I am following Google Maps' instructions through the streets of Lombok to get somewhere. I am getting closer to the coast, I can feel it and I can ever hear it. I can't wait to get there, the air is hot and I am wearing long sleeves. I am riding in the back of the scooter since my partner Oscar is driving.
We suddenly stop on the road when Oscar sees a sign that says "Mana Yoga Retreat" and he reads it out loud. "Yes, yes. Mana that way" shout the locals from the other side of the road with a big smile on their faces.
We arrive at Mana and we are greeted with the same warm smile by the security guard in the entrance. "Selamat Datang, do you have a booking?".
Here is when the relaxing story begins. The receptionist performs the fastest and simplest check-in procedure and asks us to follow her to our room. Out of nowhere appeared two or three friendly faces that help us to carry our luggage. We don't even have to carry it for ourselves, we don't have to worry about anything anymore.
The room is fresh and airy, it has about eight windows, plus the door, and they are all open. The light enters through one of the windows but it doesn't heat the room, it only creates a cozy atmosphere. We take a quick shower and go out for a walk through the hotel.
First stop is the restaurant. The smiles on everybody's faces tell us the vibe here is amazing. Another receptionist tells us about the yoga lessons, the schedule and the spa. We then are invited by her to take a tour through the property.
"You are staying in bungalow number five. Those are the bungalows." I can identify at least five of the huts hidden in the canopy that surrounds the swimming pool, but I am certain there are a few more than five. "This is the yoga hut, classes are given here every morning. On Fridays, we have a cinema here too." The white wall in the back of the yoga hut also projects movies every Friday night and you can even order food from their restaurant! I really would have loved to experience that.
"These two huts are the spas" she kindly says as she hands us the spa treatments menu. "Now these rooms here are the cabanas." I can see these rooms are a bit bigger and of a different style; there must be eight or ten cabanas surrounding another swimming pool. "And if you follow through here you will get to the private villas." Private villas within the retreat with their own swimming pool. Talk about a relaxing yoga retreat!
Throughout our week here at Mana, we ate the most delicious and healthy breakfasts, we practised yoga once or twice, we watched some beautiful sunrises and sunsets and we enjoyed the privacy the canopy provides to each bungalow, while still meeting people from the other cabanas who became friends.
We were approached by the hotel manager, Tatiana, to see how we were doing and if everything had been alright. We began chatting and we realised we shared the same nationality. You can correctly assume that we became friends with her, after seeing her and chatting with her every day for a week. She told us about her life in Lombok, best surf spots, she gave us the best tips and best beaches to visit around and she even taught us some words and phrases in Bahasa. We could see how the staff enjoyed working with Tatiana and vice versa.
We also had the chance to talk to several other staff members, we loved talking to the kitchen staff, two super friendly, smiley and playful guys whose laughs I won't forget anytime soon. We also met Nur and Wiwin (I am most likely not spelling their names correctly, I apologise girls) two amazing girls whose vivacious personality lit up the area whenever they were around.
Regarding the food, I was expecting an average hotel breakfast, at least that's what I got used to in Indonesia. Nevertheless, we received the most beautiful dishes, not to mention delicious. Perfectly seasoned, beautifully dressed, and smartly balanced accompanied by a super healthy juice and what's easily the best coffee in town.
How can I summarize my stay here? I arrived here with worries, weight on my shoulders, anxious about the current world situation, stressed, and many more negative emotions that the normal day to day life had accumulated on my nervous system. Then I enjoyed every single second of my stay here and left the place feeling lighter, with no worries and as if no problem is big enough to cause me trouble.
By seeing the joy on the face of every member of the staff despite the situation, I learnt that no issue should matter that much. If it has a way of being solved, it will be solved, and if it hasn't got a way of being solved, why worry then? It is up to us how we face and approach difficult situations in life, and that I learnt it here at Mana. I cannot put enough emphasis on how much I relaxed at Mana. It is the food, it is the flora of the place, it is the vibes of the staff, it is everything. I wouldn't doubt for a second on coming back to Mana Yoga Retreat anytime soon.