Over 25 years ago, I told my mother that I would take a 6-month world tour, tame the ‘travel bug’, and then settle down into ‘normal’. So far I have visited or lived in 37 countries. And now I live in Costa Rica, and have been here for over 15 years.
So how did I end up in Costa Rica after all these years of traveling?
I was working in Japan as a Director of Hiring and Training new teachers. I would interview prospective candidates, and interviewed one teacher who had been teaching in Costa Rica and loved the life there. But where exactly is Costa Rica I asked? It is such a small country that it’s easy to miss it. But for such a small country, the wide variety of differences in climate, geography, culture, language, food, sites to see and adventures to explore are truly amazing.
For my first stop I landed in San Jose and learned my way around this bustling city. I found a teaching position at one of the best universities in the country, rented a really sweet little log cabin nestled in a large piece of property only 15 minutes from downtown, and was introduced to a welcoming and active expat community. But it still wasn’t the right fit for me – for a tropical country, the weather in San Jose just wasn’t warm enough for someone looking for life in the tropics.
After 2 years in the big city, I went for a short holiday to the Southern Pacific Zone, and immediately knew that I had found my new home. The Southern Zone of Costa Rica is an amazing piece of paradise. The small and quaint local villages, the pristine beaches where you can walk for hours and only hear the parrots in the trees, the breathtaking ocean-views from the mountain tops, the wide variety of tours and activities to try for the sheer fun of it, and the extraordinary warmth and gentleness of the local people.
The Southern Zone warmly welcomes visitors and tourists looking for an extraordinary holiday, and expats looking for a quality of life that is hard to find these days. There is a gentleness to life here that is called Pura Vida life. But it could also be called Learning How To Be Patient life. When you first arrive, you could easily be forgiven for mistaking life as similar to what you left back home – there is good Internet connection, the main highways are in good condition, many of the locals have a basic command of English, the food and water are safe to eat and drink, and there are lots of foreigners here to give you some helpful advice. But what no one tells you about is the difference in the speed of life here.
That is what the Pura Vida life is really all about – slowing down to enjoy the sunset each night, waking up early to listen to the raucous birds so excited to start their day, stopping along the road just to visit with friends you meet, getting involved in your local community to help make a difference where you live, and the generous warm smiles of the locals as they wave when you drive by. And that is why I have stayed in one place for 15 years.
When I first moved to the Southern Zone, things were even quieter and slower than they are now. But my first job wasn’t – even though I had never lived in a rainforest and was deathly afraid of heights – I took a job where I became a tour guide up into the mountains to a magical cave that had been used by the local indigenous shamans for their ceremonies, and where I became a trainer teaching tourists how to rappel the waterfalls on that property. Wow – what a leap from a university teaching position to teaching how to rappel waterfalls! The sheer scope of things I learned to do and fears I overcame in that job was amazing.
But we quickly realized how many other people wanted to experience this extraordinary piece of paradise, and so we decided to open a Tourist Information Center to help visitors, tourists, and local expats find and connect with those adventures, hotels, and sweet spots only the locals knew. This was the first Tourist Info Center in the region, and it quickly became apparent how important it was for the tourists and those living here.
And I so became known as the “Information Lady” – whenever someone was looking for a connection, a suggestion, a solution, or just a phone number, everyone knew who to call. If I didn’t know the answer, I knew how to find it. My girlfriends actually stopped walking through town with me for it would often take over 2 hours to get from one end to other as I would stop to visit along the way. For, invariably, by the time I got to the other end of town, someone needed a piece of the information I had collected along the way.
As more tourists were coming to visit our Southern Zone and more expats were choosing to move here, it soon became apparent that we needed a local resource guide. Which is when I started the DIGITS PhoneBook. In those days if you wanted to find a phone number, a business, a government office, or a service – you had to call someone who had been living here for years to get the number. Our region was growing fast and developing quickly – we needed one source where you could find what you needed. The locals in this region even called the DIGITS their ‘bible’ as it was the first place they would look for an answer.
The DIGITS PhoneBook was published once a year, and released in December just in time for the next high season. Local readers would tell me they eagerly looked forward to reading it from cover to cover for all the interesting articles, local information, and valuable contacts. And the men told me it was their favorite ‘bathroom reading’ material.
And for nine years, the DIGITS kept expanding – adding new businesses and services, expanding into new regions, and then including a website to support the tourists doing their research for their upcoming visit, and the local expats to help make their lives easier. And this is where you have now ‘landed’ – an on-line travel site created and designed by someone who has lived here and loved it for years. So be sure to contact us, and let us know how we can help make your visit one of the best adventures of your life!