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¡Bienvenidos! As our beloved coast grows and changes, we welcome more visitors to the area, year after year. This “Green Season”, we greet yet again the majestic Humpback Whales that return to the warm waters of the ‘Parque Nacional Marino Ballena’ for mating and gestation, and whom are featured centre stage during the Whale’s Festival held in September. We are also blessed with more marine visitors, the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, that begin nesting July through to December. Nothing can quite describe the experience of helping a newly born baby turtle make it’s way to the ocean bottom. With much to explore and discover, you will find Costa Ballena has something to offer for everyone, from adventure to fine dining, to relaxation and wildlife observation, our coast is blessed with epic sunset views and a community that is as diverse, as it is welcoming. In this edition we share stories from individuals about their Costa Rican experiences that have empowered them to live better, more wholesome and fulfilling lives. Empowerment comes in many different forms and can come via various life experiences

as our contributing writers share. Arguably, empowerment could be defined as that feeling that you get when you feel you can accomplish anything. That whatever you set your mind to, is what will be. Whether that means irradiating disease from your body, as Zahara's story demonstrates or being able to reconnect with your true self, as Jeannine recounts, every experience that contributes to growth is one that enables an individual to feel empowered. In the end, empowerment is whatever allows a person to become more independent, self reliant, confident, healthy, and balanced. Many people have had such experiences in Costa Ballena, and so it is our wish that you too can feel first hand what many before and after you have felt, empowered!

A rich experience awaits, enjoy your moments in Costa Rica. Nikki Whelan Editor-in-Chief & Cheeky Monkey

Immerse Yourself in Nature Like us on Facebook or visit our website and enter to win a 2 night stay, for two, at

PlayaCativo! /CostaBallenaLiving

*Must be 18 or older. Some conditions apply. See website for full details.

Keep up with us online! Like us on Facebook /CostaBallenaLiving Check out our photos CheekyMonkeyInCR Get in touch directly

© Mario Albi

Your life is your story, make it a good one.


Contents: Upcoming Activities

Costa Ballena: The Whales Coast

16 Credits:



Wildlife of Costa Rica


Immerse Yourself in Nature



Resilience, A Healthy Response to Change

Lifestyle & Home

Creating Your Zen Space


Editor-in-Chief Nikki Whelan + (506) 8768 7540 Photography Ruben Roman Nikki Whelan Contributing Writers Andrew Webster Gloriana Mejia Jeannine Riant Jeff Anthony Jen Seymour Johanna Katrin Jaeger Kim Faddah Lindsey Vast Lura Shopteau Nikki Whelan Zahrah Sita Design by

Next Edition: January 2016


Lifestyle & Home

Building in the Tropics

Next edition advertiser cut-off date: November 1st, 2016 Questions? Find a list of participating businesses online.

Join the Adventure! /CostaBallenaLiving



More often than not what makes a place special and memorable are the 'je ne sais quoi' qualities that you won't find in the guidebooks. For instance, everyone knows that Costa Rica is renowned for its pristine beaches and relaxed 'Pura vida' lifestyle, but you can't really appreciate it until the local 'mercado' (market) tells you to come back tomorrow to pay for your groceries because their credit card machine isn't working today. Here are a few more reasons why Costa Rica is not only one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but will also give you a good laugh as well.




There's dance music everywhere. There ain't no party like a Tico party, and the Tico party never stops. In fact, you can hear loud catchy bachata music just about everywhere, including places like the supermarket, SJO international airport, and while getting gas…especially while getting gasoline, get in line!

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Hammocks are perfectly acceptable guest beds. For the incredibly low price of around $30, you can quickly double or triple the number of people sleeping at your house for an overnighter. Careful though, more than four hammocks, and you're officially a hostel. Caterpillars are more terrifying than snakes. Sounds crazy right? Why should you be scared of a tiny adorable little fuzzy caterpillar, about an inch long, that’s going to bloom into a majestic butterfly one day? After your limb is on fire from brushing up against one laying in wait, in cognito under a leaf, or you've unknowingly slipped on your caterpillar booby trapped pants, you'll quickly learn that these sneaky, fuzzy, yet not so friendly, creatures are much sneakier and ninja-like than the most common serpent.


You pay $8 for a small block of cheddar cheese. And we're not talking about cheddar that's been aged for 10 years. Rather that’s the price for cheddar around these parts, and it’s about a notch above Velveeta cheese. You can shock people with your vast knowledge of how pineapples are grown. Think about it. We've all admired the pineapple rings on the sides of our fruity happy hour drinks, but have you ever actually seen what a pineapple plant looks like? Fun fact: You can plant the top of the pineapple in the ground to make ANOTHER free pineapple. You're welcome. It's a good day when your water, electricity, and Internet are all working. Sometimes it's easy to take modern conveniences like running water and overhead lighting for granted, but Costa Rica has a magical way of renewing that appreciation, especially when the water is out and you've just

been ambushed by a ninja caterpillar, with no way to wash the burning fuzzy-ness away.


"Suicide showers" are actually a luxury item. Most homes in Costa Rica don't have a large, energy-sucking hot water tank. Instead, if you want the luxury of a hot shower, in Costa Rica you would install a shower head that heats water on contact using electricity... right above your head. You’re now thinking, it must be safe if everyone has one, right? To add to the thrill of surviving each hot shower, exposed wiring seems to be part of the installation directions.


You are not the first owner of that Imperial bottle. You have to get comfortable with the fact that your beer or soda bottle has probably been suckled by hundreds of other mouths. Costa Rica takes it's sustainability very seriously - right down to the beer holders. Returnable bottles save ridiculous amounts of waste and energy, while giving beer drinkers a sense of national pride.

Lindsey is a travel writer and entrepreneur known for her humorous twist on life. Additionally, she is the Founder of Pura Events Costa Rica (, the best online events calendar in Costa Rica.



Costa Rica has been featured in the news many times this year, whether it was as an example to follow leading a clean energy movement, natural phenomenon like active volcanos or earthquakes shaking it up, or new species of frogs being discovered, which the Internet compared the newly discovered glass frog to “Kermit the Frog”’s long lost relative, Costa Rica made headlines. And it’s perhaps the more subtle qualities that take time to notice that have other nationals, not only talking about Costa Rica, but flocking to the warm tropical climate. More than 25% of Costa Rican land is protected national parks and refuges, although only roughly the size of Lake Michigan, 5% of the world’s biodiversity calls the “Rich Coast” home. They are a happy and docile country, without an army since 1949. They boast one of the best health care systems, with low wait times, continually upgrading facilities and an increasingly literate population (Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate), they are paving a path for their future growth and prosperity. Their laid back ‘Pura Vida’ attitude, combined with family values has many young families who are searching for a return to simplicity finding themselves feeling right at home. You will often see families conjuring at the beach on weekends, fathers with their kids hoisted up on their shoulders having a little fun in the sun and friendly games of ‘football’ in the fields. They have their priorities straight, money is not the driver to their ambition, rather a better quality of life is. The journey is the destination, as they have learned and they teach those “stressed-out” foreigners, now retired, how to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sun. Now, it’s your turn!

Pura Vida Simply translated means pure life, but anyone who has travelled to Costa Rica knows, it’s a way to say hello or goodbye, it’s an answer to a question (how are you?), but most importantly, it’s a way of life. The ‘pura vida’ lifestyle is about the enjoyment of all life has to offer, the simplicity, alongside the abundance, the ability to be content with what one has (not looking for what one wants) and not to worry, things will work out, they always do!

