Helping refugees in San José – from Rotterdam

Today I’m double-dipping and, in honor of Wellness Wednesday, resharing here a post I just published on the Costa Rica Corps website: the story of my dear friend Gabriela Díaz who joined the Corps to share her yoga skills with Nicaraguan refugees under intense stress in San José.

What I love about this story is that a Costa Rican far from her home – Gaby lives in the Netherlands – created an amazing way to provide some stress relief for another group of people who are far from their homes, albeit under drastically different circumstances.

Here’s Gaby’s story from the Costa Rica Corps page. Please use the links at the end to learn more about the Corps (which I launched as an online effort in April, and am now developing with two co-founders and an incredible group of partners) or even to sign up a volunteer, if you’d like to share your skills with Costa Rica during this time of great need around the world.

Since launching the Costa Rica Corps on April 1, we’ve connected with volunteer applicants from around the world – including many Costa Ricans eager to give back to their country from afar. Gabriela Díaz is one such volunteer, and she’s gone on to provide support for Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica by offering them virtual, small-group classes in yoga and stress relief.
Gabriela is a Costa Rican living in Rotterdam. She has been an avid practitioner of Ashtanga yoga for years, and has amassed experience in both teaching, and in stress relief techniques for refugee populations. She says that when she heard about the Costa Rica Corps, she jumped at the chance to connect with Costa Rica in a new way.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Gaby told us last week. “It is really special to me because I don’t live in my country, and I felt like I really wanted to help during the pandemic.”
The Corps connected Gaby with Ticos and Nicas: We Are Family, a Costa Rican association that, among its many programs, offers Humanitarian University Grants (HUG) for refugees who had to abandon their studies when they fled Nicaragua because of oppressive government actions there (read more here). She worked with Nancy Lumbi of the Association to coordinate online yoga sessions for a group of young Nicaraguan HUG Scholars studying at the ULACIT in San José.
“I’ve been teaching yoga here and there for quite a while, but it has never felt so fulfilling as now,” Gaby says. “These students are just such wonderful people, and it feels like they can really use the little bit of relaxation that the yoga provides… especially right now, during the lockdown. They’re mainly at home, studying a lot, and some of them are even working full time, so it means that they can’t all come to the class all the time. We’ve been doing it once a week on Sundays, and I’ve started recording the sessions so they can keep practicing during the week.
“I am really grateful to the Costa Rica Corps for giving us this opportunity,” she adds. “Thank you everyone who is behind this program!”
Do you have a skill you’d like to share online with people in Costa Rica? We invite you to read more about the Costa Rica Corpssign up as a volunteer; or learn more about Ticos y Nicas: We Are Family.

Do you love a Costa Rican tourism microenterprise? Now’s the time to reach out

Today’s post is a quick preview of forthcoming information about the effect of travel cancellations due to COVID-19 on the social fabric of Costa Rica, but honestly, I’m so worried that I wanted to get something out there as soon as possible!

Do you know and love a Costa Rican enterprise that’s dependent on tourism for survival? A beloved family hotel, a community association, a nonprofit that depends on tourism for donations? It is undoubtedly facing mass cancellations, uncertainty and panic.

I realize, of course, that the economic impact of COVID-19economic impact of COVID-19 is being felt around the world, with many needs calling for our attention; that most everyone is struggling with this on various levels; and that health is, of course, the biggest concern here. However, if you’re stuck at home or otherwise have some bandwidth, do consider reaching out and even making a donation to that small business or cause you love.

I’d LOVE to hear from you if you or someone you know recently had to cancel an upcoming trip to Costa Rica (or postpone a trip you were hoping to book); if you have more information about organizations being hard hit by this situation; or if you have heard or thought of any creative ways entities in CR could mitigate this crisis and encourage support from folks who can’t come right now, but are concerned about Costa Rican communities. More to come! Watch this space.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! Each month in 2020 has a monthly theme, and March’s is women’s rights, so scroll back through the month to see posts highlighting extraordinary Costa Rican women and organizations working on their behalf. 

Los Santos, part II: The case for organic coffee

If you’re like me, you saw this title and groaned. The need to buy organic seems like a constant drain on the wallet and a niggling worry, since I live in a country with the highest rates of agrochemicals per hectare in the world and often can’t find organic options here for products that might be available in a U.S. city. As I prioritize, health-wise – for example, I try to find organic strawberries, thinking about those porous skins that sit right on or near the ground – organic coffee is way down my list. Not even on my radar, to be honest.

But I’d never stopped to think about the benefits organic coffee might be bringing to a region I love, Los Santos, and the people who live there. Until a rural tourism advocate named Jonathan Cerdas, whose region I visited thanks to Travel with Ann, explained it to me.

