Costa Ballena Living - Edition #2 - July to December 2014

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Lifestyles & Homes in Costa Rica’s

South Pacific

Costa Rica • July- December 2014 • #02

Now is the time to buy in Costa Ballena! “With a combined 60 years of real estate brokerage and development experience, Coldwell Banker Vesta Group Dominical is dedicated to delivering you the very best service available.Your success in purchasing Costa Ballena property is our top priority.

Pacific Blue ocean views, we specialize. Seeking property vacations rental needs, we specialize. And if you are concerned about working with a reputable company, we are the founders of the Southern Pacific Alliance of Realtors (SPAR), members of NAR, Costa Rican Real Estate Dreaming of a large development parcel, we specialize. Associations (CCCBR) and Costa Rica Guanacaste Dreaming of a luxury home, we specialize. Dreaming of Association of Realtors (CRGAR). Hotels


Luxury in the Mountains

ID: 655 $695K

ID:. 2814 $595K

ID: 137 $350K

ID: 1782 $899K

Natuga Hotel

ID:. 143 $549K

ID: 1853 $980K

Business goes where it is invited... and stays where it is cared for!


What was a daunting concept has become a dream come true. We thank Coldwell Banker Dominical for their guidance and help throughout the entire process and for being our friend. Our BBQ and pool are ready when you want to come over and say Hi!



To contact us: Stop by our Dominical Office on the Costanera in Dominical

Call us: 2787-0223 Visit our website: Read our blog: Join us on: Luxory Homes

Jewel in the Jungle

ID: 202 $89K

ID: 215 $992K

ID: 2711 $595K

Whale Watchers Estate

ID: 425 $3.89M

ID: 2791 $1.1M

ID: 486 $2.75M




Welcome to Costa Ballena! Known for its dramatic coastline, it is a unique tropical destination where lush mountains meet pebbled beaches, offering many lifestyle advantages, business and investment opportunities, as well as a chance to unload and reconnect for those looking to resource. The area is filled with fun family activities, chances to explore the great outdoors and social activities year-round where you get to meet locals and learn the stories of those who took the leap and changed their lives. Our current edition presents a few entrepreneurs of the Costa Ballena community, who have chosen to pursue their dreams, follow their passions and create their own destiny. What unites them is their Pursuit of Happiness and their drive to create a better standard of

living for themselves and their loved ones. You will find that the area has just begun to tap into its potential and many opportunities are available or waiting to be developed. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. If you are looking for a real change in pace, a better quality of life and like-minded individuals, chances are, Costa Ballena may be the place for you. It has its challenges, and it holds its rewards. Opportunities are waiting to be created, for you, by you. In the words of Peter Drucker, the best way to predict the future is to create it. And at one point in life, you have to go for it. That time has come, now let’s get to it!

ÂĄDisfrute! Nikki Whelan Editor-in-Chief & Founder

Engage with us online /costaballenaliving

Š Mario Albi

View past editions online

Credits: Editor-in-Chief Nikki Whelan + (506) 8768 7540

Contents: Costa Rica as an Investment Opportunity

Proofreaders Kathy Ribson Lindsey Vast Background photography provided by Mario Albi Cover by




Entrepreneurship in Costa Rica

Featured Property

Layout and design by

Mareas Luxury Villa Estate


Magazine printed by

Next Edition: January 2015


Advertiser closing date for the next edition: October 2014

Featured Property


Why buy an Existing Business

Join the Adventure!




Lifestyles & Homes in Costa Rica’s

South Pacific


New Ways of Looking at Retirement

Read it online:


Costa Rica as an


Investment Opportunity

Costa Rica is the longest-standing democracy and has one has a valid passport. A very attractive feature is that once of the highest standards of living in Central America. The purchased, property owners then have the same legal rights economy is stable, Its exports remain strong to this day, as Costa Ricans. and they have one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. Future investment For medium-scale investments, real estate is perhaps into public services and infrastructure is planned; and since one of the best options. Studies show that Costa Rica has having abolished the army as of 1949 and reinvesting those seen profitable real estate investments with 15-20 per cent funds into health, education and culture, the population returns recorded year-on-year from 2000 to 2008. Although has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America, not the financial crisis did have an impact on the real estate to mention they were rated as the Happiest Country in the market, in the end, it resulted in the prices being stabilized in World in 2009 and in 2012 by the New Economics Foundation. the most recent years. With the value of the US dollar rising Weather is mild year round, biodiversity is abundantly thriving on world markets, investors, tourists and snowbirds all have and there is ample availability of food and clean water sources. their sights set on Costa Rica. With an economy catering to tourists (tourism numbers are at record levels), you’ll find a wide array of services, varying Another important factor that differentiates Costa Rica is from spa treatments to modern telecommunications. it’s culture. As a general rule ‘Ticos’, a colloquial term In order to improve employment opportunities, for a native of Costa Rica, are very friendly and many Costa Ricans speak a fair amount of “Switzerland of the Americas” peaceful people. Rarely will you encounter English. The democratic government of Costa hard-lined nationalists who are not Rica is among the oldest of the developing supportive of foreign investment. As For the investors, Costa Rica offers low nations in Latin America, Costa Rica does not investors come into the country, they taxation and is the same time zone as have a standing army, and has a national policy have recognized that there has been an the central part of the US. Reliable of neutrality. They rank highly on the Global Peace increase in the quality of their everyday telecommunication services are being Index, Happy Planet Index, and Life Satisfaction life. Generally speaking, the sentiment improved all the time and practically Index. Plus, they are introducing many green that resonates among Costa Ricans is anything you need can be imported. San policies, already Costa Rica gets 90% of its that as long as respect is maintained and Jose is a two hour flight from Miami and electricity from 12 hydroelectric plants and foreign investment continues to uplift a three and a half hour flight from New over the past few years wind farms and aid the overall development of the York. SJO International has nonstop flights have been added to the mix. country and its people, investors need not from New York, Houston, and Miami. The flights worry about protectionist attitudes that may be remain highly affordable with flexible times being found in neighbouring countries. And not enough can offered. It also makes it accessible for family and friends to be said about the open attitudes Costa Ricans demonstrate. visit. Their lifestyles reflect a laid back attitude and ‘Pura Vida’ permeates into their everyday life. Truly generous people In Central America, it is known to be the easiest country for by nature, we have much to learn about their lifestyles and property purchase. Non-residents are legally able to invest culture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and an in Costa Rica, assuming available funds are at hand and one experience is priceless. All things being equal, the experience of Costa Rica will be what ultimately wins you over; it is unlike no other in Central America.


Why Choose



Costa Ballena?

Amongst Costa Ballenas’ outstanding qualities, most definitely one of it’s top features is that it is uniquely picturesque. The topography is distinctive. The mountains and the ocean converge; and in the mountain ranges the hillsides offer panoramic ocean view properties, amazingly some of which are yet undeveloped. Many property owners benefit not only from impressive ocean views with lush jungle backdrops; but river or waterfall access properties are also common place. One can choose to have neigbors around, or no one in sight. Some properties are built simple and with modesty; whereas others are modern and offer all the comforts one requires. With cool moun-tain air at night, and beaches readily accessible below; many options are available for home ownership, for all tastes and budgets.

There is a strong sense of community and many international residents have chosen to live in the area full time. Most of the residents, whether permanent or only here for a portion of the year, occupy themselves with living healthy active lifestyles. Outdoor activities are ample and diverse, fresh food and vegetables are abundantly available at Farmer’s Markets in the area, and many social activities provide a way to connect with fellow community members throughout the week. Whole-heartedly committed to enjoying all life has to offer, the personalities of the people who populate the area are diverse and easy going. “We all have our story as to why we are here and we all are adventurers in our own ways.” - a sentiment that resonates from many.

Another advantage that has benefited the area in most recent years is the completion of the Costanera Highway, which now makes the area highly accessible to San José. In a little over a three hour drive, the Costanera Highway connects Costa Ballena to the capitol. Surrounding national airports, in Quepos and Palmar Sur, make the area an attractive location for people who need to come and go quickly; as flights can take as little as 30 minutes to reach San José. Now with plans of an International Airport in Palmar Sur being government approved, the attention of world wide developers look-ing for new opportunities have begun to set their sights on the Osa Canton.

As for those who have left the fast paced mindsets long behind, and having lived in Costa Ballena for some time, one cannot help but experience a shift in mindset. An adaptation to the local culture and a true internalization of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle occurs after some time of living here. There is a return to a much simpler way of life, and of taking a more stress free approach to everyday life. Sometimes, your “to do list” may not all get done in one day, but at the moment maybe all you really need is a hammock for your afternoon ‘siesta’ to make your day! The laid back attitudes of the community members are highly reflective of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Most re-cently, there has been an influx of people to the area who are highly committed to seeking a better quality of life. What resonates is that people “want to be happy”, and for many that means a sense of liberty in everyday life, a healthy lifestyle and the opportunity to pursue a livelihood that gives them personal fulfillment, as well as pays the bills. The mix of individuals who are here and who continue to migrate here have various skill sets and it will definitely make for an interesting and dynamic unison of talents over the years to come.

Entering into an ever green, ever lush, natural paradise, Costa Ballena is an area that has remained relatively off the beaten path. The animal life is abundant; with mon-keys, birds, and flowers galore. The animal lover and the nature enthusiast will be delighted evermore. It can rain and be sunny on the same day and at the same time, but give it ten minutes and see the weather change in the blink of an eye. And it would seem a side effect of living here is that an interest in gardening develops. With fruit trees growing with ease, it’s quite easy to develop a green thumb.

