I’ve been living the broke but happy life for a little over a year now. Since giving up legal pursuits for yoga ones, I’ve been scraping by, but have not had nearly enough money to travel. When my long-time Instagram friend Pat Baily (aka Pat Russo, aka @patbailey) invited me to go on a retreat with her Hell Yes Agency in Sayulita, Mexico, I had to seriously pause before I considered it. This was the first time I’d had the money for a retreat in my bank account, but that would also mean nearly draining all my financial resources in the process. The fact that on my list of 32 things to do before I turn 32 renew and use my passport was something that weighed in on my decision-making process. I chose to drain my bank account and go relying on promises of some freelance work I had coming in in the few weeks after I returned.Now that I’m back and have secured my finances for the next month or two, I had the time to pause and reflect on the retreat. There was a lot I really enjoyed, some I could have done without, and a few lessons learned.
When I arrived in Sayulita at the Amor Boutique Hotel (more pictures on my travel page), I was instantly greeted with hugs and smiles. All the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Most spoke enough English that I could use my broken Spanglish back, and we got things figured out. I really didn’t have any communication problems. The rooms were beautiful, there was a spa, pool, yoga villa, private beach, restaurant, free bikes, free surf boards, free yoga lessons, free paddle boards, massages, etc. My villa had two other people staying it. We had a balcony, a pool, a kitchen, fresh water, two suits and one bedroom with a separate bathroom, and my room had its own entrance and exit. The loner in me was really happy with that last one. Town was only a short walk away down the road or beach (maybe ten minutes), and fairly safe.
The town of Sayulita itself is a mixture of native Mexican people and foreigners (A LOT from Los Angeles) who moved to town to surf, fish, and/or teach yoga or open another business. Most places had someone around that spoke English if needed, and everywhere I went took credit cards if you didn’t have pesos. A lot also took US dollars. Not the street vendors though! I had a fun time haggling over pesos with them.
Back to the retreat. The thing I really disliked about the retreat was actually two things that sound contradictory. The retreat was both over, and under organized. We didn’t get our schedules, for example, until after we arrived. That meant I WAY overpacked because I didn’t know what I was going to be doing. And when we got our schedules, we only had about a combined 5 hours of free time per day and the rest was scheduled between 7 am and 10 pm. It was pretty exhausting. I opted to avoid a lot of the workshops (not yoga ones) to spend some time alone strolling through town or peeking in tide pools.
What I really liked was the location and the yoga instructor. Kudos to Pat for choosing an amazing establishment. The hotel was perfectly situated at the end of the beach so we were far enough from town to avoid all the noise, and we were right on the ocean (I mean the beach under us disappeared at high tide, right on the ocean!). Seriously, I loved my stay there and everyone who worked there that I interacted with. Major kudos to Janalyn who is the retreat organizer at the hotel (Instagram @janalyn.rose). She taught us daily yoga and met up with us for all meals. She also tried to teach us to stand up paddleboard yoga, but most of us were epic failures at that. Janalyn organized a lot of cool things for us like meeting other local business owners, taking salsa lessons, and a ladies’ Valentine’s dinner with chocolates. She even went out of her way to make sure that the place we met to have our meals could accommodate my gluten allergy. They were wonderful. The place is called Tierra Viva if you are ever looking for a restaurant with good food (really good) and fresh ingredients who can cater to any dietary restriction. They were very careful for me and I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t see Janylyn as much as I saw Pat, because she was mostly meeting us off property. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the schedule, the events I missed tended to be the ones she hosted like vision boarding or heart mapping. However, she always raised interesting and deep topics of conversation at meals to keep us all talking and bonding, so I imagine her workshops were great. Her yoga classes were a great mix of static and dynamic movements and were flows that deviated from the traditional vinyasa style which I really liked. I also learned more about paddle boarding from her in 15 minutes than I have from anyone in my whole life. She really knows her stuff about anything ocean related. Oh, and she’s also a photographer.
So, what did I learn? I learned that the next retreat I go on will be one with a more fluid schedule. I also prefer activities that get me out into the town or onto the ocean instead of hanging in the hotel. While I think vision boarding, for example, is a wonderful workshop, I would have preferred if it was on the beach instead of indoors. Same for the sister circle or ukulele and yin yoga. I love nature and I love the outdoors. If I’m traveling to somewhere I can be outside all the time, I want to be outside as much as possible. If I’m given the options of ukulele and yin indoors versus sitting by the ocean and night and looking at the stars, I’m going to choose the later. If the two were combined, it would have been perfect. Note to self for future retreat hosting.
