Odyssey – Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Dates: March 1 – 11, 2017

Isla Verde Guatemala Retreat

Isla Verde Guatemala Odyssey

Location: Lake Atitlán Guatemala

Rates:

$2099 (triple occupancy)

$2199 (double occupancy)

$2499 (single occupancy) USD/person

 

Simplicity. Beauty. Love.

A 10-day immersion into Simplicity & Beauty to rediscover the Love within.

Join Corey Jill Lakusiak & Stacie Rasmussen, RNCP, for a 10 day ‘Odyssey’ in Guatemala. Isla Verde is an oasis of calm within the business of modern life. Located on the lush shores of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, this eco-resort has all the amenities that you will need to assist your 10-day immersion into simple & beautiful practices that will reconnect you to the wellspring of Love that dwells within.

The ‘Odyssey’ is designed to help you relax into yourself, to simplify your life & to help you recognize that the beauty you witness outside of yourself is merely a reflection of the beauty within. (‘Odyssey’: a journey full of adventures & experiences that give knowledge or deeper understanding to someone.)

The ‘Odyssey’ will include:
• Simple & Deep yoga practices (asana, movement, meditation, pranayama & sound)
• Nutrition talks & personal nutritional consultations
• Contemplation, journaling & goal setting
• Accommodations (single, double and triple occupancy villas available)
• ‘Slow Food’ (vegan, vegetarian, and other dietary considerations can be honoured)
• Excursions (paddleboarding, kayaking, zip-lining, barefoot walking, camping & local shopping
• An 8-week yoga & nutrition online program: ‘Preparing to Travel from the Inside-Out’ (Jan. 2 – Feb. 27, 2017).

Cradled in the heart of Guatemala’s volcanic highlands, just 80 miles west of Guatemala City, Lake Atitlán gets its name from the ancient Nahuatl word Atitlan, meaning: “the place where the Rainbow gets its colours”. We will be staying at Isla Verde located in a quiet, safe and well-preserved corner of the lake…far from roads and noise. The hotel grounds extend from waterfront to mountaintop and house a dynamically-colourful spectrum of flora & fauna.

Isla Verde Details

While practicing in the open air yoga studio you will feel worlds away from the commotion of daily life.  There are no roads, no traffic, and no public dock near Isla Verde… only lake breezes, singing birds, and occasional hikers passing by. The location offers a plentitude of breathtaking lake views (including 3 local volcanoes), plus direct access to one of the safest and most scenic walking-paths. This idyllic location is the perfect backdrop for your ‘Odyssey’, allowing you the opportunity to relax into simple & beautiful practices that will help you rediscover the Love within.

Isla Verde offers guests an experience of ‘Slow Food’. The Slow Food Movement believes that by training our senses to understand & appreciate the pleasures of food – we open our eyes to the World. ‘Slow Foods’ include organic, locally-grown fruits & veggies, and herbs & grains. The lush gardens of Isla Verde are not only sustainable grown (including the use of grey water), but also help enrich local biodiversity. The delicious homemade food is fresh and entirely capable of stimulating & satisfying the senses. The food is clean – grown and prepared with the utmost respect and care for Earth’s natural ecosystems & resources. (Read more about the ‘Slow Food Movement’: http://islaverdeatitlan.com/slow-food-en.pdf)

Isla Verde has nine independent wood cabins, plus two additional suites, each with a uniquely spectacular view of the lake. Theses eco-cabins are nestled on the hillside, each decorated in traditional Mayan colours & textiles. The bathrooms are merely inner-extensions of the outdoor gardens – surrounded and filled with living plants and natural materials…while bathing in the solar-heated showers, one can’t help but feel as if they are bathing within the heart of Nature.

About your Guatemala Odyssey Leaders

Stacie Rasmussen - Guatemala Odyssey

Stacie Rasmussen – Guatemala Odyssey

I’m Stacie Rasmussen, Nutritionist and owner of Blossom Nutrition. Growing up with chronic pain and finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had to find alternative ways to protect myself and to become healthy again. My diet growing up was wholesome and fresh. We had all the fresh baked cookies, donuts and desserts we could ever want. My body, I was unaware, was addicted to sugar. The sugar combined with an imbalanced diet affected my mood and the inflammation in my body. Today, while I still have fibromyalgia, I now understand the need for proper nutrition, exercise and rest.

