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So, I'm going to fast forward a little bit to September of 2016...Why? Well, this is when things became real with our dream to have our own tropical oasis in Costa Rica. We were on a plane, and making our way to the surf town of Tamarindo to meat up with a real estate agent we had been chatting with over the previous few months. We had a list of houses we wanted to check out and were ready to get this done.

We meet up with our realtor Chad, an American who's been living in Costa Rica for about 20+ years. Now, let me tell you about real estate in Costa Rica, you have to watch out who you deal with, as there aren't a ton of qualifications required...As luck would have it Chad was simply amazing; during his time in Costa Rica he had learned the lay of the land very well, and new what the heck he was talking about.

A few days into our real estate search, my wife and I were curious why Chad had not brought us to see any of the houses we had put on our list, and he simply said that they were not going to be what we were hoping for...not exactly as shown on the internet. Just to appease our minds, he brought us to one of the houses, unannounced (it's typical in Costa Rica for the home owners / renters to stay in the house while a showing is going on....kinda weird). Anyways, we pull up to what was one of our top picks from the internet site, and sadly, Chad was bang on, the house was quite well used, there had just been a flood of muddy water in the pool, and ya...that was to the next house.

We went to see the house of an elderly man from the USA who was packing up and moving back home. We arrive at the house and before we get out of the car, Chad tells us not to comment on the smell of cigarette smoke at all, this home owner gets very annoyed when people comment about the cigarette smoke...Gee, I wonder why? We walk into the house which was very nice from outside, well manicured front garden, looked promising...the door opens, and bang, the smell of cigarette smoke hits us like that dodge ball that came out of nowhere....Whoa, it was a little much, but my wife and I said nothing. We looked around the house, which was well built, full of the typical American luxuries (dishwasher, garburator, trash compactor, and gas operated back-up generator that could probably supply power to all the houses on the block for a month), this place was ready for a global event of some sort..) Needless to say, we came, we saw, we weren't interested in buying a home that had been smoked in non-stop for the past 15 thanks.

By our 3rd or 4th day of looking at houses we were starting to become a little discouraged that we weren't going to find what we were hoping for...But, here comes Chad to the rescue; have you ever thought of buying an empty lot and building a house?...a bit of a pause from both my wife and I, ummm...were not opposed to that idea, but we've never built a house before, not in Canada, not anywhere, let alone in Costa Rica..Let's go check out some lots, I have a few in mind...

We looked at a lot of lots, some that were overlooking the beach, others that were kind of in the middle of nowhere, and a few in various gated communities. Lots to think about, and a decision to make before the end of the week...There's a lot to know about purchasing houses in Costa Rica, and even more that you need to know about buying a lot that you want to build a house on...So, the decision was pretty simple in the end, we purchased a beautiful wooded lot in a well-developed gated community in Villa Real, a small town just out side of Tamarindo...far enough away from the tourist scene, but close enough to it that if you want to partake you can...

Here are a few pictures of the lot we purchased.

Our lot in Escondido, within Rancho Villareal gated community

This is going to be great!

Stay tuned for the next blog, all about getting things ready for construction...eek!

What's a trip to a tropical country without doing what pretty much every tourist does, go on some excursions to check things out? Now, we've known from the start of this adventure that we would be coming back to this beautiful country many times with the eventuality of a permanent move, so we've limited our excursions for the time being - we're going to have plenty of time to check out the entire country in the years to come. However having said that, I thought I would list some of the many different types of guided excursions that you will find in Costa Rica. You'll find river boat cruises, zip lining, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, national park and volcano tours, jungle hikes (day or night), coffee plantation tours, sunset cruises, fishing cruises, and the list goes on and on...So, if you've ever had reservations about going to Costa Rica because you think it's just a bunch of yoga fanatics, well, yes there are those people, but there is so much more.

Here a just a few photographs of some of our excursions we've taken in the last few years.

Enjoying the sun, an iguana working on his tan

A birder's paradise..

Bats lined up on the dark side of a tree trunk

Let's not go for a swim in the Rio Tempisque...

Someone seems a little grumpy!

Of course by the time my wife and I decided to take our first trip to Costa Rica we had reached a point where we really needed a what better way to do it than to book a trip to a large all inclusive hotel, get a little pampered, and do what most tourists do - take advantage of some excursions. As much as this sounds like a great idea (and yes it was a terrific vacation), there is so much more to a Costa Rica vacation than large resorts, non-stop beverages, food, food, and more food. Fact of the matter is that that's not what Costa Rica is all about. Having been to Costa Rica several times now since our first visit in 2015, we've learned a lot of things along the way and I'll cover many of those things in future blogs - so I hope you stay tuned., back to our first trip, we decided on booking a vacation at #Westinplayaconchal. A spectacular resort, and everything you would expect from a Westin property. Being situated right on #playaconchal you just can't beat it. This beach is like nothing I've ever seen, but wait, where's the sand?'s a beach essentially made entirely of small sea shells (hence it's name). It's a little weird to walk on, some of those shells have pretty sharp little edges, but on the flip side you're getting a free skin exfoliation when you walk on it. Some people like walking on those shells (me), other people don't (my wife), regardless, it's a beautiful beach and very popular spot in Guanacaste.

Beautiful tiny shells making up Playa Conchal
Playa Conchal sand....I mean shells.

Sadly, on this trip we ended up not spending a ton of time on this beautiful beach, and the only reason for that was that it turns out we were in Costa Rica during Easter Holy week (end of March/ beginning of April), which is a huge holiday observed throughout the country...and turns out that most of Costa Rica's population seems to migrate to the beaches for the week. They come down in droves, they pitch tents on the beach, have camp fires, bbq, and everything in between. It was super cool to see and experience, but it did make for a pretty crowded beach. Needles to say, it was an experience we will always cherish - to see so many people getting along, having a good time, and simply enjoying life - the Pura Vida lifestyle.

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