My wife and I have lived in Costa Rica full-time now for almost 12 years. Throughout our budding romance with this amazing country, we’ve been equally drawn to the beach and mountain regions. In fact, our proportion of living in PuraVidaVille has almost been split 50/50 between the warm beaches and the misty mountains.
We lived in the Playa Guiones/ Nosara area for a little less than a year, have thrived in the San Ramon region while enjoying the fresh mountain air and close proximity to San Jose and the surrounding amenities for about 7 years, and have bathed in the Blue Zone sunshine of Tambor for 4 glorious years.
At this point, we are truly torn between the sand and waves on The Peninsula and the cool breezes and conveniences of the Central Valley. Our lives as a family are equally enjoyable in both locations. So, the best approach for us is to bounce back and forth.
Why be limited to just one amazing equatorial microclimate when you can position yourself to have all that you’ve been dreaming about simultaneously? Having the best of both worlds is a very real possibility, if you focus your energies on making it happen.
The mountains of San Ramon offer some of the most desirable year-round climates in all of the world, and a sense of civilization amidst the day-to-day challenges of living in a largely undeveloped Central American country. Amenities and modern conveniences are a little bit closer at hand, and top-notch private hospitals are approximately an hour away by car. You’re still living on the edge a bit, but there’s a safety net to catch you if rough and tumble tropical living gets to be a little overwhelming at times.
San Ramon is the City of Presidents and Poets, and is populated by rural self-respecting folks who are tough and lovable. Stoic farmers who work the land with their hands by day, strumming a guitar and singing by night. Ramoneses will give you the shirts off their backs with a smile and offer assistance to those in need in a Costa Rican heartbeat. Many prized properties in the San Ramon mountains offer spectacular sunset views of the Gulf of Nicoya, the Pacific Ocean, various volcanic ranges, and the rolling green peaks and valleys that are peppered with coffee plantations.
Our mountain home, for example, offers a direct and awe-inspiring view of the Gulf of Nicoya and the surrounding hills. The sky lights up in bright yellows, burnt oranges, and deep purples every evening as the sun sinks into orgasmic sleep for our part of the world at dusk. During this spellbinding transition, the lights in Puntarenas flicker on, and the stretch of land angling to the dock resembles a Christmas Tree laying on its side for a siesta. The views never get old, even after all of these years.
On the other hand, Playa Tambor spoils us with the glory of the sunrise over Bahia Ballena every morning. When walking the beach during that time, one feels the sand heat up underneath their feet. The tides talk to you, lapping up to lick your feet with wet promises for the new day. Scarlet macaws streak overhead, screaming out sweet nothings (or obscenities?, lol) to whoever will listen, while Jurassic-looking lizards scramble along the ground like baby dinosaurs. The howler monkeys observe all of this from the treetops, eliciting guttural challenges to creatures and people who they deem to be infringing on their territory.
Meanwhile, the local fisherman bob in their boats, working to haul in today’s catch. Salty, grizzled seamen who live by a combination of skill, persistence, and luck. Tambor is a tranquil fishing village, and there is a uniquely raw quality to it. The Law of the Jungle is in full force here, which somewhat surprisingly has the ability to both calm and exhilarate a person in the same breath. Don’t expect the buses to be on time with any regularity, or for the stores to have your favorite munchies available on demand. Do expect to be whisked away by hook or by crook to another version of Peter Pan’s Neverland. Tambor even has a crocodile shaped landmass front and center in the bay. Tick tock tick tock…
Most of the folks living in Tambor have checked their urgency at the door and choose to roll with the same natural flow that the tides embody. Perhaps this particularly laid-back approach to life is one of the reasons that the area has been identified as one of the five Blue Zones of the world. By the numbers, people live longer on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Both Playa Tambor and San Ramon de Alajuela have tremendous upside. My family and I are plotting a course to enjoy each location as desire and circumstance dictate. Wish us luck, and know that we are available to assist anyone who is like minded and looking for some insider help in making a similar transition.
Like the song says, “Time’s A’ Wastin’”.