True Nature Travels Blog

What am I here for?

It’s more than 14 letters creating a question. It is a question that I’d like to answer while I fight against resistance.

After having a difficult time, we are probably not completely full of energy. I have been part of that group of people that are tired sometimes, but I always fight for what I really love and it is helping to create a better place to live!

What am I here for?

I am here to encourage people to believe that if we are united, working together, no matter if we are just a small group, we can make a big difference.

Today is a great day! A good opportunity to do something for others.

It is interesting, because I have heard a lot of expressions like, “We can do nothing about it”, “It is imposible”, and “Don’t even try, you can’t do it”.

I can, you can, we all can!

What we really need is to start doing the impossible. There are too many people doing the possible now!

If we start now, we can do exactly the same thing tomorrow, with a new mind-set, so the ordinary things will turn to extraordinary things.

During many years, we have been working hard hand in hand with the True Nature. It has been an interesting adventure.

Painting buildings and homes, repairing houses, helping to build an English classroom at the local school and even giving a hand (or two) to the local people in their farms, without forgetting the other many activities we have been involved in… Too many good projects that are counting in our fight to create a better place to live, in our fight to show the entire world that the real power is inside you, inside me, the power of God acting through our hands.

There is a bridge between the countries, between the languages and we cross it together while we volunteer.

See you around here soon. No matter when you can come visit us, you will always be welcome here in Costa Rica, at home.

I wish you a happy day, plenty of peace and love.

About the Author: Lindsay Padilla 

Lindsay was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. She currently lives in Costa Rica where she helps foreigners immerse themselves in her beautiful country. True Nature works with Lindsay and The Real Costa Rica to provide service opportunities to our retreat participants. We love working with Lindsay and we cannot wait for our next Costa Rica retreat

True Nature Travels Blog

Day 3 and 4 of our great expedition was both educational and rewarding. For Day 3, we traveled to img_6626the KSTR or Kids Saving the Rainforest. During a tour of the facility, we learned just how many animals they had at the facility and how they were rescued or rehabilitated and released. Following that tour, we were put to work doing different tasks including helping prep the animal’s food, moving dirt from one area of the sanctuary to the another for some sloths and helping pain
t and fix a bird cage and changing out the animal cages. All the members saw numerous types of animals including white-faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys, porcupines and much more. For everyone, it was a very rewarding
experience and the staff at KSTR were so wonderful and supportive of us being there. It was a great service project.


img_6623Our next day, consisted of some fun including banana boat riding, parasailing and surfing. However, before the day started, we had a visit from a pack of white-faced monkeys at the hotel restaurant. The monkeys were very cool to see as we hadn’t seen many except at the monkey sanctuary the day before. The only not so cool part about our beach day was it sprinkled/lightly rained during our time on the beach. But I can tell you no one complained. We were all very happy to get some down time before our other activity of the day which was at the Miguel Antonio National Park. During that tour, we saw several things but the highlight was seeing a baby sloth (video link included). We also saw several species including crab, grasshoppers and lizards.


Everyone is continuing to support each other as most are still getting used to the climate change that we are currently experiencing with the weather changing nearly every day. Day 3 was very warm and humid but Day 4 started with rain for the morning and ended with sunshine. That was one interesting thing our tour guides, Mar and Marcela, mentioned the weather in Costa Rica changes all the time!img_6627


True Nature Travels Blog

Costa Rica is thriving and alive with experience and adventure! This week True Nature Abroad has the privilege of hosting a group of students from The National Society Of Leadership and Success on an educational, service, and adventure trip. On this journey a super awesome Journalism Student and Student President Liaison, Ronnie Marley, will be sharing his daily experience! ENJOY!

