Family Disruption

Disruption is one of those buzzwords in business and in my case, the healthcare industry that was rampant during my tenure. My colleagues and I spent many hours anticipating the future, seeking ways to manage the disruptive forces and stay ahead of our competition. Some of the most successful companies seek out self-disruption. Apple is a great example. As I reflect on a question I am often asked, “why did you guys decide to move to Costa Rica?”, I am drawn to the strategy of disruption. Like most couples, we had a vision for our future and an ideal of how we wanted to parent and the identity we had for our family’s future. We knew we needed to make some changes to be living this vision as authentically as possible and improve as individuals and as a family. As a leader, I often said to my team, “you can’t keep doing what you are doing and expect different results”.  I was being put to the test. I knew we had to create a disruption in our path, in order for us to gain the perspective we were looking for and to have the lifestyle we envisioned for our family. Our family was getting older and if our disruption involved moving abroad, the logistics seemed to be more complicated the older our kids got, so our time was now. Also, anticipating our future of raising teenagers in a complicated world, we wanted to pick somewhere we didn’t have to work so hard to be uncomplicated. Our disruption was leaving everything comfortable – our jobs, our home, our family, friends, routines, traditional school, and steady income in hopes of family improvement.

Our disruption has led us on a #pathtopuravida.  Our destination was Costa Rica, but it could have been almost anywhere.  It turns out it is more about the journey than the destination. Disruption usually leads to innovation – a more sustainable product. In our case, we are seeking a changed family lifestyle.  One of the most obvious differences we have seen so far is the absence of materialism and commercialism.  These are things we spent a lot of time and energy trying to minimize in our lives in the U.S. The struggle was real and it was a constant battle. It is a non-issue here. I noticed it at Christmas, but Christmas was 5 days after we arrived and I was prepared to have an “easy” holiday.  Easter was another reminder, In the States, every grocery store is decorated; aisles are full of jelly beans, plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets and a reminder that you need to do more and buy more. I recall the pressure to make sure everyone has a cute new Spring outfit for church. That is not the case here, at all. Semana Santa is the Spanish term for Holy Week, a major Catholic holiday and it is a big deal for the Spanish cultures, including Costa Rica.  Most of the country has the week off from work and school. During this week, many Tico families head to the beach, to enjoy sun, relaxation and family time.  They make traditional foods to share and celebrate with loved ones. No bunnies, eggs, chocolate, baskets, bonnets or fancy dresses.

Another lesson has been to be patient and to slow down. The American lifestyle makes this lesson a hard one. Everything is so quick, convenient, and easily accessible. The other day I went to get our truck washed. There are no machine operated car washes where we live. They are locally owned and operated, often from their own homes. The wash is 100% completed by hand and took nearly an hour from start to finish. I sat on a stool in the driveway, as the kind gentleman did his handiwork. In the States, gas stations are on almost every corner. Here, I have to drive 20-25 minutes to access the nearest gas station. We have learned that you have to ask for your check at the end of the meal because the Costa Rican culture views it rude to bring it to you until you have indicated you are ready. 

Removing yourself from all that is known and comfortable is bound to lead to personal discovery and growth.  That has been the greatest gift so far. Each day we learn more about ourselves and our world.  Breaking free from mainstream way of life and fulfilling a dream has given my husband and I the confidence to do anything! We are together all the time.  Our life is simple. We are busy living life, not running a race.  So far, no regrets and we are optimistic about our future.  

Pura Vida!



Seven Beaches in Seven Days

When you have friends that come to visit and they say they are “beach people”, you start counting the beaches and playing the elimination game. Not a bad problem to have: too many beaches and too little time.  Our area of Costa Rica in the Province of Guanacaste is known as the Gold Coast for its dry tropical forests and the more than 50 beaches that line the coast.  We had our first visitors come last week for their Michigan Spring Break. They flew into the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia, which is approximately 50 minutes from our house in Potrero.  Our goal was to mix adventure with relaxing beach time and not spend too much time in the car.  The following is a summary of our seven day beach vacation.  

Day One: Playa Potrero Sailing Club

After a long day of travel and a shock to the system (it was around 40 degrees when they boarded the plane in Chicago and nearly 100 degrees when they deplaned in Liberia), our guests started with a dip in our pool and a cold Imperial beer.  Later, after everyone was cooled off, we headed down to our local beach in Potrero, in front of the Sailing Center for our first set of waves and a Pacific Coast sunset.  

