Camille Willemain is the travel blogging Yogi and heart-centred woman behind This American Girl. 4 years ago Camille left her conventional American life for the Costa Rican Jungle, filled with beach huts, coconuts and the sun, sand and sea. She writes about her journey to becoming mindful and experiencing real happiness, and the beauty and challenges it encompasses. Her soul shares burst with authenticity as she inspires you to live your true life and find ‘Pura Vida’.
We’re thrilled to bring to you our chat with Camille about all things travel, Costa Rica and yoga!
Your holiday with a friend was where it all began – how it that so?
The idea was that I’d go and recharge for a couple of months, finish up my grad school applications, and finally learn how to relax. It was supposed to be the first step in my journey towards becoming an Interior Designer. Instead it was the first step in becoming a world traveler!
Was it a light bulb moment when you realised that your lifestyle in America (at the time) was no longer serving you, and that you’d go back to Costa Rica?
It actually took a very long time. After just a few weeks in Costa Rica, I started to question my path. Thinking about designing a $50,000 bathroom seemed frivolous and uninteresting. I already noticed myself moving away from my material world the more I fell in love with the jungle. However I still had that nagging voice in my head that it wasn’t realistic or practical to stay. So after 2 months I went back to the states to get my grad degree. The travel bug had bitten me, so I was one foot in, one foot out. I kept delaying my enrolment (I even paid a deposit at SCAD, the best school in the USA for Interior Design) and went traveling instead. Finally, a year and a half after I first left for Costa Rica, I accepted the fact that I was never going back.
Read Camille’s full story here.
The biggest fear holding back so many people who dream of living a nomadic life, is the fear of not being able to fund this style of life long term. Did you feel this fear or concern?
Actually, it’s what first motivated me to start a blog. With a background in internet marketing, I knew that there were people out there making a living this way. Yoga became a passion of mine around the same time, when I started practicing at Om Yoga in Costa Rica. For the following two years I made a living exclusively through freelance travel writing (using my blog as a portfolio.) Last year I got my Yoga Teacher Training to deepen my practice and have the tools to eventually lead retreats. I also wrote my first eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica, which is presently my key source of income. By the end of the summer I’ll be releasing my next eBook The Single Girl’s Guide to Traveling the World, and this fall I start leading yoga retreats!
When you’re in Costa Rica, what’s an average week in the life of Camille?
A typical day involves waking up at sunrise, around 5:30am to the sound of monkeys howling in my yard. I walk across the street to the beach and take a morning swim and a long walk. For breakfast I usually have fresh young coconut water and then head over to the yoga studio. If I’m not teaching, a take a morning class. Then I spend a few hours in the downstairs cafe working on my blog. In the afternoon I ride my bicycle out to one of my favourite remote beaches, hang out with friends, snorkel, do some journaling, etc. Late afternoon I’ll either do some more work on the blog or go back to the yoga studio. Evenings in Costa Rica are a blast, whether it’s joining friends for a full moon circle on the beach or dancing to Reggae under the stars at one of the bars in town. What I love most about Costa Rica is that if you dream it you can create it. All it takes is putting the word out and you can form all sorts of amazing community events and activities. People are passionate about health, nature, and spirituality, which makes it an amazing place to live in.
How have you found it making friends in Costa Rica? Is there many expats and nomads like yourself living there?
There are TONS of expats and long term travellers in Costa Rica. At first it was tricky making friends, because with so many tourists coming and going, some locals can be guarded. Though over the years I’ve found a community and a tribe of people who I adore. My friendships in Costa Rica are the ones most in alignment with my chosen lifestyle.
You often reference ‘Pura Vida’ a term in Costa Rica that means to embrace all experiences. What are your 3 top 3 mindful living tips to achieve and maintain this mindset?
- Find comfort in discomfort
- Remind yourself of the impermanence of everything
- Choose gratitude in the present moment
Camille’s favourite places to stay, eat, drink coffee and do yoga in Costa Rica below.
Favourite place to stay in Costa Rica?
I usually rent a simple beach house in Puerto Viejo, but for traveling around the country I have some fave hostels/hotels. In Uvita I LOVE Flutterby Hostel which even has an organic garden they use for their restaurant. On the Osa Peninsula I loved camping in the jungle at the La Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National park, and for a decadent splurge Blue Osa Yoga Resort is heaven on earth.
Favourite place to eat in Costa Rica?
Out of the jungle. Seriously, fresh young coconuts, papayas, mangos, and bananas fall out of the trees. What more does a beach girl need?
Favourite place to have a coffee and work on your blog?
You’ll usually find me at Caribeans Coffee in Puerto Viejo which has chocolate infused drinks straight from their own sustainable cacao farm.
Favourite place to do a yoga class in Costa Rica?
Oooo I have lots. Big shout out to the place where I first started practicing, Om Yoga in Puerto Viejo, and Pavones Yoga Center where I did my Yoga Teacher Training. I also love Montezuma Yoga, Nosara Yoga Institute, Yoga at Harmony Hotel in Nosara.
Lastly, what’s on the cards for the rest of the year?
End of August I’m flying back to Costa Rica after nearly a year away! I’ll be there teaching yoga and taking some trips up to Mexico and Guatemala. I’ll also be leading my first retreat in Costa Rica! So stay tuned and sign up for my newsletter!
For Camille’s best tips for creating your own magical trip to Costa Rica, check out her ebook.