My Sacred Grove

Just before the pandemic instigated shutdowns and the world turned inward, I was on a six-week long ‘eat, pray, love’ visit to Costa Rica. As I departed San Jose for a Pandemic Year in Paris in early March 2020, I knew I wanted to return. Experience kept me from assuming I would return – I’ve had that intention several times and not followed through. Or I’ve returned, and the place had changed so dramatically that I wished I hadn’t. This was the case with the Casco Bay, Maine cabin, directly across from Cousin’s Island, where I’d spent happy childhood summers picking berries (wild straw- and blue-) and rowing up and down the Royale River. 

I went back there, after more than a decade, after I bought a car and decided to accept a job in Cleveland – what then seemed like the faraway Midwest but is really just a chiller extension of the East Coast, as I discovered once I really moved to the Midwest. The mid-Midwest. To Purgatory. Driving to Maine from New York City was the first long drive in my first car – a shiny, red Mazda. Once I arrived in Yarmouth, I remembered the way, and turned onto an unpaved, unmarked road leading into the woods. Earlier, it was all woods, at least for the half mile until you got to the property owner’s enclave. Begun in the seventeenth century when the family acquired the property, it remained entirely intact until the 1980s, when the lazy, avaricious progeny of the earlier generation began selling parcels. Driveways now extended into the woods at regular intervals, leading to the newly constructed weekend homes of Boston yuppies. The handful of modest rental cabins built on the escarpment overlooking the sea in the mid-twentieth century to attract families with children, so the owner’s kids had friends to play with during the long summers far from their regular friends in St. Augustine Beach had disappeared. In their place were sleek, modern, terraced residences with spectacular views. The wild strawberry patch had been sacrificed to a gravel driveway. While returning tainted happy memories, over time, childhood memories proved stronger, and I can recollect that past free of the sadness that awareness of later transformations once triggered. 

I explored the possibility of returning to Costa Rica for a month or two in January 2021, desperate to feel the sun and to revisit a few significant-to-me places. Pandemic uncertainties made staying in France the sensible choice, however, but as soon as I returned to the U.S. in August 2021, I began making plans to visit Costa Rica during Spring Break 2022. 

The wild and empty beaches south of Tamarindo beckoned, as did a particular spot in Monteverde in the Cloud Forest. I spent hours in this forest spot – actually a landscaped grove of spindly dead trees that sprout new life surrounding includes a small, artificial pond. On my first visit, I experienced overwhelming emotion. I cried – my default under such circumstances – and then felt a blissful sense of safety and contentment. I listened to the wind rustle the leaves, the birds sing, and small creatures forage. I plugged myself in – earthed – by removing my footgear and planting my feet and hands on the cool ground. I felt the sense of restored balance psycho-emotionally that I feel physically after exerting myself and then compensating with electrolytes. Every time I left, I found myself wandering back for just a few more minutes. I dream about this place often. 

When I visited Sedona, my hosts gave me a map with ‘vortices’ marked – places emitting extraordinary vibrational frequencies considered beneficial. I went to two of them and felt nothing. A woman I encountered recommended an unmarked, especially potent one she’d discovered – complete with a mysterious stone circle. Upon arrival, I concluded that it was the meeting place for scouts or some such group, who’d arranged stone seats in a circle around a fire place. I felt nothing there, either. 

But this place! Perhaps – if one is even sensitive to such things at all – different places connect with people differently? When I arrived the other day, hiking up a very steep hill, I was not only sweaty and panting, but I felt a tightening in my chest while tears welled up and began to trickle down my cheeks as I approached. I went to ‘my’ spot, removed my shoes and socks, and plugged into Mother Earth. As in the past, I cried for a bit, expelling, I suppose, emotions that required release. I felt lighter, my cortisol level plummeted. Then, I just inhaled the dense oxygen generated by all the growing things and listened to the bird chorus and the rustling of wind in the leaves. Balance felt restored.

I left two days ago but continue to feel exhilarated – like I’d spent the week at Aja Malibu. I’ll be interested to see how long this psychic recharge lasts, and would sure like to find a place closer to home where I experience that sense of refreshment. Have you discovered a place that exerts, inexplicably, a similar, extraordinary power over you? I’d love to hear your story!

By michellefacos

I am a multi-lingual art historian, consultant (art, travel, writing), editor, entrepreneur, lecturer, and writer who has lived along the shores of the Baltic, the Mediterranean, and Lake Erie, in New York and in Paris, and in the forests of Quebec and Sweden. While I’ve lived a semi-nomadic existence for the past few decades, I’m inching toward a life anchored in Europe.


  1. As a child, my parents took us to the Lötschental and since then I feel a very special attachment to this valley. I tried to spend at least a week there also while living in New York. Now, I live almost half the year here, and its magical.

    1. I felt your special connection to that place when I visited – I think that’s part of why my stay was so elevating! Now, I just need to find a solution similar to yours! Thanks for sharing!

  2. We very much want to return to Costa Rica too, since we weren’t able to do everything we’d planned because of Adrian’s detached retina and subsequent surgery. I’m happy for you that you did it!

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