I also learned I much prefer activities with a fitness aspect or some element of excitement. Rather than touring the shops of town, I’d rather explore the hidden caves along the beaches 20 miles away. Rather than going to a famous churro stand, I would prefer to hike to a waterfall. So now I know that if I go on another retreat that I would be happier with a yoga and adventure retreat. One of the reasons I didn’t bond with my fellow retreaters as much as I could have been because I was off exploring so much on my own. Maybe that’s because I’m an introvert, maybe it’s because I get anxious when I have to follow a tight schedule that requires a lot of bouncing from place to place. Maybe it’s because I just wanted to do my own thing. Who knows. That’s a topic for another blog post. I do know for sure that I will never do another retreat without the schedule upfront, but I would travel with Pat or Janalyn again, and for sure go back to Sayulita and the Amor Boutique Hotel. Maybe I'll plan my own retreat there. I will definitely be going back to Sayulita soon; there's a certain magic about that pltownace.
Check out my travel page for more pictures of Sayulita as well as my instagram accounts: @cherylandhercamera and @cherylfyoga. xoxo!
Best Street Art Walls in the Arts District
You've seen the pictures all over social media: beautiful murals and brightly colored walls with bloggers, yogis, and photo fanatics posing all around. There are soooooooooooooooooo (enough o's for you, because I don't know if that's enough to get my point across, lol) many murals and graffiti hot spots all over LA that it would be impossible to see them all in the time I have lived here. I mean even the city electrical boxes are artfully painted! Some of this street art changes constantly, such is the nature of painting on privately owned buildings. However, some of this art has become like an institution in Los Angeles, especially in the Art's District of Downtown.
I was fortunate to spend the last year living a short distance from the Arts District; one of the major hotbeds of street art in the city, and one of the places with some of the most iconic art. The scenery around here is constantly changing with new tags, new artists, and photographers and videoagraphers wandering all around. After all, it's an artsy place with lots of creative types and there are a limited number of walls and fences and abandoned vehicles around town. A lot of the art you will see once and come back and find covered over by something entirely new. However, the ten places below are some of those iconic Arts District photographable places that don't change (or at least not in the year that I've been going to them), and therefore guarantee you a consistently beautiful experience each time.
So where are these walls I and so many others are fond of photographing? I've mapped them out for you, and included the link in this post, but here's a written description with photos as well. Sorry guys, I haven't been able to take yoga pictures at all of them just yet. Even though I wish it was the case, every moment can't always be a yoga pose moment (pout). Also, under each of the write ups following the pictures/galleries, there is a link directly to the artist's website or social media account if the artist is known (and has an online presence). Enjoy!
1. Corner of Los Angeles and Winston Streets
One of a few very large Audrey Hepburn murals created by Free Humanity. The mural is 15 x 50 feet in size and shows a lovely Ms. Hepburn surrounded by a field of hearts. It reads "It's that wonderful old fashioned idea that others come first and you come second."
I love this wall because of Audrey, obviously. But the other great thing about it is the background. The hearts and love are truly beautiful and fit right in with the artist's mission statement: "Taking back the Humanity stolen from our minds by social manipulation and planting the seed of positivity through art and consciousness." Also, I'm a sucker for heart walls. www.freehumanity.la
2. Angel City Brewery, 216 Alameda Street
The Angel City Brewery is known for it's beer and it's art walls. The red brick features one of many of the the Heart of Los Angeles walls designed by artist Tiphanie Brooke, a.k.a. antigirl, and her partner Mike Polson. http://antigirl.la/
You probably know the brewery most, however, for it's wall featuring an installation of The Global Wings Project by Colette Miller, which has a second location in the Arts District and several others around LA. Ms. Miller founded this project in 2012 "to remind humanity that we are the angels of this earth." http://colettemiller.com/angelwings
3. EightyTwo, 707 E. 4th Place
This place is actually a really cool bar and arcade during the evening and night. During the daytime it's an awesome place to stop and take pictures! The building was done as an untitled collaborative piece between Vyal (aka Vyal One) and RISK. Vyal is a native of East LA and is known for using dark, rich colors and his signature eyes and bubbles. You've probably seen his work around town in a few places. http://www.vyalone.com/
RISK was one of the first Southern California graffiti artists to paint freight trains, helping to spark that trend which he later took to art galleries for installation work. He has another collaborative piece in Santa Monica which is instantly recognizable from a similar color scheme and painting style as the one pictured here. www.riskrock.com
4. South Hewitt Street (in between E. 4th Place and Traction)
This tiny little spot wedged in between much bigger murals is home to the very first ever installation of the Global Wings Project. It is in this spot that Colette Miller launched her world wide project. www.colettemiller.com
5. Art Share Building, 801 E. 4th Place
This building is one of my favorite spots because of all the beautiful colors. The building itself is "creative environment for [artists] to reside, develop, perform and exhibit". www.artsharela.org. Painted black with waves of teal and yellow and pink, red, and more, the building is quite lovely, and very dynamic. The artist who painted the outside of the building is an international street artist named INSA from the United Kingdom. www.insaland.com
