Wednesday, August 23rd, marked our 5th year anniversary of living in the remote mountains of Costa Rica. I can't seem to find the right words to express what an amazing experience Kevin and I have been privileged to enjoy. The adventure has been enriching and so very rewarding. We've learned a new language (well, enough to get by anyway). We created two businesses from scratch: trout farming and the B&B. As suburbanites, we had no idea what it meant to be trout farmers, but we learned so much along the way thanks to our friends and neighbours, Martin and Roberto. Kevin's engineering background and his natural problem-solving skills certainly have come in handy, that's for sure. We have received guests from many parts of the world (family, friends and strangers) and we cherish the two guestbooks full of their lovely comments and good wishes. We've made special friendships (ticos and expats alike) that will last a lifetime and created fond memories that are imprinted into our hearts forever. Our little village community embraced us from the minute we set foot in Rio Blanco and our neighbours have become our Costa Rican family. We have witnessed new life coming into this world (Catalina and Gogui's son, Carlitos, and Fer and Diego's daughter, Zoe)... but we've also mourned the loss of some great friends (Jorge, Michael, and Sister Gloria... and let us not forget our stray dog, Feliz).
It is with mixed emotions that we announce that we are saying goodbye to this awesome piece of paradise and moving back to Canada on Sunday, September 3rd. We will miss everything this life has to offer, yet we look forward to the new chapter that awaits us. We are returning to Burlington, Ontario, to be closer to family. We hope to bring back the lessons of "pura vida" by embracing this simpler lifestyle. In the beginning, we'll be renting an apartment. Neither of us has lived in an apartment in quite a while... I think we were both in our twenties. We consider it a different kind of adventure... the tools will be kept in storage for a while (I'm not sure how Kevin is going to cope!!). In exchange for retiring his tools he will be joining a soccer league again. Gotta shake it up a bit. I look forward to taking dance classes again, and volunteering, spending time with our family and catching up with good friends.
The property has been bought by a group of people from Oregon and Arizona. The Oregon couple (Krista and Dave) will be living here full time with their young son, Quinn. And the Arizona people (Jo, Peter, Molly, Gary, and Dan) will be building their own homes somewhere on the property and will be coming down a few months out of the year. We've met all of them, at different times, and they are an amazing bunch of people. They will continue with the trout business as well as the B&B. With their enthusiasm, we're sure they will pour their heart and soul into being conscientious stewards of this special place. We can't wait to visit in a year or two and see their own vision realized.
Once we accepted the offer, we knew we had a lot of goodbyes ahead of us. One of the first people we announced the news to was Sister Gladys. We met Sister Gladys when we first vacationed here in 2011. She and her sister, Sister Gloria, hosted us the first couple of days and we have remained in touch ever since. Whenever we go to San Jose, we do our best to pop in and say hello. We are so grateful for knowing her (and sister Gloria who passed away last September).
On August 1st, Jo and Peter arrived for a two-week visit. They stayed in the casita for 10 days and met with our friend, Larry, the architect, to work on house plans. On August 7th, Jo, Peter, Kevin and I drove to San Marcos to meet with our lawyer Diego and his wife Fer for dinner and drinks. We signed all the legal paperwork for the sale of the property and raised a glass to finalizing the deal. The saga of this deal has enough twists and turns to fill a book, let me tell you! It would take yet another three weeks before the transfer of the money could take place due to some unforeseen hiccups. Nothing that couldn't be solved with a little patience and time.
Diego was one of the first people we met when we first landed here. He was so kind and helpful; we felt an immediate connection. He had invited us to join him and his family to celebrate Independence Day (September 15th) and that's where we met his lovely wife, Fer. Ever since that day, our friendship grew. They are now parents to a sweet baby girl, Zoe. We'll miss them very much.
Then, on Sunday, August 13th, our little community gave us a beautiful send-off. We all met up at Martin and Clara's restaurant for lunch and people streamed in to say their goodbyes. Jo and Peter joined us at the farewell party. It was a great opportunity for them to meet their new neighbours. Everyone had a lovely time. We were presented with a handmade wooden tea box and key ring (both with a gorgeous Quetzal inlaid in the wood)... unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them before packing them, but trust me... they're exquisite. Momentos we'll cherish forever.
Wednesday evening, August 23rd, we were invited for dinner at Adriana and Roberto's place. Roberto made delicious pizzas and a fantastic dessert. We had to use the timer on our camera to take this picture and it took us a few tries, but we finally got one.
While we were packing and cleaning and getting ready for our pending departure, we hosted our last guests as owners of Hush Valley Lodge. Here is what Colleen and Drew wrote in our guestbook... it really touched us deeply:
Anne, Kevin, Bettys, the bulls, Frankie and Bobbie,
We have had an incredible time here in the slice of paradise you have created that is Hush Valley Lodge. We are so grateful to have gotten to meet you as we are your last guests here. Since the day I started planning our first trip to Costa Rica, Anne was always there to help.