14 Semana Classic, at Playa Dominical, have surfers visiting our area to rip up the waves and show off their skills in a competition that collects funds for the Lifeguards in Dominical. As we head into ‘invierno’ (winter), things cool down on shore and heat up in the warm waters with the Humpback Whales that return every year, a festival is held in September to celebrate these wonderful mammals. Throughout the year, crowds from San Jose to Cartago, venture down the coast to enjoy our beaches and lush jungles. It is common to see families camped out for a long holiday weekend, and for those from the North, it may be reminiscent of heading out to the woods for a weekend camping trip. What is great about the Southern Zone is that it has something that will suit any taste. The diversity of the terrain, and various microclimates that are found in the area are astounding, and there is always something new to explore; beach side living or a mountain home with an ocean view are commonly available; and the attribute that sets us apart, our community, that is warm and welcoming. Many who come once, find themselves returning once more. For more information on what to do in the area, visit us online at


If you have not yet ventured further south than Manuel Antonio, you are missing out! The pristine brown sugar beaches, the landscapes that literally take your breath away, and a community that will welcome you with open arms is what awaits, just one step further than the path well travelled.

‘Danza de los Diablitos’, put on by the indigenous tribe, Boruca, rings in the new year with a three day festival that reenacts their depiction of their resistance against the Spanish conquistadors. Followed closely by a Craft Beer festival, now preparing for it’s 3rd yearly annual event in January. And the world renowned Envision Festival, a transformative festival hosted at the end of February, allows you to lose yourself in the music, art, yoga and fun. Switching gears, the ‘Fiestas Civicas’, a rodeo and all around good time family party, allows you to break out cowboy boots and enjoy some cotton candy towards the end of March. And in April, a cultural festival put on by the the National Museum, celebrates the mysterious stone spheres found in the Osa Peninsula, which have now become part of UNESCO, as a cultural heritage. The “Festival de la Esferas” also promotes various cultural heritages highlighting the amazing biodiversity found in the Osa Peninsula, ranging from birdwatching to medicinal plants that are found in the area. Pumping up the action, surf competitions, such as the annual Santa

Where and what is Costa Ballena?

Costa Ballena is a region in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. The region begins as of the ‘Rio Barú’ and includes the coastal range of towns, including Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, and everything in between, with the river mouth of the ‘Río Grande de Térraba’, in Coronado, delimiting the zone.



Our area offers a rich variety of natural phenomena, most famous in the area is the locally known “Whales Tail“ (Cola de la Ballena), a naturally created peninsula in the shape of a whales tail. Yet this is not the main reason for which the area received its name, rather it is due to the three different species of whales that can be observed off our coast during most times of the year. They are the Pilot Whale, the Beaked Whale and the Humpback Whale. For most, it is the Humpback whale that is most impressive, and they migrate either from Alaska or from Antarctica to mate off the coasts of Costa Ballena. Individuals from the southern hemisphere can be seen from August to December, and those from a northern hemisphere mate from December to April. These animals have been on the edge of extinction because of over-hunting, that is until a whaling freeze in 1966. It was in 1989, that the Ballena National Park was founded to protect them. Tels: 2743 8562 • 8729 3624 /Festival de Ballenas y Delfines Costa Rica

During the first two weeks of September 2015, the 7th Whales and Dolphin Festival with activities such as whale-watching, beach runs, photography exhibits, concerts, food sales will take place in Bahía.

Johanna is visiting Costa Rica from Germany. After having finished school, she wanted to see the world, learn another language and get insight as to becoming a travel writer, so she decided to go abroad as a volunteer with the organization “Planet Conservation”, that specializes in language exchange programs and volunteering programs in Costa Rica. Contact


A surfer town not too far off the beaten path, just 44 km south of Quepos/ Manuel Antonio, and a national airport, and within an hour’s drive from San Isidro El General city’s center, Dominical is the gateway that opens up Costa Ballena. 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. And although Dominical remains a small town with gravel roads, it offers access to essential services, such as a bank and ICE, where electricity, internet and phone services can be set up. Over this last high season Dominical has benefitted from various new businesses opening and this last has helped revive the town. Pueblo del Rio has been impacted positively the most, and every Friday there is a Farmers Market that is held there. Scattered in the mountains in the neighbouring municipalities, such as Escaleras and Platanillo, families, couples and retirees alike enjoy beautiful views and the close proximity to the beaches


Adventure Awaits in Dominical Try your hand at Stand Up Paddle Board or Kayak! The Pacific Ocean can be explored in many different ways: either on a surfboard, kayak or on a standup-board. Pineapple Tours, exploring the waters around Dominical since 2006, offers various different options of tours via kayak or SUP that visit the mangroves, Rio Barú, the Whale's Tail at Marino Ballena National Park, and to Playa Ventanas regularly. Tours & lessons are available for all levels and abilities. Choose the activity you like best!.

Kayak & Stand Up Paddle Board Tours to the Mangroves, River & Ocean Fully Insured and Certified Local Guides Playa Dominical, Costa Rica + (506) 8873-3283 or 8362-7655

Get ready for a ‘‘reel’’ good time! Another action packed activity offered in the Southern Zone is sport fishing with Las Rocas Marea Alta, either in – or off shore sport fishing. They create custom boat tours to suit your crew’s needs. They offer whale watching trips, snorkelling tours, all the while trolling the waters for your next catch. They also offer water-sports for the adrenaline junkie. Captain George, from Australia, and Allan, from Costa Rica, make the perfect team, with local knowledge and international experience. + (506) 8606-5118 or 2787-0480 Email:


Fresh sushi made on the spot! Jota and Rocio invite you to try their Costa Rican inspired rolls, such as the Tico Roll, with sweet fried plantain, a great desert roll, or the Bruce Lee Roll that packs a punch! Sit comfortably in their riverside restaurant to enjoy a surf movie playing on TV, or chat it up with friends at their bar seats. Traditional sushi options are available, as are take-out orders. Open daily for lunch & dinner. Playa Dominical, Centro Commercial Pueblo Del Rio + (506) 8826 7946 /Dominical-SUSHI

While enjoying local and international favorites 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. Seafood specials will have you returning regularly, their menu includes our all time favourite Tuna Tartar, or try their typical Whole Fried Fish, and enjoy alongside new menu items like the Fish Tacos, that are a great afternoon snack. Open for lunch and dinner from 11 am until 9 pm, everyday of the week. Dominicalito Bay, Oceanside +(506) 2787 0016 / 2787 0241

Explore the most impressive waterfall in Costa Rica Nauyaca waterfalls are one of the biggest and most impressive waterfalls in Costa Rica. The falls total 65 meters in height and are comprised of two sets of waterfalls, the taller falls that form the base are 45 meters high and the smaller, tiered falls above, are 20 meters in height. There are natural pools for swimming and for the more adventurous travellers there is a tarzan rope on the smaller tiered falls that one can climb. The walking trail to Nauyaca Waterfalls is located 8 min (8.1 km) from Dominical via the Dominical - San Isidro PZ/Route 243.



Hotels & Restaurants 1

Café Mono Congo Café & To Go Orders Centro Comercial Pueblo Del Rio 8384-2915


La Parcela Cabinas & Restaurant KM 147, Dominicalito Bay 2787-0016 / 2787-0241

3 Patrons

Restaurant & Music Venue Dominical Center, Next to the Football Plaza 2787-8010 4

PorQueNo? / Costa Paraiso Cabinas & Restaurant Rocas de Amancio Road 2787-0025


Dominical Sushi Restaurant Centro Comercial Pueblo Del Rio 8826-7946


Villas Alturas Hotel 7 km south of Dominical 2200-5440

Travel & Leisure 7

Airbone Arts Aerial Silks & Flying Trapeze Retreats Diamante Valley 8302-4241


Alegria Soul Spa Massage Services Centro Comercial Pueblo Del Rio 2787 0210


Las Rocas Marea Alta Custom Boat Tours & Sportfishing Rocas de Amancio Road 8521-0459


Parque Reptilandia Reptile Parc & Botanical Gardens 7 km east from Dominical, on Hwy 243 to San Isidro 2787-0343


Pineapple Tours Kayak & SUP Tours Between Police Station/Que Nivel 8873-3283 / 8362-7655


Solid Car Rental Vehicle Rental Services Located in Diuwak Hotel Resort 2787-0111

