Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls

By | August 11th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: One Day Pass at Rincon de la Vieja Adventure Tours— Ninety dollars

It’s always great when friends come to visit. We love to plan big excursions they’ll remember for a lifetime. And our visitors certainly remember this adventure, mostly because one of them had back surgery and Rob recommended we all go horseback riding, zip-lining and swimming under a waterfall.

I’m not sure why Rob would ever suggest horseback riding since it never ends well for him. Every horse my husband has ever ridden was eager to get him off their back. There has never been one that thought, “I like this chap, let’s take the scenic route.” They’ve all acted as if it were a rodeo, and it’s their turn to buck the jerk. I, on the other hand, have never ridden a horse that didn’t lazily saunter away, start eating grass and fart… Simultaneously. They’ve all been about as underachieving as my equestrian skills.

Enjoy this chapter from Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. Maybe one day you too will ride off into the Costa Rican sunset with your friends.

 

Waterfalls & Canyon Walls

“Do you think you’ll be okay on a horse?” I ask.

“I hope so,” Matt replies. “But I haven’t been on one in twenty years. I stopped riding after my back surgery.”

“I doubt she’ll bounce you around, tourists ride them every day,” Rob says as Matt strokes the horse’s face. The man holding the reins nods his head in agreement, but I can tell he doesn’t understand English. I recognize his befuddled expression because I pretty much look like that all the time. I was recently at the post office where a clerk was trying to explain my package hadn’t arrived yet. Instead of moving out of the way for the next person in line, I just stood there nodding like a big, dopey bobblehead. I remained there for a good five minutes before a nice person in line told me I had to come back the next day.

Matt examines the saddle and looks over the stirrups. “She looks like a nice girl, so why not? I’m already here, right? I didn’t come all this way not to participate.” Continue reading “Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls” »

Panama vs Costa Rica

By | July 27th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Bocos del Toro Panama

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bus Ticket from San Jose to Panama City — Under one hundred dollars

There has always been a debate on whether Panama or Costa Rica is a better choice for expats. People will hunker down with their opinions and list all the many ways one country is better than the other. You would think it’s the World Cup. No one has flipped any dumpsters yet, but these discussions get pretty heated.

“Bananas are cheaper in Panama,” someone yells.

“Yeah, but look at our beach towns and lifestyle. Ticos really know how to enjoy themselves!” another responds.

I just sit back, eat to my slightly more expensive banana, and stare into space. I have no dog in this fight. Unlike what many people think, it’s not my mission to convince anyone to move anyplace. Happier Than A Billionaire is about finding a happier life, and mine just so happened to take place in Costa Rica. If it occurred next to an oil drum in Bayonne, New Jersey I would have written that version of my story.

The truth is that becoming an expat has many variables. Success has more to do with your attitude than what particular country you are moving to. Learning a new language will be difficult, reinventing a new life is challenging, but the biggest obstacle is always going to be yourself. To assimilate into a new culture often means you have to experience things on the fly. And that means letting go of who you had previously defined yourself to be.

Take Kay Bratt; author of The Pursuit of Panama, a wildly successful writer who, with her husband, went through their own adventures in Panama. For two weeks, they explored the country wondering if moving abroad was the right decision for them. In her journey, Kay wrestles with her version of happiness. The question she set out to answer was whether or not Panama was going to be her happy place. She was inspired in part by reading my books and hopefully learned not to let her husband shove twelve thousand dollars into his underpants during their travels. Or hide any guns in a functioning fireplace.

We are all looking for that happy spot in life. It’s a moving target. A place that was once warm can grow cold. When that happens, it’s time to move on, and moving on could mean moving out, changing jobs, or even leaving old friends behind. This line of sight is never straight, and often means you have to bend in the wind in order to hit the bulls-eye.

People often ask me how I got the courage to leave my old life behind for a new one in Costa Rica. A foreign place, a foreign language, and with no guarantee it would work out. But there was this moment when I realized it was riskier not to do it than to take a chance. I knew if I didn’t break out of that stifling lifestyle, I would look back at the moment and have profound regret. I saw a beacon of light through a foggy time in my life, and its soft beam gave me hope.

I still follow that beacon even though there is little fog left in my life today. The skies are bright in Costa Rica, and the sunshine lightens up even the darkest corners. But at night I still see it. The beacon calls out for me, reminding me to keep dreaming, to keep being happy, and to keep remembering that life is in constant flux.  Ebbing and flowing is always the best way to ride a wave, but you have to paddle out to sea before you can go with the flow.

So if someone chooses to debate me on whether Bocas del Toro has better snorkeling than Playa Conchal Costa Rica, which it does, or if they have more volcanoes to hike, which they don’t, I’ll just rock in my hammock and continue staring up at the powder blue sky.  I’m not here to argue, or convince anyone that their ideas are wrong. There is room enough for everyone on this journey, and I’m still bending in the wind on mine.

If you are thinking about a move to Panama, or even just dreaming of what such a change might be like, you can find Kay’s latest book, The Pursuit of Panama, here on Amazon. I’m sure you will be inspired by Kay as well. http://amzn.to/2w2Qd0L

And while I’m not here to convince you to move to Costa Rica, if you would like to come along with me on my hilarious journey please read Happier Than A Billionaire and The Sequel. If you are inspired to join me in Costa Rica, you may also enjoy my guide to living here with everything I’ve learned over the past nine years, The Costa Rica Escape Manual.  http://amzn.to/2eQeO5g

 

Permaculture in Costa Rica

By | November 17th, 2015|Categories: Cooking Show, Nature, Tourism|Tags: , , , , |

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.

 

5 Differences Between Expat vs Tourist Living in Costa Rica

By | June 27th, 2015|Categories: Cost of Living, Tourism|Tags: , , , , , |

Best Guanacaste Beaches

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: A six-foot yellow coconut tree—$12

I’m often asked for advice on how to travel like a local as opposed to a tourist. (It’s as if the word “tourist” is a vulgarity, one which summons up images of guys wearing sandals with socks or rocking undersized Speedos on the beach). I’m always eager to help but this is a tough question.

The answer is not cut and dry since it all depends on how long you’ll be here and what areas of the country you’ll be visiting. If you are only visiting for two weeks, it may be more difficult to accomplish the goal of living like a local. But if you are settling in for 6 months or more, you begin to understand the ins and outs of living in the areas you will be visiting. Continue reading “5 Differences Between Expat vs Tourist Living in Costa Rica” »

Costa Rica Butterfly Conservatory Video: The Interview

By | June 5th, 2015|Categories: Tourism|Tags: , , , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: New muffler (with labor and parts) for a scooter—$60

Do you enjoy butterflies? Do you like the idea of following a dream and starting a new life in Costa Rica? If so, you’ll love Glen Baines. A retired engineer, Glen made it his mission to regenerate an area of the rainforest  heavily deforested by cattle ranching. In doing so, he opened the largest butterfly conservatory in Costa Rica.

Watch our fascinating interview with Glen and learn what butterflies eat, why their wings are iridescent, and what it takes to keep them happy and healthy. And most importantly, what’s his favorite butterfly!

(You can read more about Arenal Volcano and Costa Rica in my latest book, The Costa Rica Escape Manual )