Travel with Ann volunteers make an organic pest-repellant substance to spray on coffee plants.

The coffee farmers of Los Santos are nervous. The climate crisis and other factors have started to skew weather patterns, causing rainy-season dryness and dry-season rain, fatal for coffee. Water is in short supply in the towns, yields are down, and some of the outrageously gorgeous rolling green hills are bare on top as farmers expand their farms to make up the difference. Overall, coffee monoculture – like any monoculture – has driven down biodiversity in the region. Farmers tend to like “clean”-looking farms without other plants around the coffee, or they plant foreign trees like eucalyptus for price reasons, all of which keeps away vegetation that could help the soil with a host of positive consequences for the region.

The lush vegetation of an ecological coffee farm.

 

Cerdas and the Green Communities project he co-founded with Carlos Marín are boosting local economies by bringing volunteers to stay with families and help farmers go organic. They’re planting indigenous species to boost farm biodiversity and protect crops from unseasonal weather. They’re making organic fertilizer and pest-control substances to protect water supplies. Cerdas says that with time, these changes actually improve yields, and of course the organic market brings higher prices. (I’m also here to tell you it’s very delicious.)

Jonathan demonstrates how the first farmer to go organic volunteered at a community meeting.

I have to admit I had truly never thought about the fact that choosing organic coffee was about much more than my health. I can’t promise I’ll always go organic, but there’s some in my grinder right now – and I’ll never look at the choice the same way again.

Read Los Santos, part I: The case for homestays at all ages. And stay tuned for part III, The case for Costa Rica.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! Each month in 2020 has a monthly theme, and March’s is women’s rights, so stay tuned for posts focusing on this issue.

What makes mental health such a ‘dirty word’ in Costa Rica?

For this month’s Daily Boost focus on mental health, I knew I had lots of questions for Cris Gomar. I’ve written before about the founder of Vaso Lleno, a mental health initiative that encourages people in Costa Rica to open up and share their stories without fear of judgment, and how quickly she’d impressed me with her honesty and enthusiasm. This time around, however, I gave her the third degree. What I wanted to know, more than anything, was what she had learned from her work with Vaso Lleno about why mental health is such a challenge for infamously “happy” Costa Rica.

Here’s what she had to say. Excerpts follow.

Costa Rica has received tons of international attention as “the happiest country in the world,” but there are high suicide and bullying rates and other mental health challenges that you’re addressing with Vaso Lleno. Do you think that “happiest” reputation is harmful?

I’m not sure it is. I think that what has a bigger impact than that is the fact that Costa Rica is such a small country. We all know each other and, from my perspective, there is… an exaggerated fear of being judged. People panic and are ashamed to say that they aren’t as happy as people think. Costa Rica is like a small town, una finca, and that’s the reality.

Cris Gomar. Via Instagram @sharingmindspodcast

The thing about being the happiest country in the world has some valid and important elements. Education, the [lack of an] army, interpersonal relations, flora and fauna per square meter. We could take advantage of this much more. People are afraid to talk about mental health… How many businesses truly have a mental health protocol in their offices? How many offer psychologists or psychiatrists among their benefits?

When it comes to bullying, we need more data, and with suicide, there are data at the hospitals or the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), but they’re skewed because there are many suicides that aren’t identified as such.

What has surprised or taught you the most as you’ve developed Vaso Lleno?

I never thought Vaso Lleno would be so popular… the biggest lesson might be the enormous fear I have noted to be judged. There are so many things we don’t do because we are afraid of what people will think. These are barriers we create ourselves. A second really nice surprise and lesson has been the facility people have to connect when we start off believing that we are all human beings with feelings, and that we can use vulnerability as a tool.

Cris uses texts to show what anxiety looks like on the Vaso Lleno Instagram feed.

The third lesson is how much we dismiss how people feel. We have been taught to be afraid of sadness… and anger. If a child is crying, we say, “Stop crying,” before we ask, “What’s wrong?” Sadness and anger… are the body physically having a reaction. Your body is telling you that you need to do something about this. But diay, they told us that no, we can’t be sad.

How did you come to create Vasoterapia?

When you put two people who have never seen each other before at a table and ask them about their greatest regret… suddenly tears will flow, or one will embrace the other. You understand that we are made of emotions and stories and struggles, too, and successes. …How can we connect more? I can celebrate when my friend has a baby, but when she has post-partum depression, how many people come around?

Cris with a Vasoterapia set, designed to jumpstart conversations.

