Photo Credit: TN
The Black Expat: Wellness Retreats For Black Women And Feeling Safe In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo is high on the list of Black expat destinations and with the abundance of nature and Caribbean settlement, we get it. There is something about Puerto Viejo that offers the promise of an easeful and nature-orientated lifestyle. It seems Black women in particular are taking the opportunity to tap out of harsh, 9-5 realities and tap into Costa Rica’s healing energy.
We spoke with expat Jameelah about her lifestyle on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, personal healing journey and her thoughts on why wellness retreats are so prominent for Black women in Puerto Viejo.
Tell us about yourself
I’m from Atlanta, GA originally, and lived in LA for many years; now I live in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. I’ve always been an artist, my first job ever was acting opposite Don Cheadle, Elijah Kelly and Cicely Tyson in an HBO movie when I was 13. I got my degree for theatre and film at USC in LA; then after graduation, I leaned more into producing and film editing.
At the time, I didn’t see the projects I wanted being produced by the industry; so I decided to create them.. If you go deep enough into artistry you eventually hit spirituality – all roads lead back to one. I realized the truth that I was communicating through storytelling, could be shared on an energetic level through different healing modalities.
What did you look for when choosing to move abroad?
The thing that drew me into Puerto Viejo was its Black and Indigenous history. Puerto Viejo, originally called Wolaba, is where the formerly enslaved Jamaicans built self-sustaining communities and towns. They traded and had relationships with the Bri Bri and other native tribes. They were regulated to not cross the mountains to the east of Limon. So they lived on the beachfront that is now Puerto Viejo, and for the most part they were left alone. So it gives off this Wakanda-esque vibe of Blackness that is settled, grounded and knows itself.
The U.S. cities that had similar Black wealth and sovereignty were destroyed. They were either burnt to the ground like Tulsa and Rosewood or forced to be vacated like Seneca Village and Sugar Hill – usually involving a huge loss of Black life and always a huge loss of Black wealth. There is really no place like PV in the United States, so I had to move.
What do you enjoy most about living in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica?
I love all of the nature in Puerto Viejo. It is stunningly beautiful, colorful, green and vibrant. It teems with life. Every morning there is a concert put on by all the insects, birds, and monkeys – the morning council meeting is what I call it, and I have never woken up happier in a place. Most people I know here have at least one moment every day where we are stunned into awe of silence by the natural beauty. I can be riding my bike and it just hits me like a wall of sheer gratitude.
How did you get into the wellness space?
I got into the wellness space by first deciding to heal myself. Through training and reading I began to study spirituality and energy; as I did, these natural and ancient healing modalities found their way into my life.
I was changed – maybe deepened. I became a more authentic and grounded version of myself – I stepped into my power. And naturally the people around me wanted to know what I was doing, how I was able to move differently through life. So teaching healing modalities (which is just reminding people to connect to who they really are) became something I did regularly and with great alignment and ease.
Do you have any thoughts about why Costa Rica is such a desired space for wellness retreats with Black Women?
Costa Rica is pure life. Pure nature. You have this gentle jungle, vibrant colors in flowers and birds of every hue. The biodiversity in Costa Rica is awe-inspiring. And unlike most countries with jungles, you also have these gorgeous, first-class beaches which is a unique pairing, but there is also a chillness/vibe with Costa Rica. Much about Costa Rica is relaxed, down to its plants and animals, everything grows with ease.
Puerto Viejo is a healing vortex, where it sits on the earth, the axis’s that cross underneath it emanate a radically healing energy. It is hard to describe. But people who live here can tell you – Puerto Viejo helps you heal. Just you being here, breathing the air, your feet in the earth, the salt water of the Caribbean sea … you see people shift and change. So much so, that if you are not ready to heal – you will have to leave. You see certain people bounce off Puerto because energetically they aren’t ready to let go of old patterns.
But if you want to heal, and are ready to surrender to the healing process – Puerto will help you. It’s a very loving and soothing place. So it is a naturally intuitive destination for retreats and artists, creatives, spiritual people or just people who are ready for growth.
I recently completed training with Siedeh Foxie on healing racial trauma through breathwork. It’s amazing to me how many Black women and people of color are interested in healing work right now. I think the pandemic coupled with the public execution of George Floyd – really showed Black people how much we need to heal, how much racial trauma has been buried. And it is incredible to provide tools for people who want to excavate, heal, and thrive.
What has living in Puerto Viejo done personally for your own wellness?
Living in Puerto for almost a year now, has opened me up tremendously to the power of my own healing.
Where I used to teach healing modalities on a casual level prior to moving, now I’ve gotten more certifications and in depth training for more advanced techniques. I can help more people – including those who are less sensitive to sensing and moving energy through their bodies. Through facilitating KAP (Kundalini Activation Process) and transmitting raw life force energy to people – it matters less whether they believe in energy work or not – they can feel it. Whereas before, I had to stick with people who were ‘already there’ or had begun the healing/awakening process – now through KAP, the energy is more universal. I can have skeptics laying down to receive a session and they still have life-changing visions and cathartic experiences on the mat.
My energy feels more powerful now because I was able to go more deeply into it while living in Puerto Viejo. Without the daily stress of systemic racism in the USA, and the heavy energy it brings, I finally feel free.
Be sure to keep updated on Jameelah’s expat lifestyle and continued healing work in Puerto Viejo on Instagram.