What Is There To Do in Costa Rica?
by Ron Snell, copyright January 2014
What is there around here for retirees to do ?
If you are thinking about moving to the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, you must be wondering what there is for retirees to do around here. It’s a fair question, and we think you’ll like the answers. (This article benefitted from input by retirees in the community of Lagunas, 15 minutes from Dominical.)
In our home cultures, it isn’t uncommon to have to find entertaining things to do because what we do for fun is different from the work and other things we do. But what if you were in a place where whatever else you do is part of the fun? It changes everything.
There are certainly “things to do here.”
Go to the beach to surf, walk, read, hangout, swim. There are several gorgeous beaches and nothing is as beautiful as sunset at the beach.
Walk for exercise. Most places where you’d be living, the roads are rural and hilly. Starting moderately, you will be amazed at how quickly you get conditioned to walk up and down the hills in utter beauty, taking time to gape at blue morphos, monkeys, rain bursts, cloud formations, flowers and so much more. Walk with friends to catch up on the latest, or by yourself to find deep peace and heavy breathing.
Take classes. A weekly yoga class will put you in touch with other people of like mind. Surfing classes will motivate you to improve on something that perhaps you never thought you’d do. Standup paddling, kayaking, SCUBA, Spanish, tennis, gardening, cooking, ballet…keep your eyes open and you’ll be amazed at what’s being taught.
Volunteer. As with anywhere else in the world, there are always opportunities to become involved in the community as a volunteer. Teach English. Adopt rescue animals. Join a crime prevention team. Help raise funds for the lifeguards. Be a member of the water board or road committee. Show up and find your niche.
Explore the country. Costa Rica is a small country, so you can visit different places pretty easily. Hit San Jose for dance, theatre or concerts. Go to Monte Verde for cloud forest, Guanacaste for dry savannah, Tortuguero for Caribbean turtle sightings, and the Panana border for an experience in snarled traffic and inexpensive shopping.
Beyond the things to do, we believe you will find that the richest part of being here is reclaiming your own life. You will almost automatically and inevitably get closer to who you are and the world around you. Here are some examples:
Shopping for groceries becomes an enriching experience. You don’t just race through the process as if it were a hateful chore. At the farmer’s market in San Isidro on Thursdays or in Uvita on Saturdays, you have choices of vendors and produce. You smell it, feel it, talk about it, negotiate for it. Maybe it takes half a day to go buy fruit, but when it’s over you have a memory that you can’t wait to share. Instead of dulling your senses, it brings them to life.
Producing your own groceries is irresistible. Inexpensive labor means that you can get help for the hard parts, but when all is in place, there is something enchanting about watching your fruit, vegetables and herbs growing. You will want to learn more, try different methods and crops, collect cuttings from friends. In this part of the world, it’s always growing season for something and a pleasant day will pass quickly while you putter around your growing babies, so in touch with the land that it’s under your fingernails.
Home and yard maintenance presents new challenges here. Again, you can get help with the hard parts, but there’s something pure and rewarding about dressing down and participating in keeping the tropics from taking over your property. You’ll learn to manage water runoff, keep roads and driveways in good condition, trim plants with a machete, clean out ditches with a rake, discourage leaf cutter ants, and so much more.
Soaking in the world will make time stand still even as it slips quietly by. Sipping coffee in the early morning while the howler monkeys and birds and insects are all waking up to the sunrise is priceless. Reading a fascinating book in the evening while surrounded by nothing but natural views and sounds is incomparable. You may stand for an hour just watching a torrential downpour turn everything in sight into a waterfall or stream while lightning flashes blind you and thunder crashes hard against your ears. Sometimes a long time passes while you lay motionless in bed, almost as if in a coma, listening to the sound of the rain.
You will form friendships with a greater variety of people. Some of them will be from your home country. Some will be from other countries. All of them will have a story, and all of them will be adventurers in some sense. In the absence of other things to do, you will rediscover the joy of playing croquet or Bunco or Frisbee with your friends. Or going to the beach together. Or digging each other out of ditches in pouring rain.
This is not a frenetic place to live. As one person put it, “You will wake up in the morning with nothing to do, and when evening comes you will wonder why you didn’t have enough time to get it all done.” Stuff comes up. Life happens. Things that you once did almost as an afterthought will occupy you for hours.
It’s Costa Rica. There’s nothing like it for quality of life, if you come ready to embrace a whole new quality of life.