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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Travel Adventurers of Two Southwest Floridians

Aug 31, 2023 07:43PM ● By Linda Sechrist
Summer is the perfect time for vacations to explore exotic locations. Southwest Floridians, Sue Mahany, owner of Spark Health Technology, in Naples, and Ivette Gomez, owner of Ivette Gomez Counseling, also in Naples, took vacations that were at the top of their bucket lists for some years.

Sue Mahany - Iceland


A two-day visit to Iceland in July left Sue Mahany feeling as though she had visited a different planet. “It was like no other place in the world,” she enthuses.

At Sky Lagoon, Mahany experienced true Icelandic bathing culture. “Every element of the experience was steeped in earthiness, self-care, and relaxation. My husband and I spent our 30th wedding anniversary breathing in the fresh ocean air immersed in the geothermal waters of the lagoon. We signed up for the seven-step wellness ritual, which included as much time as we wanted in the lagoon, followed by a cold plunge, sauna, a do-it-yourself salt scrub, steam room, cold plunge, and back to the lagoon. I rarely drink alcohol, but decided that a cooling draft of cider from the swim up bar overlooking the ocean was too good to pass up. After about four4 hours, we showered and got a tasting platter of traditional Icelandic fare at the Smakk bar. It included pickled Icelandic vegetables, date and beetroot purée, freshly baked rye bread, fresh hummus, olives and gourmet sauerkraut, mostly all made locally. Sky Lagoon was the nicest spa experience I have ever had.

“The second day, we did an eight8-hour bus tour of The Golden Circle that began and ended in Reykjavik. At Kerid Crater, we walked the perimeter of the crater lake, and then descended to the lake. At the geothermal area of Strokkur Geysir, we saw three geysirs of varying strengths with eruptions every 10 minutes, then hiked up a hill overlooking the fertile Haukadalur Valley. Gullfoss Waterfall was next, or “Golden Falls”, which had a 32-meter-deep crevice. Our final stop was Thingvellir National Park,. where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are separating at a rate of a few centimeters per year. 

Ivette Gomez - Santiago de Compostela Camino


Ivette Gomez has walked three segments of Santiago de Compostela Camino in Spain, on three different occasions. The 500-mile trek across highways, mountains, valleys, cities, towns and fields is challenging. Known in English as the Way of St. James, the Camino, with its many origin points, is where pilgrims walk to a destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in northwest Spain. Legend has it that the remains of Apostle St.Saint James the Great were buried there. Its many routes are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The journey of a lifetime, Gomez she describes the unique experience, “The Camino outside yourself takes you to your center, the Santiago within, which is your higher self,” says Gomez, owner of Ivette Gomez Counseling, in Naples.

“On our first eight-day walk from Sarria to Santiago we were eight people with different ways of looking at the world—university dean, engineer, photographer  that documented the entire walk, theologist, psychic, nurse, a shelter advocate and me, a therapist. We each brought something to the experience, and because we recognized that relationships are at the core of everything, we knew it was going to be a great learning experience for everyone.

“In 2017, we began training for our first walk, walking eight to ten miles at least once a week. We knew that we would be walking from one place to another without knowing where to stay, where to eat, or where to rest. We would be depending on our intuition. We just knew that we had to rise early and walk a certain number of kilometers every day to reach a public hostel before dark so as not to disturb the people who had arrived earlier and were already asleep. 

“We carried a backpack that included only the things we needed. For our first walk, the backpacks were bigger, and by the second and third trip, they were much smaller and lighter, because we realized that we could minimize with one set of extra clothing, toiletries, sunscreen, hat, hiking boots or shoes, a pair of wool socks, sleepwear and rainwear. We washed the clothes we walked in every night. 

“One of my inspirations for walking the Camino was Shirley MacLaine’s book, The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit. Once I had the experience of the Camino and I felt the energy below my feet, I felt compelled to do it again. 

Walking the Camino is a very simple life. You begin to enjoy just taking a shower, eating together, and staying at albergues (shelters), where you meet people from all over the world. The first night of our first walk we had 25 people in the same room.” 

“The Camino is featured in the 2010 film, The Way.” 

“During the bus ride drive, we could look to the south and see immense glacier lakes where people do snowmobile rides. The roads, free of traffic, offered endless, vast views of constantly changing landscapes. We saw Icelandic horses, which are pony-sized Viking horses, and one of the purest breeds in the world. Back in Reykjavik, we found a small hole-in-the- wall Mexican restaurant called La Poblana with delicious vegan nachos. I’d go back to Iceland just for the nachos, but this time maybe between September and April for the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Then there is very little daylight and lots of cold air. My heart is now tied to Iceland and its natural treasures, so a return trip is on the bucket list.”

Spark Health Technologies 11983 N Tamiami Trail Ste 150 - 11983 N Tamiami Tr Ste 150 Naples FL

Spark Health Technologies, 11983 N. Tamiami Trail, Ste #150 - 11983 N Tamiami Tr, Ste 150, Naples, FL

Spark Health Technologies has a HOCATT ozone sauna, BEMER PEMF mat, and Hydrogen Technologies hydrogen inhalation machine. This trio of machines is used to safely and gently detoxify the ... Read More »