Aerial view ‘Playa Arco’

Pura Vida

National saying, which literally translated means “pure life”. It is used as a greeting, goodbye, or if someone asks how you are doing. It also extends beyond the simple words and infuses every-day life. It is a lifestyle and is symbolic of the simple enjoyment of all life has to offer, being content with what one has and not to worry, things will work out, they always do!

Costa Ballena:


Pioneering The Last Frontier


Whale Coast, a very appropriate name for our area, is home to a national marine park which was created at the request of entrepreneurial citizens in order to preserve and promote it’s beauty, and so that it could be shared with the rest of the world. The Whales Tail Reef is connected to the mainland by a sandbar making a shape that gives it the name. Costa Ballena runs from the Baru river in Dominical to the mouth of the Terraba River in Coronado. On this stretch of land the jungles’ path to the ocean is uninterrupted and it’s many beautiful beaches, majestic terrains, and populous animal wildlife reveal its magnificent splendor. Many entrepreneurial Costa

Pilar Dailinger Davis, an entrepreneur, mother, and wife. Pilar was born in Seville, Spain and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado. She currently dedicates her time volunteering as the Vice-President of CAP and sits on the board of directors of CACOBA.

‘Whales Tail’

Ricans and expats from Europe, Canada, and the U.S. enjoy a “Pura Vida” lifestyle in the area, which is the thread that unifies us. Most of us have created businesses to support this lifestyle. Restaurants, hotels, villas, hostels, real estate offices, chef and catering services, food, music & art festivals, tours and expeditions, and home based businesses are a few examples. I call us “Pioneers of the Last Frontier.” Each town between Dominical to Ojochal has a local Spanish speaking “Desarrollo Comunal,” a community development group that assists with community needs. They work alongside the municipality and other government entities to facilitate the growth of their communities. Each “desarrollo” does their utmost to improve the living conditions for its residents by monitoring community water systems, adding sidewalks, or applying for government grants to build police stations and communal halls. In addition, they sponsor events such as the “Whales and Dolphins Festival” and the “Civic Festival” to raise money and for everyone to enjoy. On Saturdays we all go to the “Feria" in Uvita, our version of a farmers market. There we can purchase hand made crafts (not from China), tasty baked goods, fresh-caught fish and organic fruits and veggies. We also count on seeing almost everyone we know. Greeting each other with hugs and kisses while catching up with the latest news.

Our rustic area provides many volunteer opportunities. DAWG (Domestic Animal Welfare Group) finds homes for dogs and other animals that would otherwise be forced to fend for themselves. CAP (Crime Awareness and Prevention) is a non-profit association working to make the community safer by providing residents with tips and community watch programs. CACOBA (the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism) strives to promote commerce and tourism in Costa Ballena. Forjando Alas provides children with an after school program enriching their lives with nature and technology. Expats organize a “Toys for Tots” program during Christmas to benefit children in need. All of the above nonprofit organizations have fundraisers throughout the year and we all support their events, uniting us and providing a fun and social atmosphere (my calendar is always full!). Anja Geesink, an expat from the Netherlands, heads the Costa Ballena Women’s Club. Once a month we have luncheons where we enjoy wonderfully informative guest speakers and different locations to explore. Many of us also get together to surf, golf, play softball on Saturdays at the soccer field in Bahia, or drink artisanal beer at The Roadshack or the Flutterby House. Sometimes you will find us at the bar in “Marino Ballena” chatting it up with one of the friendly bartenders. We live in a wonderful community. It is a sought after life style we call “Pura Vida”.

Travelling Advice


Learn a few basic words and phrases prior to your departure. For example ‘disculpe’ is to get someone’s attention, whereas ‘perdon’ would be used to excuse yourself.

When packing, less is more. Pack light, breathable, loose fitting clothing. The weather is hot and humid, and almost anytime is a good time to cool off in a pool or the ocean, which either will likely be close by, so bathing suits become essential to have at hand. High heels are inconvenient for walking on gravel or uneven terrain, and ceramic is slippery when wet, so plan ahead for what will go on your feet. To be independent, a vehicle is good to have. A 4x4 vehicle is great for some of our jungle backroads, and many people opt to rent a GPS. Since there is not much road signage or street addresses it comes in handy quite often. A good local app for directions is ‘Waze’. Try

to avoid driving to new places at night. Fallen trees, heavy rain, lack of signs and addresses make it hard to find something in the dark of the night. A good idea if you are in an area for a while, ask a local to show you some landmarks. Be sure to ask if there are different names of calling the same area or building, as is sometimes the case. Make friends with locals. Locals are glad to help. Many restaurants have a bar area or live music some night of the week and its where some locals regularly congregate. Be open minded, customs are different. Sit back, observe, you’ll learn a lot. Be careful at the beach, be informed about rip tides and rivers mouths near shorelines. And once you get your feet wet, enjoy! Have an adventure, have fun, take a day to yourself, do what makes YOU feel happy!


Seasonality There is no spring or fall in Costa Rica; there are two seasons are called ‘verano’ (summer), and ‘invierno’ (winter). Summer, or the dry season, runs from December to April and locals refer to it as ‘high season’ as this is when there is an important passage of tourists that supports the economy in Costa Rica. The winter, called the rainy or green season, has our jungles looking lush and runs from May to November; October and November being the heaviest months of precipitation in Costa Ballena.

'Playa Hermosa'


Be aware of seasonality! Many businesses have reduced operating hours during the slower months. Be sure to phone in advance before heading out to your destination.

Dominical A A surfer town not too far off the beaten path, just 27 miles (44 km) south of Quepos and a national airport, and within an hour’s drive from San Isidro El General, Dominical is the gateway to Costa Ballena. And with consistent waves served up at the ‘playa’, Dominical has become home to annual surf competitions and attracts many surfers who are coming to cut up the waves in Costa Rica.

Although Dominical remains a small town, it offers access to essential services, such as the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), a banking institution, and the Instituto Costarriciense de Electricidad (ICE), where electricity, internet and phone services can be set up. And a definite perk, delivery service from the local grocery store and a few local restaurants is available upon request! In the surrounding municipalities, such as Dominicalito, Escaleras, and Puerto Cito, families, couples and retirees alike, also enjoy the fresh mountain air combined with the proximity to the beach. And many luxury villas and rentals are found in the area that offer stunning ocean views.


ROCA VERDE Restaurant, Bar & Hotel Amazing beach front, open-air restaurant serving up fresh seafood, fresh batidos, and all with local flavor. Stop in for a pizza, burger or seared tuna for lunch or dinner. Live music every Friday night, be sure to reserve in advance, as it is the social gathering venue for locals! Located next to Coldwell Banker off of the Costanera Highway +(506) 2787 0036 /

LA PARCELA Restaurant & Cabins While enjoying local and international favourites let your eyes feast on a view that is unparalleled. The powerful beauty of the rugged coastline, sparkling ocean blues, and vibrant jungle greens all at your disposal. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 AM until 9 PM, everyday of the week! Located +(506) 2787 0016 or 2787 0241 /




With a mountain backdrop and the ‘Rio Morete’ that runs through the town center and ends in the ocean at the ‘Parque Nacional Marino Ballena’, the town is surrounded by nature, and offers easy access to beaches, rivers and the mountains nearby. Essential services can be found in Uvita, and everyone is known to make a trip to Uvita at least once a week to replenish their stocks or for a social event. It is the bustling centre of Costa Ballena that is gearing up for expansion in the years to come. And on Saturday mornings a buzz is in the air, the little town is very busy, as shoppers head to and fro, from farmer’s market to wherever they may go.

From the mountain ranges nearby, amazing amphitheater style views of the area’s main attraction, the Whale’s Tale are found. Many residences can be found outside of Uvita in municipalities like San Josecito to the North of Uvita, that offers great jungle and expansive Ocean views. And homes nestled to the South in Ballena, offer prime access to some of the most pristine beaches in the area, not to mention some of the most dynamic views. With changing tides and the rock formations, ‘Las Tres Hermanas' and ‘Isla Ballena’, one can sit and watch the tides of the ocean come in and out from afar and enjoy the landscapes that are altered by the passing of time.


New to Roadshack is a Beer Garden! Stop in for a cold one on tap! Fresh sandwiches, salads and smoothies served in a relaxed atmosphere, with Costa Rican Craft beers, organic wine and local cheese available for your pleasure. They have live music on occasion, be sure to check them out on Facebook for their upcoming events. /Roadshackdeli • Located 50 meters west of BCR • For to go orders: + (506) 8629 8663

Open for Breakfast & Lunch Everyday of the week Fast Internet Fresh coffee Great meeting location!


Ojochal A

A quiet village, home to many expatriates and snow birds alike, it has gained a reputation of being the mecca of fine dining in Costa Rica, perhaps due to the international community that has flocked there and started businesses. It is well known for its large French Canadian expatriate community, and given the cosmopolitan community, you never know who you may meet at one of the various social events held throughout the year, fascinating people and fascinating stories light up conversations! Homeowners take pride in their manicured and fruitful gardens, and many homes also have ‘casitas’, a small space for tourist rentals with kitchenette, or they rent out their home for rental income while away. As for services, Ciudad Cortés and Palmar Sur, both within a 30 minute drive from Ojochal; offer all the services you will need, from banks, national airports, to a hospital, and even a bowling alley not too far away. If you are looking to find some calm or raise your family in a residential area, this quaint, village is perfect, and the local community will always make you feel welcome.

