paperwork, runs like a dream, and has us mobile once more.

Coquita Muneca, our Nica dog/world traveller, has arrived safe and sound and has slotted into beach life with few hitches. She has quickly learned the ropes of how to guard the house, fit in with the other dog packs in the area and has become a swimming fiend; a fun way to cool off in the afternoons.

Our own adaptation is to the surfer’s life. Needing to drop Canadian winter weight and go through the beat up feeling of the first two weeks, groaning with exhausted shoulders, sore ribs and taking lots of siestas.

As I wander down the beach in the early morning light, Coco chasing pigs and horses, I am mesmerized by the artistic hand of the tide. The sea is a master at sculpting sand twice a day on the endless beach. The San Cristobal volcano commands the horizon, salt and pepper smells of the tropics mingle with the ever present smoke in the air of burning cane fields. We are home.

SUP Rio San Juan, Nicaragua


There is nothing I love more than an adventure on the horizon, off the popular travel paths, and into the somewhat unknown and this fit precisely that description.

While bouncing down a dirt road in Northern Nicaragua, we hit a patch of cellular connection, and a text pinged on my phone.

“Hey, how are you guys? Want to SUP paddle the Rio San Juan next week?“

Grinning I read it allowed to my husband EJ. As cell service dropped once more, we pulled up to the beach and went for a surf, with the text rolling around in our minds.

Once back to our place we pulled out the lonely planet Nicaragua book, and got online to search facts about the river. This was to be one of those epic trips of a lifetime.

The Rio San Juan is 192.06 km of majestic chocolate colored river, flowing east from Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean coast. Draped with virgin rainforest it winds between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, defining the southern border of the Indio Maize Biologic Reserve.

Not only was the river used to access the Pacific to join the California gold rush, pirates like Captain Henry Morgan paddled up the river in the cloak of night to plunder the riches of Granada. The river was one of the proposed locations for the grand canal connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. Rusted dredging equipment still looms out of brackish waters in the Caribbean.

Scott and Gea Schmid are the incredible owners of Livit Water, a stand up paddleboard and tour company operating out of Granada. Scott had been eyeing the river for a while,  and wanted to do some recon for future trips with Livit, as well as to potentially be the first person to SUP paddle the entire river. Kayak tours were becoming a bit more popular, yet no one was operating stand up tours in that area.

With the arrival of his brothers in the country and EJ and I in the north, the time was ripe for an adventure with the perfect crew. Aside from Scott and Gea, our minimal paddle experience did not deter us from thoughts of a grand river journey.

Scott and Gea hired two local guides, whose river and animal knowledge was fantastic. Their smiles, humor, and quiet wisdom of their land left us feeling in excellent hands. They organized a support boat to hold all our camping gear, and to offer a fun place to take breaks.

After a flurry of prepping and packing, we found ourselves pushing off into the dawn, filled with a sense of excitement and nervy unknowns. The initial hours of waking up new muscles and figuring out bathroom maneuvers while floating, left us each found our own style and flow.

Travel speed, ability, and proposed destination each night had to be thought of beforehand to ensure adequate supplies and a comfortable place to sleep.

Journal – Rio San Juan,

As we pulled a hard left across the current, floating off a bank draped with vines and bamboo, I hear my husband yelling “We get to camp here?”

 With a mischievous nod and grin from our local guides, we begin hauling paddleboards up a muddy path, stepping into a bamboo island paradise.

 Abandoned between river and dense growth above, sat the remains of one of Vanderbilt’s river steamboats from the California gold rush era. On the other side sat a bamboo cook shack with benches and fire pit. Surrounded by endless jungle and river, we settled into our new routine of setting up camp.

 After a homemade pesto and noodle feast, we sipped on Nicaraguan rum, as I read “The Pirates Code” in both English and Spanish for our mixed crew. I gaze around at laughing faces shimmering in firelight, and shake my head in wonder. Once again I find myself on an adventure of a lifetime.

 After waking to brewing coffee and egg burritos, we pack up in the early morning mist, the excitement of the unknown has me bouncing and like every day I wonder what amazing things will show up around each turn of the river.


The variety of accommodation led us to enjoy the unknown of each evening. Our first afternoon found us a boat-access hotel, complete with a trained chef from Managua; an absolute blessing after a long first day. From our remote island campsite and a homestay with a Costa Rican artist, to cooking on the steps of a riverside immigration building while chattering about our daily adventures.

