By Dorothy Segovia

There are two kinds of retreats, one that focuses on taking an inner journey and one that focuses on getting in touch with nature. Both are relaxing, rejuvenating and nurturing. However, if you are looking to get in touch with nature and would also like to take advantage of some stress relieving techniques like Creative Journaling and meditation then El Rocio Retreat Center, located in Mission, Texas is the chi-chi sanctuary that should be at the top of your list of places to go.

"I couldn't believe it, I started relaxing the moment I drove onto the property," is the comment that owners Marsha and Dan Nelson most frequently hear.

This unique Bed & Breakfast is located on one of the winning sites for the Valley Land Fund Wildlife Photo Contest. The surrounding land is breathtaking which makes El Rocio a place nature lovers must experience. El Rocio, which means 'the morning dew' features the airy, wooden main house, designed by architect and former owner, Craig Morton. Morton designed the Mission Texas home in the early 80's around a 75-year old mesquite tree; which Marsha dubbed 'The Tree Of Life.' The tree is the main support for the round building and is a living reminder that nature renews a tired spirit.

The B&B, which can comfortably accommodate two couples, has two bedrooms with two baths. The main bathroom has a sunken tub. The tub is designed with hand painted mosaic tiles from the 40's and 50's that are arranged in the shape of a tortoise.

Morton's vision of incorporating nature inside his living space is at the crux of El Rocio's one-of-a-kind atmosphere: it is also the crux of owner Marsha Nelson's philosophy of self-healing. The property features a stand-alone meditation room and Marsha facilitates workshops where participants learn how to open their hearts to them selves.

For Marsha it all started in 1987. The entrepreneur and single mother of two suffered a stroke. She was under tremendous stress from a divorce, working full-time and a fire had just destroyed her home. After her recovery Marsha Nelson, Ph.D., not only studied ways to relieve stress, she has also become a training supervisor for Creative Journaling. A technique that uses the non-dominate hand to access intuition, which is seated in the right side of the brain. (See also Melt issue 38 to see how this technique can aid in Getting Back to Sleep)

Marsha believes that it is important to give back to the community and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. On the third Thursdays of every month, She offers to local residents, an evening of workshops on using the Creative Journaling method-absolutely free.

"It has healed my heart to know that I have something to offer people so that they can really find themselves in this nurturing environment," Marsha says, reflecting on her own journey of getting in touch with herself through nature. "We are such a hurried world. When our guests come to El Rocio they can relax and enjoy their hearts desire."

The center differs from other retreat vacations in that it is rented to only one party at a time. It is a cell free zone so visitors relax by hiking, sitting by the pond and photographing native birds such as Chachalacas and the Great Kiskadee. You can even collect eggs from the chickens.

Nearby attractions include the World Birding Center, Seven Oaks Golf Course and Country Club and the Rio Grande River. El Rocio is also only minutes away from the Mexican Border.

El Rocio Retreat Center is about celebrating life inside and out. Its natural setting is the crème de la crème for those who want to escape.

For reservations or an appointment to view the B&B, contact El Rocio Retreat Center at (956) 584-7432 or visit them on the web at


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© Melt Magazine 2004