I realized that saying “mental health” is like saying a dirty word. People think that when you talk about mental health, you’re going straight for depression and suicide. When you talk about sex ed, you’re not going to talk only about prostitution… Mental health is really about respect. So I started to think about, how can we talk about mental health without talking about mental health? That’s what Vasoterapia has become. How people can recognize and identify their own emotions and lose their fear of talking to their partner, their families, take off all these masks we wear.

What we all need is support, with all our imperfections and opportunities and strengths and demons.

What’s next for Vaso Lleno?

Diay, pues, changing the world! I’ve realized Vasoterapia is a very good tool, so I’m making a children’s version, a Volume II, a couples’ version, and of course versions in English… And I’d love to continue doing monthly gatherings, spaces that are free from judgment and full of empathy. I’d like to visit more businesses, and schools as well. We’re taught all about the cordilleras and valleys and mitochondria, but not what to do when Grandpa dies, or when we break up, or lose a job, or when Dad is in a tough economic spot and we don’t know what to do. I’d like to work with little kids all the way up to teenagers: social media and how they affect our mental health, eating disorders, relationships, bullying.

And I want to write a book…  I breathe and sweat mental health. I am fascinated by everything to do with it.

Learn more about Vaso Lleno and Vasoterapia here. Cris and I had planned to raffle off a set on the Daily Boost this month, but – she’s sold out! Stay tuned for a future raffle. Read more from this month’s special focus on mental health: TeenSmart’s inspiring stories of mental health victories by teenagers, tips from Margarita Herdocia for mental health for migrants and all those of us facing stress, and some further reflection on that “happiest country” title.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

 

Nighttime explorations

I’m getting today’s post in under the wire – and since night has fallen, I’m using this Daily Boost to say thank you to Chepecletas, which has made nighttime explorations of San José fun and accessible to so many people. Champions of cycling and walking in the crowded capital, the folks at ChepeCletas organize fun “safaris,” many at night, to showcase the city’s history, gastronomy, nightlife and arts. Plus, their social media feeds are full of news, events and cool photos like the one I’m resharing here.

Their next safari is Thursday, Jan. 30. Check it out here – and here’s to showcasing a city too many people dismiss.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

The overlooked mental health of migrants – and a wellness tip for all

In what I think of as both of my countries, the United States and Costa Rica, waves of migrants and refugees fleeing violence and oppression have dominated plenty of headlines in recent years. However, the impact of migration on mental health is generally not at the forefront, at least not for adults. Since I’m an immigrant myself, this topic is close to my heart, not despite the privileged way I migrated but because of it: the fact that I immigrated voluntarily with every economic, linguistic and cultural advantage, but experienced loneliness and homesickness nonetheless, makes me particularly keen to know more about how the migrants and refugees pouring over borders are coping.

I know lots of Daily Boost readers are in the same camp, so this seemed like a natural place to start when exploring mental health this month. Obviously, it’s incumbent upon the countries that receive migrants and the public and private entities that serve them to provide medical care for serious mental health issues, but I was also curious how organizations are dealing with the earlier steps – providing general support and alleviating sadness. To learn more this, I called Margarita Herdocia.

Margarita Herdocia (second from left) with HUG fellows. Via FB/Ticos y Nicas

Margarita is an extraordinary leader in business and philanthropy whose life story could take up this whole post, but who, among many other efforts, is the president of the Asociación Ticos y Nicas Somos Hermanos, which helps fight xenophobia and support migrants to Costa Rica. Passionate about the violence taking place in her native Nicaragua and the need to help young refugees here continue their university education, she has spearheaded the Humanitarian University Grant (HUG) Program and to fund the continuing education of more than 21 young Nicaraguan refugees.

Thanks to donations from many supporters, the group keeps growing so that these bright young Nicaraguans don’t miss their chance to continue learning. The way Margarita sees it, it’s a huge opportunity not just for Nicaragua’s future, but also for Costa Rica as the host for these brilliant young people – and having met some of the scholarship recipients, I fully agree.

Here’s what she had to say about ways she seeks to support the mental health of her students, and how these practices can apply to all of us:

Mental health is something that, despite everything we talk about these days, is so taboo, and people are really stressed out. In particular, migrating is really stressful, and it’s something that’s usually not looked at. Migrants are seen as people who need jobs, and that’s mostly what is thought about: their Social Security coverage, do they have permits or are they working illegally. They are not thought of as people who really need mental health support.

At the HUG Program, we hold monthly meetings with the students, support-group style. I lead the support groups personally. We have total confidentiality and rules about how we can hear people as they communicate their needs, their distress, their life story, their current mental and emotional state. HUG students have become a social support network for each other… these young people stop being lonely migrants, and they know that they are not alone… You can’t overestimate the importance of belonging for a young person.