I am happy, healthy and blossoming.
I am passionate about all aspects of nutrition and physical wellness. I’ve been working in the health food industry for over 15 years. Currently I hold my RNCP (Registered Nutritional Counselling Practitioner) and CNPA (Certified nutritional products advisor)
I am truly dedicated to teaching others about not only the nutrition required by our bodies, but how to ‘Fall in Love’ with healthy, colourful, nutritious food.


Corey Lakusiak - Guatemala Retreat

Corey Lakusiak – Guatemala Odyssey

Corey Lakusiak is an ongoing and dedicated yoga student with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba. She is a Hatha Yoga teacher and co-owner of Yoga at St. Mark’s (www.yogaatstmark.com), with 10 years of teaching experience, enriched by more than 1,000 hours of specialized studies and training.

For Corey, yoga continues to be the gateway to a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. She has a firsthand experience of the transformational power of yoga, which helped her heal from years of domestic abuse and addiction. Corey now lives a life of simplicity, beauty & Love, which is clearly reflected in her teaching style of heart-centred, alignment-based yoga, that encourages students to tap into their own uniquely creative flow.
Corey is also an artist who is deeply inspired by her daily practices & the abundance of Mother Nature. She spends a lot of time alone in nature, exploring, playing and witnessing the interconnectedness of all life. Inspired by these experiences, Corey transforms natural materials into beautiful one of a kind pieces of jewellery that help to heal: mind, body & heart. (www.CoreyLakusiak.com)
 
“I humbly thank all of my teachers and those who have encouraged me along my path of healing. Through experience, I have learned that the true nature of life is anchored in Divine Love, and I wish nothing more than to share this gift with you.”
Corey & Stacie - Guatemala Retreat Leaders

Corey & Stacie – Guatemala Odyssey Leaders

  • Simple & Deep yoga practices (asana, movement, meditation, pranayama & sound)
  • Nutrition talks & personal nutritional consultations
  • Medicinal Plant and local cuisine workshop
  • Kayak and SUP activities on beautiful Lake Atitlan
  • Zip-lining through the Guatemalan jungle
  • Learn about Mayan culture and visit local markets in the region
  • Overnight Volcano Hiking Excursion
  • 10 Nights at Isla Verde
  • 3 delicious ‘Slow Food’ meals a day(vegan, vegetarian, and other dietary considerations can be honoured)
  • Countless hammocks and tranquil locations to find peace and serenity
  • Access to a variety of unique activities such as SCUBA diving, horseback riding, boat trips, jungle hikes, paragliding, to name a few
  • An 8-week yoga & nutrition online program: ‘Preparing to Travel from the Inside-Out’ (Jan. 2 – Feb. 27, 2017).

Tuesday February 28: Arrive in Guatemala City in the evening and get a complimentary shuttle services to Hotel Biltmore.

Wednesday March 1: Wake up early and have a complimentary buffet style breakfast at the Hotel Biltmore for 7:30am. Get picked up at 8:30am from Hotel Biltmore - airport hotel and transferred to Isla Verde (drive is 3 – 4 hours) – includes a 15 minute boat ride from Panajachel. Arrive at Isla Verde, check in to the rooms and have lunch upon arrival. Get a tour of the facility and have an afternoon relaxation session in the beautiful yoga space at 4pm. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Thursday March 2: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. Medicinal plant and local cuisine workshop - 11am. Lunch at 1pm. Afternoon Nutritional sessions with Stacie. Relaxation Time. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Friday March 3: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. Relaxation Day or activities arranged upon request. Lunch at 1pm. Afternoon/morning Nutritional sessions with Stacie. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Saturday March 4: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. Traditional cacao ceremony. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Cacao Ceremony: There is an experienced guide named Keith that will come to Isla Verde to facilitate a traditional cacao ceremony. He has been in the cacao business for many years and is very knowledgeable. He brings his own cacao and will host the ceremony in the covered deck area. It can be very intense experience and goes on for about 5 hours.

A cacao ceremony is an opportunity to connect to yourself and open your heart. Because of cacao’s ability to increase your connection to your inner self and your heart chakra, it aids in any transformational shift you are working towards, whether you are looking to deepen your understanding of who you are, release old patterns and traumas, or move into a more self-confident space. Whatever your path, the intention is yours to set, and the cacao allows you to the insight and awareness to move towards that goal.

