Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Chapter

It feels like a new chapter is beginning.

We just sold our house in La Paz, San Ramon. It's been a rich few years. From my urban childhood in Brooklyn, NY to the pristine natural world in La Paz is quite a trip. We are forever connected and grateful to the Arias family for being there for us in so many ways during our time in La Paz.

It's time for something new, the next chapter.

The new owners are great people and it has a been a fun transition. We are excited for them as they put their personality, ideas and more into making Quinta Mama their place.

For me, I'm going to keep life simple for awhile. I'm exercising daily, cooking and eating well, hanging with friends/family and making space for the new chapter as it unfolds.

The Streets of San Ramon

After being a country guy these last few years in Costa Rica, I spent last week downtown on the streets of San Ramon. I love the energy of so many people outside ... walking, sitting in the park, chatting with friends. The near perfect 70 degree and sunny weather is a major contributing factor.

I stayed at Hotel La Posada which was comical, comfortable and convenient. The comical part is that after 8+ years living in San Ramon, I have never stayed at a hotel.

Many of the people I've met over the years I ran into on the streets, which helped me feel connected and cared for. The tradition of kissing the women and shaking hands with men just brings you closer.

I have a list of things I always do when I arrive in Costa Rica that seem too expensive when I'm in Ithaca, NY. I love fueling the local economy and indulging, but also feel grateful at how fair and modest the prices are. I visited Dra. Jenny, the dentist and had my teeth checked, cleaned and a cavity filled. Oljer gives the best massages and helped put me in the pura vida mode. Then to my old fashioned barber shop for a haircut and shave that had me styling and relaxed.

In the evening, I met Jimmy and other friends at Bocaditos for drinks and dinner. Very civilized, inexpensive and social. I love their fish in garlic sauce w/potatoes and salad; C1900/$3.75. It was lively and happening every time I was there and the open air setting is festive and fun. I also visited Alonso and Sergio at Rincon Poeta, my former haunt for many years.

An alt to the bar scene has developed in San Ramon recently. The afternoon coffee and pastry scene is thriving and well done. I spent sessions with friends at both Cafe Delicias and Cafe Aroma throughout my week. Cafe con leche, milkshakes, chocolate cake, sticky buns and more gave me the sugar rush I needed.

Life has many sides. I love the beauty and tranquility of La Paz, but this week I was thriving on the gritty, bustling streets of San Ramon. I am amazed when I feel how I am immersed in this small Costa Rica city. Lots of smiling faces, people calling my name and a real sense of belonging.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eat Pray Love

On the long plane ride to Costa Rica, I devoured the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is the story of a divorced woman who feels broken and her journey back to life. She divides a year into 3 – four month periods where she eats in Italy, prays in India and loves in Indonesia (and does lots of other stuff also).

I cried, laughed, and shook my head as an exclamation point as I read the book. When I came to San Ramon, I was in a similar place to the author. Sometimes you need a physical journey to shake your life up. No old friends or family, no familiarity, no patterns and no idea where it is all going.

Everybody has their own way of transformation and their magical people and places that impact them in big ways. This is a cool book for anyone who needs some inspiration to make their life a true reflection of themselves.

A special thanks to my friend Greg who gave me this book. Over coffee, beer, tequila and food we’ve spent 28 years supporting each other through our ups and downs. Sometimes a friend can believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

They say life is about the journey not the destination. Check out Eat Pray Love to stimulate your own personal journey.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unique Opportunity: House for Sale in San Ramon, Costa Rica

Moving to a foreign country can be a daunting experience. Rather than an exercise solely in price and value, there are many other issues to creating a successful and happy life ... after the purchase. We have a house for sale in La Paz, outside San Ramon that is all set up for a new owner to enjoy Costa Rica and move smoothly into life in another country and culture with no hassles. We are offering OUR very special, San Ramon home for sale.

After 8 years in San Ramon, Costa Rica ... we are integrated into the local scene as few foreigners are. While many ex-pats flocked to the beach, we found that living in the mountain town of San Ramon a far better alternative. It has milder weather, real Costa Rican culture, a hospital and university and is just 45 minutes from the international airport and an hour from the Pacific Ocean.

We bought this home, Quinta Mama, from an 80-year-old Tica who connected with Janet over the gardens and peaceful porch sitting. In the past two years, the house has been totally renovated to highlight it's charm yet upgrade with new plumbing, electric, hot water, finished ceilings, two new bathrooms, and many finishing decorative touches. This is no easy task in a very different culture, but Janet's experience as an architect and preservationist and my relationships with contractors, neighbors and building supply stores made for a smooth and successful upgrade.

The house is located in La Paz about 20 minutes on a paved road from San Ramon, yet offers a rural lifestyle and environment from another era. The friendliness and slow pace of life in La Paz is unique in a rapidly changing world. Our neighbors use oxen to transport their sugar cane and their life revolves around their family and community. A few other ex-pats have joined us here over the last few years attracted to the natural beauty and quiet lifestyle. It is also an area where a number of Costa Rican professionals have simple weekend homes.

La Paz is one of the more pristine places in the world. About a mile past our house, the road ends for vehicles at the river crossing and horses are needed to continue. At this point, it is all nature with reserves and conservation land stretching all the way to Arenal, Monteverde and Santa Elena. The air and water are as pure as it gets and the area is a haven for birds and butterflies. The house itself is on the route of the Quetzal and the numerous flowering shrubs and trees provide refuge to other rare birds who make our land their home.

Our land is totally organic and bursting with fruit trees, vegetables and flowering shrubs. The half acre plot is all accessible and can feed many families. As a guy originally from NYC, it's been ironic eating all this amazing food from just outside my house ... year round. I love taking hikes in these hills and there is easy swimming and fishing in the river.

Of course the most important thing in owning a home in Costa Rica is the neighbors. We have been accepted as part of the community. Everybody in La Paz knows us by name and always has time to say hi and smile as they pass. The kids come by and practice their English and eat bananas. I have learned how to make fresh tortillas and empanandas with the Arias family from corn grown on our land.

Our neighbors also take care of our house when we are gone. The gardens are tended and the house is safe and clean. This is the real Costa Rica which is getting harder to find as development transforms the country.

Due to some family health issues, we need to sell our home at this time. The price of $88,000 includes everything; just bring a suitcase. Taxes are $25 a year and electric, phone and water bills are each $5-10 a month.

We are ready to help the next owners enjoy this very special place and make it their own. For more photos and info go to