The HUG scholars also get exposed to different events with leaders of Costa Rica, whether they are social leaders, business leaders – we even take them to concerts and different types of events. They go from feeling irrelevant to, “Oh my goodness. Life is not only sad. Life is not only difficult. There are also connections, and these people I’m meeting have a big name, but they are also human beings.” That’s also character building. It’s what we call building social capital.

A key component that I think can help anybody – emotionally, spiritually, mentally – is that part of the deal of getting this HUG scholarship is that they must volunteer with one of the charity organizations that we support. These HUG scholars, young people, have to serve and help, whether it’s in an old people’s infirmary or having dinner with girls from orphanages that we sometimes take out, or visiting them in the orphanages – so they have an immediate switch from, “I’m a victim, I’m a migrant, I’m poor, I’m new in a new country” to all of a sudden, “I am a helper. I am the one who provides happiness. I am the one who gives emotional support.”

It is by giving emotional support that you actually strengthen your own, and that is huge. It’s not only something that can be done for students, but something that all of us have to do. The moment we stay inside our heads, thinking “Oh, poor me,” it’s just a downward spiral. The minute you step out of your mind and go serve another, you go from victim to helper, and that’s a huge leap in self-esteem.

That’s a prescription I recommend for everybody, whether you’re a migrant or not. Try, on a regular basis, to get out of yourself and go serve others. Then you’ll see how all problems take a different perspective, and it also becomes a mental health insurance and protection that is enormous. To me, that is the biggest anti-depressant: to go and help and serve others.

To learn more about the HUG program or the Asociación Ticos y Nicas and how to sponsor a HUG scholar, visit their website and Amigos of Costa Rica affiliate page. Read more about my January focus on mental health here.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

 

A flea can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome

I’m a bit late posting today because I awoke to excruciating, razor-wire pain in my right eye, and finally found an opthamologist who could squeeze me in for an emergency appointment. By the time I stumbled into his office, I couldn’t even open the eye without crying out. He expertly administered “magic” eyedrops that numbed the pain, expertly scrutinized every surface of my eye, then laughed when he finally found the culprit: a tiny speck of eyelash that had somehow splintered, gotten stuck inside my eyelid with its two sharp points facing the eye itself, and scraped my cornea all morning long. “The damage is shocking – but you’ll be ok tomorrow,” he said, contemplating the speck at the end of his tweezers as I sighed in relief and mentally prepared a shrine in his honor where I will now light a candle in gratitude each day.

Costa Rican superstition holds that the first 12 days of the calendar year reflect the weather we can expect for the 12 months of the year. For example, today corresponds to August, which will apparently start out sunny and then turn into foreboding gray. Of course, the weather in Costa Rica, once extremely reliable – months without rain, months with afternoon rainshowers you could practically set your clock by, months with rain throughout the day – is now much less predictable. Different factors converge to make this happen, but the climate crisis is one of them. These are unsettling times in which to live, in which to raise a child.

Perhaps that’s the understatement of this very young year, as war looms and Australia burns.

There’s not much of a boost in here, except to say that if I learned anything this morning, it’s that tiny things can make a big difference. A worm can roll a stone. A bee can sting a bear. A teeny fragment of an eyelash can completely sideline us from life. A little country can make a difference – that’s the idea I’m betting my life on.

The cloudy skies outside my window that I’m contemplating with one eye can’t tell me what August will bring, and no one can tell us what this year will bring. All I can do, at least for today, is be grateful for kindly opthalmologists, and raise my afternoon coffee to uncertain times in which tiny things can change our course completely: for worse, but also for better.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

 

Day 68: A glass of ruby-red refreshment

Today’s the first time in 68 days that I haven’t managed to get a Boost out in the morning… it’s been quite a week. Fortunately, the day has 24 hours.

One simple habit I’ve really gotten into this year is drinking unsweetened jamaica, which is iced hibiscus tea. As I’ve noted, I sometimes have a hard time getting myself to drink hot tea, but I could drink agua de jamaica all day. It can prevent hypertension; lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels; and even, so I’ve read, help address pain from menstrual cramps. Best of all, the

The reason it took me so long to become a jamaica converts that when you’re served this popular drink in a soda, or restaurant, it’s often heavily sweetened, and somehow the flavor just never appealed to me. But when my doctor told me to watch my blood pressure earlier this year and I first prepared the drink at home (just steeping dried hibiscus petals in hot water and then icing, as with any tea), I discovered that unsweetened version is delightfully tart, kind of like cranberry juice. I would imagine that you could make a delightful vodka-jamaica cocktail, but I am wandering off topic for Wellness Wednesday.