The ceremonies vary but usually involve some shamanic prayers, sharing circles, meditation, and drinking the cacao in liquid form together. It’s best that everyone has an open mind for this experience. Due to the euphoria inducing ingredients, the emotional impact can be profound. Everything feels heightened within the physical and emotional body, including your awareness to your deepest sense of self and to your heart.

More info on cacao ceremonies can be found here - http://the-numinous.com/what-is-a-cacao-ceremony/.

Sunday March 5: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am.  10:30am visit Chichicastenango Market and other nearby local villages in the region. Bring a lunch to go. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Chichicastenango Market: Chichicastenango’s markets, held on Thursdays and Sundays, and are reputed to be the largest in Central America. Whether it’s souvenir wooden masks, colorful woven textiles, fresh produce, household supplies, live chickens or turkeys, or, once a year, even cattle, Chichicastenango is your place. This will be a great experience to get a feel for the local culture and lifestyles of the Guatemalan people.  

Monday March 6: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am.  10:30am Kayak the lake – self guided. Play in the water. Lunch at 1pm. Afternoon Coffee tour. Dinner at 6:30pm. Evening cultural session to learn about Mayan culture.

Tuesday March 7: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. Nutritional sessions with Stacie in the morning. Lunch at 12 noon. Afternoon Zip-Line through the jungle - beginners zip-line experience! Dinner at 6:30pm.

Zip-Lining Experience: The Cables X-Tremos at the Reserva Natural Atitlán pass along waterfalls, canyons, the valley and the coffee grove forest. This tour, in comparison with the Ultra X-Tremos, has a wide variety of sceneries as it crosses picturesque parts of the valley. These cables are also generally shorter and are therefore great as an introduction to extreme experiences. There is also a huge butterfly dome and a variety of walking trails so if people are interested we can leave a bit earlier and check those out too! If needed we can bring a packed lunch.

  • Afternoon Tour starts at 3:00 pm
  • Please arrive 30 minutes early for preparation and instruction.

Wednesday March 8: Wake up early at 5am and be ready to head on the San Pedro Volcano Hike – Breakfast and Lunch to go will be provided. Dinner upon return.

San Pedro Volcano Hike: Wake up bright and early at 5am. Isla Verde will pack everyone a breakfast and lunch to go for the day. I will advise everyone to bring a backpack and water bottle for this experience. Lori will be on site to help people prepare as well. Our group will have a boat transfer to San Pedro town (arranged by Isla Verde). Since it is a summit style hike, it will be more difficult, but since you will leave early, you can take your time up the volcano. The terrain is tough but well maintained. At several points there will be steps on the path. You will pass through mature coffee fields, corn fields and pine forests. It usually takes 3-4 hours to get to the top and 2 hours to climb down. There are some amazing views throughout the hike. After the hike we’ll have our boat transfer ready to take the group back to Isla Verde. This will be a challenging but rewarding day!

 

Thursday March 9: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. 10:30am Barefoot hike - self guided. Lunch at 1pm. Afternoon kayak or SUP activity. Dinner at 6:30pm. Evening bonfire/storytelling.

Friday March 10: Morning yoga/group activity at 8am. Breakfast at 9:30am. Morning and/or afternoon water activity - kayak or SUP. Lunch at 1pm. Guests with early flights the following morning will depart back to Guatemala City. Guests that are staying will have the afternoon free to relax. Dinner at 6:30pm.

Notes: Those travelling on early morning flights on March 11 will travel back to Gautemala City in the afternoon. A boxed dinner will be provided. Accommodations will be arranged for Hotel Biltmore.

Saturday March 11: Guests that are staying will have breakfast at 9am. Then depart Isla Verde back to Guatemala City in order to make their flights home.

Notes: Lori will be staying with the guests that have later flights on March 11.  

For those staying at Hotel Biltmore – you will take a complimentary shuttle to the airport based on when your flights are departing. There is also a complimentary breakfast buffet.

Extra Activities and Excursions:

There are some additional activities that some folks may interested in doing during the Odyssey. These can be arranged upon arrival based on individual’s interests.