Lifestyle & Homes 14

Bamboo Solutions Construction & Design Serving Costa Ballena 8308-9851 / 8305-0855

Essential Services 20

Dominical Police 2787-0406

21 ICE


15 Ecomaderas

Home Building, Construction & Wood Sale On the road from Dominical just outside San Isidro 2770-4147 / 2771-9602



E&T Solutions Escrow Services 100 m south and 25 m west from Thunderbird Hotel, San Isidro 2771-6789 / 2771-7856


CR Trópico Law & Accounting Services Barú, by the Airplane Restaurant 2787-0500 / 2787-0300


Coldwell Banker – Dominical Realty Real Estate 3 km south of Dominical on Costanera Hwy 2787-0223


Valle de Vida Properties Real Estate San Salvador 8308-9851 / 8358-7856


Wildlife Sanctuary Animal Rescue, Rehab, Release 7 km south of Dominical Visitations Upon Reservation Only 2200-5440

Farmers Market Fresh Food Grown by Locals Dominical - Fridays at Pueblo Del Rio from 8am to 3pm Uvita - Saturdays at Rincon de Uvita from 8am to 12pm

Fresh food is a luxury everyone can afford. David Moyer

Hospital Escalante Pradilla San Isidro 2771-3122


With a mountain backdrop and the ‘Rio Morete’ that runs through the town center, the town is surrounded by nature. 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 to take care of business. This year Uvita has a new bus station that opened, and many small lots are being prepared with infrastructure for affordable housing. It is clear that the small town is in preparation for expansion! Service professionals are coming to the area, either permanently or on a part time basis, and with last year’s “Pueblo Alegre” community initiative, painting parties gave small businesses revamped storefronts to cheerfully welcome visitors this past summer.

Costa Ballena’s most famous natural attraction, the ‘cola de la ballena’ is found in Bahía! The ‘Parque Nacional Marino Ballena’ encompasses a total of 13,570 acres made up of both land and ocean. Many small shops line the street to the entrance of the park and exploring the beach is a great way to spend a day. From the mountain ranges nearby, amazing amphitheater style views of the natural reef barrier can be found.

Tico Talk beyond Pura Vida! Here are a few helpful popular slang phrases used in Costa Rica.

"Buena nota" is what Ticos say when something is good or has a good vibe. "Boca" literally translated means mouth, but it is also a term to describe a small appetizer. "Tuanis" means cool or rad man!


Explore the mountains on a Quad Tour Looking for an exciting adventure? Jungle ATV’s welcome you to the premier off-road tour. There is no better way to explore Costa Rica than on your own 4X4 ATV. Join them as you ride off the tourist map and into the real Costa Rica. The diversity of landscape ranges from pristine beaches to lush mountain trails, literally minutes apart. Uvita ranges in altitude from sea level to a quick ride up to 4000’ where the air is cool and crisp, wrap up the tour with a scenic visit to a neighbouring waterfall.

Quad Tours & Yamaha Agency + (506) 2743-8281

Discover the Ocean or Take a Trip to Corcovado National Park The area bursts of fascinating wildlife, whether it’s watching whales as they frolic in the nearby waters or whether you make a day trip to Corcovado National Park, where a variety of exotic animals can be spotted with the help of an experienced guide, you are sure to spot some monkeys, birds or reptiles on any one of your day trips. Boat & Nature Tour Operator + (506) 2743-8362


Stop in the Beer Garden for a cold one on tap! Costa Rican Craft Beers are chilled and waiting. Fresh homemade deli sandwiches, incredible quality meats, wraps, salads, and smoothies served in a relaxed, kick up your feet in your backyard, and soon to become favourite, hang out spot! Live music on occasion. Pre-order your take-out or group order for it to be ready when you are. 50 meters west of BCR + (506) 4702 3782 /Roadshackdeli

Serving fresh brewed coffee with a smile. Drop by to see what’s happening in the shop, whether it’s a brew in the works or a natural oil for sale at the counter, something is always new. Now offering breakfast, come try a menu item that tantalizes your tastebuds. Specializing in pastries, chocolate, and hot fusion drinks, the barista, will concoct your favorite coffee with a twist, served up perhaps with their classic cheesecake or a freshly made empanada of your choice. Open 7 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday (Closed Sundays). Across from BCR, next to Farmacy, off of Costanera, Uvita Centro + (506) 2743 8674 /Sibu-Cafeteria-y-chocolate

Visit Uvita’s main attraction - the ‘‘Whale’s Tail’’ Located in Marino Ballena National Park, a small peninsula in the perfect shape of a whale's tale has been dubbed the “Whales Tail”. At low tide, you can walk the natural reef barrier. Afterward you can relax and enjoy your time at the beach in the sun, go for a swim or explore the mangroves nearby. Activities such as surfing, boogie boarding or kayaking can be enjoyed as in the park, bring a picnic and make a day out of it. Most kayak tours include snorkelling at the Whale's Tail, and if you want to see the Whale's Tale in its whole beauty, you can even book a flight to see it from above.



Hotels & Restaurants

Travel & Leisure 6

Aerial Media Aerial Photography and Videography San Josecito


Bahia Aventuras Boat & Hiking Tours In front of Super Tatiana, Bahía Ballena 2743-8362


Marino Ballena Restaurant & Sports-bar open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Next to BM and in front of Banco Nacional, off of the Costanera 2743-8104

Lifestyle & Homes 13

Centro Llantero del Sur / Bridgestone Car Repair & Maintenance In front of the Dome Plaza, off of the Costanera 2743-8383




Centro Veterinario del Sur Veterinary Next to la China 2743-8652

8 Bienestar

Yoga Studio Yoga Classes & Teacher Training Road to Playa Chaman, Bahía 8505-1369

Roadshack Deli Beer Gardens & Deli 50m West of BCR, Uvita Centro 4702-3782


Sibu Café Coffee & Pastry Shop Across from BCR, next to Farmacy, off of Costanera, Uvita Centro 2743-8674

Essential Services 4

Uvita Police 2743-8538



Jungle ATV ATV Tours & Yamaha Agency 70 Meters West of BCR 2743-8281

Financial Services Adjoining the BM/BCR, Uvita Centro, off of the Costanera (next to ICE) 2785-3000 16

Costa Ballena Living Magazine Advertising Services Rancho Alegre, Uvita Centro 8768-7540


Rancho La Merced Wildlife Refuge Horseback Riding Tours & Butterfly Garden KM159, off of Costanera Hwy 2743-8032 / 8861-5147


Farmacia Costa Ballena Across from BCR, off of Costanera, next to Sibú 2743-8049



Uvita Information Center Tourist Information Across from BCR, next to Doña Maria, off of Costanera 2743-8889

Rancho La Merced Services Heavy Machine Equipment, Sawmill & Mulching KM159, off of Costanera Hwy 8822-9205

15 Coopealianza

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Feeling Good Spa Massage & Spa Services 25m east of BCR off of Costanera, Uvita Centro 2743-8489

Rancho Alegre Properties Residential Development 200m east of BCR, off of Costarena, in front of Uvita Gym/ Sueños Tranquilos 8822-9205


Iguana Verde Hardware Store 150m south-west from The Dome Plaza 2743-8929 / 2743-8241


Mora & Valdez Advanced Dentistry Dentist The Dome Plaza 2743-8418


Royal Palm Furniture Store & Home Design Adjoining the BM/BCR, Uvita Centro, off of the Costanera (next to ICE) 2743-8323


Tuff Trux Vehicle Repair & Custom Body Work Across the Football/Baseball Field in Bahia 8320-8274


Gabriela Meléndez Naranjo Licensed Accountant Next to Super Tatiana, Bahía Ballena 2772-4088


La Puerta del Cielo Real Estate Developer 2nd floor, The Dome Plaza 2743-8212


Pacific Pools & Construction Pool Service & Construction Across from BCR, next to Doña Maria, off of Costanera 2743-8206


A quiet village, receiving it’s name from the ‘Ojoche’ tree, Ojochal is home to many long time expatriates and returning snow birds alike. In recent years, the quaint town has gained a reputation for being the mecca of fine dining in Costa Rica, and indeed there are many fine dining options available, even if it is a little off the beaten path. It is well known for its large French Canadian expatriate community, and just after a few days you’re sure to run into someone you now know. There are no ATMs, but there is a school, a few local churches and what makes it stand apart is the abundant wildlife of birds and flora. Many homeowners take pride in their manicured and fruitful gardens. If you are looking to find some calm or raise your family in a residential area, this quaint village offers a perfect setting, and the local community will always make you feel welcome. This last year Ventanas beach received a makeover and there is now ample parking available at a small fee. Rental homes have been flourishing despite the fact that it is a somewhat remote due to limited public transportation (having a vehicle is the norm), however in the years to come public transportation and shuttle services are developing, making it more accessible over time. ‘Reserva Playa Tortuga', a non-profit organization dedicated to marine conservation can be found in Ojochal. If you would like to see baby turtles released, contact them! And new to Ojochal, is the Osa Field Institute, also focused on education and conservation. Homes nestled in the mountains, halfway between Uvita and Ojochal, 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 Très 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.


