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Searching For Skottland… in Costa Rica?

Yes, I know what you are thinking…

Whoa, whoa whoa…. what the heck are you guys doing in Costa Rica??? Aren’t you two supposed to be in Boquete, Panama experiencing the wonderful world of innsitting until mid-August?

Well that was the plan… but as they have so many times over the past 13+ months, plans have a way of changing.

Here’s the skinny: Shawna and I appreciated Boquete. It truly is a gorgeous place to visit, and we will always remember it as being a fantastic place for us to chill for awhile and recharge our travel batteries. But in the end we decided to leave Boquete a few weeks earlier than we originally thought.

Here’s why:

1) Boquete is a beautiful place for retired people and expats. Often these are one in the same, but we are neither. Don’t get us wrong, stopping into Boquete for a week or so as a traveller is great. Climbing, hiking, white water rafting, cycling… there are tons of things to keep you occupied for awhile. But it really lacks the cultural aspect that we have generally been seeking while we travel. There was very little need or opportunity for us to use the Spanish we learned in Guatemala, as everyone there spoke English. It just felt a little like we had moved to Arizona as opposed to a small Central American community.

2) Many of those retired expats leave Boquete in July-Aug… and that is because it is the rainy season (or ‘green season’ if you are putting a positive spin on it). For us, it wasn’t even so much the rain, but the constant cloudiness which always settled in by around 10 in the morning. This affected us more than I thought it would, but we both had days where we just couldn’t shake the blues… even in a world where we had no reason to be unhappy…

…and so, we let our inn owners know we were hoping to bail out a little early. We were nervous, but they could not have been more understanding. She admitted that the first summer they were here, she really had a tough time adjusting as well.

How quickly things flip?

Just like that, we were back on the road.

We liked you Boquete, but we are crazy excited to getting back on the road!

So now that we have caught you up on the present, let’s take a step back into the past for a long-winded introduction as to how we ended up in the small fishing port town of Golfito, Costa Rica.

Two things took place in 2007 which led to the current situation we are facing:

The first was that while the rest of the world economy was failing in an epic fashion, home prices in our province back in Canada were rising so fast it would make your head spin. I’m not an economist, so it probably isn’t right to pretend I know all of the reasons, but let’s just leave it at this – if you had a home to sell, you would make money. I did, and I would. Nothing but right place at the right time – but I’ll take it.

I was a bachelor back then, so I do admit, most of the money was spent on new cologne to wow the ladies, but I did have a little left over which was just burning a hole in my pocket.

Second thing that happened back in 2007 BS (aka Before Shawna) was that I took a one week vacation to Costa Rica. This was my first time in Latin America, and I was head over heels. I loved the “pura vida” mentality. I loved that this was a country without an army. I loved the rainforest. I loved the Spanish language. I immediately dreamed of a permanent existence in my new ‘favourite country’.

Costa Rica was an idyllic paradise – and I needed to grab me a slice!

For those of you who don’t know me all that well, I would like to think I come across as an individual of marginally above average intelligence. I think things through… weigh the pros and cons… investigate thoroughly, etc. Those however who are closest to me, can definitely testify to the opposite. All too often, my decisions are made without thought, without logic, without research. As was the case with my Central American utopia.

So this will now come as no surprise, that after a mere four hours of intensive research, I had found someone on the internet who was willing to sell me a piece of land where I would retire… Golfito, Costa Rica.

Imagine the luck, eh?

I will never forget what my lawyer said to me: “If you can’t afford to lose the money. Don’t make this investment. It seems pretty risky to me.”

Ahhhh, what did he know. I had that little extra money from the sale of my first home earlier in the year. The cost of living is much cheaper than in Canada. And besides, the website said they were planning on building a golf course near my future casa. Outstanding!

How could I say no?

Well… I didn’t.

Sight unseen, I sent my dollars south.

Nope. Not even close.

(Sidenote: I fear this might be painting a picture where I was tossing hundreds of thousands of dollars around, sleeping on piles of money and smoking fat cigars. I can assure you, this is nowhere near reality. Truth is, both the profit on the home, and the Costa Rican investment are not anywhere near as grand as this post is making them sound… that doesn’t however, condone my actions. I was still a boob.)

Over the past four years, I, along with all the other investors have received monthly updates about the project. We have heard plenty about the global crisis, and various other factors contributing to the slow moving development. When pictures were sent, they were of 4X4 cindercrete block cells (the new welcome centre). Shockingly, it was impossible to get in touch with any of the decision makers on the project.

Needless to say, I was haunted by the sound of my money being flushed down the toilet.