Day 2:

Day 2 had a great deal of travel for everyone following our stay near the airport.
Our day started with breakfast, a quick orientation about what to expect in Costa Rica from our tour guide, Marcela and then we loaded up the bus and headed toward our next hotel on the beachfront, Hotel Karahe.
The trip consisted of three different stops across just over a three-hour drive. Our first stop was at a souvenir shop, which had EVERYTHING you could think of in regards to Costa Rica. Everything from sarongs, license plates, clothes and lots and lots of memorabilia. I think just about everyone in the group bought something to take home, some even mentioned they did some Christmas shopping.
img_3315Following that stop, just up the road, we arrived at the “Crocodile Bridge.” This was probably one of the best highlights of the day. It all started with us lining up on a very narrow bridge and looking over the side for crocodiles. They were pretty easy to spot. In all, there had to be almost 10 crocodiles just “chillin” and sunbathing on the side of a river. What was cool about it was we saw two or three crocodiles with their mouths open and we learned something from our tour guide. Crocodiles that have their mouths open aren’t necessarily waiting for food to come to them, it’s actually because they’re hot! They’re trying to cool off! Something I myself didn’t know.

Following that pretty “wicked” stop, we actually went to a grocery store! I know that sounds a little weird considering we packed for a week in Costa Rica. This store had everything you could think of just like home. Coca-Cola, different snacks and an item that was recommended to us called a “Yipi.” They were actually really good, tasted like a Kit Kat bar only BETTER! If you’re ever in Costa Rica, give them a try! One of the cool things about the experience is some of the participants had the chance to use some of the Costa Rica Colones that they got at the airport or before departing. Although I’ll admit, a lot of us just used our credit cards! But hey, it works just the same!
Then about 90 minutes later, we arrived at our destination, Hotel Karahe. For the rest of the afternoon, we were given a lot of free time to enjoy the beach, which was literally a quarter mile from our hotel room. The sound of the ocean waves and the peaceful cool breeze of the wind made the day that much more enjoyable. Some of group took the opportunity to take a swim in the waters, play volleyball with some of the locals and gather around and continue getting to know each other.
The night ended with our first “group circle.” In this circle, each group of five to six members had to create a symbol that a light could shine through the middle of the symbol. Many groups used their legs, arms, hands and even their fingers (some used all three!) There were a lot of different designs and it was great to see the group interaction of all the members.
In closing, as the rain falls here at the hotel, It’s safe to say that the group is beginning to become a family and we’re only on our second day of this adventure!
More tomorrow after our first service project at the monkey sanctuary!



True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature Education is so lucky to work along side with some truly special individuals. Our village leader, Lindsay, has a kind heart and open mind.  Read about her trials and tribulations in Costa Rica, and how these challenges has transformed into learning experiences. Interested in an authentic Costa Rica service adventure? Be sure to sign-up for our December trip here!


Learning is fantastic!

It is fun when we can find a way to learn while we enjoy the moment, however for most of the people, not all the places are nice, not all the days are amazing.

As soon as I started writing this, my almost 4 years old who is right next to me, jumps on the bench while he memorizes the days of the week.

There are some people watching us, however I feel happy to see how much energy he has, how much he enjoys his time with me, at the hospital.journeybegins

My last three months have been plenty of visits to the clinic, to the hospital, to the health care center, to the drugstore. When I am not in those places, I am spending hours right next to my mother’s bed, trying to help her as much I can, putting in practice all what I have been learning from the nurses and doctors.

A warrior is right here, resting on a bed. She has been my favorite teacher, the one that helped me to learn all what I know. The one that worked so hard in order to have her kids in the best schools, the one that created a program for helping the local school and church when we moved here, the one that always had a room for the needest people and food and cloth and sholindsayes to give without expecting to get anything back.

She is our priority now. We need to learn more, she is a real model to me, to all of us.She deserves to live! And I hope she will be fine soon, very soon.

Maybe someone may think that my son should be sitting next to me. Maybe someone may think that I should ask him to wait in a complete silence. Maybe I should do both things, but I am not doing anything.
He is happy, I feel happy and she feels happy to know we are fine.

His happiness gives me a reason to feel peace. There is a story inside of me, that no one of the present people here know. They do not really know how much I have been crying, how much I have been suffering.
Now it is time for me to join his happiness!
It is time to enjoy.
I am learning. We do not have to judge the people.
No one knows what is behind a smile.

My three suggestions for today and forever are:
1. Enjoy the moments
2. Learn from the ones that helped to build your own story.
3. Believe, don’t judge and never, never complain.beach2



True Nature Travels Blog

When one travels, a new door is opened. A door that leads into a fresh world; full of growth, experience, and shiny new thoughts. With this expansion of our mind, different opportunities are born. We feel inspired and motivated. Why not expose ourselves to this type of transformation through travel?


True Nature Education is dedicated to bringing students an authentic and eye-opening travel experience. We partner with some amazing organizations so you can dive in head first into Costa Rica, local service, and non-stop adventure.

One component of the service adventure trips includes staying at a sustainable rainforest eco-lodge hotel, offering an intimate experience of primary rainforest together with a certified organic biodynamic farm. On this mystical eco-lodge is a man full of wisdom of the land, plants, and sustainable farming. As we deplete more and more of our resources, it is interesting and imperative we explore alternative farming methods, and Steven Farrell is database of knowledge.


As part of the trip, the students get to experience this first hand with a taste of what eco-tourism and biodynamic farming looks like.

Tico Times did a fantastic article about Steven Farrell and dives into what the lodge is all about……

“In 1994, a shaggy Gringo made his home at a remote little farm south of La Fortuna, in Costa Rica’s Central Highlands. He grew his living in the form of organic turmeric and ginger, and today that same hippie, Steven Farrell, oversees 207 acres of biodynamic farm at the same site, along with a spa, a rain forest yoga studio and an eco-lodge.


He welcomes guests to stay, rest and learn about the property, though it remains a working ginger and turmeric farm that accommodates more pigs, goats and water buffalo than people. I recently traveled to this far-flung green gem and received a lesson in what it means to be a biodynamic operation.

Basically, the farm takes a holistic approach to organic agriculture that incorporates the use of farm animals for fertilization and labor, as well as astronomical planting and harvesting. Biodynamic agriculture was pioneered in 1924 by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, and its sometimes bizarre practices are followed worldwide – particularly in northern California.

Farrell describes the biodynamic process as the homeopathic use of organics, cosmic energy, minerals and herbs to create a form of spiritual agriculture.

Farrell is a self-taught encyclopedia about the natural world surrounding his farm, and he can rattle off plant names in English, Spanish and Latin. When speaking of the flora’s medicinal qualities, Farrell beams behind his great white beard and excitedly tells you all he knows.

“You can come to this nice place to eat healthy, be well and have a comfortable vacation from the world,” he said. “But here you can also learn from nature how to live in a more sustainable way. We grow and eat food that is really food, not an imitation. Hopefully aspects of how we live here can be extended into your lifestyle, wherever you live.”998395_10151428786691930_446933591_n


Farrell and those who live at Finca Luna Nueva, including several interns, serve as sustainability guides with their educational nature walks, lovingly prepared food and simple kindness. Intern Cathryn Henning works the fields in the mornings in tall boots as a protection from snakes, and devises new ways to keep the turmeric and ginger plants healthy. In the afternoon she’s in the café, whisking up papaya-turmeric-vanilla-ginger smoothies and chocolates for guests.

“The farm is unique for its intention,” she said, which is to “re-associate” with nature by escaping worldly distractions and living more simply.

On the Sacred Seed Garden Tour, guests can smell and taste the sources of spices like cinnamon, bitters, and allspice. Farrell encouraged me to eat various leaves and bright fruits, which was an especially thrilling departure from the adult voice in my head warning me not to put strange things in my mouth.

On the jungle tours, the staff shares some of the most interesting tidbits about the local trees. For example, I learned about how matapalo trees use their killer vines to climb up other species and slowly strangle them. I also found out that the sap of certain trees makes excellent bug repellent (warning: when rubbed on the skin to deflect mosquitoes, the sap dries in annoying white streaks).

Around the property, ripe jackfruit, bananas and star fruit beckon to be picked from the trees. In the café, freshly made sarsaparilla soda and green tea kombucha are favorites, as are the whole wheat bread at breakfast, the yuca cakes filled with tree spinach at lunch and the coconut-crusted fish at dinner. For a lesson in food chemistry, ask Farrell about the “miracle berries” that block the tongue’s sour receptors and turn the tartest lemon into the sweetest dessert.

In addition to the fine organic dining, the property features an ozonated pool and Jacuzzi, an on-call massage therapist and a yoga platform ensconced in the rainforest. The rooms have especially comfortable beds that are regularly adorned with fresh ferns and marigolds. There is no television.

On her second visit, Oriental medicine and acupuncture practitioner Claudette Baker said she is fascinated by the healing capability of the farm. She’s organizing a yoga retreat there for a group of her patients who have survived cancer.

“This place has a simple elegance,” said Baker, who is from the U.S. City of Chicago. “Here there is no pollution or modern noise. The oxygen and energy is pure and there are few distractions.” ”

Interested in joining a retreat with True Nature Education? We would love to have you! Check out our abroad programs here!





True Nature Travels Blog

Love in details…

And I start typing this letter while Costa Rica plays vs Canada.

All the family is together in our home, we are eating pejibayes and enjoying the moment. Soccer is part of the most important things for the Costa Rican people, you will discover this very soon.
Inspiration comes even when we pay attention to the game, to my three years old who is kicking a ball in my porch, to the rain that sometimes makes the tv signal become so poor… When there is not a good way to watch the game, we start talking, we imagine how interesting it could be to be there, doing our best in the soccer field…
Almost all the Costa Ricans are getting togetCosta-Rica-World-Cup-Gambling-Oddsher tonight… Almost all the Costa Rican are asking God to protect the goalkeeper… I am join them!!!
 Life is like a soccer game. We need to work together, we need to protect our team, we need to do our best… There are many people around, many people that are just watching, many people that are expecting to do the job in a better way, however they are just expecting to do it…They are not in the soccer field!
I feel passion for the colors of my flag. I am this kind of person who feels emotion when listening the national anthem, I am this kind of person who is proud about her country, about her planet, about the universe…
Tonight I am wearing my t’shirt…
Small details are the best! I just imagine how amazing it could be if I could have the courage to wear the t’shirt not only for the soccer game, but for life, for a better world. I’d like to have a team, my team, your team, our team…
It is clear we can make our best, we can make a difference if we all forget a7hjZj9K718ADrXbj8VKmr1LeHKnBwjtmci_lMaW75LQbout the limits, about the borders. If we play for a reason. If we play with love.
Seriously, life may not be like a game sometimes, however we can try to enjoy, we can try to play and have fun.
Having too many reasons to be happy, it is a waste of time to be sad…to be angry… to be indifferent.
A new volunteer team is coming soon, We are ready to start playing, enjoying, living the moment, experiencing love in the small details…
I love my family, I love to share with them, I am sure we all will love to share what we are, how we live, with you…
This is the second time and I am not sure if Costa Rica will win the game, however I am happy, I won… I spent the night in a happy way, I am still celebrating to have too many amazing people around and more people amazing people coming, like you.
See you soon, team!
Pura Vida!
-Lindsay Padilla

 Lindsay Padilla has been a dedicated True Nature Village Leader the past 8 years. She is committed to serving her community and supporting True Nature’s groups that visit her village. She is also a wonderful mother of two.