Costa Ballena is not only the habitat for Whales and Dolphins but also for other species that need protection, for example sea turtles. Playa Tortuga, dubbed the “Seaturtle Beach“, in the neighbouring Ojochal, is a nesting place for the reptiles. Most common, is the Olive Ridley Sea turtle, which is approximately 65 cm, and 35-45kg. There are also three other species that are found, they are the Leatherback, Green Seaturtle, and Hawksbill Turtles. Unfortunately, all of these species are in danger of extinction. Please help by taking care not to drive vehicles on the beach or altering the beach unnaturally (example: fires at night). Reserva Playa Tortuga, a non-profit organization, makes an effort to protect turtle nests in the area and does research about the turtles. You too can join them and release hatchlings during July through to December. The peak of the nesting period is in September and October, be sure not to miss out! Contact Information: Reserva Playa Tortuga Cientro Científico de Investigación y Conservación Ojochal de Osa, Puerto Cortés, Puntarenas, Costa Rica 2786-5200 / /


Discover the Mystery of the Stone Spheres Finca 6 is the best place to see the mysterious, near perfectly round, spheres that have been created by an indigenous tribe around 200 BC. As there are no written stories and no tribes left to tell us about them, archaeologists can only suggest why they were made. Maybe they were part of a navigation system or to represent the status of the household or the village. Also unknown to us is what tools were used to create these sometimes small and sometimes very large spheres (they vary in size from 90 cm to up to two meter in diameters), and how they were transported (some are as heavy as 6 tons and were even found on Caño Island!). First discovered in 1939 when the United Fruit Company began developing their banana plantations in the Delta of the Diquis River, more continue to be found every year in the southern zone of Costa Rica. Sitio Arqueológico Finca 6 4km north of Sierpe (506) 2100-6000 Open: 8 am-4 pm / Tuesday - Sunday Guided tours are available year round.

Have fun monkeying around on a zipline Another highlight in the area is the Osa Canopy Tour. Nine cables, 11 platforms, two repelling stations, two suspension bridges and a Tarzan inspired free swing await you in the mountains near Ojochal. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of zipping above the rainforest canopy, whilst having the most magnificent views on the jungle and the mountains. You will not only be tree top, you will feel on top of the world! Osa Canopy Tour (506) 8884-1237

Explore the Caves of Ventanas Beach Playa Ventanas is a beautiful beach to visit. Surrounded by rocks and palm trees it is a very picturesque and relaxing place to be, but it is mainly known for its ‘ventanas’, the “windows” - two tunnels are found in the rocks and can be ex-plored during low tide, and it’s always interesting to watch the waves during high tide when the crashing water coming in from the sea create spectacular water shows. Spend a fun day having a barbecue, building sandcastles, boogie board-ing and swimming at Playa Ventanas! Entrance fee goes to support the beach maintenance.


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 trendy, tropical terrace atmosphere and a great bite to eat? Meet up for cocktails and dinner at Citrus or make a lunch date with a friend to enjoy their eclectic menu offering. Their newly decorated garden terrace will get you relaxed and their menu will have your taste buds travelling around the world. All menu items have been specially created by chef and owner, Marcella. Be sure to try one of her classic dishes! Don’t forget to make your reservation for their regular Thursday night dining event, “World Street Food Travelling”. Plaza Filibustero, on main road, to the left after the first bridge in Ojochal For reservations call + (506) 2786 5175

Stephen offers International and Costa Rican Cuisine with a river view, where the scarlet macaws are regular visitors starting at about 4pm. Friendly staff greet you and at the bar you’ll often find locals watching the football match on the screen. Boca Coronado offers local produce, purchased from his parents organic farm found in the mountainside nearby, and the flavours that he stirs up are unique with a Costa Rican flavor. The ceviche is a classic, and the jumbo shrimp are a must try. A full bar is available, so any cocktail you can think up, Luis, the bar-tender, can stir it up. Open Wednesday through Monday from 10 am to 10 pm. 150m south of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera, next to Río Terraba + (506) 2786 5082 or 8994 8998



Hotels & Restaurants

Travel & Leisure

Lifestyle & Homes 13

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Restaurante Terraba Open daily for lunch & dinner Serving typical Costa Rican food with flare and fresh ingredients! Family owned & operated 200m south of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera, next to Río Terraba 4702-9868

OJOCHAL TOURIST & BUSINESS CENTER Full Tourist Center with an experienced travel consultant Full Business Center offering UPS, Correos, Internet Station, Fax, Scanning and Printing Plaza Los Delphines 2786-5823

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Boca Coronado Bar & Restaurant 150m south of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera, next to Río Terraba 2786-5082 /8994-8998

3 Citrus

Restaurant & Terrace Plaza Filibustero 2786-5175 4 Exotica

Restaurant Located 1 km on the main road off the Costarena 2786-5050 (Reservation only) 5

Mamma e Papà Hotel & Restaurant Authentic Italian Food & Pizza Take-out 150 meters after bridge on Peresozo Road 2786-5336

Kokopelli Sierpe Mangrove Tours & Souvenir Shop In front of the Park Square, Sierpe 2788-1259


Osa Canopy Tour Zipline Tour KM196, Osa Mountain Village 8884-1237


Paraiso Wellness Center Chiropratic Services Calle Peresozo 8706-9884


Tutoring in the Tropics Spanish Lessons 8876-5799 Essential Services


Ojochal Police 2786-5661


Hopital Cortés 2786-8148 / 2786-8198

Alex Garage & Parts • WORKSHOP for MOTORCYCLES, ATVs, SIDE-BY-SIDEs, MOTORCYCLEs, SCOOTERs. • HONDA, YAMAHA, KAWASAKI, KTM, POLARIS, SUZUKI. • Online special parts & custom orders. • Warranty on Service. • HONEST, QUALITY & Efficient. • RTV INSPECTION Next to Vivero La Costa, Coronado 2786-5810 / 8974-9396


Osa Tropical Properties Real Estate 500 feet west of Coronado Bridge, Coronado 2786 5500 15 Avancari

Residential Development Past the new (yellow) Church 16

Ballena Legal Team Lawyer & Notary Plaza Maleku, 200m north of Ojochal Entrance 4701-9776 / 8721-2291


Century 21 Ballena Properties Ballena Views Ballena Homes Real Estate & Construction Plaza Maleku, 200m north of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera 2786-5801

18 Palmex

Synthetic Palm Roofing 50m north of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera 2786-5126 19

Pet Lodge Dog Kennel Peresozo Road 8430-7401


Villas Sangha Residential Development & Villas Playa Ballena 8744-1169

21 Redizon

Landscape & Engineer 100m east of new (yellow) Church 8718-3542 /2786-5813 22

Vivero La Bonita #6 Landscape & Gardening Nursery In front of Plaza Maleku, 200m north of Ojochal Entrance, off of Costanera 2786-5073


We Sell Paradise Real Estate 30m east of Police Station, Calle Soluna 8723-2323 / 8723-0795


Morpho Butterfly (Mariposa morpho)

Red Eyed Tree Frog (Rana arbórea de ojos rojos)

Poison Dart Frog - Blue Jean Frog (Rana punta de flecha)

Plumed Basilik - Jesus Christ Lizard (Lagarto jesús cristo)

Scintillant Hummingbird (Colibri scintillant)

Glasswing Butterfly (Mariposa espejito) Green Vine Snake (Serpiente verde de la vid)

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Tortuga golfina)

Quetzal (Quetzal)

Tapir (Tapir)

Boa constrictor (Boa)

Scarlet macaw (Guacamayo escarlata)

Three-Toed Sloth (Perezoso de tres dedos) Ocelot (Ocelote)

Anteater (Oso hormiguero)

Spider Monkey (Mono araña)

Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species, and represents about 5% of the world’s biodiversity. When walking in the jungle keep an eye out for these exotic, yet commonly spotted creatures!