So when Shawna and I found ourselves leaving Boquete, Panama there was no question which direction we were headed. We were travelling an easy three hours west, to the fine city of Golfito!

We only spent two nights in Golfito, but we were fully prepared to seek out the motherland at all costs. Those dreams were nearly dashed from the get go, when the first three taxi drivers we spoke to had no clue what we were talking about. Finally we found one who was willing to participate in our adventure.

And this is what we saw, when we finally found the place.

Home sweet home

Well, at least it actually existed.

Staking my claim!

The owners of the project knew we were coming, and in fairness they had made sure that Titon, the Project Manager was available to take us on a tour of the grounds. It has to be said, that he was awesome! Titon spent over two hours with us, marching us all over the grounds, showing us the various lots where we might one day live. We had a really great experience with him, and despite all of our concerns we were promised that this massive area would one day be converted into the something that resembled what was on their website.

Imagine the possibilities!

…and we can put the pool right here, beside your sports bar…

In addition the President of the company in charge of the development had also offered to speak with me on the phone if I had any questions. He was extremely passionate in his message to me, that he was working his tail off to ensure that our invested dollars would actually amount to something incredible!

If all that they say is true, who knows, maybe it will eventually be a place I could retire, or rent, or do something with. All I know is that the potential is there, and both Shawna and I left feeling optimistic, in spite of the fact that I probably should have done a tad more research on the front end.

And if it all does work out…? You are all invited! We will see you in Golfito!

Shawna wants to drive!

Our neighbours…just waiting for us to moooove in!! Heh!

If you visit, please bring a sleeping bag :)

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13 Responses to “Searching For Skottland… in Costa Rica?”

  1. Our Dear Lady Expatriate July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Risky business, but if I found a for sale plot in the place I knew I wanted to retire, I would likely do the same!

    Actually, the hostel that I stayed at my first time in Phnom Penh was owned by two guys originally from Seattle. The one guy had come over for a little vacation, stayed at a hostel in the city, then returned back to the States. Upon arrival, he checked the website of the hostel he had enjoyed so much and found it to be for sale. He called his best buddy and asked if he would like to move to Cambo.
    Never having traveled outside North America before, his buddy had to wait awhile to first receive a passport, but in less than two weeks, the first guy was back in Cambodia, taking over a business. In an industry he’d never worked in. In a country he’d only briefly visited.

    And, according to both these guys, life is gooooood. So hey, taking risks if your gut says ‘yes’… it can end beautifully. Reckon good on you for being so bold, and best of luck for it working out wonderfully! :)
    Our Dear Lady Expatriate recently posted.."Airport: Fashionable Disco Flights"

    • Skott August 4, 2012 at 12:24 am #

      Thanks for writing…and thank you for sharing such a cool story. It is true.. sometimes these things DO work out don´t they! Running a hostel in Cambodia wouldn´t be such a bad fate. I do still think a lil more research might have been in order, but what the heck…every once in awhile you just have to roll the dice. It keeps life interesting, anyways…

  2. Erica July 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    That was a really rad investment! I hope it works out for you guys!
    Erica recently posted..Join us for the Blogger Relay!

    • Skott August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Me too, Erica!! Thanks! :)

  3. Maureen Hughes August 1, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Have you got any ideas for a housewarming gift? I was thinking maybe a potted plant?
    Maureen Hughes recently posted..Searching For Skottland… in Costa Rica?

    • Skott August 4, 2012 at 12:16 am #

      You are too sweet mom! But to be honest we have more than enough greenery… considering all the frustrations we will be going through with this place, perhaps a big bottle of scotch is more appropriate.. :)

  4. Lorie August 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    “individual of marginally above average intelligence. I think things through… weigh the pros and cons… investigate thoroughly, etc. “… crip you crack me up Skott!

    When your dreams come to fruition I would love to grab my sleeping bag and visit you and Shauna in paradise! Way to take a risk!

    • Skott August 4, 2012 at 12:19 am #

      You think ¨above average intelligence¨ is a little strong?
      You two are free to visit anytime. Just don´t forget your mosquito net and malaria meds!

  5. Jillian August 3, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    So this is what Golfito will be like. Excellent. Loved the story in writing almost as much in person!
    Jillian recently posted..Travel Inspiration: How I Built My Own Path

    • Skott August 4, 2012 at 12:20 am #

      Great to hear! Now you to know you have a place to escape to any time Fort Lauderdale gets to be a bit much!!

  6. Rod August 21, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    I retire in 6 yrs. I will look after your Costa Rica property at that time.

    • Skott August 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      I will be sure to have you a pair of custom-fitted landscaping gloves made and ready. Offer accepted!


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