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

 Student Service Trip in Costa Rica and Overcoming Obstacles

True Nature Education had the privilege of partnering with The National Society of Leadership and Success this past month. 25 lovely students with hearts full of compassion and eagerness adventured to Costa Rica to provide service to the local communities, and in the process had a blast!  A student service trip is a fantastic opportunity to broaden horizons and participate in global community service. 
True Nature Education works with some amazing individuals in the local villages. One of these leaders is Lindsay Padilla. A Costa Rican native, her mindfulness and guidance always touches our hearts.
Check out some of her insight on shining bright through the storms and spreading this light through service!
student service travel
student service travel
“It was a rainy night and I was at home with my two little boys.
No more people there and lots of thunders dancing and singing in my backyard… I love to listen to Mother’s Nature sounds, however sometimes it seems like a different rhythm… Mother’s Nature wasn’t as peaceful as I wanted her to be specifically that night.
So I decided to sit on my favorite rocking chair, with my kids. We played a game, it consisted of imagine us to be sailing, enjoying of the blue ocean and the bright sun… Everything was fantastic until the moment when Andres, my 8 years old asked me if I was scary…
Game over! They discovered my feelings and guess what? I was really scary…
We were expecting to welcome a TNE group next day and the volunteer action already planned was to work on a sustainable farm, a new project that is going to benefit a group of people from my community.
I am not always so dramatic, but Imagine your plans, imagine your dreams surrounded by lots of rain and maybe lightening… I was scary for the moment, for my present and I was not sure about next day, about my future, about our tomorrow…
I was expecting to share my “tomorrow” with people from different places, coming from far away to make a difference and the weather was not the perfect from my perspective.
As soon as I listened my husband opening the door, I felt better, I felt my family completed. My kids went to sleep and we sat on the floor, with a candle.
All the house was dark, but  there was a little light… Poor darkness, I bet darkness was not feeling completed because of our little light…
And I suddenly thought of our actions… Sometimes we feel it is not too much what we can do, sometimes we think of the storms, we think of the scary moments, we think of the darkness around the world, but we were born to be a light, to bring light, to make the darkness a little clear. Do we have to limit our good intention because of our doubts about the future? About tomorrow? No!!!
We were talking until our candle decided not to light… And it was a good night, the light is still inside us and you know what? Next day we enjoyed of the sun. No more rain until the moment when we finished our volunteer service… Mothers are known because of their DEEP love and Mother Nature showed us what love means, even during the rain…
It feels incredible to be part of the ones that are doing something, anything.
We have been welcoming too many “lights” from TNE. People that decided to be the difference, to be grateful even for the stormy days.
The stormy days are not totally bad, during the stormy days, maybe you can find out inspiration to be the light that others are needing.
Let’s your light be!”
Shine on True Nature family!
Interested in joining a service student trip? Check out our calendar here!
student service trip

True Nature Travels Blog


Earlier this month we had the privilege of hosting a group from Asheville, North Carolina, which is our U.S. hometown. 🙂
This group, led by Jeff Firewalker and Cat Matlock, took part in a half-day service project in San Rafael, a village many know that True Nature has been working in for many years. The mission of the project was to paint the home of a woman named Doña Ana. While seemingly a straight forward task, by the end of its duration, the power of service had really shined through. 

Lindsay Padilla, True Nature Village Representative, shared that “the group arrived, and after welcoming them we started painting, and at the end, it was like another house! The colors are beautiful. We have been painting many houses, but this group did an especially wonderful job. They were so dedicated to service. In the end, Doña Ana was so grateful she was moved to tears. She had a great reason for it.”

In addition to the service project, the children from the community then invited the group to play soccer. They also enjoyed a cooking lesson, describing that they truly “felt the love from the Padilla Kitchen.”
Jeff and Cat also offered their healing services to Lindsay’s mother, who is in the process of healing from cancer. Lindsay shared that “not only did the group come to our village to help work, paint, and connect, they also came to help my mother heal which was so gracious and unexpected.”
Each time a group joins us in Costa Rica, it is a unique experience. Every time we have the opportunity to serve together, a sense of growth and healing happens within ourselves and within those that we serve. This reciprocal process continues to inspire us at True Nature Education and keeps us going each day and each trip. The power of service is true and eminent. 
Pura Vida.
When was the last time you took time out of your life to be of service? Have you ever felt the power of service?