Coati (Coati) American Crocodile (Cocodrilo americano)

To find out where you can spot these wonderful creatures, visit us online at

38 Telephone (Costa Rica): +506-2200-3131 Reservations:



Experience a taste of paradise and unimaginable wildlife adventures in this extraordinary first-class Costa Rican destination, taking you one step further into the wild. Accessible exclusively by boat, Playa Cativo Eco Lodge is nestled in the tranquil waters of ‘Golfo Dulce’, the inner side of the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica, renowned for its birdwatching and spotting of other exotic wildlife, such as the three-toed sloth, coaties, and monkeys. Unique in its native beauty and seclusion, Playa Cativo is a beachfront boutique hotel offering an unparalleled experience, with a backdrop of 1,000 acres of private tropical rainforest reserve, surrounded by the ‘Piedras Blancas' National Park, a former extension of the Corcovado National Park, this Eco Lodge is the retreat that will immerse you into nature unbound. Aiming to be self-sustainable, Playa Cativo operates at 100% clean electric energy with off-grid hydroelectric power and solar panels. El Gavilán Restaurant, offers elegant gourmet dining, serving the finest seasonal organic produce that is harvested daily from their on-

site farm, along with organic poultry, responsibly and locally caught seafood, and grass-fed Costa Rican beef. Truly, a testament to their eco-friendly practices and to their commitment to top quality. Reconnect with childhood wonder as you paddle along Cativo Bay and explore the beautiful coastline by kayak, walking the beach or from the comfort of a poolside lounge chair, enwrapped in a great novel. Enjoy snorkeling in the calm waters, and don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by lots of fish, manta rays and turtles in the crystal clear waters of the morning. Their favorite place for snorkeling is near the pier, where you’ll enjoy seeing a variety of reef fish. You can also practice your hand at artisanal hand-line fishing from off the pier. Many self-guided, self-driven tours are offered that allow you to create your own tour and go at your own pace. Their dedicated staff is there to help you enjoy all the comforts of the facilities. As many guests have pointed out, it is indeed "first class service in the middle of the rainforest". Just sit back, relax and prepare for the experience (and pampering) of a lifetime!

Enter to win a

Weekend in Paradise! /CostaBallenaLiving Some restrictions apply, view full contest rules online. Draw to be held June 1st, 2015.



The Southern Zone of Costa Rica is the ideal location for all levels of surf to experience the joy of riding waves. There are many beautiful beaches along the coast, and each beach has different characteristics that influence the wave shape, power, and consistently. Listed below are three surf breaks that are unique and standout for each level, from advanced, to intermediate, and ending with beginner surfer level, here are our beach suggestions. Playa Dominical is known worldwide for its hollow powerful barrels and shapely beach break that gets heavy when the surf is big. It is one of the best most consistent beach breaks in Costa Rica and also the location of the first lifeguard program in Costa Rica. With that said, Dominical is for intermediate to advanced surfers who know how to read the waves, rip currents and perform a duck dive. Dominical has many characteristics that make it unique from other beaches in area. The year round flowing river, the Barú, consistently outputs water and sand down the beach, this creates quality waves, however increases rip currents strengths dramatically, especially in the rainy season. Dominical is a south facing beach that is open to all swell directions, it is normal to expect larger and consistent waves, so even when the surf is flat elsewhere, there is always something fun to surf at ‘Playa Dominical’. With the large tidal change we have in Costa Rica and the long flat beach, these last make this spot surf-able on all tides. High tide is usually a softer wave, that are long and open, perfect for hacks, airs and cutbacks. During low tide, the waves

get hollow, which makes what most advanced surfers are looking for, tube time! Dominical beach is the ideal location for surf camps to teach first time beginners to surf in the white water. Since there are no rocks, the waves are long and breaks are far out, so the beginners have a long distance to practice how to stand up on the surfboard and ride the waves all the way to the shore. Playa Hermosa, about 7 km south of Dominical, is a long gorgeous beach great for the intermediate surfer for several reasons. The waves break closer to shore and are usually smaller and softer waves than Dominical. It is a friendlier wave to surf, with less effort and less intense for those working on improving their surf and ocean skills. It is a long beach with many peaks to surf without the hustling crowds, no crowds means more waves to be caught and to help improve your surfing. Given its name, it is a beautiful beach to enjoy all times of the day, but high tide is the best time to surf, it shuts down during low tide with poor wave shape and rip currents. When the surf gets big, it closes out causing the intermediate surfers to go to Dominicialito. Playa Dominicalito, just a few kilometers South from Dominical, it is the ideal surf break for beginners and happens to be one of the most beautifully exotic beaches in Costa Rica. The formation and direction of the beach blocks out swell to reduce wave size and strength to make it perfect for those new to surfing, for those who are looking to improve their skills, or even for surfers who just want to enjoy catching fun mellow waves with friends. Dominicalito, is a natural harbour and can only be surfed on the mid to high tide, at low tide many rocks are exposed, so be sure to check the tide charts before heading out.

Andrew’s passion for the ocean started as a young surfer in San Diego, California. He became an Ocean Lifeguard in Encinitas, CA, in 2003 and he moved to Playa Dominical, Costa Rica to serve the community as the Captain of the Dominical Lifeguards in 2008. His extensive background on surfing and ocean knowledge lead him to create a surf school, called Dominical Waverider Surf Camp, aiming to share his love for the ocean teaching the amazing sport of surfing with everyone. Tide charts can be found online at



The Ojochal Community Food Bank was formed in November 2014 after a group of neighbours became aware of a family who was struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table for their children. Wanting to make a difference and learning that others may also need temporary assistance, a sixperson committee was created to assess the needs of families to ensure they "Don't let their neighbours go hungry tonight". The Ojochal Food Bank provides food and other related services to families who find themselves in need of basic necessities while striving to help people in the community become, and remain self-sufficient. This goal of self-sufficiency was the springboard to the development of the Ojochal Food Bank Community Garden. The first phase of the garden project is progressing well, with the planting of indigenous crops including cassava (yucca), sweet potatoe (camote), pineapple, plantains, and various fruit trees. With the help of the Ojochal ADI (town council), the second phase is underway - to scout a secondary location within the village to plant and harvest short-term crops.