Looking for a long term vacation rental? Contact

Lucy and Robert welcome you to their intimate fine dining establishment serving Thai, Viet, French and Polynesian dishes that are to be savoured. Be sure to save room for one of their delectable homemade desserts. Located 1 km on the main road off the Costanera By reservation only + (506) 2786 5050

Looking for a lounge atmosphere? Meet up for cocktails and dinner at Citrus or make a lunch date with a friend and sit by the river to enjoy a moment in great company in a relaxed ambiance. Saturday night Chef’s Specials are often on the ‘carte du jour’. Located 50 metres from the Police Station + (506) 2786 5175





Many of the residents of Costa Ballena are bird watchers, nature enthusiasts and draw inspiration to paint, photograph or to live a simpler life merely by observing the beauty that surrounds them. Many have cited that it is because of the biodiversity that is present in Costa Ballena that they have chosen to move to the area. The toucan, the symbolic bird of Costa Ballena, can be found gliding from tree to tree. After the first rains, the butterflies come out to play and it is wonderful to watch as they flutter about their carefree day! The mountains are where ocelots find their home. And if you like reptiles and snakes, you are in for a treat any night of the week, night walking tours, guide accompanied, are available at any time of the year. More than 25% of Costa Rica’s land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges. There are more than 100

different protected areas to visit. Both the smallest and the largest parks of Costa Rica are near Costa Ballena. The smallest being ‘Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio’, near Quepos, with 16 km² to discover and the largest park to the South, being ‘Parque Internacional La Amistad’, with 1,991 km² to explore. Another great park nearby is ‘Parque Nacional Corcovado’, internationally renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity and home to many endangered species. Big cats, like the Puma, Jaguar and the ever elusive Costa Rican cougar, alongside bird species like the Scarlet Macaw and Harpey Eagle find refuge in the depths of this tropical rainforest. It’s also where you can find all four Costa Rican monkey species; these are the whitefaced capuchin, the mantled howler, the endangered Geoffroy’s spider monkey and

at it’s Best!

the Central American squirrel monkey, only found on the Pacific coast. There is an abundance of hiking trails and while some areas remain remote and secluded, it is also easily accessible by the Sierpe wetlands and includes ‘Bahía Drake’. Many residents return periodically throughout the year to visit this park located in the ‘Penisula de Osa’. For those looking for a hiking adventure, visit ‘Parque Nacional Chirripo’. With a height of 3,727 m (12,228 ft) it is the 38th most prominent peak in the world. On clear days, from the summit you are able to see from coast to coast, with views stretching from the Pacific Ocean all the way across the country to the Caribbean Sea. Where the top of mountains meet and many rivers converge, permanent lakes with crystal clear waters are all yours to discover.


Forever Young

As a young boy I was quite judgmental of older people and how they aged. I promised myself I would not get old, become overweight, get sick and frail like “them”. I believed strongly that they became this way because they stopped living. They stopped playing in the woods, hiking on the trails and climbing trees. In retrospect, I intuitively knew what science has overwhelmingly proven, that when we stop using what we have, we lose it. At 45, gradually and insidiously, I did exactly what I promised myself I would not do, I became that old overweight guy that I mercilessly judged as a child, and I stopped climbing trees! One morning I awoke, huge belly, feeling ill and lethargic and in an instant, as if an electrical shock triggered my brain, all of a sudden I reclaimed my youthful thinking. As of that moment, with undying enthusiasm, I applied what I intuitively knew as a child and underwent the most incredible body and mind transformation I never would have imagined possible. Within only 3 months, I transformed from the office worker who could sit a coffee cup on his belly, to posing for “after” shots on a beach in Hawaii. From that point on, living a health-oriented life in paradise was my ultimate dream. Twelve years later here I am with my wife living in paradise in Costa Ballena, Costa Rica, at home in the jungle. This is my new “woods” that I had as a child. Every morning that I am blessed with another day of life, I have a choice to make. In Costa Ballena, there is ample opportunity to become an old overweight guy again, but there is more opportunity to stay (or get) fit and live a “youthful” life. I choose the later and here is how I do it. My wife and I eat lots of whole foods. Here, unlike “up north”, eating healthy is way less expensive than eating badly. We can pay three times the cost for boxes or bags of imported processed junk, or go to the local markets for fresh vegetables, beans and fruits for very little. I can buy a “fruit drink”

(bottled sugar) in a store for $3, or a “pipa fria” (coconut water) cut from a nearby tree for $1. We buy organic chickens and eggs from our friend, or fresh caught fish from local fisherman that can be found roadside. Our Tico neighbor often stops us on our way home to give (yes, give!) us fresh pineapples, yucca, beans or some fruit or vegetable we have never heard of. What isn’t harvested from his farm is left for “los animales” (the animals), and it doesn’t get any better than this! No gym close by so can’t workout. Wrong! We created a home gym in the corner of our bedroom (1 meter by 2 meter area). I brought a bench and dumbbell set in checked baggage, and purchased a total gym here locally. Coming soon - a “jungle gym” in our back yard equipped with dip/ pull-up bars, ropes for climbing and rings for “muscle ups” and handstands. Do we really need this equipment to stay fit here? No! We hike around the mountainous property (killer cardio), trek to the waterfalls or take long walks on the beach with the dog. I am a beginner surfer and the “paddle out” alone is a huge anaerobic and aerobic workout combined with the benefits of balance and flexibility. I recently began attending a yoga class with my wife ($40 for 12 sessions, come on where else in the world is that deal available?). My wife also teaches a strength training class “pro bono”. When I get out of bed in the morning I sometimes punch out a set of “max pushups” or tricep dips using a chair before breakfast. What better way to kickstart the body into a highly metabolic state along with a healthy shot of dopamine for the mind! I am 58, but as fit and able as a very young man. In my face I look my age, but in my heart and body, I feel, look and move like I am 20. I am so very grateful to live in a place where I can not only meet my fitness needs, but it is a mecca for it. I so much missed that tree climbing boy who reminded me of something so important so much later in life. Now, he is back home with me in “the woods” in paradise.

Jim Smith, recently retired and living in Costa Rica full time, loves the outdoors, and takes full advantage of the hiking and surfing that is available in Costa Ballena. He and his wife Jan, both of whom share a passion for health and fitness, enjoy their time mountain top, overlooking their wonderful ocean view. With a lifelong interest in home design, remodelling, and construction, they have built a one of a kind home and are now able to sit back, relax and take delight in all life has to offer!



deep into “Look nature and

then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

Looking to reconnect? Nauyaca waterfalls is definitely on the list as one of the most impressive waterfalls in Costa Rica, with a total height of 65 meters, you will feel the power of nature as you witness the water cascading over the falls. Quality horse back riding tours or maintained hiking trails are at your disposal. Contact Don Lulo at +(506) 2787 0541 or for more information on visiting the falls.


Call of the Wild T There’s something inexplicable, when you go to a beach, a river, any water front, you just want to dip your little toe in or brush your fingers against the water. And how great is it to spend a day with friends and new acquaintances, united in appreciation of the natural wonders and beauty of the world? To swap stories of adventure, while out having your own. The outdoor enthusiast rejoices in Costa Ballena, with a myriad of activities like horseback riding, SUP, kayaking, cycling, surfing, baseball, soccer, hiking and more. Friends get together to go on tours of adventure or go it alone and connect deeply with nature. In our modern days, most people who live in North America tend to have busy schedules, live in cities and “weekend wars”, a social reference, has been coined for the sentiment some feel towards the weekends. In our area, weekends (and week days) are filled with beach time or a trip to the farmer’s market, and we use “Sunday Funday” as a reference for weekends. There is something about the proximity to nature that keeps us joyous, and it’s when we turn to science that we realize the benefits of spending time in nature have been well documented. It has been shown that the closer to nature you live, the healthier you're likely to be. Some examples include exposure to sunlight, where increased time spent outside means

more vitamin D is absorbed via your skin, and this powerhouse vitamin has been found to elevate mood and improve muscle strength. Furthermore, psychological research has shown that experiences in nature helps to reduce stress, improve one’s mood, and promotes overall increase in physical and psychological wellbeing. So go ahead, go for a walk or plan a tour, get close to nature! Just like the ocean, we too have circadian rhythms which are the body’s tide, our guide to cycles of sleep and activity. When people with a variety of sleep disorders were sent camping for a week their bodies were able to self-regulate and their internal clocks reset. The daily activity of a 24-hour day cycle, controlling the release of the hormones, melatonin and cortisol was regulated by the natural pattern of light and dark. Additionally, a study of 345,000 Dutch citizens in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed that people who live within 1 kilometre of a park or wooded area experience less anxiety and depression. In areas with only 10% of green space, about 2.6% of people experienced anxiety disorders, compared to 1.8% of people in areas with 90% green space. The disparity is evident, and for depression the results are in as well, 3.2% of people living in more urbanized areas had depression, versus 2.4% of those in more rural areas.

