Adventures of a Costa Rican Land Baron

Ruins on the beach

I am deviating from the usual theme of this blog for a few posts to chronicle what, for me, is an exciting and terrifying experience. After a couple of trips to Costa Rica—the first on our honeymoon, the second a month in Cabuya with our kids—my wife and fell in love with the country and decided to buy a property.

A long story short, after almost giving up we found a vacant lot on the Caribbean coast online and soon became Costa Rican land Barons. During the process, we alternated between excitement at realizing our dream and fear that we were falling victim to an internet scam.

Two days ago, we arrived back in Costa Rica with promises from our real estate agent of connecting us with a property manager who would guide us to our jungle plot. The purpose of the journey is to 1) make sure the property is real; 2) make some connections for surveying, clearing the land and, eventually, building a house; and 3) get to know the region—we have only ever been to the Pacific side of the country and didn’t know much about the Caribbean side other than what they say in guide books(thicker jungle, Jamaican-influenced culture).

Kerry and Snappy outside our hotel

We set down in San Jose and picked up our rental car – what I’m sure is the smallest SUV ever made – and began the drive to the coast. We decided to stay in a small village named Cahuita. It is about 20 minutes from where our property is located and it sounded like a fun town with a funky vibe.

When I checked my email (Sunday), I saw we had an appointment to meet the property manager on Tuesday. One worry resolved and two days to explore.

Cahuita did not disappoint. The vibe is laid back, the people are friendly and the Reggae is everywhere.  We took a walk along the beach into the National Park. North of the park the beaches are a beautiful black sand and then, suddenly they transition into an equally stunning white sand.

One of many sloths we got up close and personal with

Last night we dined on the water’s edge, with a warm ocean breeze and crashing waves threatening to drown out conversations at times. At one point our waitress pointed out the sloth in the tree beside us and we watched it make its slow progress to the ground and out into the darkness of the surrounding brush. Much nicer than the goldfish at our local sushi restaurant back home!

Kerry getting friendly with the natives

The natives getting friendly with me

As I drifted off, I hear the persistent sound of chirping geckos chatting as they hunted their insect pray. This morning we woke up early to more chirping, this time from the myriad of birds populating the area.

With a day to kill before we view our property we decided to take a snorkelling tour with a guided walk through the national park. After the tour, we now which plants we want to have around our house (some with medicinal properties and some that keep away mosquitoes) and those we don’t (a broad leaf plant that is home to the poisonous banana spider). Very helpful.  We also saw lots of howler monkeys, sloths, Golden Orb spiders, a raccoon and a baby eyelash viper (very poisonous).

Nasty spiders hidden under leaves

The snorkelling was simply amazing. The living coral reef was beautiful and I wish I had thought to bring an underwater camera. Brain coral, fan coral, star coral. Awesome. The fish were stunning. Such amazing colours and they seemed to stare right at you trying to figure out if you were friend or foe. And best of all, no sharks! The kids are going to love this place. We hear there is a sunken pirate ship you can snorkel to in Puerto Viejo, which is our next stop, so I’ll definitely track down a disposable underwater camera by then so I can post some pictures.

After a day in the sun and surf, it was a quick trip to the ferrerteria to pick up an extra long tape measure and some spray paint (to mark trees) for excursion to the property tomorrow. Later a nice dinner and a stroll in the warm  Caribbean night.


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