The Ojochal Community Food Bank has also joined forces with the non-profit organization, "Pack for a Purpose" to assist the school children in the village with needed back packs and school supplies. Our collection drive begins in November for the February 2016 school year. By using available space in luggage, vacationers and snowbirds can bring much needed supplies to the children of the community. Local hotels, B&Bs, owners of vacation rentals, and tour companies can list their businesses as proud members of the "Pack for a Purpose" initiative, which will benefit the Ojochal Community Food Bank. The organization will create a page that links back to the participating companies respective websites. The site will include a list of supplies that are currently needed, so any visitor to Costa Ballena can participate in this project as well, so be sure to pack smart and save space for a great cause! Contact Information: / +(506) 8409-2496 /ojochalfoodbank (Search: Ojochal Community Food Bank)

How You Can Help "Pack for a Purpose" and the Ojochal Community Food Bank asks you to support their efforts by creating a "Small Space - Little Effort - Big Impact", when traveling to our beautiful Southern Zone. Be sure to pack a few items, even one children’s outfit or pair of shoes can help make a difference in one person’s young life. Visit the Ojochal Community Food Bank Facebook Page for a list of necessary supplies. If you are in the tourist industry, contact the Food Bank to set up your personalized link, and if you are fortunate enough to be living in paradise full time, call or e-mail the Food Bank and see how you can use your skills and talents to support this on-going effort.

Collection drive begins November 2015 for start of school in February 2016.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.




When I moved to Costa Rica in November of 2006, I remember feeling like my life was out of my control. I had lived in the United States my entire life and had become accustomed to other people telling me what my life should be like. Growing up, my parents were my advisors. The problem was that it didn’t stop there, and eventually I was always looking to other people and institutions to know what was best for me. Someone was always at the ready just waiting to tell me what I should be doing and how to get it done. I followed directions and did what I was told until one day I woke up and realized I was living a life that someone else wanted for me. I had served in the military, worked at the Post Office, and even earned my bachelor's degree from college all because other people told me I should do it. That was scary to realize, but what really freaked me out, was that I didn’t like the life I was living. In fact, I found my life intolerable because I didn’t really know why I was living it. I was so lost and confused about who, what, and where I was! I had become an “order-taker” living my life in service to the ideals that others had for me. And so, I took it upon myself to change my life. I was so angry, that I think I partially moved away just to throw a wrench in the life plan that the outside world had set up for me. After arriving in Costa Rica with my wife and son, we set out on a grand adventure of discovery. I learned many new things in Costa Rica, including a new language, but most importantly I learned to take responsibility for my choices. I found that by blaming others for my circumstances in my life, I was really only shaming myself for the choices that I had made. This shame was the true source of the rage boiling inside my heart and mind. Once I realized this, I decided to take back the controls of my life and empower myself to change. It was a difficult journey and it seemed impossible at times, but ultimately I came to these conclusions:

• If you really want change in your life you must accept the who, what, and where you are now! You can’t just love the vision of the bigger better you or you’ll never get there. So accept yourself now, the way you are! • After that you have to surrender to what is. Stop judging yourself and others for the choices that you made in the past. It’s over and you can’t change that, you're just fighting a mental battle that you’ll never win. • Next, I found it helpful to revisit some of my past choices, so that I could understand why I had made some of these life decisions. When doing this, it’s important to drop the judgement and just look back at the situation. • When we understand why we have done the things in our past we get clarity on the things that worked and even more understanding of the things that didn’t go so well and why. • Once we are clear and understand why we should surrender to our past choices they become easier to accept which brings us to the most important part forgiveness! Finding forgiveness is the key to loving yourself and your life. We can’t love or forgive the people and choices in our lives unless we accept, surrender, understand, and have a clear vision on what it is that we need to forgive. Then, we can love our lives and live in harmony.

Jeff Anthony lives in Costa Rica with his remarkable wife and two rambunctious, young boys. Each day he rises above a severe form of muscular dystrophy, which attempts to conquer his ambitions and happiness, yet never will. Instead, it's blessed him with a unique perspective on the fast-paced world all around us.

© Joan Weilers



Charles Darwin once said that it is not the strongest of the species that will survive, rather it is the species that learns to adapt and change that will thrive. And as Nature tends to do, I received this valuable lesson, served right to my doorstep.

Lura Shopteau Living the holistic Costa Rican lifestyle and sharing it professionally, Lura is an expert in integrative health as a professional psychotherapist, meditation, yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She has taught and consulted in Mindfulness and Yoga Therapy at Omega Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota Medical School. She now educates individuals and teachers at Bienestar, Uvita Yoga Shala. /bienestarlife

The home I live in was blessed to sit under one of the largest trees in the area. It was the kind of tree that is a complete eco system of its own, both above and below ground. A tree that stops people in their tracks, who look at its size and beauty, wide-eyed, while it stands tall and proudly reaches for the sky. While away from home, there was a severe storm and the tree toppled over during the night. Luckily, it missed the house. Yet, as it laid out across the yard, broken into many pieces, severed from its root system, there was a sense of sorrow that filled the air. The surrounding Nature had fallen silent. The hundreds of birds, dozens of varieties, that called this tree home, no longer sang their beautiful melodies from the branches above. I was sure they had simply flown away, never to return. I did not stop to think about the shock and trauma the birds must have experienced, having lost their nests in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm nonetheless. However, I was much too quick in my assumption. The birds in fact were under stress, perhaps their silence was a way of mourning their loss. Being surrounded by many other trees, the area itself is healthy and productive. And so, after four long days of silence, to my delight, the cacophony of songs I love so much began once more. I then realized, the birds were all still there. They had been too shaken and confused to resettle immediately, they simply needed time to readjust and adapt once more. I realized then, that the birds demonstrated what is known as resilience.

only constant. Within the world of Health Services, there is a new way to assess the overall health of an individual. It is based upon one’s ability to respond with resilience, this includes responding with selfesteem, optimism and social connectedness. When we are healthy, we can overcome situations of difficulty and thrive in astonishing ways. We can withstand hardship and loss, we may need time, yet through creativity, intelligence, flexibility, and cooperation, we can respond to difficulties in a healthy and positive way. For Nature it is the same as for us, and living in Costa Rica, as rain sometimes pours down and changes the landscape overnight, we experience and see first hand how Nature deals with adversity. Nature is resilient, and how we accommodate to the waves that come at us is an example of our overall health, it is an example of our resilience. The ability to float, to stay on the surface, rather than be pounded under the waves of life highlights our positive adaptation to handling stress. We can set up our lives to ensure we take care of our selves, to work on our self-esteem, our optimism, and our social connectedness. Thus ensuring that we too demonstrate resilience

Resilience is the ability to manage what is out of balance. In Nature, and in humans, it is the ability to adapt, to cope, to adjust, and to change as needed when faced with adversity. Humans, like Nature, need to be able to adapt to difficult situations to survive and prosper in our modern world, where change is the

A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. Š Mario Albi


Known for its lush landscape, Costa Ballena is blessed with amazingly eye pleasing flora, many of these plants also hold various medicinal properties. Feast your eyes on a few of them!

Plumeria / Frangipani (Plumeria rubra)

Hibiscus / Jamaican Flower (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

High in vitamins and minerals it holds powerful antioxidant properties, helping lower elevated blood pressure, bad cholesterol and detoxify the entire body.

Spiral Flag / Fiery Costus

The leaves can be used as poultices (a healing wrap) for bruises and ulcers.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

The chemicals in passionflower have calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects. Often used as a natural treatment for anxiety.

(Chamaecostus cuspidatus)

The fresh stems of this plant may be used for the treatment of kidney ailments, skin disorders or eye problems.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

For many centuries extracts of milk thistle have been recognized as "liver tonics.� Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)

The leaves are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to soothe a sore throat and cough.

Hot Lips Flower (Salvia microphylla)

Commonly used as a painkiller for headaches, sprains and bruises, ear aches and coughs.

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Indigenous tribes use the plant to prepare a natural remedy to treat all types of skin problems ranging from rashes, wounds, burns, skin fungus and insect stings/bites.

Shampoo Ginger / Pinecone Ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)

The most common use is as a shampoo and conditioner for your hair. In traditional use, the rhizome was used for toothache and treating cavities.