More info & photos found at http://islaverdeatitlan.com

Isla Verde has nine independent wood cabins, plus two additional suites, each with a uniquely spectacular view of the lake. Theses eco-cabins are nestled on the hillside, each decorated in traditional Mayan colours & textiles. The bathrooms are merely inner-extensions of the outdoor gardens - surrounded and filled with living plants and natural materials…while bathing in the solar-heated showers, one can’t help but feel as if they are bathing within the heart of Nature.

More details can be found at http://islaverdeatitlan.com.

Price includes:

  • Simple & Deep yoga practices (asana, movement, meditation, pranayama & sound)
  • Nutrition talks & personal nutritional consultations
  • Contemplation, journaling & goal setting
  • Accommodations (single, double and triple occupancy villas available)
  • ‘Slow Food’ (vegan, vegetarian, and other dietary considerations can be honoured)
  • Use of all facilities including yoga studio and open space
  • Access to several hikes starting from the hotel
  • Access to the dock and beach nearby where you can dive in the water
  • Airport transfers from Guatemala City
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (paddleboarding, kayaking, zip-lining, barefoot walking, camping & local shopping)
  • An 8-week yoga & nutrition online program: ‘Preparing to Travel from the Inside-Out’ (Jan. 2 – Feb. 27, 2017).

Price does not include:

  • International Travel to Guatemala
  • Insurance
  • Additional activities
  • Tips and Gratuities

Travel Roots can provide assistance to book your international flights. Please arrive by the morning of March 1st. Recommended to depart Canada/US on February 28 and return home on March 12. The best flight rates are found at cheapoair.ca and skyscanner.ca.

If you decide to spend more time travelling in Guatemala we are happy to provide assistance on planning your trip itinerary!

The following details some info on Guatemala and recommendations to help prepare you for your journey.

Climate & Weather

It will be sunny, warm days in Lake Atitlán. Temperatures will range from high 24-27 C with a low of 10-14 C. It will be the dry season so you shouldn’t have any rainy days, but nonetheless bring a light rain jacket just to be safe since you never know these days with all the uncertain weather conditions.

Vaccinations

Before you travel book an appointment with your doctor or the WRHA Travel Clinic on Hargrave to ensure that you are up to date with the recommended vaccinations for the Lake Atitlán region in Guatemala. This may include your routine vaccines, Hepatitis A & B, and Typhoid. But it’s important to check with the doctor for the most up to date advice.

Passport & Travel Documents

Make sure that your passport is up to date and expires at least 6 months before your return home. It’s also important to bring printed copies of your passport, travel insurance, and flight itineraries.

Travel Insurance

If you haven’t done so, please obtain travel insurance as soon as you can. You can use an insurance provider that you are comfortable using - Blue Cross, Manulife, and The Cooperators are all recommended. Please ensure that you get comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.

Local Currency, Cash & Tipping Protocol

It is recommended to bring some extra cash with you to pay for extra beverages such as smoothies & alcoholic drinks, snacks, souvenirs, and any extra activities.

The Guatemalan Currency is called the Quetzal. The exchange rates are the following:

7.52 Quetzals to 1 USD or 5.60 Quetzals to 1 CAD.

Cash: I recommend bringing $100 USD, plus to take out some local currency upon arrival. The ATMs will accept major credit cards and debit cards. USD and Quetzals are both widely accepted – it’s good to have both. Quetzals will be better to have for purchasing things at the local markets.

Tipping: We will do a group tip at the end of the retreat which will be disbursed evenly to all the Isla Verde staff – the average amount per person for the duration of the trip is about $70 - $80 USD. Lori will coordinate a group tip.

If there are any travel questions don’t hesitate to contact Amanda at Amanda@travelroots.ca.

Luggage

As an experienced traveller, learning to pack light is a great piece of advice. If you can do carry on that is always recommended, but don’t stress if carry on isn’t your thing. Plan what works the best for you.

Bring a day backpack or day bag to carry items you may need for the day such as your water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, packed lunches, camera, etc.

Clothing

A common saying from all travellers is “I packed way too much”. I’ve done it myself and I’ve heard it all the time from fellow travellers. So here is a recommended list of clothing:

  • Comfortable yoga attire – 2 outfits
  • 5 short sleeve shirts
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 hoodie or light jacket
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 bathing suit – bring 2 if you plan on spending a lot of time in the water
  • 3-4 pairs of socks – depends on if you are more of a sandals or running shoe person
  • 2 bras – one sports bra
  • Underwear – as many pairs as you feel comfortable with – a tip is to bring some laundry soap and you can wash your underwear in the sink as needed
  • 1-2 Summer dresses – or light summer clothes, depending on what your style is
  • 1 pair long comfortable pants to wear in the evenings such as linen pants
  • Pashmina or shawl to wear in the evening or to cover up from the sun

Shoes

There is an opportunity to do hikes around the lake and we will also be hiking the San Pedro volcano, which is about a 5-6 hour hike. It’s definitely important to have comfortable hiking shoes or running shoes.