There are equally health benefits that are evident for those who demonstrate gastrointestinal digestive disorders and so-called medically unexplained physical symptoms, the researchers said. "As health-care costs spiral out of control, it behooves us to think about our green space in terms of preventive health care," said Dr. Kathryn J. Kotrla, Associate Dean and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine Round Rock campus. So just imagine what happens when you are surrounded by jungle, the health benefits are innumerable! It’s no wonder medical tourism is on the rise in Costa Rica, not only is there quality affordable health care, research has shown that hospital patients with a view of nature recover faster than hospital patients without such a view. The study shows that we are a whole organism, and when we get healthy that means our body and our mind get healthy. "If patients in hospitals have direct exposure to sunlight through a window or natural sunlight, hospital stays are shorter and patients have less complications," said Dr. David Rake of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. This goes a long way to show that the Western notion of body-mind duality is false. Nature reconnects us to our authentic self, the studies have shown that nature increases our happiness, and physical health, lowers our stress, leads to closer personal relationships and increases our value we place on community. Possibly, this could be a huge factor as to why Costa Rica scores so high in happiness and wellbeing on international studies, after all Costa Rica hosts more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity. So if you are that wild child, looking for your escape, starved for adventure, aching for reconnection, Costa Ballena offers a chance to do just that. Life is an epic production, we are the centre stage stars, and this is the movie of our lives.





Inspired Life

With my feet dangling out of a plane at 3000 metres up, that oh so natural thought, “what was I thinking?” comes to mind, and as it does, I wiggle my feet and a smile curls up, too late now. Even my eyes are smiling. I’m halfway out of a plane and strapped to another person, who is now counting down. I smirk, I shrug, I laugh at myself, roll my eyes, take a deep breath and, it’s a go! All I have to do now is hold on and enjoy the ride… The feeling of the free fall. Oh, the feeling of free fall. Of a 360. Of realizing your doing a 360. The feeling of

elation. Time does slow down. I, used that time to take a look around, to study the earth below, the landscaping, the plots of land, the ocean, the mountains, the feeling of free fall and moving your limbs, I soaked it all in. Then suddenly a hard tug and up, oh yeah, there goes the parachute! I forgot! (But did I touch infinity?) I’m back and now, Arnold is putting the straps in my hands, I’m steering, oh my god, I’m steering a parachute! “Let’s go play in the clouds” he says…okay! I tug to my right, harder, the wind catches, we’re on the move. Now to the left, we’re in the clouds, it’s cold and fresh, it feels good. I’m laughing, and in that moment I decide, this is cool, this is way cool. We are playing in the clouds. He tells me to look down, at the rainbow, and points. At that moment my eyes witness our parachutes’ shadow in the circular closed rainbow below, and we are in the clouds in a rainbow. Does it get any better?! I think not. What made me want to jump? What makes me want to do any of the crazy, weird,


in love with “Be your life. Every minute of it.

Jack Kerouac

seemingly nonsensical things I do? An adrenaline junkie? No way. Rewind three years, I was teary eyed on a zipline tour, hugging the trees at 300 metres up. So what changed in three years? The short answer, I moved to Costa Rica. It wasn’t the move though, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that easy. Rather the move was the trigger that started me on a new routine, a routine of routinely trying something new! The habit of change became part of my life when I moved. I began taking on new challenges regularly, pushing the envelope with myself, putting myself in deep waters, confronting fears. I invited change into my life and through it, have felt personal growth. After all, that is why I moved and what I am looking for, that is, to live a deeply rich, fulfilling life oriented towards growth. I just happen to be lucky enough to live in a place where other people come to vacation, so when I

Sky Dive Costa Rica + (506) 8970 1400 or 8350 2746

am looking for something fun to do, that pushes the limits, there are a wide variety of activities to choose from. Why sky diving? Well, it was always something that intrigued me, it was about the feeling, I was curious to feel it, in the moment. My projections of what it could feel like weren’t enough anymore. Years ago I pondered the idea, and naturally I was scared to jump out of a plane, that part is a normal reaction, most people would agree. And before, I would have stopped at the fear, but now, I wanted to overcome the fear. To have the fear but do it anyways. I wanted to see how that felt. And there was the growth. I believe that if it doesn’t scare you, it won’t change you. I wanted to see how it would change me. And it has, it has given me perspective,

appreciation for the life I have created for myself. I am proud of myself, I can see and feel the work, the effort that I have made in the past. As mentioned, three years earlier I was teary eyed, hugging trees at 300 meters up, now I was 3000 meters up and smiling ear to ear. This is one tangible example of change, and there are so many more. With that the future is exciting, exhilarating, and who knows what’s next (that’s the most exciting part)! So maybe now I am wired differently, my Costa Rican lifestyle has changed me for good, all I can say is that I feel alive, I feel fulfilled and I am happy, this is how I choose to carry myself in the world, today and everyday, for me this is my inspired life. What’s yours?

Lifestyle, Freedom





Let’s point out the obvious, the expatriates who have chosen to move to Costa Ballena and make it their home are choosing an alternative lifestyle. The laid back attitudes, the weather being enjoyable year round, the quality of life being excellent, with access to fresh food, clean water and plenty of outdoor space, everyday life is far from being boring. Not enough can be said about the lifestyle. Once you experience it, you will crave it, you will yearn to return. Then there is freedom. Freedom from the clock, from our shoes, from walls, from the normal nine to five. The freedom to wake up in the morning and to decide what your day will be filled with. The freedom to create a life you want to live, everyday, and with excitement.

best way “The to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Then most cite opportunity. Evidently enough, Costa Rica presents a chance to invest in real estate at what are reasonable and competitive market prices. Currently, properties are priced to sell, and for any investor or entrepreneur, the area presents various options to invest in real estate, at any price point. The opportunity can be as little or as big as you want, it’s up to you to define and decide. Costa Ballena awaits!

‘Playa Ballena’

Rancho Alegre

Residential lots for sale in Uvita

· Affordable prices · Ready to build lots · Water and electricity brought to the property line · Located in an urban area that is in development

· Minutes from the town center and from the ‘Parque Nacional Marino Ballena’ · Public road access · Excellent investment opportunity for capital gain · Lot size starting at 520 m²

‘Playa Uvita’

For more information, contact Julian at +(506) 8822 9205

Entrepreneurship E


in Costa Rica

Excitement fills the air when the topic of business opportunity arises in any conversation, and buying or starting a business is all about finding the perfect fit for your future. Costa Rica presents an interesting opportunity and challenge for those who are willing to dive in. Most expats and locals who have made the move and started their own business or bought an existing business, have plenty of advice to give. While advice varies, what resonates is that there are real opportunities that await. After all, Costa Rica, although no longer an emerging market, is a market that is experiencing growth. The need for professional skills is increasing in order for that growth to flourish, especially in rural areas, such as Costa Ballena. Those who get in early, are the ones who will see the biggest gains. While Costa Rica tends to be more expensive relative to other Central American countries, the advantages, such as political stability, access to education for the general population, and a mindset towards foreign investment, are well worth the prime. Businesses that create jobs are welcomed with open arms, particularly in areas with high unemployment. In addition, Costa Rica’s effective marketing campaigns have benefited the tourism industry and country as a whole. As tourists worldwide show growing concern for eco-tourist destinations, Costa Rica, being the world’s “poster child”, will certainly help all businesses operating in the country. Alongside the global economy showing signs of recovery, and climate change affecting weather patterns for much of Northern America, Costa Rica is well positioned. Whether you’re looking to expand into new markets or simply planning on funding your retirement outside your home country, a few practical reminders can help kick start your venture:

Learn current business practices. Cultural differences, ways of operating, language, each country has their unique characteristics. Approach business as if you were a newbie. Sit back and observe. There may be a reason locals operate in a specific way, learn the reasons why they do; Rely on local experts for legal counsel, taxation rules and regulatory requirements. Understand the legal implications of your purchase and rules that govern access to that country. Experts will be aware of the often changing regulations, customs, and tax issues Hiring help will lighten the load and speed up the transaction process; There are no short cuts, plenty of planning is required. Have a solid business plan. Plan for the unexpected. Cash remains king, plan to have enough cash on hand to ensure a smooth operation within the set up period. Time your purchase when the exchange rates are favourable. Determine how you intend to manage your business prior to purchase; Be aware of seasonality. Make an effort to visit at various times during the year to get a broad view. Plan for the high and low seasons. You will find those who are successful and live in the area year-round have multiple ventures on the go at any given time; Investing into a new area of business? Make it your hobby to learn about the ins and outs before you try to make it your livelihood. Plan a transition out of your current business, and try not to cut off income sources cold turkey they may come in handy if unexpected expenses or setbacks come up; Learn Spanish. It will facilitate the experience and it could be what turns your business into a success. It’s a sign of respect towards the country, and Costa Ricans will appreciate the effort; Be mindful of your community. Businesses that show concern for

the wellbeing of its members are well received. A community project can help you get introduced into the local circles and it helps forge new relationships and shows interest in the area not only for personal gain, which can open up doors for the future; and Be creative, versatile and flexible. Finding creative solutions at low cost is both challenging and rewarding. Have fun, think outside the box and go with the flow! Entrepreneurship is about effectively identifying an opportunity, working hard to develop it, and utilizing resources to make gains. Be true to your ambition and drive, the best business owners succeed, not because they stick to a rulebook, but because they look for ways to take initiative and create a path for themselves. This is entrepreneurship! Welcome to the land where ideas become possibilities.

don’t “You have to be

great to start, but you have to start to be great. Zig Zaglar

‘Playa Tortuga’


Mareas Luxury Villa Estate L Located in a cool breezy corridor, Mareas is situated on 36 acres of primary rainforest and sits at an elevation of 1,000 feet. Built for luxury and adventure, the property is surrounded by 200 acres of jungle, with four miles of private hiking trails, three natural waterfalls, one featuring a 30 foot drop, and amazing sunset views available from each of the Villa terraces. An additional geographical highlight, the nearest beach, accessible in less than ten minutes, is one of the best surf spots around.

Mareas, comprised of 3 terraced buildings, a yoga pavilion and lounge deck, connects via bridges and walkways through lush manicured gardens. Comparable to US building standards, with some materials being imported, Mareas offers comfort with a flare of elegance. During the building process craftsmen and tradesmen were on site to add unique touches of Costa Rican flavour with mouldings and decorative pieces that can be found throughout the Estate. Also, a well thought out feature in the building process, Mareas has a built in pump that stores water in a 15,000 gallon holding tank, in addition to a spring for their water usage needs.

The Main House has an open floor plan, with 30-foot high, vaulted ceilings and teak beams, contributing to the airy feel of the building. The heart and hub of the property leads out to a covered lanai, with an infinity pool, a 1,700 square foot saltwater swimming pool, complete with a waterfall feature and Jacuzzi. After a day of exploration and adventure, sink in and relax in one of the lounge areas to enjoy the extraordinary sunset views with the jungle and the Pacific Ocean contributing to the scenery that your eyes will feast upon. The kitchen, also located in the main building, was built for a chef, by a chef, and is equipped with stainless steel appliances, including two dishwashers and ovens, a dehumidified pantry, granite counter tops and custom cabinetry. An added bonus for the culinary amateur: a BBQ grill built under a rancho rooftop to ensure you can grill anytime, all the time. Connecting to the communal space via pathways are the private quarters. There are two buildings, each two storey’s, featuring a 1,400 square foot master suite, and a 700 square foot junior suite on each level. The master suites en suite glass tiled bathrooms with open air showers connecting you with the nature that abundantly envelops the property. All suites also boast balconies with ocean views, air conditioning and ceiling fans, and are finished with porcelain tiled floors, each with a tropical decor.


Ready for the next phase, Mareas presents a unique opportunity for an investor. There is ample land at one’s disposal for further expansion, with possibilities including additional villas, tennis court or helipad. The one-of–a-kind location and jungle setting that Mareas Luxury Villa Estate offers truly is unique as the primary jungle that it was built around is now almost impossible to find with building permissions, so whether the plan is to continue the luxury rental villas, to create a wellness centre, or for use as a private residence, options remain readily available for this secluded private getaway property.

For more information about the sale of this property contact




Settled above the Térraba River, along a quiet road with a stunning horizon view of the Pacific Ocean, this recently remodelled boutique hotel offers guests repose in a jungle setting. Focus-ing on the property’s natural attributes, that of tranquility and calm, alongside a clean, modern style, the revamped and repositioned B&B attracts patrons who are looking to ‘connect with your soul’, the slogan adopted with the rebranding of the property. Now up to par, redecorated, and upgraded, the 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom hotel has a solid foun-dation for a turnkey operation. There are three standard bedrooms, complete with en suite bathrooms on the main level, featuring private ocean view balconies, and two larger suites below, each with their respective bathrooms and terraces. The main house, currently in use as the reception, lounge and on site breakfast

For more information about the sale of this property contact

restaurant for guests, is 2,200 square foot. With an additional 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, this space can easily be used as additional accommodations. The kitchen, ready for professional use, is centred between two lounging areas. The kitchen and adjacent areas could be further utilized as a revenue source for an onsite restaurant, open to locals or catering for special events to be held at the hotel. As one moves from the open air area of the main building towards the terrace and pool area, one may bask in the sweeping ocean view. The open air terrace is spacious, with room for lounge chairs and table set up. The centrepiece of the sun deck is the pool; the delight of this space, the panoramic view of both ocean and mountains. Walkways connect the main building to the accommodations through manicured gardens and ends with what is currently a parking lot. Space, on either end of the property, is available for further construction if one so desires. A steady stream of occupancy and a clean, chic style positions the hotel favourably within the area, especially given that Costa Ballena is increasingly seeing record numbers of travellers within the luxury tourism market. Awaiting someone with vision and inspiration to take the reins, the price point of the hotel makes it an affordable investment option that is turnkey ready. Alma awaits to find its perfect fit!

Why Buy an


Existing Business? I If you are considering running your own business in Costa Rica, there are many reasons to consider purchasing an existing business, rather than building your own from the ground up.

rather than spending time and money on sourcing and furnishing a new hotel, instead you can walk into a turn-key establishment and focus on taking off where the proviso owners left off.

Foremost, purchasing an established business provides the financial history, which is key in the preparation of budgets and planning for high and low season. It can also make it easier to obtain financing.

Finally, one of the most important reasons to consider the purchase of an existing business is that it will likely have an established name and branding, as well as having marketing channels in place. By purchasing an established business, you may find that it already has a loyal following that you can build upon. It may also be that there is baseline marketing plan in action that simply needs to be maintained on an ongoing basis, or it could be that to become more profitable the current plan simply needs a little tweaking, revived energy or new ideas to take it to the next level. These marketing channels and vendor relationships often take time to develop, buying a business kick starts all these relationships and reduces your risk, especially if you are new to the area. Also, the if it does have a marketing plan in place, the business will have a mix of marketing assets ready for use, therefore time and money does not have to be spent in creating them. Again, buying an existing business means you can take off where the previous owners left off, making a new business venture a smooth and successful one. Good luck!

Secondly, purchasing an operating business provides the benefit of cash flow, this in turn can help short-term financial needs. It can often be somewhat difficult to obtain commercial loans or short-term financing in Costa Rica. A solid cash flow can provide you with assurance when you first start your business, especially if you are new to the area of business in which you have invested. Thirdly, an established business can provide you with the advantage of the necessary legal status for complying with tax reporting, permits and labor law obligations. These documents often take time to receive and can add up quickly in unexpected costs, it is a benefit that should not be overlooked. Moreover, you will find that many established businesses for sale in Costa Rica come with a large number of assets, most of which can be quite valuable in their own right. So

‘Playa Dominicalito’


Building a

Sustainable Dream “

When I envisioned opening a sustainably built hostel where everyone, especially single female travelers, would feel safe and comfortable, I chose part of a mango plantation in Costa Ballena as the site of the Flutterby House because I always wanted to live in a beautiful place where I could walk to the beach barefoot. That, and there was a strong need for accommodations in the area, so Uvita and I helped each other out. Pam Andreasen


A lot of the innovation in implementing sustainable practices comes from working smarter, not harder, and sustainability has been in the forefront of the Flutterby House’s philosophy since day 1. With the help and support of my sister, Kim, and a team of volunteers and local builders, we built the Flutterby House from the ground up, keeping many of the mango trees as is to provide shade, and building the treehouses, dorms, cabinas and kitchen using wood and other materials harvested from within 30 miles of the site, thereby

reducing fuel costs and putting money back into the local economy. By building treehouses and elevated dorms and siting the buildings so that the roofs are in line with the wind, nature does most of the work of keeping the rooms cool. Every roof also contains at least one skylight to allow natural light in and reduce the need for electric light. We use biodegradable, non-phosphorous laundry detergent in our washing machines and the water drains into a greywater system and is filtered by plants and sand. And not only is the place 32

Pam Andreasen traveled the world by herself at age twenty-two, gleaning ideas about how to build a better hostel along the way. She bought the land in Costa Ballena five years ago and has been building and improving the Flutterby House ever since. Kim Andreasen got her start in hospitality in Mammoth Lakes, CA and starting coming to Costa Ballena in the high season of 2009. She found herself staying longer and longer between trips back to the States and realized that life in Costa Rica is everything she wanted in a home.


‘Playa Chaman’

mindful, even when “Be your mind is full. Delavega itself built using sustainable methods, we also employ sustainable practices, such as selling beer and sodas in returnable glass bottles, stocking products with minimum packaging, and serving breakfast and dinner from our new commercial kitchen, which cuts down on propane, packaging, water and soap used for clean up, and food waste. The Flutterby House functions not only as a hostel, but also as a learning space for sustainability, inspiring people from all over the world to take the ideas they see in action home with them and implement sustainability in their daily lives, wherever they live. We have plants growing in PVC pipes that would fit right in in an apartment in New York City. We intentionally keep things rustic so people see that one does not need much to live comfortably and, even, richly. Guests see that they can grow their own food and herbs in small spaces, reuse glass bottles for countless projects such as lining a garden walkway, and compost food scraps to reduce their waste output and replenish their gardens.

It’s been a lot of fun and hard work to bring the dream of the Flutterby House to fruition. Neither Kim nor I spoke much Spanish when we were first building, and in addition to overcoming the language barrier, we quickly learned about the vara, an antiquated measurement that is used when cutting lumber to length and is only used in Costa Rica. The vara has no exact equivalent in inches or centimeters, and 2 varas does not equal 1 vara plus 1 vara. And we would often go to the hardware store for a necessity, such as plumber’s tape, and were told that it doesn’t exist, when, of course, it does! We were fortunate, however, to have many friends and family members in the US bring us items such as drill bits and nails for the nail gun so that we could persevere and, eventually, prevail. We’ve put our hearts and souls into creating a harmonious, safe space and would love for you to flutter by and see it! Check out

Escape the


Windchill Forever: C 5 Key Steps to Your New Warmer Life

Cuddled in a warm blanket sipping cocoa next to a wood burning fire is amazing, for about 20 minutes. After that, it’s cold, freezing, miserable, and inhumane! Living in a place where the ambient temperature could kill you can be a real drag. Having been raised in sunny Southern California, each winter in Kansas City I asked myself time and again, why am I here? Why did I choose to live in the midwest? I realized that yes, everyone chooses to live where they are. You may tell me that your family lives where you are at the moment, or the schools are good in your area, yet, either way, where you live is a choice. Wouldn’t you like to kiss winter and the brutal windchill that accompanies it goodbye forever? By becoming an expat, and moving to Costa Rica you would be able to live in one of the world’s top rated climates, and among the happiest people on earth! Below are five key steps to your new life.

2. Start learning Spanish.

1. Create a Budget.

3. Globalize your income!

• One budget does not fit all. Research how much transportation, food, housing, and life costs in your desired location with your desired luxuries.

• Eliminate overhead in your country of origin. If you have a car payment, house payment, or other debt create a plan to pay the debt off by cutting out frivolous spending (i.e. HBO, eating out excessively, drinking at bars, etc.). • If you own a home, prep it for sale or devise a solution for managing the property internationally.

• Rosetta Stone is a popular option. • Join Spanish Meetup groups at • Enroll in your local community college’s adult education Spanish course. • Hire a private tutor. • Continue Spanish lessons after you arrive in Costa Rica.

If your current job simply requires an internet connection, phone, and computer, why not take it abroad and test the waters? Telecommuting has become very popular and is advantageous for both the employer and employee.

4. Travel-size your life!

Shannon Enete is an international resident from San Diego, currently residing in Costa Rica. In addition to writing Becoming an Expat in Costa Rica, Shannon owns Enete Enterprises, LLC a video and print publication company that specializes in travel guidebooks and the creation of marketing videos for tourism. Upcoming editions include Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia, visit

Cars, furniture, electronics, kitchenware, linens, clothes, shoes, are an accumulation of stuff! If your desire is to move your life to Costa Rica then the most efficient way to do that is make your life travel-sized. If you haven’t used it in the last year, sell or donate it. Say adios to your heavy winter clothing. Depending on your budget and end goal this process may reduce your belongings down to one small room or two checked bags of stuff. I can fit all of my belongings inside my 1980 CJ7 and I’m still trying to reduce. Less really, has been more for me. For those people who aren’t looking to travel around much and simply wish to relocate from one place to Costa Rica, shipping a container of your favourite pieces and belongings may suit you best. My wife and I plan to continue roaming from country to country, trying them each on for size. Which is why our life really must fit into two bags.

5. Pack-up, tie loose ends, and go! • Pack your things. If you are shipping a container or boxes take care with the company that you choose. Cross reference the BBB and Moving Scam.

Cost ofLiving


Ultimately it will depend on your lifestyle, the part of the country where you want to live, and the type of property you wish to maintain. For example, city life is more expensive, imported goods as well, and the cost of a vehicle should be factored in. Many homeowners also opt to have the assistance of a housekeeper and a gardener. A common consensus is that a person living alone will likely need between $1,500 to $2,500 per month to live comfortably in Costa Rica.


CR CPI: 61.98

Consumer Price Excl. Rent Index (CPI) is a relative indicator of consumer goods price, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. CPI Index doesn’t include accommodation expenses such as rent or mortgage. If a city has a CPI index of 120, it means Numbeo* estimates it is 20% more expensive than New York (excluding rent). *Numbeo is the world’s largest database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide. Numbeo provides current and timely information on world living conditions including cost of living, housing indicators, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.

• Create an international mail system, cancel subscriptions, change your mailing address with your bank, credit cards, family and friends. Change your settings to paperless billing for invoices and statements. • Buy your plane ticket (make sure your passport will remain current for years to come). If you plan on filing for your residency (Cedula) make sure to bring the necessary documents with you stamped by the State. Your hard work will be worth it all the second your foot hits the tarmac and you inhale the tropical air, knowing that you have forever left windchill, ice, and dreariness behind. There will be challenges, ups and downs throughout your adjustment but the journey is the best part, enjoy it. Welcome to the rest of your life! For more information about the cost of living, immigration, moving, paperwork and required documents for Costa Rica, visit and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

"I'm very happy to have Danny and Bridgestone part of Uvita, it's good to have such an honest and trust worthy auto repair shop in town.” Bill Local & all around good guy


State of theUnion 2014 T Through numerous global travel awards and ‘best place to live’ international nominations, Costa Rica is renowned as a captivating destination. However, despite whether you’ve been here for ten days or ten years, it’s easy to see that the country is constantly changing and evolving, making it more fascinating than ever. And while Costa Rica’s ‘Pura Vida’ reputation says a lot about the attitude and lifestyle found here, there’s much more that makes this place interesting than just sipping cuba libres on the beach – although that’s definitely a bonus.

For starters, where sustainability and renewable energy are concerned, Costa Rica is one of the most progressive countries in the world. Currently, about 93% of the electricity comes from renewable resources, with hydroelectricity being the main producer at around 76%. The rest of that total can be attributed to geothermal, wind, and a little bit of solar energy. To take that initiative even further, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) has set a lofty goal for Costa Rica to be carbon neutral by 2021. However, unlike many government agendas and bureaucratic ramblings, this one actually has follow through and a high probability of meeting its deadline. As of March 2014, the Ministry reported that the country is offsetting

81% of their carbon emissions, leaving only 19% fulfillment within the next seven years, which they believe can be attained through transport and industrial sector improvements. As a testament to this, the first hybrid and electric taxis were recently introduced to the San Jose scene, as well as the first environmental bank, which brokers carbon bonds to offset their footprint even further.

Another major change for Costa Rica in 2014 was the presidential race and election, which will go down in the books as one of the greatest upsets in the history of the candidacy. For one, Luis Guillermo Solís of the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC) came from behind in the polls to beat San Jose mayor, Johnny Araya of the multidecade reigning National Liberation Party (PLN), with less than 2% of the votes during the first election in February. As per Costa Rican regulations, since neither of the candidates had over 40% of the votes, they had to move to a second round of elections in April with the winner taking all the glory. However, it was during this interim period where Araya really made a name for his party by withdrawing from the second ballot because the polls weren’t sufficiently in his favor. This year certainly made for a political telenova at its finest for Costa Rica.

The May inauguration of Solis for former president Laura Chinchilla parallels with Costa Rica’s acceptance into a much anticipated Free Trade Agreement Lindsey Vast is a writer and (FTA) with Europe, which will eliminate entrepreneur with a focus on tariffs and skyrocket international living and travel. trade between the She is currently the Editor-in-Chief for nations. Although The Costa Rica News and the Founder many hurdles are still pending to reach the of Copy Abroad, LLC 2015 finalization goal, and Puntarenas Properties, the integration of the FTA looks even more

promising with the recent Legislative Assembly bill approval in March.

Despite all of this positive news, everything hasn’t been rainbows and sunshine where Costa Rican economics are concerned. The country recently lost one of its most lucrative manufacturing facilities and exporters: Intel computer processors. Even though the company will leave some administrative offices in Heredia, this transition will affect nearly 20% of Costa Rica’s exports.

Another unfortunate turn in 2014 is that the coffee industry has suffered. The rust fungus, which causes the leaves of the coffee plants to turn a yellowishbrown, decreasing photosynthesis and basically killing them, resulted in a 30% produce reduction in 2013. This pest situation was extreme enough to be declared a national emergency, but thanks to government aid for small farmers, has since begun to make a slow recovery. Also on the rise are Costa Rica’s infrastructure and internet coverage, simplifying many formerly tedious transactions with digital solutions. For instance, since January, certain permits and licenses can now be submitted via local government websites and the primary banks are granting more and more liberties through their sites for online payments and customer service. Plus, many rural schools are now receiving government subsidized online learning programs that they didn’t have access to a year ago. Aside from the pristine beaches, enthralling jungle biodiversity, and comfortable climate, it’s not hard to see that Costa Rica has some amazing developments going for it. While this year has had its challenges, the country is sure to flourish in ways that we can’t imagine going into 2015. Until then, sit back, relax, and find your Pura Vida.


Education I

In 1949, when the army was abolished, the Costa Rican government pledged that the “army would be replaced with an army of teachers”. In Costa Rica universal public education is assured in the constitution, and to this day literacy, with a historical rate of 94.9%, Costa Rica continues to have one of the highest rates in Latin America.

The school year in Costa Rica runs from February to December. Students have vacation for about two months, from December to February, and a few weeks off in July.

Elementary and high schools are found throughout the country, in nearly every community. Primary education is mandatory, and both preschool and high school are free of charge for residents. In Costa Ballena there is a mix of both private and public primary schools. For those who wish to acquire accreditation of high school programs in the country of origin, one must consult with their local school representatives as equivalencies can be given or special exams can be taken. For post secondary education, again both public and private universities are found throughout the country. The University of Costa Rica has been awarded the title “Meritorious Institution of Costa Rican Education and Culture” and is held in high regard. In recent years, many private universities and colleges have consolidated because of the demand for higher education, which exceeds availability provided by the public sector. Costa Rica also boasts one of the best health care systems in Latin America and with medical tourism on the rise; Costa Rica is a league above the rest when it comes to quality, affordability and access. Travellers need not worry about Malaria vaccines, and communication with medical professionals is rather easy as many doctors, especially in private practice, received training in Europe, Canada, or the U.S. and therefore speak English.

"One of the best massages, hands down. I really appreciated the variety of techniques used throughout one massage and the thunderstorm that rolled by during my massage made for a unique, unforgettable experience!" Debbie Returning tourist & health enthusiast


& Health Most people have access to universal health care, which means that people do not hesitate to visit the doctor when needed. The system covers everything from dentistry, to maternity care, to open-heart surgery. Today, its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP*, and overall, health care costs are about a third to a fifth of what you would pay in the U.S. and drug costs are less expensive, as a general rule, as compared to North America. * Jacob, Brian (2009). “CLOSING THE GAPS: The Challenge to Protect Costa Rica’s Health Care System”.

Care The Invisible Healer

Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules, believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy. So go ahead, get to the beach and take in a few deep breaths!


Pursuing Passions I It all started with a dream of watching the sun set over the ocean every evening from our home. However, like many self-employed Americans, we found ourselves stuck in the rat race; running a business, paying a mortgage and raising two teenagers – sound familiar? Being passionate about our professions in the health and wellness fields as a chiropractor and a yoga instructor, we often discovered we were compromising what we knew was in the best interest of our family’s well-being due to lack of time and over-scheduling. Daily stress, eating on the run and spending less time together as the children matured became the norm. After visiting Costa Rica for two consecutive years, we decided we could create an exit strategy, make the leap of faith, and turn the dream into a reality.

Kais Faddah was born in Finland and lived all over the US. Kim was born and raised in Southern California. Kais and Kim have been married for over 30 years, and they lived in a suburb of Seattle, WA for 21 years before moving to Costa Rica. They have two children, Kraig (18) and Kasie (17), three dogs and one cat. Kais is a US licensed Chiropractor and Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician. Kim is an Iyengar Yoga Instructor.

In February 2012, we packed a 20-foot container, sold everything else and with kids, cat and dog in tow, relocated to Costa Ballena, in the town of Ojochal. Surprisingly, our teenagers were willing to move to another country as close as two years before graduation; we then realized the pressure they were under in their school, activities and social lives. Being our number one concern, we explored different schooling options and settled on homeschooling and using a private tutor in the area. Graduating with a US high school diploma was an important consideration and we are able to facilitate that by sending their yearly portfolios to the US for accreditation. Hearing our daughter tell us she can’t remember the last time she felt so relaxed was music to our ears. We immediately discovered we spent more time together as a family, participating in more outdoor activities and spending more time preparing our own meals with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. As we began building our home in January 2013, it became obvious it was going to be a much more arduous experience than in the States. Although labor is relatively inexpensive in comparison, cost of materials fluctuated greatly, making it difficult to stay on budget. There was also the scarcity of building products we were accustomed to in the US, especially 42

‘Playa Uvita’


Scarlet macaws at ‘Playa Tortuga’

in the jungle. Shipping most of what we could not find from the States became a necessity both in time and money. We kept our focus on our objective of taking advantage of the beautiful views; letting go of the model of perfection we had become accustomed to; and the outcome is a house that feels like home.

Hearing our “daughter tell

Starting a business was an easier endeavour. Following our same formula from our previous business of providing exceptional service, exceeding patient/client expectations and positive word of mouth, we were pleased to find ourselves busy doing what we both love. The difference in Costa Rica is the ability to schedule our work around the tide charts so there is plenty of time for the beach and family. Along with that flexibility was the challenge of adapting to a less structured environment of work/school and play. There are many wonderful distractions living in a diverse and beautiful environment and wanting to experience it all was often tempting. However once we fell into a more relaxed pace of life, acting more as residents than tourists, we were able to find a balance.

us she can’t remember the last time she felt so relaxed was music to our ears

We now have the time to focus our attention on building our ultimate dream, a healing retreat. Incorporating elements of chiropractic, detoxification, micronutrients, yoga, meditation, and adventure and relaxation, our goal is to help participants to renew their body and mind. By creating a hands-on, one on one experience, it will allow us to share what we love most about Costa Rica – a true PURA VIDA lifestyle. Kim's Yoga Deck

Kim Faddah

The Creative Self


Coming Alive!

Whether it’s the energy from the volcanic earth deep below or the negative ions in the air; many have found their creative passions flourish in Costa Rica. Time after time we hear stories of someone developing, or delving, into an interest such as photography, gardening, home design, and the list goes on. Whatever the passion, given the chance, it seems it is ignited by simply being here. Rest assured, the slow paced lives we live, do not equal boring lives. Rather you may find we are all

artists designing our lives day by day. You can choose to be bored or you can choose to come alive. Lazy summer days of youth are reminiscent in the sunny days that pass by in Costa Rica, and when nostalgia hits, we are transported to what seemed to be simpler times and we find ourselves elated; layers removed in an instant. In the rainy months, we find ourselves un-der a roof somewhere, and in the absence of distractions it is a chance to relax, to re-flect, and for many, a chance to create.

world is “The but a canvas to the imagination.

Henry David Thoreau ‘Punta Uvita’


Building in the Tropics In Costa Ballena, we can all attest to the significance of the impact of the natural elements in which we live; the salty air tends to rust over any metal over time and proper water management can be challenging. Time after time, we hear home owners wishing that they would have built with more space to accommodate outdoor living, as once they move, they realize that year round most of their time is spent outdoors. To help kick start the learning curve and provide a few ideas, here are a few more points worth mentioning. Build a home that breathes. Naturally comfortable houses are low energy consumption houses. Designing your house with windows as tall and wide as you can afford, keeping in mind they should avoid direct sunlight, will help let the hot air out, as well as letting the breeze in, it will also reduce the use of electrical lights during the day. Although not essential, a long narrow floor plan catches the breeze best and let’s the breeze flow through the home. Proper ventilation is paramount. Plan your design so that there is a good cross ventilation. A more open floor plan allows the air to circulate better throughout the house than one with many closed off rooms. Designing the house so that your bedrooms receive a breeze is a good idea and may save you from using air conditioning at night, additionally opting for the use of ceiling fans rather than air conditioning is an affordable option.

Factor in the heat. Use materials that don’t store heat. Glass windows will magnify the heat come mid day, while light coloured roofs reflect heat. Additionally, high ceilings can also have an important impact on the overall ambient temperature of a room, plan to make them as high as you can, and be sure to include a “monitor” in the build, a triangular opening, usually found directly under the roof, that allows hot air to escape.

Building in the tropics has its particularities, it takes years to learn the ins and outs, as always the help and advice of local professionals, well thought out and detailed planning, alongside innovative designs all work towards helping build a home that will weather the test of time.

Make a plan for water management. Plan your construction to allow for runoff rain water from our tropical storms. Make sure that your landscaping slopes away from your home, not towards it and ensure that the water is directed to a safe run off place that will not cause the water to pool. A good idea is to elevate your home one to two feet above ground level.

Plan to create shade. A wide roof overhang is a great idea as it helps to block direct sunlight form entering via the windows. And why not use the extended roofing to cre-ate large outdoor living spaces underneath? Consider designing a wrap-around porch on the west, south, and east sides of the house using the overhang. Covered outdoor spaces are less expensive to build, so it’s a great way to add extra space for the initial amount invested. Be sure to include a few electrical outlets as they will surely come in handy. Take a helping hand from Mother Nature. Consider the natural wind breezes on the property and utilize them in the building orientation, it will help maximize the natural ventilation. Plant tall trees to create additional shade on the property and help prevent erosion.

An Innovative Idea Use living plants for shade by installing a trellis system that protects a cement wall from the sun, or a trellis over your entire roof. For those Nature Lovers, use vines that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, such as Passion Fruit.





Maintaining your home and property is an essential part of home ownership, where proper maintenance and prevention can prove to be wise investments. With the first downpours of rainy season, deterioration caused during the summer months from the intense ultraviolet penetration reveal themselves. Luckily enough, in Costa Ballena we usually receive three to four weeks of dry weather after the initial spring rains and before the heavy rains hit. This period is a great opportunity to make home improvements, to prepare your home in advance for the heavy rains, and to complete general maintenance on your home and property as part of preventative care as to avoid any future damage. The following are a few helpful pieces of advice to get you started.

Helpful Tip

General Maintenance: Regularly clean out gutters, downspouts, blocked pipes and overflows as they can lead to pooling of water which can cause serious damage to a property if not cor-rected in a timely manner. At the start of each rainy season, clean drain boxes of debris and ensure that storm ditches are drained regularly. Power wash concrete and wood walkways, decks, roof areas, etc. a couple of times a year. This helps rid horizontal surfaces of mold, moss, mildew and algae growth. Thus keeping people safer from slip-and-falls and the property from deterioration.

To minimize blockages, place wire mesh over gutter openings that way leaves and other debris won’t clog the canal. A common trick is to replace downspouts for chains on gutters that are accessed easily and not close to trees, the chains will channel water into drain boxes more effectively.


Landscaping: Prune back vegetation regularly, it should not be so close as to touching the building. Remove any dead branches that may fall during heavy rains. Keep an eye on land movements and cracks that become visible in land masses. Many people hire the help of a local groundskeeper to perform the general maintenance of their property and gardens.

Examine Your Roof: We too often forget before the rainy season hits to check for leaks or cracks, with heavy rains a small leak can turn quickly into a big leak.

Air Conditioner: Clean the filters once a month. Complete a yearly maintenance, something as simple as a tube replacement could save you the cost of replacing the unit. Twice a year, if your home has wallmounted interior units, remove the front cover and clean the interior. Be sure to clean the drain tube to prevent interior condensation drips.

Paint: Annual painting and/or refinishing of damaged exterior building. As it says this is an annual task, be sure to re-apply exterior protective finishes that have deteriorated during the dry season. In the tropics, it’s important that walls and surfaces are easy to clean as dust and parti-cles easily accumulate. As such, it’s important to consider finish when choosing paint. One would be advised to stay away from a matte finish on certain surfaces as dust easily sticks and it becomes hard to clean. Pest control: Getting your home inspected for bugs on a regular basis is a must. In addition to checking for several types of termites, there is a plethora of wood eating organisms, some too tiny to see with the naked eye, and they can eat away at your home over time.

“They always offer helpful solutions when a pool emergency strikes!” John General Manager of luxury villas ‘El Castillo’


Trailblazing forCommunity


Similar to a few who find themselves in Costa Ballena, Brian and Carolyn “just came” to the area on vacation and found reason to stay. After having decided that they indeed wanted to move someplace new, Brian and Carolyn went about considering places that would appeal to them. Having been well traveled to many parts of the world like Indonesia, Australia, Europe, Africa, and many parts of the States, Costa Rica stood out among the rest. They simply couldn’t resist the unique landscape and terrain where the mountains met the oceans. Aside from the warm climate year round and abundant wildlife (Brian is also a birdwatcher), which were top key features, they also required a location that was able to offer practicality. It need not be too remote, yet at a distance from city life, which they were looking to leave behind. And so, in 1996 their Costa Rican adventure began. Paving the way for those who live here now, Brian and Carolyn can remember a time when their sole means of communication was by marine radio. Once settled in the area, Brian set out to find a business venture that would suit his mind set. He was looking for a project where he could encourage the local economy and at the same time have social considerations. Their philosophy is that being guests of a country, and wanting to stay in the area, why not help out and improve everyday life exactly where you are. As Carolyn and

Brian noted, “You may not be able to change the world, but you can have a local impact.” With that attitude at the forefront, Brian built “Pueblo Del Rio” in 2001, a small commercial centre located towards the entrance of Dominical and next to the Baru river. He intended to create a space where the offices of essential services were located, many of which were not readily available in the area; such as a doctor, dentist, pharmacy, and he hoped for a bank. With persistence and time, Brian was able to fill all the spaces with various services. After many years, and the general economy having recovered, “Pueblo Del Rio” is now home to a pharmacy, an information centre, a restaurant, and a real estate office, and Brian is proud that he once had a hand in the creation of such a space. He has also set new goals! Both Brian and Carolyn’s current endeavours are all about community. Whether it’s Carolyn donating time and rallying for funds for scholarships for local “colegio” level students, she quotes, “the only way out of poverty is education”; or Brian working with the Lifeguard Association to help ensure that the association of lifeguards stays in operation and our beaches stay safe; they are kept busy by involving themselves with the local community. With a need to contribute to society and a history of entrepreneurship (read: many stories to tell about success and failure), they both feel that they are encouraged by, and

have learned through, each one of their experiences. Now they are in a position to give back. It was not even a lifetime ago that they can also remember a time when they were nearly broke, with two kids in tow, and only a meagre savings in the bank for a rainy day. A little wiser, a little older, Brian now knows himself better and realizes he enjoys taking on projects where he gets to build and venture into new territories; and he has learned when it is time to move on. Not one for staying in the same place too long, and with Costa Rica providing a unique backdrop for which entrepreneurs can be at play, he feels ready for change once again and has a few ideas that he has been entertaining. Brian in his most recent years has worked towards creating a community centre in Uvita, the “Rincon de Uvita”, where over 20 games of football happen every week. Being home to a local school, the Uvita Christian Academy; and the Saturday meeting place of the locals at the Farmer’s Market, it is among many things an epicentre in Uvita. Brian says the initial groundwork is laid out and his role in the project has reached fruition. It’s time for the project to be seen with fresh eyes. Looking forward to the next few years, both Brian and Carolyn feel this area has a lot of undiscovered potential and are proud to know that they contributed to paving the way for those who also call Costa Ballena their home.

Carolyn, born in Scotland, and Brian, born in England, met in Edinburgh in 1962. At that time Brian Nice was a geologist and Carolyn a teacher. It was the tale of a lifetime adventure that had begun. Having lived abroad in diverse places from Africa to Canada, and having raised two kids, now fully grown, they are able to devote time and energy to philanthropic causes that help our local community of Costa Ballena in big ways!

Are you a sports aficionado who is looking to give back to a community? Uvita may hold the right opportunity for you. Rincon de Uvita, the sports complex and commercial center is for sale. For more information contact Brian directly by phone at (506) 8981 4500 or 2200 5125, or via email at

New Ways of Looking at




Time after time we hear that a secret to staying young at heart is to always have ongoing projects. And with a wealth of experience, once retirement is on the horizon it may feel as though you are just ramping up! Now with the benefit of experience and being able to choose full heartedly one’s pass-times, retirement is no longer what it used to be. With the wisdom of years, we can be more daring with our projects and aspirations. We can give ourselves the time to both enjoy our day and work on a project or try something new. And this last, is the challenge of the new age of retirement, filling the day with worth while pursuits, to everyday come alive, vibrant with energy. And say what you will, but I’ve never heard of anyone retiring and moving North. So when you do move South, you can choose to live in the area year long, experience Costa Rica in its fullness, or adopt the lifestyle of a snow bird, who simply escapes the cold harsh winters and comes to play. And beyond Costa Rica, to age well is to live well. Scientists have researched the four longest living populations on earth and what they have in common. And of course, you’ve guessed it the Costa Rican’s are one of those populations. Not the city dwellers, but the rural farming,

hard working population like those in Costa Ballena. In all four groups of centenarians worldwide the lifestyle held many similarities: a somewhat rural life, surrounded by nature; a life of physical connectedness, manual labor or a lot of walking, a moderate climate that made the out of doors accessible, and strong connections with other people, family and friends. Whats more, the following is a compiled list of daily necessities to help live the life that got them, healthfully, to over 100 years of age*: • Move your body now and forever. Every day, walk, run, hike, bike, practice yoga, chi gong, dance, or any physical activity. Just move your body! • Eat slowly, sitting down preferably, with friends and family, eat earlier in the day and eat smaller portions, fewer snacks, less meat and avoid processed food, choosing to stay with fresh, local and organic vegetables. Eat nuts, fruits, vegetables, and beans and enjoy a glass of red wine daily. (The wine is not part of the Costa Rican population but rather from the long living Mediterranean’s studied.) • Know why you wake up in the morning, your Plan de Vida or Purpose. Purpose

does not have to be a grand mission; it simply is categorized by any activity that immerses you. It contains key elements including enjoyment, fulfillment, skill or freedom. • Slow down, reduce any excessive or constant noise that you live with, learn to meditate, take time out for a time of simple peace daily. • Belong to your community. Participate in a like-minded group that gathers frequently. • Keep your loved ones close, participate with family whether they are blood relatives or a family of your own making. • Social connectedness: keep a close group of friends that you meet with regularly for fun and who can be called on for support, and who you can support as well. May this have inspired you to the live the life that you want to retire to! * Buettner, Dan. The blue zone: lessons for living longer from the people who've lived the longest. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2008. Print.

in the end it's not “And the years in your life

that count. It's the life in your years.

‘Playa Uvita’

Abraham Lincoln






It’s not so much a good bye, as it is a hope to see you soon! I hope to have inspired readers to learn more about Costa Ballena, by providing useful information and recommending resources, as well as providing food for thought for those thinking about their next steps in life. Well-placed trust is cornerstone and Costa Ballena is home to many qualified professionals that want to help you succeed. After all, many have made the transition themselves and understand that it can seem overwhelming when undertaking such a decision. Investing or deciding to relocate requires a good understanding of the new

sets of laws, customs and standards, and understanding that there is an underlying process that many before you have gone through successfully. The key starting point, especially for foreigners, is to engage with a team of professionals that match their needs and project personality. I think hands down, the best piece of advice before making a life changing decision is to come discover what we have to offer, meet the people, and live the lifestyle. Move around, try different areas, and see what each has to offer. Tourist visas are valid for 90 days, use that time wisely; what you accomplish while visiting will create a springboard for a smooth transition. In the end, what remains clear is that the decision is one left up to personal preference. Come discover which suits your lifestyle needs.

¡Nos vemos!

My advice, travel as much as you can, as far as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place. May your journey bring you to the depths of life where you feel eternity in this one. Nikki Whelan

Engage with us online /costaballenaliving

View past editions online A special thanks to all those who contributed to supporting the vision of Costa Ballena Living. May we continue to grow and support one another in the Pursuit of Happiness. © Mario Albi