“Wow, you guys are really living the dream, it makes me wonder why I am still living in my country”
A quote from many of our guests. They see the view, the yoga deck, the pool and a year round sun and ask themselves why their life back home is so different?
Two years ago…
During our year of traveling the world the idea started of creating a place where we can share all of our passions for yoga, surf, healthy food and nature. A place where people can find a sense of peace and tranquility. Two years ago we came to Nicaragua to volunteer in an eco-lodge at Playa Maderas to get some hotel experience. We managed the hotel, cooked for the guests and taught yoga and surf. We loved it, the area of San Juan del Sur was the first place we could see each other live. At one morning Remy came to me and said: ‘I found our dream place’ and showed me the pictures. The next morning we ran to Eden (a 45 minute run from our hotel where we were working at the time) and we immediately fell in love with it. At that point Eden consisted of 3 cabanas and a rancho. We could immediately see an image of how we would expand this place and make it into our dream place. In every cell of our body we knew it, this is it and a couple days later we bought it and jumped into an adventure.
We didn’t know anything about building
After a couple months of volunteering in another eco-lodge we thought we knew everything there was to know about running a hotel. We kind of miscalculated that. Remy and I didn’t know anything about building, in Dutch we would say ‘we have two left hands’. Our Spanish was also really basic. To have that vision in mind of how we wanted it is one thing, to make it actually happen is another. The next 7 months we would have a group of 30 people from the north of Nicaragua building our cabanas. They all slept in hammocks throughout the property. Remy and I had one balcony where we had a little bit of privacy. The chainsaw started every day at 7 in the morning and ended when it got dark. I can go on and on about the struggles of starting an eco-lodge in Nicaragua. Basic needs like electricity and water can not be taken for granted. So we installed solar panels and a well. At one point we bought a piece of land next to Eden and later we found out the owner had sold it to someone else as well. We really had to get used to the cultural differences. If someone tells you that he comes Wednesday 1 o’clock it actually means: I probably don’t come Wednesday 1 o’clock, I might come next week’. These cultural differences we experienced with our first staff members as well. If I would ask why they were 2 hours late they would say: ‘I needed to sleep’. I do have to say that the staff members we have now are extremely good and reliable, they helped Eden grow and without them Eden was not what it is today.
Political crisis in Nicaragua
4 weeks after we bought Eden, Nicaragua turned into a political crisis. In San Juan del Sur we lived in a bubble and we never felt unsafe, but for 3 months it was hard to get around because of the road blocks. The effects of the crisis were huge. San Juan del Sur lives on tourism and San Juan del Sur turned into a ghost town. Many local people lost their job, because many hotels closed and we hadn’t even started yet.
Our dream becomes more and more reality
After 1,5 year, tourism is slowly coming back again and our hotel is filling up more and more with people that actually come for the yoga, the healthy food and the tranquility. Finally we can grow more and more towards a retreat center, our dream. Every month we run a weekly retreat where we can connect with the people and share our passions. In these weeks my heart lights up. We teach two yoga classes a day on our ocean view yoga deck. I love to share all aspects of yoga, that it is not just about doing poses but it is rather a whole mindset which benefits you in daily life. In these weeks we can connect with the guests on a deeper level and it is so nice to see people enjoying it.
Would we do it again?
If we had known 2 years ago what was coming we would not have bought Eden. We would probably be to scared for the instability of the country, we wouldn’t know if we could adjust ourselves to the cultural differences. Who knows if we would have ever found a place were we could feel in every cell of our body that this is it. Do we live the dream? It’s a dream to wake up and see the ocean, to share our passions for yoga and healthy food, to be able to do what we love and call it work, to connect with people from all over, to see other people connect in the space we have created, so I can say YES that I am happy and feel fortunate we took the jump into the adventure called Eden on the Chocolata. But it took a while to come to that point and it is still a process of trial and error. We give our all to the hotel, it’s our first baby. Our second came to this world the 31st of July 2019. A whole new roller coaster of extreme highlights and again its challenges on its own. No matter what we do, life has its challenges and it’s a learning process to embrace them.