La Montaña Azul
Costa Rica

Pragata is the Cofounder of the Shaolin Wahnam Center “La Montaña Azul” in Costa Rica. He created the place together with his wife Anja Swaha Tiefensee and Rama Roberto Lamberti and his wife Adelaida Nieto and in the beginning of the new millennium. He has been resident teacher there from 2002 until 2009.

History, by Pragata:

After 20 years of being drawn again and again to India my love, I had told my friend Rama, whom I knew from India and had practiced Qigong with, before and after meeting with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, that I would love to discover that continent (Latin America) with him.

When in 2001 Rama organized courses for Sifu Wong in Colombia, I naturally joined in the adventure. Together (After the courses) we went to a powerful ancient Mesoamerican Indian sacred place, a nearby mountain called Iguaque that Rama had discovered years ago in his quest of the Amerindian tradition.

Elated by the beauty and the pristine energy of the mountain, a vision dawned in him: a Shaolin Temple on this natural sanctuary of Pachamama, the mother earth of the Incas. Immediately the three of us agreed on the magnificence of such a project and Sifu simply said “Do it!”

After that, Sifu left South America following his teaching program around the world. Rama and I embarked on a pilgrimage in Inca land, through the Peruvian and Bolivan Andes, an adventure we had dreamt of accomplishing while in India on the banks of the sacred river Ganges in the Himalayas.

From Cuzco to Macchupicchu and on to the Titicaca Lake we experienced in these most amazing places the wondrous qualities of the Chi Kung that Sifu Wong had generously transmitted to us. The vision of a Temple of Learning and Practice of the Shaolin Arts remained vividly engrained in our minds and hearts.

Then, once again Rama went his way and so did I, full of this life energy in our hearts and ready to spread it out in other countries. Not long after Rama felt a very strong pull to go to Costa Rica. He knew it was a good and safe country in Central America, a sort Latin American Switzerland that in 1957 abolished the army and devoted the budget to social and cultural welfare. He also knew that one third of that country consists of National Parks and protected areas with an incredible diversity of primal, natural beauty.

Open and vigilant, moving one step at a time, in the course of four months and four trips to Costa Rica, following the signs that life was constantly sending him he found himself guided to discover the slopes of mount Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica. Immediately he felt at home, in an atmosphere similar to that of Macchupicchu, emanating power, peace and beauty
In the flow of life that had blessed our project since its very conception, a wonderful local family offered to sell part of their property to house the centre: 96 acres of pristine land and river bordering the Chirripó National Park. Dedicated workers appeared and our vision could then start to unfold and materialize. Work immediately began on the infrastructure (roads, ground leveling, electricity, water) and the first lodge was soon on the way.

 Sifu was invited to check the location and in a moment of ecstatic happiness he said: “Here is the hidden garden of timelessness”…and walking about, declared: “I am so happy, I am so happy”. Soon after in Malaysia A Feng Shui  Master confirmed the excellence of the Feng Shui and offered guidelines regarding the building of the temple.

 In the meantime I received an email from Rama describing all what was happening. I spoke with Swaha, my beloved companion. She spoke with Camilla, her 14 years old daughter. Together, we decided to go and check it out. I cancelled all my current programs and flew to San Jose. Rama was waiting for me. He took me to the “promised land”: A big piece of land at the end of last dirt road of the valley, bordering the Chirripo national park. We were the last human beings on the mountain. All other inhabitants were living below us.
I had already created out of nothing a dream territory in south of France 25 years before. I was familiar with building and being a pioneer. I liked the challenge. Swaha came with Camilla 2 weeks after my arrival. On their first night, as Camilla was sleeping in a small tent, a group of coyotes had come to check us out. She heard them sniffing her presence just outside her tent, and realized she was living an extraordinary adventure. During the following days, we walked up and down this wild and enchanting land imagined all the possibilities and, soon enough, Camilla told her mother: “Do it, and make it a success!”

These words gave us the green light. Camilla came back to Denmark, in a great innovative boarding school, and Swaha and I stayed on, ready to dedicate ourselves fully to this extraordinary adventure, in partnership with Rama. Swaha dropped her career in Scandinavia as a theater and opera stage designer and was given the task to create a much bigger stage that was to become la Montaña Azul, a magnificent mountain retreat center hosting the Shaolin Wahnam Temple of Learning and Practice, and all the facilities to accommodate up to 40 guests. Swaha, Rama and I poured in all our efforts, money and talent , and in February 2004, students and practitioners of Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan came from all over the world for the inauguration of the Temple, honored by the auspicious presence of Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.

Life unfolded at La Montaña Azul, every year adding new elements of beauty.
Camilla was coming regularly for extended periods of time, becoming a seasoned Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan practitioner. My own daughters Vanessa and Felicie also came to visit, and so did my brother, but none of our friends, for whom Latin America was not on their route.

In the course of years, Swaha and I started to feel that we were too far from our roots, from our family and friends. We loved Latin America, its people, the inhabitants of our valley with whom we had created wonderful bonds, but a longing to come back to Europe, close to our daughters, brother, dear friends and India became more and more present in us, and by 2009, we were ready to hand over our share to eager Latinos willing to enter into this adventure where we left it. La Montaña Azul is continuing now without us. Rama and his wife Adelaida are now in command of the place, and a team of Latinos from Costa Rica, Venezuela and Colombia have taken over our shares.

As for us, we are starting all over again, this time in Portugal, in the wild south western most tip of Europe, close to our friends and family.
When looking back at what we created, we have a sense of having accomplished a remarquable work of art that can even be considered a masterpiece. We had given ourselves whole heartedly to the task; we leave the paradise we have created without regret. The circle is complete.

Life goes on. New adventures are ahead. All is good. We are blessed.