In general, at least while on our Blue Zone-inspired travels, we aim to live as “locally” as possible in order to gain a glimpse of local life and, more importantly, to connect authentically with locals. It’s one thing to visit a place and arrange to meet locals for a meal or short meeting over coffee, yet a completely different thing to live in their homes for days, or even weeks, at a time. In Okinawa, we spent over half our time there living in the homes, and even working alongside, Okinawans and through that gained invaluable insights to how they live, their personal values, and more. And our aim in Costa Rica has been to do the same.
Our first two weeks were spent living with a family in Nicoya who hosted us while we took daily Spanish classes. We ate meals with them and met their relatives (two of whom were in their 90s), to the point of feeling almost like family. Last week, however, took a slightly different turn. On a whim, we found an American couple who were looking for some help to do some work on their 3-acre estate in the mountains above San Jose, the nation’s capital.
Wendy and Erich
Wendy is a spiritual healer and Erich is a budding baker preparing to open his own bakery. They welcomed us to their secluded world in the mountains where in the past they have run workshops and retreats for clients. The cool days and even cooler nights were a sharp contrast to the heat of Nicoya. Their five dogs, ranging in size from one of the smallest dogs we’ve seen to a incredibly loving, and almost human, great dane, added to the atmosphere of love and tranquility.
Wendy and Erich moved to Costa Rica 15 years ago from the US with children who are now grown but still live in Costa Rica. Although Wendy had hoped the kids would settle near them in the mountains, reality is that they have put down roots a couple hours away near the sea. A lesson to be learned about putting hope for future happiness in our children being nearby!
Three acres of manicured gardens is a lot to manage, even though the estate employs a full-time gardener. We did lots of weeding, which is surprisingly mediative and rewarding in terms of seeing immediate results, and also did some painting.
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My newest job! Gardner at Casa Metta estate in Heredia, Costa Rica. Volunteering again in exchange for room and board for a week. Great feeling of working outside and connecting with the earth, as well as with our hosts here, a couple from the US. We’re taking a week or so away from Costa Rica’s Blue Zone to check out the main land and area near San Jose. #volunteering #inspiration #costarica #longevity #bluezones #gardening
We all carry past traumas with us throughout our lives, and Wendy has made no secret of the traumas which have impacted her. Being an unwanted third child, feeling hated by her siblings, and not feeling the unconditional love from her parents we all want (all too uncommon, even from the best of parents), all worked together to set her up for future trauma and unwanted life dramas in the years to come. Wendy had written her life story some time ago, but was having problems getting the e-book version published and ready for sale. One of the jobs I took on during the week on was to get the book published for iBooks and Kindle.
I’m happy to recommend her book to anyone who has suffered personal traumas and is looking for possible healing solutions. This is the story of her life spoken from her heart. You can check it our here and buy an e-copy with just a few clicks!
Beyond weeding and work on the computer, we shared three meals a day with Wendy and Erich, and we were each able to connect with each other on a deep and personal level. We shared life stories, recipes and ideas for personal and spiritual growth in an authentic and loving environment, in spite of our varied backgrounds and life experiences.
What we gave…
Prior to our visit, Wendy and Erich had been struggling with the question of whether or not to sell their beautiful home in the mountains and downsize to a home near the sea. They both have a desire to be near the whales and dolphins and, perhaps more importantly, to be near their children and new granddaughter. So while the desire to be connected with their family and to build community around them in the years ahead was pulling them away from the mountains, the beauty as well as the emotional and spiritual ties they felt for their 3-acre estate was strong and keeping them on the fence of indecision. Our days of sharing and digging deeper into our personal lives brought this to a head and on our last day with Wendy and Erich we were able to be with them and, I believe, at least in a small way, help facilitate a clear and resounding decision to move. This was followed up the next day with strong action to sell their home and get on with creating the life they truly desire. See their listing here in case you’re interested to buy a secluded mountain estate in Costa Rica!
And what we received…
For me, our collective experience over the week helped me to see several distinct areas in my life where I was taking on more personal responsibility than I should. I often struggle with a “Superman complex” – a desire to save everyone from every problem or difficult situation. This can lead to me taking on too much and, at times, quite literally carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. So after seeing and speaking my truth about these things, I was able to leave those unnecessary responsibilities in the mountains! Galina, a non-stop, results-oriented achiever, was able to slow down and simply bask in the feeling of unconditional love which she was blessed to have been raised with.
Speaking my truth is something I struggle with at times – even knowing my truth is sometimes a challenge! When I work with coaching clients, at times I see a “mirror” during a conservation of not being able (or willing) to speak the truth. Many things can get in the way – expectations of others, fear of failure or judgement, or just simply not being clear on core values. Connection with family and community is a core value for Wendy and Erich but until that was articulated and a conscious decision was made to take action in support of that value, they were letting their connection to the land get in the way.
As we look back on the week in the mountains, we see that we gave and received so much more than we had expected, and I’m quite sure that our lovely hosts felt the same.
We have now moved back in the direction of the Nicoya Peninsula, the “official” Blue Zone area of Costa Rica, and have moved in with the owner of a coffee plantation and self-sufficient farm, in the beautiful region of Monteverde. Back to living local again and a new life-enriching experience. More to come…
P.S. We found our “assignment” with Wendy and Erich through WorkAway.info, a site which connects volunteer workers with hosts willing to provide food and lodging in exchange for 4-5 hours of work per day. Opportunities for volunteering exist all over the globe. It’s a great way to connect with people, be of service and get something in return. Whether it’s for a work-cation, sabbatical or enabling a global nomad lifestyle, check them out!