In late 2011, we signed a lease to spend 3 months in the beach community of Guiones just outside of Nosara, Costa Rica. This beach community along with a few of the surrounding ones are all part of a wildlife reserve to protect the turtles that nest here. This means no development is permitted along the beach. No tall buildings, no large resort condos, and no boardwalks. Yes this place is as much of a preserved paradise in a modern world could be.
Guiones is a bit of a gringo bubble, and that’s fabulous if that’s what you’re looking for. We believed our ideal experience would be a bit more Costa Rican and less ex-pat, so we were feeling a little silly about having committed to a 3 month lease inside this bubble.
But sometimes you’re lucky enough not to get what you want, and to get what you need instead. And that’s exactly what happened for us here. We got to ease into some of the lifestyle changes of Central America without the additional stress of complete culture shock. After the big mental space it took for us to sell all of our stuff and get prepped for our adventures, it was really nice to land in a beautiful beach town. And frankly, it’s really convenient when your landlord is a guy who moved here from Ohio.
So when we finally stopped fussing over what Guiones isn’t (some quaint and rustic Tico town full of traditional art and food) and started appreciating what it is (a surfing/tourism community full of North Americans who worked hard to get here and who keep working hard to make this place beautiful), that’s when it got good.
We’ve met so many people passing through here who have fascinating stories about their lives and their current paths (puppet theater troupe in Toronto, a forest ranger in Wyoming…). Some were here for a short vacation, others for months, and others still who have managed to stay for years. We’ve had so many engaging and energizing conversations about big ideas and projects, and sometimes just about how much we enjoy the simplicity of playing in the sand. And all of this would have been much harder for us if we had to do it all while speaking Spanish.
Our time here felt short and long at the same time. Short because we were always learning something new about the beach or the community and long because compared to the vacation tourists, we felt so permanent. I feel little bit like we’re Wesley and Buttercup in the movie The Princess Bride. As they emerge from the fire swamp, dirty and injured, they declare that they now know the secrets of the fire swamp and could live there quite happily for some time. But our lease is up, our visas are expiring, and even though we now know the secrets of this fire swamp, it is time to move on.
Though it was not planned, our next destination is Pennsylvania, in order to be with family for a short while. After that, Nicaragua, for some of that traditional art and food we seem to be chasing.
So goodbye Playa Guoines, Nosara. Thank you for sharing some of your secrets with us. But please let me know in advance of any ROUS…
Some final photos from the neighborhood: