Our Move to Costa Rica (or How We Sold Everything, Embraced Freefall, and Even Avoided Going to Jail
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Our decision to relocate our healing retreat center to beautiful Costa Rica was made just over two years ago. Sunny Florida got to be our intermediate jump off point. Florida is where we learned so much about running a business, and this also gave us time to refine and perfect our clients’ healing retreat experience. Last year we consciously set a jump off date of June 2017 – that would be the month we made the move! As we got closer to that date, however, ego began to set in, and we started hedging our bets, setting conditions that “must be met” first, and finding excuses to put off things “just a little longer.” Maybe a month? Two? Let’s be reasonable, right?
On May 31st, we received notice from our landlords that they would not be renewing our rental agreement, and so we were put on notice that we had to be out of the house by the 30th. Can the universe be any clearer? We powerfully set the intention, and we were being held to that timetable!
It was time, and we realized that there was so much to do in the space of one month. Quickly catching up on needed research, we decided that the benefits of moving our household goods were far exceeded by the hassle and expense, and so basically, we had 3 weeks to release, release, release! Everything (almost) had to go! If it didn’t fit in the 9 suitcases and 3 “personal items” allotted to us by the airlines for our three tickets (Freyja, Damian and I), it didn’t go. Utilizing the power of the garage sale and Facebook’s Marketplace we became full time purveyors of our possessions. We had a further complication in that we still had one more set of clients to work with in our last Florida retreat – an absolutely marvelous couple! So we had to time it so some things were not sold until after their retreat was complete, 5 days before our departure!
It all came together perfectly. Our last Florida retreat was amazing, the majority of the items sold, and most of what didn’t went to a charity, a half-way house for substance abuse. Somehow we got the house cleared out, the trash on the curb, the home cleaned and inspected, and all of the paperwork lined up for our trip. Looking back, it was one long, crazy whirlwind of perfectly imperfect chaos. The power of clear intention and committed action was manifest throughout, along with the help of friends and the beauty of an overriding synchronicity that we could not deny.
On June 29th, we boarded our flight at the Miami International Airport and arrived without incident at the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría (SJO), also called San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Then the fun began.
We had the wonderful fortune to connect with a sweet woman on Facebook who was just leaving Costa Rica back to the states. She had been renting a home out near San Isidro, where we had decided to settle, and was leaving just a few days before our arrival date! Perfect! Even more, she was renting a car from someone locally, and we could possibly take over her rental contract! Awesome! Finally, since they had driven the car to the airport for their trip, they needed someone to drive it back to the San Isidro area and return it to the owners! This was an incredible stroke of luck, since transporting ourselves and our luggage over the 3.5 hour drive between San Jose and San Isidro was an intimidating task, to say the least! We either took the bus and wrangled 12 bags of various sizes all that distance, or we hired a van to make the drive - not cheap! At this point, all was good. We were shepherded to our car (which had been dropped off at the airport already) by a very helpful baggage attendant, and we loaded up and drove the very scenic (and at times harrowing) drive to San Isidro and our Airbnb accommodations.
Then things began to unravel. First, was our discovery that somehow we managed to arrive without one of our larger pieces of luggage. There was no avoiding it – we got to drive BACK to San Jose the next day and pick it up. Driving in San Jose is an experience all by itself. Think of your worst traffic day in a large city in the US. Then add in signs you can’t read, Frequent car horn use (it’s a way of communication – positive and negative), and vendors on the highways wanting to sell you food! People will pull up on the medium in a divided, restricted access road and buy themselves cooked food! On top of that, in the city proper, it can have the uncomfortable aspects of a bumper car amusement park ride, but with insane motorcyclists darting literally everywhere.
That wasn’t the biggest problem, though. The owner had discovered that her car was being sublet to us, and suddenly decided that she wanted the car back. Now. The rental contract didn’t run out for another 5 days, and it was paid through for that period, but she didn’t care. She wanted it now. Even though we had filled the tank, topped off the oil, and were paying the previous renter for the balance of the month. Even though we were halfway to San Jose. Now! Well, there was no way we were turning back and leaving our luggage behind, so we kept going. Her demands, through texting, began to get kind shrill at this point, demanding that we deliver the car at a time impossible for us to meet. She didn’t speak English, we don’t speak Spanish, so the communication channel may have been part of the issue, but about the time we were almost to San Jose, she began sending us pictures of the complaint she had sworn out with the police. With prospects of spending our second night in country at a Costa Rica jail, we decided to focus on the task at hand – getting our luggage and returning safely to our Airbnb.
On the way back she started to chill out a little, and told us she’d remove her complaint if we had the car back at a more reasonable hour. During this time, we also worked out with the manager of the home we wanted to rent an earlier arrival date, so we notified the Airbnb manager that we’d be vacating sooner than originally planned. Picking up the bulk of our luggage, we headed into the mountains. In the dark. With enough gas to get there and some to spare. But maybe not enough to go to the wrong place first, drive around aimlessly for a bit, get a course correction, and then find the rental home. It gets dark early here, and by 7:30 or 8 pm, we were semi-lost, only occasional with cell phone coverage, and almost out of gas.
Stressful! At least we were pretty sure by this point that we probably weren’t going to spend the night in jail! Finally arriving in the small village where our new rental home was located, we set up a meet with the car owner, unloaded our luggage in the house, and then waited for her near the local church. The meet, contrary to our expectations, went very cordially. She arrived with her husband, looked over the car, and then together we got to the root of the miscommunications that were causing her to be so stressed and reactive. We ended up hugging, and everyone felt better. Hopefully she removed the complaint.
Our challenges continued with our new home. The “very reliable” internet didn’t work, at all. We told the manager about this the next day, and she arranged for someone to take a look at it that same day. Then the power went out. Throughout the entire country. Apparently, this has never happened, and there was some conjecture that it may have been a terrorist hack. We didn’t know that at the time, of course, since we didn’t have cell phone coverage (no coverage in that area for our phones), had no internet, and now even lost the ability to use the hotspot in town! We could only imagine what friends and family in the US and Canada were thinking when we seemingly fell off the planet, but there was nothing we could do but wait.
The next day, power was back, internet got fixed, and things started to fall into a relatively peaceful routine (finally)! Our stresses began to release in the peaceful place we now called home, and it’s an amazing place, indeed. Backed up to the Talamanca Preserve, our home is bordered by a churning river on the east and a small stream on the west. Surrounded by forest, accessed by a dirt road, it could hardly be more idyllic! The only sounds are the birds, insects, and the muted roar of the river. Our neighbors are coffee plantations, small farms and a small but thriving tourist trade for those wanting to hike the Preserve. The water is pure, the air is fresh, and the food is real food. We get our cheese, butter and raw milk from a farm a short distance away, we enjoy taking the bus to the local outdoor markets, and the people are incredible – considerate, warm, non-judgmental.
We are so excited to be taking our retreats to the next level, and this is the perfect place to do it!! It has been a wonderful adventure for us getting here, but as I look out my window and see the incredible variety of beautiful birds flying around, hear the river singing it’s song, and hear Damian downstairs happily playing, I know this is our perfect experience.