Many people may find it absurd to hear me say that I find it a blessing to have once been diagnosed with cancer. Yet for me it was such an amazing, transformative, and empowering experience that I cannot see it any other way. I have been deeply involved in working with the physical body for many years. I am a dancer, a yogi, a professional TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner, a nutritionist, detoxification expert, and a health coach, among many other things. I have had the amazing opportunity to learn about healing many issues through my own body. Cancer was one of the biggest lessons. Of course there were moments of fear, yet overall I chose to stay optimistic and enter into my healing journey as a student and as a warrior – learning what really works to heal cancer efficiently, safely, naturally, and inexpensively. I courageously dove into this work. I formulated a plan of action based on a lot of research, professional experience, and personal intuition. Through detoxification, dietary and herbal therapies, organ cleansing, emotional balancing, yoga, meditation, and a rich spiritual practice, I kicked cancer out of my body with record speed! This process taught me the power of faith, positive thinking, determination, and empowered living. I chose to avoid wasting time feeling like a victim or looking for someone or something to come and fix me. Instead I tapped into my core essence of personal empowerment, and chose to take action to transform my reality. I refused to listen to the doom and gloom dished out to me by the medical professionals. I refused to absorb the fear and worry of loved ones. I made up my mind to heal, I took action to heal, and I did heal.

Zahrah leads natural healing programs at Awakening Soul Healing Sanctuary (, located in the Chirripo Valley. Zahrah has trained with master healers and shamans of various modalities, and was raised in a family of healers, learning the craft of making natural remedies at a young age. She also incorporates Ayurvedic Healing Therapies, Organ Cleansing, Dietary Therapies, Detoxification, Yoga, Western, Eastern, and Tropical Plant Cures, Energy Healing, and more into her practices. Follow her journey at

This experience not only left me with a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for the gift of life and the power of natural healing; it also gave me some amazing tools to share with others who are in need of healing. I learned that living an authentically empowered life is the best way, always. I succeeded so I may live as an example and to help others realize that they can also overcome their greatest challenges. Since I succeeded in healing cancer I have continued to live an inspired and grateful life. One of my greatest inspirations had been to create a natural healing center in the rainforest – a place where people can come to receive support, guidance, and education to heal, within a beautiful natural setting, nourished by healthy food, medicinal plants, and health strengthening therapies. I am now living that dream as a reality in Costa Rica. I am able to use my personal and professional experiences to help others heal and realize the true empowerment that lies within them. Within each of us is infinite potential. We have the power to heal or transform anything in our lives. The only thing that can stop us is our own fears, doubts, inhibitions, and apathy. My healing journey was not just for me. It was for many others as well. My own struggles with illness helped me to find a deeper purpose and meaning, and to become a servant in helping others regain health and happiness. For this I am eternally grateful and awesomely inspired!



Creating a space to recharge and unwind is essential when trying to maintain peace and balance, whether living in Costa Rica or not. Zen holds within it a wealth of universal “everyday” wisdom. Anyone can use these principles to improve the quality of their lives. Zen teaches us that we experience our environment via the senses – sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. It is by delighting these senses that we can begin to achieve a Zen inspired, relaxing haven to call our own.



Helpful Tips! When we speak of Zen, we are also speaking of the five elements: Fire, Earth, Water, Metal and Wood. You can get creative and combine elements throughout your space like bamboo wall decal, stone countertop, and water fountains in gardens. Just keep in mind Zen style furniture is characterized by simple and clear lines, so avoid complicated detail and excess ornamentation.




Begin by addressing the aesthetics of the room which affect sight. It is important to create a visually beautiful space that will help calm the senses and create an inviting atmosphere. Start by removing all clutter. Unnecessary clutter blocks energy flow, creating a stagnant space. Next, you will want to place a few items in the room that you find visually pleasing and peaceful, evoking a sense of calm from within. To go the extra mile, you can also play with soft and natural light, placing different sources of light, where you control the intensity and the areas to be lighted, creating softer atmospheres that set the tone, after you have set the stage. Evocative of emotion, it is the heart of our senses, enabling us to center ourselves and manifest a balanced spirit. Scents such as Ylang-Ylang are well known for its’ calming and balancing properties. Plant a tree in the path of a regular breeze and enjoy the daily scent as it floats into your space. Scented candles and essential oils work just as well. Plant herbs around your house to collect and use in homemade teas. You can enjoy the afternoon rains, perhaps curled up with a good book, and as you sip your homemade concoction, the warmth will work to calm both the body and mind. If you are not a tea drinker, then why not keep a homemade herbal elixir made of cucumber, mint and lemon, steeped in water, for a refreshing and alkalizing drink instead. No zen space is complete without incorporating soft textures like pillows and throw rugs made of materials designed to soothe and embrace the body. Be sure to choose natural and light fabrics. You may also consider incorporating other textures like stone, wood, metals or water (such as a splash bowl) into a room. A special touch can aid in relaxation and comfort. Be sure to place softness at your feet when rising from beds or sofas. Soft music, chimes, water fountains, or even silence, as you enjoy the sounds of Nature, are all options that appeal to your innate point of calm. Creating a zen space in your home will open the way for you to destress, breathe, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.



When I first moved to Costa Rica, my intent was to indulge in some “me” time, and to peel back yet another layer of myself. I was going to find a group to meditate with every week, maybe do some drumming circles and get really connected to who I was on a deeper level. I was going to deep dive into what I could do, be, and offer! To my surprise, in my new village of Ojochal, there were no ongoing meditation sessions, nor where there any “connect deeper within” type of class, except for yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the value and importance of yoga, but it was not the diversity that I was looking for, nor was it what I was expecting on my journey. Looking back now, I suppose with any journey into the “Self”, they never really are what you expect, and so should not have been too big of a surprise. And so, I was left to my own devices. You may have heard the saying “stop and smell the roses”, well in Costa Rica, it’s a given, but here you stop and smell the ylang-ylang. You also stop to enjoy the animals and the beauty around you because it’s there for your enjoyment, and it truly is life changing to witness Nature in it’s most free and natural form. And sometimes, Mother Nature makes you think “what kind of animal makes that noise?” or “That small animal, makes that big of noise!” And so, as you are learning to co-exist and “be” in, the seemingly, chaos of the surrounding nature, with all the sounds, smells, and sights, with the very early morning rituals of the birds that will awaken you, and the very intense sounds of insects buzzing will give you goose bumps. That is when you stop to take note, and you start to learn about the power of even the smallest insect, which has life lessons to show, if you care to take note. The jungle and the animals that inhabit the rainforest of Costa Rica have a way of expanding your way of thinking and getting you to reflect on your way of being in the world. It became abundantly clear to me that to find what I needed, it had to come

from within me, the silence within guided me to this realization, and that’s where the expanding and empowerment would start and grow. I realized that as I left my job as a principal in Canada and as I prepared to move here, I had been doing, doing, doing. “Doing” is a non-empowering way of living a life; it is always future directed. I was being stretched in so many directions as I kept doing, doing, doing, there was simply no place or space for me to just be, to receive and to embrace my own power. As I got lost in the Costa Rican landscape and playground, with all the sights, sounds and smells, and most importantly, the space for myself to just be, I truly began to delve into my own power, into my own essence, and became at peace with my own silence, even amongst all the noisy animals and surroundings, that do not come with a remote control. Costa Rica has brought me peace of mind through the absence of the everyday go, go, go chaos. With these learnings, came a new sense of empowerment, where I could create my own inner, and yes, outer sanctuary, and live a life full of creativity, joy, peace and in complete acceptance of me, and in any situation (yes, even while meditating whilst the monkeys howl I am at peace). Embracing the space that surrounds me has enabled me to expand into my deepest being. Not having all the comforts, or needing to make due with what is available, has made me deal with myself on another level, keeping calm even when pressures rise. Costa Rica, the jungle, the animals, the space, the mountains and the ocean, have created a haven for me to be free in my new, empowering, way of being.

