Pangea Dreams Retreat Diary: Tulum 2017

Photo Dec 06, 12 16 05 AM_previewIt's been almost three weeks since my Pangea Dreams adventure! Since then I've gotten a several DMs on Instagram from other bloggers who are curious what my experience was like and if I would recommend attending a future Pangea Dream retreat.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon the Pangea Dreams Instagram page, wondering what it was was about. Colorful photos in tropical destinations with girls in bikinis and cute yoga outfits grace the tiny squares of the Pangea Dreams Instagram page. With my curiosity and strong desire to expand my knowledge of the blogging world, I reached out to several girls who were tagged in past retreat photos to ask them about their experience. All of them had the same response: "YOU HAVE TO GO!!"
If you're a part or full time blogger, or if you're just starting out on your blogging journey, Pangea Dreams is for you! Attending work shops each day allows you to expand your knowledge on how to build a media kit to work with brands and hotels, how to create strong content, how to pose in and arrange objects in your photos, how to edit them and most importantly, how to utilize your social media platform to build your personal brand and following.

Lucky for you, I actively journaled each night after the retreat so that you can follow along on my actual journey from start to end in order to get an in depth understanding of what my daily experience was like! Read on for more and should you decide to attend a future Pangea Dreams retreat, mention my personalized code MELANIEM10 to save 10% on your booking!

A glimpse of what you'll learn on the retreat:

1) How to build your brand
2) How to build a media kit
3) How to collaborate with brands and hotels
4) Photography tips, tricks and the best phone apps to use
5) How to use Lightroom and edit your photos
6) How to build your instagram community and build your following on social media
 And so much more!!
Ready?! Buckle your seatbelt...
Day 1
I finally made it to Tulum! I was so relieved to have another girl attending the retreat on my flight from NYC to Cancun who had come all the way from Italy. It was nice to connect with someone immediately after landing and getting to know each other while making it through the customs line. Once through, we headed outside where we were greeted by our driver and waiting for the other 6 girls to arrive. In the meantime, we grabbed a delicious frozen margarita right outside at the airport Margaritaville bar. Hola Mexico! It was just what I needed after 6 long hours of traveling. As the other girls started to arrive one by one, we began getting to know each other and eventually all jumped into the van with our driver to head to Tulum.
I wasn't sure at first if I was more excited or nervous at first! Was everyone going to be friendly? Would people judge me based on my blog, Instagram or website? What if their skill set was more advanced than me? Naturally, I'm not a big social person but it was refreshing to know that we were all strangers and on the same journey together, taking a leap of faith to come somewhere none of us had ever been before.
After a 2 hour drive from Cancun airport to Tulum, we arrived at the beautiful Kasa Hotel Tulum. Lush green palm trees and plants adorned the lobby along with crochet hammocks and friendly staff. I was so excited to be in a new place and was overwhelmed with the adventurous and spontaneous mindset that typically hits me whenever I'm in a new place!
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Upon arriving at the resort, our main hosts Tracy Komlos (founder of Pangea Dreams) and Lisa Homsy (Travel/Lifestyle Creative & Influencer) greeted us. We were paired up with one other girl and headed to our rooms to check out our new "home" for the week. At first I did realize that I would be sharing a room with someone else (let alone a king size bed!!) I didn't read on the Pangea Dreams website that the retreats are shared accommodation so that completely my miss, but I was quickly distracted from being greeted by so many cute branded goodies in our room that I quickly forgot! I honestly didn't mind too much anyway. It's just something to be aware of so you're not caught off guard when you arrive.
We changed into yoga pants and joined our hosts in their hotel suite for our first mediation practice. I haven't ever attended any kind of wellness retreat before so I was excited that Nicole, a reiki master who specialized in reiki healing and meditation practices was our wellness host on the retreat. If you're not familiar with what reiki is, it's a Japanese stress reduction and relaxation technique that promotes healing. I have participated in guide meditation before which was definitely what I needed after a long day of traveling to help me focus on settling into a new place and put me in a relaxed mindset for the next week. During the course of the week we would be focusing each day on each one of our chakras which are each connected to our overall health and to the evolution of our consciousness.
In our first meditation practice, we focused on our root chakra which is our foundation chakra. We went around in a circle to share what we were most grateful for. At first I was a little hesitant to share in front of a bunch of new strangers, but it got a little bit easier as we each went around in a circle and took turns. I'm sure I wasn't the only one that felt slightly uncomfortable at first! After our first meditation, we headed up to the beautiful dining patio overlooking the pool to enjoy a delicious dinner. We sat down to a beautiful candle lit dinner of delicious vegan salads, fresh veggies and steak plus the most delicious corn tortillas you've ever tasted!
One thing that I found incredibly amazing about Tulum that I didn't realize before visiting is how passionate the community is about sustainability. Majority of the food served at Kasa Hotel Tulum is either from the local farmer market or provided by Woolis Green Solutions, a farm dedicated to organic waste collection from restaurants and resorts around Tulum. They turn this waste into compost, feed for their animals, top soil and fertilizer for their vegetable and herb gardens. What an incredible way to appreciate mother nature and to give back!
In addition, one thing I really enjoy about the resort is that they provide all natural travel essentials for every day use including organic, non-toxic soap, oil, body wash and hair products which included ingredients like coconut, honey and lavender. They smell AMAZiNG!
DAY 2
After a really great night of sleep, I woke up on day 2 feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. I still felt a little nervous given that I still didn't know the girls all that well. We headed to the suite for our morning ritual which was definitely more intimate than I expected. We worked on our sacral chakra today and set our intentions for the day. A lot of this workshop was focused on self love which really helped me become more comfortable in my own skin, bringing me into the right mindset for the day.
Breakfast was absolutely DELICIOUS. Fresh fruit, yummy eggs and fresh tangy, watermelon juice! I can still taste it!! (And I already can't wait to have more tomorrow morning!) ;)
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Workshop 1 was all about building our brand. What is the overall feeling of your brand? Who is your target audience? What brands or bloggers inspire you? What are your brand goals? All of these questions were things I had thought about but never really put on paper. It was so nice to carve out time to reflect on all the work I've done in the last 9 months for my blog and online store, Moonlight Gypsy Shop. What message do I want to convey to my audience? What stories did I want to tell them from each photograph I post on my social media? The open discussions were AMAZING. Each of us shared our opinions, passions, curiosities and who we are striving to be. We quickly began to learn more about each other and what type of authority we wanted to become in our instagram, blogging and/or brand space.
Our hosts gave us a run down of photo tips and tricks - what apps to use, what gear was necessary and additional online resources that would help us edit our photos effectively. It was a great open forum to ask questions and learn from successful women who are doing an amazing job at building their brand and social media presence!
After the workshop, we met with our hosts for some awesome one on one time. What do I want to accomplish during my time here? What do I struggle with? What do I want to learn more about? It was really nice to feel so supported and I loved that the girls took time to understand and ask questions about what kind of direction I was looking for.
After each of our one on one sessions and a beautiful vegan lunch, we started on workshop #2 which was a wellness workshop focused on exploring our life purpose and understanding our values and fears. This excersise was INCREDIBLE for me. Each of us reflected and shared what we are most afraid of and how to let go. I didn't expect to feel so free and liberated afterwards. I almost felt like a completely new person, like anything is possible. Nicole really helped us shift our mindset and allow our minds to see that we could do and be anything we want. All we have to do is ASK. The law of attraction is real and all we have to do is ask tell the universe what we want.
After working on ourselves, it was time to start working on our photography skills. It was pouring down rain so we decided to practice shooting around the hotel. We started in the lobby where Tracy and Lisa began teaching us how to visually lay out a photo, what details to shoot with and how to elongate our legs so we actually look taller. How did I never notice how they pose in their photos until now?! We each practiced in different areas and look some really cute photos louning in hammocks as well as group shots around the hotel. It was a really great first practice with each of us feeling a bit awkward at first and our hosts telling us how to tweak our poses, facial expressions and getting us to feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera.
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After getting shots of each of us, we enjoyed a beautiful vegan dinner and had some fun hang out time with the hosts and special guests. It was really cool to bond with everyone and feel like we were all there just hanging out, sharing funny and interesting stories. It truly felt like the perfect end to a perfect day (despite a little bit of rain!)
DAY 3

Today was the best day yet! We started with a beautiful morning meditation focused on our solar pixel chakra, sending away negative energy and bringing in positive energy both mentally and physically. Some of the exercises we did seemed silly at fist, like shaking our entire bodies in place, but I was amazed at how alive and energize I felt afterwards. If it works for Tony Robbins, it works for me!

After meditation, we had breakfast and started with our first workshop of the day: How to build your media kit. Lisa walked us through her very first media kit and helped us understand how to create our own using the same tools in order to collaborate with brands and hotels. It was really cool to see her first media kit when she had 6,000 followers vs. her current media kit with a 110k following! I appreciated that she took the time to show us her progression of media kits because it was a nice reminder that we all have to start somewhere. It helped me realize that we are each on our path to success and that every successful blogger or influencer has been excalty where I am at one point!