The river itself had a variety of moods. Fast water shooting through narrow channels between small lush islands, to sluggish and wind blown sections where the paddling was with few words and gritted teeth. A rodeo ride through the rapids of El Castillo left us soaking and laughing, with the stone garrison built in 1673 perched above our sodden exploits.

Scott and EJ decided from the beginning they would attempt to paddle the entire river from start to finish. Stopping the support boat or pulling ashore to eat, they longingly eyed the rest of us getting an easy tow for a break or playing cards and listening to music as the river slipped by.

Gea and I took on cooking duties; straddling atop our stacked boards after a few hours of paddling we prepared sandwiches and easy snacks to pass from the boat. Ryan and Kevin had varying days on the river, sometimes pushing hard with Scott and EJ, or joining us for laugh.

Land slid by us with cows staring from green riverside pastures, scarlet Macaws squawked overhead, and toucans perched high in old growth treetops. Spider monkeys swung through the canopy, while howler monkeys’ deep throated calling echoed through misty forest.

Bubbles on the water or splashes from the banks reminded us of the crocodiles living in the area, yet the odd tail or quick view before they slid out of sight was thankfully as close as we got to the beautiful prehistoric creatures.

Dense jungle gave way to marshy river delta; narrow alleys of water lazily wound through verdant grasses. Our final day was a blur until we could hear the surf pounding on Caribbean shores and together we passed the finish line as the Rio San Juan met the sea.

Greytown was met with dirty taped body parts and hoots of triumph. Slumping into plastic chairs, cold beer slipped down our throats as we shared favorite moments and personal challenges. With a fried fish meal and a night out at the local bar we crashed into the deep sleep of the accomplished.

The boat ride back up river was a slow reflective journey, retracing our memories from beneath improvised sunshades. Five days on the river suddenly felt too short; all agreed we could have continued on a longer trip, as a map of Nicaragua spread across our boards, dreams of other river adventures already formed in our minds.

Poste Restante


“Poste restante (French: post remaining) or general delivery is a service where the post office holds mail until the recipient calls for it. It is a common destination for mail for people who are visiting a particular location and have no need, or no way, of having mail delivered directly to their place of residence at that time.”

The traveler’s road can be a lonely one at times, yet one of the most romantic and interesting memories I have about staying connected is “Poste Restante.” Before the age of Internet and the technological birth of cyber cafes that now can be found in the most obscure places in the world, letters fluttered their way around the world. I love finding old journals with pages I wrote to my parents, filled with drawings and chicken scratches and stains from coffee shops or sand from attempting to write from a wind blown beach. Pressed flowers, and worn folds speaking of another untold tale.

In so many countries I have wandered to the nearest post office to collect a handful of gifts in those small packets of worn pages. Love and stories sent from family and friends that were written and mailed all over the world.

My most profound poste restante memory was from the isolated islands of “Les îles Marquises” in the South Pacific. I had embarked on yet another random journey, this one with a charismatic one armed captain, sailing from San Diego to French Polynesia. We had been at sea for twenty-four days, following the trade winds on one of the most classic crossings of the greatest seafarers in the world.

After weeks of living by the rhythms of the ocean, I remember beginning to see an increase of birds. Not just long distance flying albatross but great frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. When along the wind came the smell of soil, rich and pungent, salt and pepper smells of the tropics.

There is nothing quite comparable to the excitement of a sailor that has been to sea for weeks on end, quivering with the anticipation of setting eyes and feet on a new land.

Dark blue depths gave way to turquoise shoals, as the island of Fatu Hiva rose out of the horizon like the back of a giant sea turtle. Binoculars were pulled out, charts consulted and anticipation grew as we passed by Tahuata, to enter the main anchorage of Hiva Oa. With a surreal feeling enveloping our minds and giant grins upon our faces we pulled into a new port that harbored a rag tag congregation of seafarers. We maneuvered through the bay to eventually drop anchor with greetings and waves from other nut brown and wind blown souls.

From shore paddled smiling islanders with boats filled with exotic fruit, vying for a new sale, or the potential to trade goods with the newly arrived.

Our crew cleaned ourselves up, smiling with the novelty of putting on actual cloths and shoes to travel to shore, wobbly legs staggering upon the shore. After restocking our supplies, refueling, and water as well as the search for parts to complete repairs needed after a long crossing, we finally made the walk into the heart of town, and to the post office.