Jeannine is a mother, wife and so much more. She started her company, Fundamental Focusing in Costa Rica, and works with people to develop strategies and techniques that are unique for them (such as drumming), that moves them away from a confused and overwhelmed mind-set, back into their body, enabling them to gain clarity and focus within to move forward on their life journey. Contact Jeannine at

All artists, whether they know it or not create from a place of inner stillness, a place of no mind. Eckhart Tolle



You may be surprised to find out that in our modern day many women have never worn a bikini. I never wore a bikini before. And “before” meaning, before I moved to Costa Rica. Why had I never worn one? Simple. I had never felt comfortable enough. As a woman, the concept of fat shaming is not new to me, and whether it was society’s standards shaping my inner world, I simply did not have the confidence that enabled me to totally embrace my body. Though, I’ve never thought of myself as fat, yet I’m definitely not skinny, nor am I totally fit either, I’ve got curves. For me, moving to Costa Rica was an opportunity to “start my life over”. Not that my life before was bad per say, but my husband and I hadn’t quit our career–orientated–jobs in Dallas for nothing. We started on our Costa Rican adventure and now that we had made time to explore ourselves, to delve into our new life, try new things, we could afford to be brave, and in every faucet of our lives. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Well, I certainly never thought I could wear a bikini. Shortly after moving here, I came to realize that Costa Rica was not just a beautiful place, but the local people have beautiful hearts as well, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They are kind to everyone, and accept people for who they are. This totally helped with my new way of thinking — to love myself for exactly the person I was — curves and all. The place we were staying at when we first arrived in Costa Rica had a community pool. I definitely didn’t dive in right away, but the longer I was there, and embracing this new life, the more I was beginning to feel better and better about myself, and my body. One day I thought to myself, well why not put on that bikini? What do I have to lose? And so, it was decided. It’s not

I don’t know where my story will end, but no where in the text will it ever read: She gave up. Jen Seymour

like they’re going to throw me out of the pool for being too voluptuous, right? And so I went ahead, I just — DID IT. And then, I actually went swimming! I actually forgot about being so self-conscious, about even being in a bikini, I just enjoyed my swim. The sun was out, the birds were chirping, there were fruit trees all around me — what more could I ask for? I was in paradise, and I was living in the moment. It was certainly not the hell I had imagined when the thought of putting on my bikini first crossed my mind. And little by little, from this point forward, I started embracing my curves and my body more. Also, I was eating natural, not processed foods, and being outdoors and active most of the time helped my outlook and confidence as well. I felt more comfortable in my body. I mean — this is who I am, and I only have this one life to live. Why should I be afraid to bare my body? I already loved myself, and now, I had started loving my body as well, I felt empowered, and it felt great! I felt like I could literally take on the world. Several months later, my husband Greg and I vacationed on the Guanacaste coast of Costa Rica, and we stayed at a chic all-inclusive hotel with a gorgeous pool and of course, it was right on the beach. And this time, I didn’t even think twice about packing only a bikini. And who would’ve guessed, I had a blast. My added bonus, Greg was thrilled to see me confidently wearing my bikini. As it turns out overcoming my fear was a win/ win for both. Never would I have imagined I would have found all this confidence simply because I did the thing that I thought I could not do. Looking back now, I see that that decision has slowly trickled into many aspects of my life and I now feel I can overcome challenges, and with confidence. I mean, if I can wear a bikini, what can’t I do?!

Jen is the author of the book Costa Rica Chica. When not writing or blogging, she is either hiking, baking, playing piano, yoga-ing, sipping coffee, or enjoying a glass of (boxed) wine!…Or, yelling at her husband to come kill a bug. Read her blog and find her book at


You would be amazed to watch the heavy rains that pour down and the grass that soaks it all up like a sponge, at a truly amazing absorption rate. Truly blessed with lush jungles and flowing rivers, after experiencing one rainy season, it becomes obvious not only why the forests are so rich, but it also becomes clear that one must design and build in order to account for the amount of rain, and the speed at which it falls. Here are a few considerations to maintain a comfortable home and low maintenance lifestyle.

Roof Design & Rain Water Channeling Systems Your roof is probably the most important structural element that gives protection in homes within latitudes of 10 degrees of that of the equator. The roof is the material that is most exposed to the elements, choose it wisely for durability. Slope, orientation, downspout and gutter design (yes, gutter designs which you won’t find at the local ‘Ferreteria’) are elements that will provide you with a healthy indoor environment and long lasting wall materials. There are a variety of materials including regular zinc sheets, flat tiles, to more qualified materials such as concrete slabs and TPO (Thermoplastic PolyOlefin). A simple design solution is to design a small sloped structure with oversized gutters and downspouts that face the main breeze direction. Have several checkpoints and an open air sloped rainwater channel that arrives at a bioswale, where a natural filtration process can happen. Surround your house with this type of channel and avoid displacing earth and disrupting the natural flow when building, adapt to Nature instead. In the case of sloppy lots, building off the ground is for you!

Build Your House Off The Ground

Conduct a Breeze & Rainfall Analysis

Dwelling Implantation basically follows a local site analysis that takes advantage of main breeze flow. These flows need to be analyzed throughout the year in order to also manage the times when they carry lots of horizontal rain and moisture. Correct orientation and openings strategy will result in appropriately ventilated areas. A correct dwelling orientation will give way to a breeze that washes away excessive moisture. You will not only be able to live in a non A/C house but you will also have a lower electricity bill.

Subdivided Compact Architectural Floor Plans Work Best In the tropics, separated smaller units that compose different areas of the house gives more airflow and shading opportunities than designing a single block home. The subdivided compact architectural floor plan is a passive strategy design guideline.

By building a dwelling off the ground, it not only lets airflow to pass underneath the structure, it allows for a pipe checkpoint as well, and added benefit include long term wall durability as they won’t be touching any soil. A lightweight structure that incorporates drywalls mixed with some concrete walls, can be ideal in order to accommodate even the most moderate budgets By building a dwelling off the ground, it not only lets airflow to pass underneath the structure, it allows for a pipe checkpoint as well, and added benefit include long term wall durability as they won’t be touching any soil. A lightweight structure that incorporates drywalls mixed with some concrete walls, can be ideal in order to accommodate even the most moderate budgets.

Gloriana is a local architect, born and raised in Costa Rica. She designs with passion and is professionally active in the Caribbean, South Pacific and North Pacific of Costa Rica. She implements designs following the passive strategy for her designs.

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. Jane Austen



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. Now is the time to live your best life, your most empowered life, the life that until now, you’ve only ever dreamt of. Here are our recommendations on how to do so in Costa Rica: Experience it for yourself. As they say, you never really are sure until you try it for yourself. Once here for an extended period, you will realize just how different the climate in the Southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica is. With only two seasons, some people realize they enjoy the dryer months (December through to April), where some enjoy the Green Season, when we receive refreshing afternoon rains (May through November). Be resourceful. Let’s face it, those who are choosing to move to a different country or even just a new area need to be go getters. And being more resourceful may also mean having the ability to communicate, even if it’s only basic terms, it’s

always a good idea to have some Spanish in your tool kit, and it starts off the conversation on a positive note, so if that fails, hand gestures will likely then help get you through! Be humble. What works in the city, may not work in the country. The ways of the North may not be the ways in the South. After all, Costa Rica is still considered a developing country, bringing patience and an attitude of gratitude alleviates many frustrating situations. Things come up, plans change, don’t sweat the small stuff, or as we locals say “Embrace the Pura Vida”. Get to know your community. Learn about the culture, the customs, and the values of those who surround you. Both native locals and those who now call Costa Ballena home are a wealth of information. There are forums online and even simply striking up a conversation with someone while waiting in line may help you figure out your latest head scratcher on your to do list. And so, with these pieces of advice, we sign off and say until next time! Do keep in touch, and write us with any questions or comments you may have. We are always here to help.

¡Pura vida!

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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Costa Ballena Living - Edition #4 - July to December 2015  

Lifestyles & Leisure in Costa Rica's Southern Pacific | | Like us on Facebook or sign up for our eNewsletter and...

Costa Ballena Living - Edition #4 - July to December 2015  

Lifestyles & Leisure in Costa Rica's Southern Pacific | | Like us on Facebook or sign up for our eNewsletter and...