Aerial Retreat Nicaragua

This past month I was able to travel to a country that was never on my radar of places to visit—Nicaragua. The Aviary, an aerial dance & fitness studio located in MSP, Minnesota hosted & organized the retreat. When the owner, Christine, asked me to be the special guest instructor I was honored to be included for the inaugural event.

Let me tell you a little bit about Nicaragua. The venue for the beach retreat was located on the remote edges of Popoyo. Popoyo is a town located on the western coast of the country and to get there from the Managua airport requires a bumpy, 2.5-3 hour ride on a partially dirt road. This ride takes you past acres of desolate farm land, where pigs, goats and horses are roaming freely in the tin-roofed homes of their owners.

Our day of travel to the retreat was frustrating to say the least. I won’t go into too much detail for the sake of time, however, a few tips (from this experience specifically) to save yourself a headache when traveling internationally:

  1. Book direct flights if possible (or with minimal connections).
  2. Be at the airport 3 hours before international flights, and checked in 1 hour before.
  3. Always pack your toothbrush in your carry-on (in case you end up spending 27 hours traveling when you only anticipated 10 or so).
  4. Never fly with Avianca Airlines.

My husband, Joshua, was able to join me for this retreat and before we even  left the states I thought for sure he was going to divorce me. We were both so incredibly frustrated with the airlines we traveled on and didn’t arrive at Magnific Rock until 12pm the following day (12 hours later than anticipated). However, once our driver finally pulled through the gates and up to peak of the “mountain” where Magnific Rock sits, beautifully facing the Pacific Ocean, all of my stresses disappeared and all of the travel was well worth it.

We were treated to a welcome cocktail party our first night at Mag Rock. It was a great way to start off the week and get to know The Aviary instructors and students attending. This retreat sold out so quickly that Josh and I were the only people there that weren’t from Minneapolis, therefore, we were the only strangers.

The first thing I fell in love with about our retreat spot—the food. Everything was extremely fresh and full of flavor (which makes sense because the economy is sustained through farming and agriculture). Magnific Rock employs very talented and hard-working staff and among those individuals is an excellent Chef. I thought most every meal we had deserved recognition in the Food Network magazine. The fish was always fresh and caught from the ocean the same day. The presentation of the our meals were always thoughtful. The best part—we were fed three times a day with our choice of a smoothie (included in the cost of the retreat).

Other things I really loved about Magnific Rock: surfing (it was my first time ever!), the included massage with Georgina (not to be fooled by her small stature—she can bring you to tears on her table) and the close proximity of the resort to the beach. Walk down a three-minute trail and you are immediately greeted by hot sand and the ocean breeze.

Some people have asked me questions like, “is it safe to be in Nicaragua?” I felt very safe. Mag Rock has its own security that patrols throughout the night. We were told not to walk in the dark at night or leave any personal belongings on the beach while we swam. Apparently thieves like to hide in the beach foliage and wait for items to be left unsupervised to snatch them up. It was good to be cautious but nobody in our group had any issues, nor did I ever feel like I was in any kind of danger.

Teaching here was every dancer’s dream. The aerial studio had huge open windows that let in the ocean breeze. Don’t get me wrong, it got VERY hot in the afternoon hours, but it was still beautiful and so relaxing. The students were so excited just to be there that it made classes and workshops that much more exciting. As a traveling instructor you never know what kind of personalities you will encounter. You have to kind of be a chameleon, blending in with the environment while still being your own unique creature. I was able to spend a lot of time with people outside of workshops and get to know them through lots of conversation and this I really enjoyed. My husband and I even befriended a Norwegian surfer who spent a lot of time with us during that week. Meeting people from other cultures and backgrounds and still finding common ground is one of the most remarkable aspects of traveling and it’s what I look forward to most when visiting a new place.

Even though I had a busy week teaching three workshops and numerous private classes, I still was able to thoroughly enjoy my time at the retreat. My only regret is that my husband and I didn’t spend one or two more days exploring, just the two of us. Although I think we will have a second chance at that!

The Aviary is hosting a second retreat in November 2018 over Thanksgiving week. April was a very hot & dry time to visit. November is the best time of year to visit Nicaragua because it will be very luscious and green and have cooler temperatures.

If you want to join us for round two and be part of an amazing experience, you can keep following me on IG (@hollyannjarvis) or sign up for my newsletter through my website to get updates on the trip. You can also stay in touch with The Aviary: /// IG (@theaviarymn)