Plus, its deep red color is just gorgeous, like a jewel, and bright and festive at this time of year.

So on a day so stressful that you don’t write your morning Boost until 6 pm, try a glass of cold hibiscus tea and see if it unspools your knots the way it does mine.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

Day 63: The fruits of summer

One of the many luxuries of life in Costa Rica is the availability of local fruits all year, but something about the sunny skies of December – and the beach trips that often happen during the holidays – gets me craving fruits more than ever.

The supermarkets, at least in San José, push exotic holiday fruits in December, including the grapes that are a must-have in New Year’s Eve (more on that later), and crisp imported apples. On the local side, I always associate the holidays with papaya, because my visiting parents would always delight in having fresh papaya as many mornings as possible for breakfast. (Mops, we’ll have some ready for you when you arrive!)

What are your favorite fruits this time of year? Are there any “exotic fruits” – whether you’re in the tropics importing apples, or in the snow importing mangos – that you love for the holidays? I’m hoping to have a particularly fruit-filled holiday this year to steer me away from other kinds of sugar, so I’d love any inspiration you throw our way.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

 

Day 58: A champion for mental health in Costa Rica

I met Cris Gomar for the first time earlier this year to discuss a potential journalism project. She is literally dedicating her life to creating safe spaces for people to open up, so it’s probably no surprise that we quickly fell into one of the most honest and vulnerable conversations I’ve ever had, all in the middle of a crowded coffee shop. I was fascinated to learn about the mental health initiative Cris had started, Vaso Lleno – more on that on a minute – and the inspiring way in which she, by being honest about her own mental health challenges, was opening the floodgates for people in Costa Rica to ask for help or simply tell a painful story they’ve kept secret for years.

I told her how much I would like to cover and engage in her work through the media organization I was leading at the time. After we finished our long conversation and said goodbye, I stayed behind at the table to do some work. An older woman who had been sitting at the next table and whose group was getting up to leave came over and touched my arm.

“Don’t forget about the men of Los Santos,” the woman said quietly, referring to a coffee-growing region in the mountains to the east. “The suicide rates are very high there. They need a way to share their stories, too.”

And she left.

I tell you this to illustrate how urgently the work of Vaso Lleno, Cris’s mental health initative, is needed in Costa Rica, a country where a variety of cultural factors often lead people to hide their struggles. I’ve learned from Cris and other advocates that some of those factors include the lighthearted, “pura vida” good humor that makes people assume their fears or pain might not be taken seriously. Machismo, which makes many men feel that there’s something wrong with them if they feel bad. A widespread assumption that if you do need to talk to someone, that someone should be your priest – which, especially for women and the LGBTQ community, moves an awful lot of topics off the table.

Enter Cris. Through Vaso Lleno, she is sharing stories of anxiety, depression and other challenges from her own life and the lives of the people who, in her growing online community, are opening up about the problems both big and small that have made their lives more difficult. She was inspired to do this work after experiencing a debilitating anxiety attack and learning first-hand what can happen when we push our mental health problems out of sight. Vaso Lleno means “full glass,” and she says she chose the name because your glass is always full – even if there are bad experiences in it, you can transform them. It began as a thesis project in 2010 and is now a vibrant social outreach initiative.

She creates anonymous surveys where people can simply tell their stories – and to which Costa Ricans respond in astonishing waves that show the extent of the problem. In November, she launched a survey just for men, and from her updates, it seems that she received an epic response. She organizes support groups and other in-person experiences. She shares posts both hilarious and heartbreaking that illustrate what anxiety looks like. She gives speeches that spark massive responses from people who are so relieved to feel that maybe they aren’t so alone after all – like this one, where she also talks about what it’s like to be a tall woman in Costa Rica. (Yes, this is another reason I could relate to her so quickly.)

Now, Cris has created Vasoterapia, a pack of conversation starters. I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, but from the looks of them, they are a mix of funny and deep, just like Cris herself. She says they are great for kids, families, couples, friends, any group – and the people are already contacting her to let her know how much fun they had and how they learned surprising new things about the people in their lives. (I’d venture to say that this would probably be a great gift for a Spanish teacher in your life.) My main reason for picking them up is that I’m more and more convinced every day that Vaso Lleno is filling an urgent need in this country and world, and I want to support it in any way I can.

I’m hoping to do a deep dive into wellness in Costa Rica in January, so you will be hearing more about Cris and mental health soon. Until then, if you’re a Spanish speaker, I invite you to follow her on Facebook or Instagram (as I write this, it looks like the way to acquire Vasoterapia is by simply messaging Cris there). One thing’s for sure – there is much more to come from this rising leader.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).