After our workshop, we enjoyed an amazing lunch and headed to the beach to shoot some photos. We worked on a brand collaboration with Maaji Swimwear which offers gorgeous reversible swimwear and mix and match bikinis. I was OBSESSED with the adorable printed bow headbands they gifted us! Their swimmer was so comfortable and soft. I can't wait to check out what other patterns they offer!! Our time at the beach was a great opportunity to shoot photos of our own and practice taking photos of each other. Practice makes perfect!
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After shooting for 30 minutes or so, it started to downpour. We all rushed inside the hotel but shortly decided after 10 minutes that the storm wasn't stopping so we should get in the ocean for a swim! After all, we were in Mexico!! I HATE getting my hair wet, but as an opportunity to bond with the other girls and push myself out of my comfort zone, I decided to worry less about running mascara and wet hair so I ran full blast into the ocean with my new best friends.
The water temperature was PERFECT. It felt so nice and was fun splashing around in the rain. Nicole had us all join hands and form a circle in the water. With the waves coming and going, each girl moved into the middle of the circle one by one and said out loud what they wanted the universe to bring them. Love, wealth, opportunity, friendship. It was definitely my favorite experience of the retreat so far! How cool is it to already feel so safe sharing my deepest desires with these awesome women and already feeling so close to them?!
After the storm died down a bit we took a few more photos and headed back to the hotel to enjoy dinner and ended the night with soft yoga poses and a nighttime meditation. It felt so good to listen to my body while stretching and clear my mind before bed. It was so relaxing that I almost fell asleep on my yoga mat!
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DAY 4
Today was SO MUCH FUN! We had a free morning to sleep in and enjoy breakfast while working on our media kits and hanging out before starting our day. It was nice to relax before such an adventurous day ahead.
We were exclusively invited by Woolis to check out their sustainable farm that provides most of the food for Kasa Hotel Tulum. The farm was located 45 minutes from the hotel, deep in the what felt like the Tulum jungle. When we pulled up, it was really cool to see all of the untouched plants and magestic trees and to observe what a sustainable lifestyle looks like. Talk about getting the inside scoop on what farm to table really means!
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The first thing we did after exploring the grounds was head to the private centote on the property which was so incredible! A cenote is a natural hole in the earth formed over time which creates a natural swimming cave underground.
It was so beautiful and the water felt absolutely amazing. I could literally have stayed there swimming for hours. After shooting some photos for the girls in the Pangea group, a couple of us stayed back to watch Tracy and Lisa shoot photos of each other in the cenote. It was really cool and super inspiring to watch them in action!Photo Dec 06, 12 13 20 AM_preview
After our cenote adventure, we got to check out the greenhouse where all of the beans, basil and tomatoes are grown. We explored different areas of the farm and sat down to a delicious lunch filled with cucumber salad, roasted sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, fresh tortilla chips and guac. What more do you need in life?!
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Being in nature is extremely refreshing for me, so the fact that we were in the middle of the jungle surrounded by gorgeous trees felt so cleansing. All I kept thinking about was how grateful in that moment I was for life to feel so simple, so unrushed and feeling at peace with my surroundings. Not long after our meal, Aliza, one of the girls on the trip who used to teach yoga hosted a yoga session just for us! The sun started going down during our yoga session and my favorite part about the entire thing was the singing of crickets that started and got louder and louder during the session as the sun was going down. It was almost as if they were singing just for us!
We hung out for a couple more hours and also  enjoyed a yummy vegan dinner and grilled pineapple with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Such a unique and authentic way to spend a day in Mexico with my Pangea babes!
DAY 5
We began our day with meditation focused on our heart and throat chakra. We focused on sharing our favorite words and setting our intentions for the day. My words for the day included create, love, adventure and fearless. I've struggled with being open and trusting others a lot as I'm a very guarded person so I was excited to have my one on one session with Nicole, our reiki master, after meditation and enjoying another amazing breakfast.
I shared a very personal and painful experience with her that had left a burden on my heart which I had been carrying around with me for the last 10 years. I cannot stress how amazing my time with her was! She was able to help heal me and allowed me to close a chapter that was long overdue while creating a new beginning. Happy birthday to me! I feel so lucky and grateful to have met such a beautiful soul and someone so passionate about helping others. I highly recommend using her services if you just need someone to talk to! Check out her Facebook page and contact her here.
After my time with Nicole, we moved right into our next group workshop which was about how to approach hotels and brands for collaborations. It was so interesting to hear about everyone's experience and ask a lot of detailed questions about this subject. We also covered how to build your Instagram community through engagement and Instagram pods.