6. Paddy's Pub, Corner of Mateo and Palmetto Streets.
So if you haven't seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you will have no idea what Paddy's Pub is. If you have, sweet, we're on the same page! This is actually not a decorated building in the traditional street art sense, but if you are following my walls in order from the top to the bottom of this page (by that I mean walking around looking at them), you will pass this building. This building is used for everything from pop-up sample sales, to Chase Bank commercials (I accidentally interrupted filming taking pictures outside once....ooops), to hit TV series. What I love about it is the three big brick archways with green painted doors behind them. Each door in a different state of paint disrepair and each has its own wood patterning. It's not graffiti, but it is a really cool building with a lot of screen time, and definitely worth checking out.
7. Blue (and yellow, and teal, and red...the colors change) Color Block Wall, Villains Tavern parking lot at the intersection of S. Santa Fe Avenue and Willow Street.
And literally, that's all the information I have and/or could find on this location except that the colors change relatively often, and this place is frequently used for various forms of videos and photo shoots.
8. Polka Dot Wall, The Springs, 608 Mateo St., DTLA Arts District
I don't know much about this piece of work. It's created by The Most Famous Artist, aka Matty Mo. He is a conceptual artist whose works appear all over Los Angeles. His works answer the epitome of the millennial quandary: how does one make street art into ultimate selfie backdrop or Instagram shot? He is well known in the LA street art (and Instagram and blogging crowds) for exploring how social media (and influencers) can be used to promote [street] art and business. www.themostfamousartist.com
9. Heart Wall, Broke LA, 695 S Santa Fe. Street
I stumbled upon this wall by accident. I wasn't looking for it, actually I had gone too far past the entrance to the Los Angeles River and found these hearts. I wasn't able to find much information about the place online at all, which is unfortunate. There aren't a lot of pictures on social media for this place either which makes it much more of a hidden gem (yay). My favorite thing about this place is the way the hearts spill out onto the side walk and cover all the surrounding walls. It's an explosion of hearts and colors and love.
10. Kim West Mural - 'Ode to Bohemia', 7th & Mill Streets
This work appears all over Instagram, but rarely in it's complete form. Bloggers and yogis love the lilies and irises, but I love this walking by shot of one of the walls this mural covers. It actually wraps around two sides of this building. www.kimwest.com
Bonus Find!!! Los Angeles River Access
If you've seen an action movie filmed in LA, you've seen the LA River. Specifically, you've seen this section of the LA river under where the 6th street bridge used to be. This spot has been featured in movies like: 'The Italian Job', 'Last Action Hero', 'Grease', 'Terminator 2', and more. It's also been in commercials, TV shows, and music videos. I happened to find the entrance along S. Santa Fe Avenue while walking towards the heart wall above. It is at Santa Fe and 6th Street and looks like a sketchy underpass covered in graffiti. It's often closed off for filming, photo shoots, or construction (the bridge is being rebuilt), so you may not gain access. If you do, however, it's worth the visit.
I'm Cheryl. I moved to California from Vermont in 2015, gave up the path I'd spent years planning for, and started down a road to a happier, more fulfilling life. Goodbye suits and courtrooms, hello bare feet and yoga mats. After a few years, a couple of cross country moves, and a broken heart, I know I don't have all the answers, but I'm slowly starting to get the hang of things. :) I'm just taking things one day at a time, trying to figure out how to live my best life and help others do the same.