Elise didn’t like our hostel, so we switched to CasaZen, a private guesthouse with a tranquil garden with banana trees, exotic flowers, hammocks, and hummingbirds buzzing just outside our window.

Mery, the owner, also offered a range of holistic therapies, including massage, Zen meditation, shamanic cleansing (special plants are used to ‘tap away’ blockages), and even psychotherapy. To Elise’s delight, neighborhood cats and dogs were allowed to visit the garden, where they did pet tricks for a bite to eat. We met a wonderful couple there, Pippa and Matt, who were traveling the world. I noticed that CasaZen was not listed on or even Facebook, so I helped Mery establish a social media presence, and created a video for her, with Elise and Pippa and Matt as models. Mery treated us to massages and delicious food. After the lovely days spent together helping each other, it almost felt like the four of us were family.

Yes, that is Elise somewhere under that mop. 😉

Pippa spent hours making an embroidered purse, and to our great surprise, presented it to Elise as a parting gift. We were incredibly touched, and Elise will always treasure it.