Permaculture in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 5.3 oz Greek Yogurt— $1.25

Watch this introduction to an upcoming interview with Nikko from Essence Arenal. Nikko is a fascinating person, so look for the full-length interview in the near future.

Essence Arenal is a hostel that utilizes the principles of permaculture to grow their own food. The hostel is perched on top of a hill beside the majestic Arenal Volcano. If the views aren’t impressive enough, Nikko’s commitment to a sustainable lifestyle makes this the perfect spot to visit and explore. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, there’s no better place for a sun salutation than on his recently constructed yoga deck. While standing at the edge a warm sensation washed over me. It’s easy to see how Nikko could rediscover himself in this place. Anxiety and worries have no adhesive power here.  Layers of troubles will wilt away, one by one. Life is wonderful when not burdened by the heaviness of stress.

Nikko is an interesting fellow. He’s from Germany, grew up in Spain, and sailed to Costa Rica searching for a new adventure. After fifty countries, he fell in love and decided to call the small town of El Castillo his home. But a small town can’t stop Nikko from having big ideas. He desires a kinder, gentler world: one where our surroundings provide us with all of the nourishment we need.

“When I was designing our landscaping I thought why not grow palms and plants that you can eat? Why not be able to eat your own landscaping!” Nikko said. He also grows his own coffee. Nikko is lucky I didn’t pitch a tent right on his coffee farm.

One of Essence Arenal’s goals is to provide their guests with healthy, organically grown food on their own property. They are also committed to educating their guests on the benefits of permaculture and healthy living. Everything has a purpose. While many are quick to point out the impossible, there are others striving toward better solutions. You’ll know these people when you meet them, they are passionate and generous with their time.

I look forward to sharing more of this Building Up an Appetite episode with you. Until then you can read all about Essence Arenal in my book, Happier Than A Billionaire: The Escape Manual.


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A Walk in the Woods


Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 10 lb Bag of Cat Litter— $6

There are many things one expects to find while walking through the woods: birds chirping, leaf ants gallantly marching in line, or lizards scouring under fallen leaves. However, this is Costa Rica and when you are strolling through the forest in this country, be prepared to come across animals that may, or may not, be happy to see you.

In my first book, I wrote about my husband’s unexpected encounter with a wild ocelot. This is a true story. And although people insist we staged this photo, I have to ask these non believers, do I sound like a person who risks being clawed to death by a wild cat? If so, than I applaud you for your confidence in my intrepid constitution. Internally, I believe I’m this kind of bad ass, and not the one that cries when she stubs her toe on the corner of the couch.

Please enjoy this free chapter from Happier Than A Billionaire in which my parents visit Costa Rica for the first time. I attempt to impress by taking them to see Arenal Volcano where the infamous cat encounter occurred.  Continue reading “A Walk in the Woods” »

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A little house on the beach. Could you leave all your possessions behind and live a simpler life?

Little Beach House

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Picking bananas from a tree in your backyard—free

When we first moved to Costa Rica eight years ago, we came with only a cat named Pumpkin, a dog named Clementine, and a couple battered suitcases. We rented a small guesthouse on top of a mountain in Grecia. Although there were challenges, we were happier than we had ever been before.

Rob started playing guitar and we both started working out again. During this decompression phase, I began writing about all of the funny things that were happening… and there were many. When one decides to quit their job and run away to a foreign country, you get roped into many ridiculous scenarios.

After emailing my stories to friends from an Internet cafe, I was encouraged to search for a publisher. However, all of my queries were met with the same response, “Great writing but no one is interested in a book about Costa Rica. Do you have anything about vampires?” Continue reading “A little house on the beach. Could you leave all your possessions behind and live a simpler life?” »

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Keep Your Daydream Podcast: Why You Should Be Living an Extraordinary Life

You Should Be Here

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 8.3 lb watermelon— $3

Are you someone who is constantly daydreaming? Are people telling you to get your head out of the clouds? If this is you, guess what… you’re not alone!

There are plenty of people following their passions, even when everyone around them thinks they’re crazy. Tricia, at Keep Your Daydream Podcasts, tracks down these daydreamers to find out what makes them tick.

Whether you fantasize about sailing around the Caribbean or driving an RV across the country, listening to other people’s stories is a great first step to get the courage to do it yourself.

Be extraordinary and live your own version of an extraordinary life!

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Engineering, Building Codes, and Earthquakes in Costa Rica

Happier Than A Billionaire Bed and BreakfastCosta Rica Cost of Living Update: A high-end, thirty-inch stainless steel kitchen sink— $500. Anyone feel like sticking that in their luggage?

The biggest question I’m getting about building our bed and breakfast in Costa Rica concerns earthquakes.

“Are there codes you’re following?” they ask. I don’t blame people for inquiring. If you had the unfortunate experience of being caught in one, it’s something you’ll never forget.

We had a whopper of an earthquake a few years back. A 7.6  blast that was so strong, it felt like a bomb had exploded underneath us: a bomb that lasted close to sixty seconds. I was sure we were going to die while Rob was convinced we would live. What could have destroyed most of Guanacaste did not do as much damage as one might have predicted, and that is due to the strict earthquake engineering codes in Costa Rica.

When I asked my engineer, Alberto Solano, about my concerns over building a tremor-safe house, he reassured me. “Costa Rica safety codes are strict, and they are based on international ones that are also used in California. As you can see, we had a big earthquake and there was minimal damage.”

When we were digging out trenches for our foundation, Alberto walked me through the process. “There are a lot of calculations when building a house. What is the weight? How does it impact the soil below? It’s important you dig down to the hardest part of the soil. We want a strong foundation to avoid settling.”

In Costa Rica there is something called Tico Time: a more laid back way of living. “Manana,” is something you hear often when trying to get anything done. However, Alberto is not on Tico Time, and he makes sure that the plans for our house are safe and in accordance with strict engineering codes. I feel good that he is part of this process. Engineers are interesting people so I asked him why he chose this profession. I’m happy to learn he comes from a long line of Costa Rican engineers. Continue reading “Engineering, Building Codes, and Earthquakes in Costa Rica” »

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