True Nature Travels Blog

2015-01-29 10.19.48Cooking is one of my favorite activities.  I enjoy it more when I am learning how to prepare new dishes from my mother.  She is not a chef, but she cooks with love.  To me, her food is the most delicious food in all the world!  She likes to stick cooking this traditional Costa Rican corn cake recipe that is a part of common tico cuisine.
Today at coffee/tea time she prepared what’s called Tamal Asado.  It’s yummy, simple traditional Costa Rican corn cake that is wonderful to have as a mid afternoon snack.  My mother makes the best version, I think, and we love sharing each other’s company together over a piece of eat and a hot cup of cafe.  I’ve included the recipe for you below.
To go along with it, she also prepared a special picadillo called Ropa Vieja that we eat with tortillas or with a salad.  Yes, it sounds funny if we consider that ropa vieja means old clothing.
The name comes from our recycling devotion.  This is the way we recycle food:  After tasting a vegetable and meat soup that traditionally is called Olla de Carne (great for lunch on a rainy day), we put some olive oil in a pan, then we add the veggies that are still in the Olla de Carne pot and mix it up.  You can add the broth to make sure that the vegetables are covered, keeping them covered for 15 minutes. When it is ready, you can leave it on the wood stove on low until dinner time, so it gets dry, smells delicious and the taste incredible.

Tamal Asado

  • 1 1/2 cups grounded corn
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, we use the one from our área and the brand is Dos Pinos
  • 1 cup of grated white cheese (homemade)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla or almond
Mix the grounded corn with milk.  Add sugar, melted butter, cheese, eggs and vanilla.  Mix and place in a baking pan.  If you use a oven, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  In our case, we use the wood stove oven which takes around 25 minutes.  Wait until cooled, call your family, relative and friends, make sure to have boiled water, prepare coffee or tea, and serve!

True Nature Travels Blog

empanada-mexican-foodPreparation Time: 45 Min
Difficulty: Very Easy

This is a traditional cheese empanada (empanada de queso) that we make for family gatherings. For best results share this recipe with all your family members. Do not forget to drink a cup of Costa Rican coffee, you know as prepared in the village of San Rafael! When we made these the last time, we enjoyed empanadas plus gallo pinto (rice and beans), sunny side up eggs, and watermelon for breakfast. All prepared in a wood stove, in my mother’s open air kitchen.
Come and enjoy this. The taste is delicious!


2 cups corn flour (masa de maíz)
1/2 teaspoon salt (media cucharadita de sal)
1/2 cup grated white cheese (media taza de queso blanco rallado)
1/4 cup water (un cuarto de taza de agua)


Mix the corn flour with salt (and water). Form balls of 1 1/2 tablespoons of the corn mixture. Put between two plastic sheets and press with a small pan to form a thin pancake. Put 1 1/4 teaspoons of grated cheese into the center and fold in half. Seal softly with finger tips and fry in oil until golden.


CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimmingRead more Letters from Lindsay blogs here.

True Nature Travels Blog

costa rica lifestyleBefore you pack and take a plane to Costa Rica, consider reading this.

Sometimes I am jealous of the ones that work in a building, with air conditioning and luxury lamps and decorations… But then I take a step back. Look where I live, look where I work. I just sit on my porch and look at nature’s decorations on my floor. There is a butterfly that almost looks like an owl when you see it, and it is same color, like my tiles. I feel the wind instead of the air conditioning.

After the hard work I did feeding the turkeys, chickens, and rabbit in my parents home, I decided to rest for a bit in my hammock, considering that Andres is still in the school and Gabri is enjoying his nap.

Many people would like to visit my country, and I deeply feel I should advise them of something before they go to pack…

I wish I could write this blog in a faster way, but there are too many birds singing in my garden, and I can’t help but be distracted. Having too many birds is a real inconvenience for those visiting my village; it can be difficult to see and listen to the birds of all sizes that flock around.

There are many trees. It seems that this is the season for mamones, guayabas, pejibayes, bananas, oranges and more fruits. There are too many butterflies, humming birds, toucans, parrots and even macaws eating the delicious treasures from the trees.