True Nature Travels Blog

It’s not everyday that you can play with monkeys, build a school, eat three delicious meals straight from the farmland you are staying on, take a swim and practice a little yoga. But, on a True Nature Education Service and Adventure Program, this is just one day during an action-packed week of activities. 
What is the Service and Adventure Program? 
“While on this trip I have found a piece of serenity. I have found a part of myself that I has long been missing, and feel so thankful to have made some lasting friendships!  I will never forget this trip and feel so blessed to have gotten to come.”
– Melissa Kraak, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Our Service and Adventure Programs are an exciting new way to experience the authentic rich culture of the incredible country while also doing work to support its people and communities through preservation of the land and the environment.  In a time where our world is becoming more and more of a global family, what better way to be part of the bridge of support we are creating?
We’ve got an amazing group of student leaders representing nationwide chapters of The National Society of Leadership and Success in Costa Rica this week spreading the global service mission. The National Society of Leadership and Success is a national service and leadership organization throughout over 400 college campuses around the country. Here is just one day from their itinerary this week:

7:30am: Breakfast

8:30am: Transport to BBI Monkey Sanctuary for Service Work

12:00pm: Lunch

1:00-2:00pm: Swimming

2:00pm: Service Work

4:00pm: Labyrinth Walk

5:30pm: Return to Karahe for Dinner  (Announcements for Next Day)

7:00pm: Evening Circle/Letting Go Exercise with Special Nature Items to hold on to



Our Service and Adventure Program can be customized for just about any type of group you have from a church group to a corporate business retreat.  We love working with our good friends at The National Society of Leadership and Success. 
“This has been the most amazing experience in my life. I feel so blessed and privileged to be a part of this trip and provide my services to help others! I have never felt more useful and purpose driven, than on this trip. I hope to take a lot of what I have learned back home with me and become more involved in other service opportunities around the world, as well as in my own country. I just want to thank everyone involved who has made this trip possible and for providing us with two wonderful people to lead us around and grow with us!”
– Jenny Modesitt, Monroe, North Carolina

As they close out 2014 with their last program with True Nature, we are excited as we look to 2015 for four more Service and Adventure experiences planned with them. They are also open to any other student from a university looking to get something more out of their school breaks.

What are you waiting for? Check out some more pics from our recent trip and call us today to start planning a life changing experience for a group of your friends!


Pura Vida!

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_20140529_162357Community service is our heart and soul. From the very beginning, True Nature Education has built itself upon core values of Community, Education, and Service. These continue to be the driving force of our operation.

At its roots, TNE owners and directors, Joshua Canter and Kristin Luna Ray, first began this great journey by establishing the True Nature Community in La Florida, Costa Rica. This community sits upon 30 acres of lush Costa Rica land overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Diamonte Valley, named after the 500-foot Diamante waterfall that you drive by on the way to the property.

IMG_20140529_162514On December 31, 2003, Joshua and Luna set foot on this venture in the Community with two days of silence as a time of deep reflection – “to really listen to the land and to our intuition as we embarked on such a powerful journey.”

It was during this time that Joshua and Luna expanded their humanitarian efforts even further with the creation of the CREER Service Organization. CREER, which means to believe in Spanish, was an offering of gratitude for the incredible support, generosity, and hospitality that the native Costa Ricans provided upon our arrival in the county and their village.

Some past projects include:

  • CREER Microloans Program – Focused on helping to support the natives to “keep up” as times are rapidly changing in the rural villages in Costa Rica. Farming is no longer a sustainable industry for the many “campesinos” in villages, such as La Florida. In addition, many women, who traditionally only worked in the home, are interested in creating ways to bring in their own income.
  • Sustainable Donations Program – Made in the form of monetary resources or goods that are to be used for a specific project, and to fulfill specific needs in an area that works sustainably under CREER’S mission as an organization.
  • Diamante Library Project – Fundraising efforts made in partnership with The Friends of the Diamante Library for a community library. The Library is linked with the four local schools in order to enhance the educational quality of those schools. Classes for the children of the local schools will be part of the library curriculum.
  • CREER Project Salud “Health” – Efforts to support the demolition and initial stages of reconstruction the La Florida Health Clinic.
  • CREER Education Program – Provides affordable, local, education classes in the rural villages in Costa Rica.

And, of course, CREER is the basis of all of our True Nature Education Costa Rica Service and Adventure Programs that are run with elementary schools, high schools, higher education institutions, service organizations, business organizations and fraternities, and more.

Our yoga retreats each offer a unique service “karma” yoga element that weave these values throughout these experiences.