  • 1 pair of running shoes or hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of flip flops or sandals

Toiletries and Medical Items

Local grocery stores will sell all kinds of toiletries so if you forget something or run out – don’t’ worry. Please note that if you want to do carry-on for your luggage the bottles should be 100ml or less.

  • Shampoo and conditioner – biodegradable recommended
  • Soap or shower gel – biodegradable recommended
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Lotion or coconut oil
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Lip balm
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair brush and hair ties
  • Bug repellent
  • Sunscreen & After Sun Lotion such as aloe vera or coconut oil
  • Prescriptions – as required
  • Basic First Aid Kit – bandages, Afterbite, Polysporin, Pepto Bismal, etc.

Electronics

  • Camera and memory cards
  • Smartphone
  • Cords, chargers, batteries
  • Note: Central American countries use the same plug style as Canada and the US

Other Items to Pack

  • Travel towel or sarong – fast drying and hardly take up space to pack
  • Sunglasses & Hat
  • Headlamp or Flashlight – in case of power shortages
  • Laundry soap – for washing underwear in the sink
  • Passport – make sure you bring printed copies as well
  • Travel Insurance – Mandatory to have before you leave – bring copies of your policy
  • Printed copy of your flight itineraries
  • ATM and credit cards – Take out a small amount of local currency upon arrival. On the way to Isla Verde we can request a stop at an ATM
  • Small amount of USD – I recommend about $100 USD depending on how much extras you intend to buy
  • Tissues – always come in handy
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Journal or notebook
  • Water bottle

Extras to Pack – But Not Necessary

  • Spanish Phrasebook
  • Book to read or Kindle
  • Ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper
  • Extra snacks for travel days
  • Watch with an alarm
  • Cipro – Traveller’s Diarrhoea Pills – need a prescription for this
  • Anti-nausea pills for motion sickness
  • Pain medication for headaches

Travel has been one of the greatest teachers. It not only teaches you about different places and cultures, but it also teaches you so much about yourself. Here are some travel tips that I have learned from others and my own experiences throughout the years and would now like to pass them down to you.

Patience is important

Don’t stress about the small stuff. Always remember that you are in another country that has different ways of doing things. Relax and enjoy the differences.

Wake up Early

Enjoy the peace, the birds, the nature and local activities in the morning.

Laugh at Yourself

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when trying something new – don’t take life too seriously.

Meet Local People

Make a point to learn about the local culture, talk to the locals, try to speak their language, and share a moment together.

Take lots of Photos

You may only see these places and meet these people once in your lifetime. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir and a great way to share your experiences with loved one.

Keep an Open Mind

Embrace different culture, traditions, new opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.

Slow Down

This was one of Stacie’s tips too. Take time to enjoy the simple quiet moments. Every minute doesn’t have to be planned. Sometimes the best days are when you just take it all in and enjoy the moment.

Keep Good Notes

Write down information about what you’re learning, how you’re feeling, the names of people you’ve met, conversations you had, a particular place or experience that you enjoyed, and what your favourite meal was.

Break Out of your Comfort Zone

This quote has always stood out to me “do one thing every day that scares you”. It doesn’t have to be something big. Challenge yourself to try things that normally give you anxiety. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. The main point is to try new things on this journey.

Treat your Body Well

This one will be easy for you during the Odyssey! With daily yoga sessions led by Corey and Nutritional Coaching Sessions by Stacie, you will be in good hands. There are also a wide variety of outdoor activities during the Odyssey to keep you active such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking. Plus you will be fed 3 healthy vegetarian meals per day. Use this opportunity to rejuvenate your body and get lots of rest, sleep and relaxation during the trip.

Travel teaches us to live in the moment, to use our brain and imagination in a different way, and to of course expand your horizons and learn something new about culture, traditions, the natural world, and yourself. Enjoy the Odyssey Experience!

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