After our workshop, we headed to the Tulum Mayan Ruins which was absolutely breathtaking. Tracy and Lisa took turns taking photos of us in a couple different locations and a few different group shots throughout the ruins. Everything looked like it could been fake, right out of a movie! I genuinely felt like a couple of my photos look like I photoshopped myself right in!
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After leaving, we ran across a super cute coconut and fruit stand right outside the ruins and enjoyed delicious coconut water and fresh coconut meat. I wish I could enjoy something so simple every day!
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We headed back to the hotel for another meditiation session with Nicole who taught us how to take time to listen to our bodies given the office environment most of us work in every day. She went over essential oils and how they can naturally heal the body as opposed to using conventional drugs.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of lentil curry and rice noodles with veggies. Cant argue with a delicious meal and some #BossBabe time!
DAY 6
Today was the last day of the retreat and it was such an amazing day! We started our morning with a really cool meditation focused on on third eye/crown chakra which really allowed me to focus on connecting with my "creator". I've practiced meditation occasionally, but today was the deepest meditation I've ever had and was truly magical. Whenever I meditate, I always find myself on a beach with lush green palm trees, bright pink Hawaiian flowers, birds chirping and the calm waves of the ocean crashing on a pristine white sandy beach. Today I was able to expand my consciousness to an even deeper place where I could feel the warm sun on my skin and smell salt water in the air. I was also able to visualize my creator which was pretty incredible. It's amazing where mediation can take you and if you've never tried it before you totally should! It was the perfect start to a perfect day.

After meditation we enjoyed a quick breakfast and Tracy and Lisa both shot some fun breakfast photos of each of us individually around the pool. Check out the cute photos below! Coconut water anyone??

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After breakfast we headed to some of the cutest markets off the beaten path with gorgeous hand pained dishes, ceramic animals and Mexico inspired souvenirs. I picked out some really colorful Bohemian style Christmas ornaments with hand painted flowers, flamingos and tropical fish as well as some really fun pom pom garland. I just decorated my Christmas tree with them last week and they look so cute! Next we checked out a couple handmade dream catcher shops on the side of the road and I purchased a gorgeous cream crochet dream catcher to put on the wall above my bed. It was so beautiful and so unique to Mexico that I couldn't pass it up!
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After a few hours of shopping, we had lunch at a resturant on the beach called The Real Coconut. They have a grain free, gluten free and dairy free menu, utilizing coconut flour for most of their dishes. They also have a ton of vegan options. We had delicious avocado toast, shrimp tostadas and for my entree, I ordered vegan tacos with veggies and plantain falafel wrapped in a coconut flour tortilla. I also needed a caffeine kick so I ordered a delicious frappachino with espresso, coconut milk, almond butter and dates. Totally copying this recipe at home by the way...It was insanely delicious!
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We spent the rest of the afternoon shooting photos for each other on the beach and walking through Tulum's main hotel strip filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. There were so many cute places we stopped at with unique gifts, clothing and accessories...I was in Boho HEAVEN! We dropped by an incredible gelato place where we grabbed coconut popsicles and as I'm sitting in bed writing this journal I would give my left leg just to have another! I can't even describe how yummy it was dipped in chocolate with shredded coconut sprinkled on the outside. YUM!
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We ended our day at Coco Tulum, a gorgeous hotel with fabulous beach views and a relaxing lounge space. The sun unfortunately had already gone down so we didn't get to take any photos but it was a beautiful beach area. We are actually planning to wake up early tomorrow to go shoot there! After heading back to the hotel, we enjoyed our last dinner together and met to go over our assessments and give the Pangea team feedback on what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the trip an she what we learned and how we progressed. I really appreciated this and it was incredible to hear from everyone about their progression and what they felt they had learned.
DAY 7
This morning was so weird waking up without my roomie! She had an early flight out so had to leave Tulum at 5am. I didn't like it. =( It's crazy that meeting a complete stranger and sharing a room and bed with them for a week can bring you to become so close in such a short period of time! Everyone met for our last breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was a really amazing moment to reflect on the friendships we made, the confidence we built in ourselves and the motivation we gained to go out into the world and be our own #BossBabe! 

It was so fun to shoot more photos together and relax before heading to the airport. What a perfect day to end an incredible week!
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SHOULD YOU JOIN THE PANGEA TRIBE?
If you're thinking about joining a future Pangea Dreams retreat I HIGHLY recommend it!! If you have a blog or are looking to start one, are a Digital Influencer looking to scale your following and opportunities, wondering how to collaborate with brands or hotels and are looking to bond with some really amazing women, this retreat is for you! I promise it's worth every penny!!

The wellness aspect of the retreat was an incredible added bonus and allowed me to dig deep into who I am and where I want to go. Reflecting each day on what I'm grateful for and setting intentions for the day is something I plan to implement into my everyday life go forward.
I am so grateful and excited to share my experience with you and grow with so many amazing women. Together we can conquer this world!
Feel free to shoot me an email or DM on Instagram if you have specific or additional questions. And don't forget to use my special 10% off code on your future Pangea retreat! MELANIEM10
View and book upcoming Pangea Dreams retreats here. Happy traveling babes!
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