Give Thanks

Your heart is big.

So big that every once in awhile, you hear it beating
and feel gratitude for the gift of life it gives every day
without you having to think about it.

You feel your heartbeat connected to others.
You know we're all connected by the sheer fact of being here
on the same planet at the same time.

You also have a full life to go with your huge heart.

Both its victories and challenges keep you busy,
and you know that acting in service towards others is often
the best way to create space for your own soul’s journey.

You know that the distance you travel outwards is
the exact distance you travel inwards.
Each mile your feet wander on this earth
is another mile of your inner terrain explored.

Imagine this: you fly across the world to Africa. You feel its earth under your feet, smell the air, and see its animals, sunsets, and people with all their vibrant expression. Alongside the beauty of colors, dance, and culture, you see its challenges - poverty, politics, infrastructure, and growing pains.

Experiencing these things all around you, you are drawn inward to reflect. You have a chance to slow down from the rushed pace of your full life and process it in a meaningful way through movement, ritual, community, and the huge pilgrimage of this journey.

Your yearning for immense beauty will be filled through seeing the animals and magnificent natural beauty of Africa.

Your yearning for service will be filled through seeing the power of your intention and love when you give your resources and time to the schools and children there.

Your yearning for interconnection will be filled through being part of a tribe and becoming a valued member of a community that embraces everyone like family and comes together to take an adventure. Whatever is revealed to the tribe will be revealed to you as well and vice versa. You will not be alone on your journey.


You go to Zimbabwe because you feel the call in your body.

You have a deep knowing reading these words that you've entered the realm of synchronicity.


Your soul calls you to make this pilgrimage, and by saying yes, you are trusting yourself.

From the moment you register, you will start to track the effects of that huge trust in your big heart as you go on this inner and outer journey to Africa.

You will change the course of your own life along with many others.

On the Qoya Zimbabwe service retreat, you will partner with House of Loveness on a service project to help the local community while also enjoying daily Qoya classes and rituals and exploring the incredible culture and natural beauty of Africa.

It is a beautiful marriage of service and safari - a trip that is no ordinary vacation, but which comes with time to reflect inwards on your outward journey.


ABOUT BETSY

Betsy Blankenbaker writes about sexuality and the sacred body. Her first book, Autobiography of an Orgasm (2015), goes beyond the physical to the emotional and spiritual experiences of being a sensual, embodied woman. Betsy was born in Indiana. She raised her four children between Indiana and Miami and now lives as a nomad, making her home around the world as she teaches and completes research for her next book. Betsy teaches Qoya classes and writing retreats. You can find out where she is teaching at www.betsyblankenbaker.com.

This is Betsy's fifth retreat to Zimbabwe. In the past five years, over 40 women, men and children (ages 8-18) have joined Betsy in Africa for a life affirming week of service and safari.


ITINERARY

November 18 - Travel Day
Arrive at Harare (HRE) Zimbabwe airport by 5pm. Complimentary transportation to Imire Wildlife Conservation. If you can't arrive by 5pm, it’s suggested you arrive a day early, and we can organize a room and airport transportation for you at an additional charge.
7pm: Welcome Dinner
8pm: Opening Circle and Gentle Qoya class before bedtime

November 19 - Welcome to Zimbabwe
7:30-8am: Morning breathing exercises, Meditation
8-9am: Breakfast
9:30-noon: Qoya class in garden
1-3pm: Lunch in safari park
3-5pm: Afternoon free time by the pool, naps in garden
5pm: Sundowners in the safari park
7pm: Dinner

November 20 - Service at School
7-8am: Sunrise rhino walk or elephant ride
8-9am: Breakfast
10am-noon: Small teaching groups at local school
1pm: Lunch in safari park
4-6pm: Sunset Qoya in garden
7pm: Dinner

November 21 - Service at School
6:30-8am: Sunrise rhino walk or elephant ride
8-9am: Breakfast
10am-noon: Small teaching groups at local school
1pm: Lunch in safari park
7pm: Dinner

November 22 - Safari Day
7-8am: Sunrise rhino walk or elephant ride
8-9am: Breakfast
10am-4pm: Game drive and lunch
4-6pm: Sunset Qoya in garden
7pm: Dinner
8pm: Despacho ceremony

November 23 - Service at School and Animal Sanctuary Visit
6:30-8am: Sunrise rhino walk or elephant ride
8-9am: Breakfast
10am-noon: Small teaching groups at local school
1pm: Lunch in safari park
2pm: Depart for Animal Sanctuary Visit and afternoon tea
6-8pm: Sundowners and dinner at animal sanctuary

November 24 - Service at School
7-8am: Sunrise rhino walk or elephant ride
8-9a: Breakfast
10am-noon: Small teaching groups at local school
1pm: Lunch in safari park
4-6pm: Sunset Qoya in garden
7pm: Dinner
8pm: Closing Circle

November 25 - Travel Day (Departure)
6-8am: Optional Sunrise Elephant Rides or Rhino Walk (there is an option to stay longer at the safari park for an additional charge)
8-9am: Breakfast
10am: Transportation to airport (book flights anytime after 11am)


Early Bird Discount

Make your deposit by July 10th to receive a $500 discount, 
making your total tuition $3,200 for a shared room or $4,700 for a single room.


COST + REGISTER

Shared Room: $3,200 (Price is $3,700 after July 10th)

Single Room: $4,700 (Price is $5,200 after July 10th)

YOUR TUITION INCLUDES:

7 nights of accommodations, airport transfers, all meals and transportation within Zimbabwe, game drives, elephant ride, rhino walk, horseback ride, full moon ceremony, Thanksgiving celebration, and a visit to Wild Is Life Animal Sanctuary. The retreat also includes service at local school and daily Qoya classes. The Qoya classes are for women only, but you are welcome to bring your partner or children on the trip. 

NOT INCLUDED: air travel to and from Zimbabwe (flights to Harare HRE about $1,500 from NYC) and travel insurance (required)

The balance of the retreat to be paid in installments to Qoya Service & Safari: your second $1,500 tax deductible payment is due September 10th. Tuition balance is due October 10th.

A $500 non-refundable deposit holds your place.


For more information or to pay by check contact: mybetsy@mac.com. A portion of your trip is tax-deductible and goes towards building the Imire Library and Learning Centre in Zimbabwe.

House of Loveness was founded in 2008 by filmmaker Betsy Blankenbaker to care and educate at-risk children in Zimbabwe. For more information: www.house-of-loveness.blogspot.com


FAQ

What's the nearest airport?

The nearest airport is Harare International Airport (HRE).

How do I get from the airport to the retreat?

For arrivals/departures on November 18 and 25, a shuttle is included in your tuition. For arrivals/departures outside those dates, there is a $100 charge. Due to the remote location of the retreat (a 75-90 minute drive to the lodge), please book flights that arrive by 5pm on November 18 and departing anytime after 11am on November 25th.

When should I arrive and depart?

We prefer your flight lands before 5pm on November 18th so we can transport you to the lodge in time for sunset and dinner. If you choose to arrive early, for an additional fee, you can stay at Imire Sable Lodge, our base for the week, if space is available.

Do I need to get shots?

You do not need any shots for Zimbabwe. Betsy has been to Zimbabwe 24 times since 2008, and after consulting with her holistic doctor and a traditional doctor, she chooses not to get shots or take malaria pills. We do not travel or work in high risk areas, but please consult your doctor and make the choice that is best for you. Every year about half the retreat group takes the malaria pills (there are side effects with the shots). Click here for more info on shots.

Will Qoya teacher training be offered at this retreat?

No. Due to the unique schedule of this retreat, teacher training is not offered.