It was a small building of brick painted white and green, with simple windows and a carved wooden door. Inside at each booth were bundles of the most fragrant and tropical cluster I have ever smelled. It turned out to be a regular hair dressing of local Marquesian woman. A core of a pineapple rolled in sandalwood, and speared with small thin sticks were exotic local flowers of Tiare and Frangipani and pods of vanilla. The combined scent was like nothing I have ever smelled in my life.

In a daze I walked up to the smiling woman behind the counter, giving my name and requesting in rusty French for any letters addressed to me. To my utter amazement I was passed 3 worn letters. Two were from Canada and one from Australia. It blew my mind that these small pieces of paper had made their way so far, to such a remote spot for me to collect. It was like receiving a prize of jewels, the gift of communication from loved ones so far away.

When I think today of email, cell phones, and internet cafes, I am conflicted with feelings. The loss of a romantic age of communication, and the simplistic joy of a handwritten note, and the opposite sense of instant connection and ease of staying in touch. It inspires me to sit down and write a few letters to friends of old, scattered around the far reaches of the globe.


The calling


As Mother Nature paints the land a change of shade; swaths of color sweeping up the flanks of our mountainsides, my world becomes utterly surreal.

I wade among tall grasses turning cinnabar and amber, my open palms stroking tips along with the wind. Searing cobalt sky frames golden Aspen leaves; they dance with the same music as the surrounding land.

It calls to me.

Catching my attention and softening my gaze, my adventurous heart aches and my soul yearns.

I have always left in the fall; it was my pattern for years. Playing in nature, long days filled with sunlight. Yet as the land yawns, and prepares for winter, I can almost smell the sea 1000 miles away. I can hear palms rustling instead of pines creaking, and distant shores murmur just beyond the horizon.

Instead of cozying up with soup and a book, I long to shed all my belongings except my dog and a backpack filled with music.

To shoulder my fond memories, and wrap love around my heart, I will smile with the freedom of an open road.


“Travel is one of the special keys to the infinite horizons of the mind.”

Donated By Ronny Northrop Fiji92

Travel. It’s encoded in every cell within me. Its broad tentacles curl around my thoughts most days, stroking at my memories and entwining my desires. Not the safe, booked and paid for travel, but the fly by the seat of your pants and follow your nose kind. The sort that leads you into remote places in your mind as well as the landscape. Travel that leaves tiny scars for every devastating goodbye and tatters of yourself on the many fence posts that line the road of your journey. The kind, that shapes your inner being, your entire genetic makeup. This is the travel that has changed my life forever.

The world has been my university. For six years I was enraptured with her teachings. Perhaps when I am worn and wrinkled I may look back again with even clearer perspective and see all that I truly learned. Perhaps now I am too close to focus properly and need years to sit back and reflect that which I truly gained. To see it unfold and add color to this garden of my life.

The last few years my traveling shoes have come out only once or twice a year, adding a few more miles to my odometer within. The feeling is different; it is not the years away like before. I still struggle with the inner calling to the open road and when the wind blows strong outside my window, I hear and smell the rest of the world murmuring like a quiet song. I am only now realizing that Travel will not heal my life like I thought it once did, no longer is it the time to run away and forget. Not that I had to run away from much, but as we all know the growing pains of the late teens and early twenties can be challenging. I became quite talented at the art of disappearing when I did not like which direction I was going.

Now, as I enter a new chapter of my life I must not seek the foreign seas for comfort, but cling to the memories inside of me and face my life from where I stand. This lesson made itself apparent when I recently took a surf trip to Baja, Mexico. As I stood at a bank machine with the statement of 150.00$ left in my bank, 4000 miles from my country of origin and no home to return to, I realized this was not the way I wanted to play anymore. Gone was the charm of living out of a backpack and surviving on beer and the cheapest local meal I could find. Gone were the days of not having a home anywhere on earth and so changed the direction of my inner compass.

I find myself gazing out the window at the stunning and wild beauty of our valley. Silent and massive peaks glow mysteriously in the light of the moon, their flanks dusted with newly fallen snow. Stars twinkle brightly from above and the icy breath of winter forms intricate patterns on the window before me. In these quiet moments my thoughts recede into the volumes of my mind, savoring the richness of my memories. As so many times before I slip down the stairs through a sleeping household, to pour over the many journals of my past. Sixteen was my last count yet the ones I seek lay apart from the rest, tattered and grimy. Ten books, their covers as individual as the contents within. Six years of travel recorded into these many volumes, six years that gave me foundation for the rest of my life. How often have I walked among these fading memories, swirling in my mind, brought fourth by these scribbled words that lay before me. How amazing that I sit here in the candlelight in the midst of winter and with the opening of these pages I am on a different continent, in a different time.