The Costa Rica Sailing Center nestled in Potrero Bay has already been the setting for many of our memories so far.  It is a great place for families to congregate and for water enthusiasts to get their fill.  They have a bar, a restaurant, pool, lounge chairs, bonfires and a boat house. This is where we rang in 2017 and watched the New England Patriots win the superbowl. Tucker won a game of beach side bingo and almost beat his dad in a sailing race in the bay. Kids have enjoyed late nights with friends playing soccer on the beach or singing karaoke.  The Costa Rica Sailing Center is a centerpoint for our new beachside community.


Day Two: Playa Flamingo

One beach to the south of Potrero is Playa Flamingo. In contrast to Potrero, where the sand is dark and the beach has few sunbathers, Flamingo boasts white sand and is the backdrop to various beachside resorts with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas.  Crescent shaped, Playa Flamingo is a sunbathers sanctuary. Our day started out as cloudy, which was remarkable. These were the first clouds we have seen since moving to Costa Rica in December.  The clouds eventually opened to blue skies and everyone went home with a hint of color.  


Day Three: Playa Penca

Following a fun morning flying high in the dry tropical forests of the Congo Trail Zip-Lining Adventure Park, our crew headed back to Potrero for a lunch at a local Soda, which is a Costa Rican diner. Following a delicious lunch, we headed to Penca Beach – a nearby, family favorite. It feels like a private paradise every time we go.  On this occasion, it was fun to share it with 20 of our Michigan friends., all visiting Costa Rica for Spring Break.  A memorable feature of this beach is the tree that provides shade and entertainment for the kids (I mean, monkeys).  It is bordered by rocky points on each side making it a cozy cove to enjoy an afternoon.  Usually the waters are calm and it is a great place to swim.


Day Four: Playa Grande and Playa Tamarindo

Surf Day!  We got an early start this day because our friends had a date with our surf coach and friend, Rob, from Frijoles Locos Surf Shop at 9:30am.  Also home to the endangered leatherback turtles, Playa Grande has a consistent wave and swell, making it a popular surfing destination.  Rob comes with a money-back guarantee and he did not disappoint – our friends not only rode the waves, but a couple of them did it upside down!  The Las Baulas National Park is in Playa Grande and is the main draw for most visitors during the leatherback nesting season (Mid October -Mid February).  On our way home, we visited our friends, Maria and Santiago for a ChocoBanana – a perfect surfer’s snack!  


Each week, our son has a late afternoon surf lesson in Tamarindo, so we took the opportunity to show our guests one of the most popular destinations in the Guanacaste region. The main street is full of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and art galleries.  The vibe in Tamarindo is different than other nearby areas – much more lively and a bit more touristy. Famous for its long beach with a great surf, it hosts several national surfing competitions each year. Some decided to work on their surf, while others took to the street for some souvenir shopping.  Everyone met back for the sunset, which was worth jumping in the air for.  


Day Five: Beach Rest Day and visit to Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, located about 30 minutes south of Liberia. It is easily accessible and also offers an awesome swimming hole with cliffs to jump from.



Day Six: Playa Danta

Playa Danta is within the new, hillside beach town of Las Catalinas. This town, less than 10 years old is an organically growing community.  The town founders envisioned a place that is healthy, sustainable and connects people to nature.  The town is free of vehicles and instead is made up of pedestrian walk-ways interwoven with nature in Mediterranean style. 1,000 of its 1,200 acres will be left untouched and remain natural. Surrounding the planned neighborhoods are hiking, biking and horseriding trails. Your one stop shop for adventure is Pura Vida Ride, where they specialize in Stand Up Paddle Boards, Mountain Bikes and Kayaks. Instead of playing hard in the water or hitting the trails, we enjoyed the cool breeze and a beautiful view of the ocean, while sipping cocktails and eating appetizers served up at Limonada, a fun outdoor restaurant there on the shores of Playa Danta. 


Day Seven: Playa Conchal

The best part about Playa Conchal is getting there.  You must either walk about 1km south from Brasilito or if the tide is low, you can drive on the beach.  Its hard to imagine where you are going and what the allure might be. However, once you make it over the top of the hill and see the white sand, made up up of tiny shells that are surprisingly easy on the feet and the aquamarine water that is easy on the eye, you realize the hype. There is an area that is good for snorkeling.  The beach is lined with trees that provide comfortable shade and a great spot for hammocking.  The All-Inclusive Westin Resort is situated on Playa Conchal.  


Seven beaches in seven days is not a difficult feat in the Gold Coast of Costa Rica.  We feel blessed to be in this corner of Costa Rica, easily accessible to the airport and a host to very diverse, unique and personable beaches.  We hope our visitors enjoyed their beach vacation and left feeling refreshed and recharged.  Perhaps their skin and hair is still thanking them!

Pura Vida!