So I will move to my yard, where perhaps it will be more peaceful for writing…

Organic-Fruits-Produced-in-a-Small-Eco-Organic-Micro-Farm-in-the-Osa-Peninsula-Costa-Rica-copyThe green grass looks like a rug. There are some insects climbing up the colorful plants, the day is sunny, and I am sitting under a palm. I think of the day when Keilor and I planted the palm trees in our property; now they are big enough, almost 4 meters. The soil here is rich… Poor farmers: I guess it is hard to them to have lots of kilograms of yucca, tiquisque, ñampi or malangas per every single plant. Yet maybe it is not all too bad because they are getting stronger from their hard work. It makes them to save money and time, because it is the equivalent of going to the gym!

Well, my neighbor is asking for mom, she was calling her, but mom didn’t respond. When mom gets into her kitchen, she forgets the world, and there is a new world for her. She makes delicious food, and this is another problema to add in our “think about it list”… She wants you to taste all of her food creations. Sometimes I have to taste homemade bread, gallo pinto, tortillas, and picadillo in the morning, then when I come back from work, I usually get her sopas or tamales or any other kind of dishes, that include fresh vegetables such as carrots, squashes, pumpkin, potatoes, yucca, plantain, tiquizque and an endless list of products from Costa Rica.

cacaoThere is a sound in the house. It is Gabri waking up, and he is hungry… I have been writing, and there is not lunch prepared for him, so I will give him a cup of sugar cane juice, the one we prepared yesterday at home. There are some pieces of guanábana, papaya and watermelon in my freezer, and some anonas and caimitos that my friend from school gave me yesterday.  She has lots of fruits, which she shares with her friends, otherwise she wouldn’t know what to do with her harvest. Anonas and caimitos are not so popular here, so I appreciate her gifts, and I like to give her back some cacao or chocolate fruit. There are some cacao trees on my in-laws property. It was a big problem to me. It was a heavy bag full of fruits and love. It was also a big problema for my co-workers, who had to experience the same experience… Costa Ricans are so friendly, it is hard to stop every time you see someone you know along your way. They want to ask about you, about your family, your pets, your plans for the future and finally, they all give you lots of blessings and hugs, it makes your arms so strong, after giving and receiving too many hugs.

Gabri is happy but thirsty. Sugar cane juice is so sweet, so he probably needs something different now. We have many coconuts here, but I don’t know how to use the machete. This is something to consider… Take a lesson about how to use a machete in Costa Rica! There are many fruits and vegetables that require the right use of this tool.

Let’s drink water, it is pure and good for our health… Then we will have more time for learning how to use the machete and of course, for describing my “hard life” in Costa Rica, the things nobody explains you before you come.

There are not concrete walls around me; what I see is just the green pastures, the unpaved road and the neighbor’s cows enjoying their happy life. The light comes directly from the sky and sometimes, when we have enough time, we make a fire at sunset and sit around it, just to listen to the Mother’s Nature voice.

God bless you, and God bless Costa Rica!

Pura Vida,



CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.


Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.

True Nature Travels Blog

CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-184Dear True Nature Community,

Hi again! This is Lindsay, your friend in Costa Rica who lives amongst the birds and with the sky and who welcomes with an open heart your groups that visit my small community here.

Recently we had a beautiful group from True Nature visit our village to offer their gifts and talents. When we came home for lunch, one pretty girl  (Anais) asked permission to hug my mom.  She said, “your mom looks like my mom, and the taste of the food was as the taste of my mom’s food.” Anais’ mom is in Heaven now, so my mom suggested this girl to adopt her as her new Costa Rican mom. She was so happy. It made me cry when I heard this.

You can never imagine how many amazing moments can fit in just a few hours. You never know how deep a cultural experience can be. That is why I love this. There is no barriers, it is just a bridge and we all walk in the same direction: Towards equality, freedom, joy and peace 🙂

Pura Vida,


CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.

Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.