June 14, 1997

Finally I awake from this sedated and numbing slumber…what I call the lethargic cloak of home life. Sometimes when I begin a new journey it takes a while for societies blocks to fall away, for the winds of freedom to blow strong and true. When the senses come alive, thoughts deepen and reflection of ideas blend with reality. I’m grinning stupidly with tears in my eyes and listen to the Braveheart soundtrack on my walkman. It is taped for these exact moments, with all the slow songs recorded together, to give my inner movie an emotional soundtrack. These dramatic cumulous clouds rise high into the blue with sheets of rain falling beneath. The sea is calm and glistening beneath me as I dangle my legs from the bowsprit. At this moment I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Earlier we had witnessed a large patch of rain coming our way; anxiously we gathered our shampoo and dirty cloths in hopes of enjoying some fresh water from the heavens. Our water maker broke last week and we now seem to be forever encrusted in layers of salt. The sea glossed over and the mist of rain engulfed us on all sides. We washed and squealed like children, relishing in the fresh water straight from the doldrum weather machine. No longer than 10 or 15 minutes did it last when we broke through the other side of the squall into the searing equatorial sun.

Spirits are high today as we try to savor the beauty of this trip. We will even have fresh vegies tomorrow, because the alfalfa sprouts I started are growing rapidly in the galley and I have fresh bread attempting to rise in the engine room. Days slip by quietly and I look forward to my watches where I can sit alone with my thoughts. From eight pm to ten pm I silently watch the sunset as the small colony of this boat slips away for a few hours of sleep, the stars have noticeably moved in the heavens as we move steadily south. Perhaps I will be visited by a lone dolphin or will just sit quietly with the rising full moon and roam the valleys of my mind. I am relieved of my duties until the morning when I wake for my second watch of six to eight. My so important rituals resume as I share another intimate moment with the sun. The stars recede into a milky blanket of morning clouds, the sea a glossy quicksilver. Then so quickly in this part of the world the earth begins to awake, a warm glow reaches over the horizon, setting the stage for the dramatic appearance of the sun. The water begins to shimmer with hues of violet and rose, the clouds a pale amber. Then she appears in all her naked beauty, rising from her bed to greet the new day.


And we have wind….Yesterday afternoon she crept. Her breath rippling the glossy water, fondling our awaiting sails. We have been floating in the doldrums, roughly a ten mile fluctuating band that spans the Equator. Now as suddenly as we lost the wind, she returns. At dusk fair weather clouds can be seen and the wind finally picks up from the right direction. We have anxiously awaited the South East trades, and now they begin to take us in the last leg of our crossing. We toast the Southern Cross, the constellation appearing in the onslaught of evening, rising brightly upon our bow. Beyond the horizon awaits the mysterious and enticing Marquesas. The most easterly islands of French Polynesia, islands known only to a handful of the worlds population. Famous French artists sing and paint her beauty. Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin found their final days, lost in the savage charm of these islands. Herman Mellville writes of Typee, a story of living among the supposedly cannibalistic tribes of the area. He speaks of their exotic ways and their traditional tattoos done with shark tooth and hammer. On that note, I think I will have to get another tattoo on these islands, to mark a new and significant time in my life.

It has been a long time since I have anticipated the arrival unto a new land. A place that I cannot compare to all the other continents I have walked upon. I can only dream of what will soon be revealed.


At one hundred and thirty one degrees and fifty-eight minutes we crossed the equator into the southern part of the hemisphere. Its is an amazing feeling of wandering the globe when you cross such a significant mark as this. It is close to one in the afternoon. We sit on the aft deck and attempt an equator party, although because the seas have picked up considerably, we are all a bit queasy. But we are hearty sailors so we down our champagne and eat crackers and cheese and ignore our internal ailments. True to form, the sea in her mysterious ways, has sent us an escort for our crossing. With a squealing hello from her depths, a pod of pygmy killerwhales arrives to perform their happy frolics upon our bow. I will hold this image close to me as I attempt to sleep the restless sleep one tends to have when chop is rising to a stormy swell. Sea creatures and looming tropical peaks swirl together in my dreams.