We know it is bittersweet as your time living here is coming to an end (you leave in a week!) but it is now time for your next chapter of life's adventure. You two are such an inspiration to Drew and I to go towards life in such an optimistic way, willing to take on new journeys, and always follow our dreams, as well as being so open-hearted and generous to others. In a short time here, we feel we have learned so much from you both. Not just about the incredible things you have done here on this property, but important life skills we will carry with us!
Anne, I cannot thank you enough for how much you did for me with my painful broken arm. You are exactly the nurturing mama I needed for this unfortunate turn of events that happened on our trip. Seriously, I do not know what I would have done without you taking me to that miracle worker doctor!! We have no idea what was in that butt shot, but it sure did the trick!! Thank you times a million for everything you have done! You both are incredible hosts! Your cooking is superb, Anne! The experience of catching our own dinner combined with your culinary talents is unmatched by any other B&B.
I am so happy the deal is going through and you are about to begin a new wonderful adventure together surrounded by your loved ones. I know this place will be in good hands (we definitely had to read the new owners' comments in this book!), as well as healing and life changing for the people it has meant to be for after your time here.
Kevin, we could have toured and talked about the property for the entire day! So fascinating!! You brought this trout farm back to life!
Thank you both for everything. It couldn't have been a more perfect way to unwind from our Costa Rica adventure in this rustic paradise. We will be sad to not see you for the next visit when we return, but are oh so glad it worked out that we were your last guests here!
Colleen and Drew
Chicago, IL, USA
Thursday, August 24th, the shipping company came to pick up our stuff. We're shipping a quarter of what we brought down here. Kevin has sold many of his tools, and we sold the house and guesthouse fully furnished.
Wednesday, August 30th, the money transfer was completed. We then had to "fire" both Martin and Jonathan to sever our employment contract with them and pay them their severance.
That same evening, I went to pick up Krista and her son, Quinn at the airport. Dave has to stay in Oregon for another two weeks to train the new owners of the restaurant they sold to come down here. Krista and Quinn had been up since 4:30 am, and by the time we got home it was just after 10:30 pm. We welcomed them into their new home, but didn't chat for too long. Kevin was starting the trout and pond training first thing Thursday morning at 6 am... no rest for the weary.
After Kevin introduced Krista to Martin and Jonathan, Krista promptly hired them back. Then they did all the chores together to make sure everyone was on the same page. After breakfast, Krista, Quinn and I went into town so that I could "show and tell".... a tour of where we buy things. I drove down to Copey and then I asked Krista if she wanted to drive the SUV so she could get used to it (Copey is very flat and a perfect place to practice driving an unfamiliar vehicle). Krista took on the challenge with gusto. The Toyota Prado has a manual transmission and Krista has experience driving standard, but every car (especially those with manual transmissions) have their own quirks. You have to get used to clutch sensitivity and gear shifting. It doesn't take long, but it's builds more confidence if you're not also having to navigate sharp inclines and dirt roads with potholes. Krista had no problems in Copey. I asked her she felt comfortable to drive to Santa Maria, and she did. And then San Marcos... like a boss. By the time we got all our errands done, we were back home at 2:30 pm. We still had bread baking 101 to tackle.
For evening chores, Krista took the lead with Kevin standing aside for support. By the time they were done, I think Krista's head was ready to explode. It was a lot of information to take in on her first day.
On Friday, I took Krista to meet Gonzalo and to see his trout farm. After that we stopped by Tony's quickly and then we were off to San Marcos to get all the official stuff done. We had to pick up the legal documents from the sale of the property. We then went to the bank to to close our accounts and introduce Krista to our contact, Vanessa, who speaks English and has helped us so much while we've been here. Before Krista can open a personal account, she needs a reference letter from someone who lives in Costa Rica and can vouch for her. So, we said we'd be her reference. The letter has to be in Spanish, of course, so Vanessa said she would be happy to write the letter for us and Kevin simply needs to sign it. So that's what we did. Krista is now all set to open her own personal account. Once you have a bank account, it's the beginning of being able to get other things under your name. Then we went to the other bank and did the same thing. We stopped in to ICE to change the name on our telephone and internet account to Krista's name. And again at the electrical company. Everyone was very helpful and it ended up being a very productive day. I communicated with these people in Spanish and I'm reminded how much Spanish I've actually learned over the years compared to when we first arrived.
On Saturday, Kevin and Krista continued with the training. I have been gathering information for several weeks now and created a manual to help them... contact list, what we do on the farm regarding the animals and when we do them, what bills need to be paid, where and when. It's pretty comprehensive so after all the hands-on training Krista is getting, the manual will simply confirm what she's learned. We have no doubts that Krista and Dave will manage just fine.
Over the past five years. we've had two sets of clothes.... regular (clean and tidy) everyday clothes, and our farm clothes. On Saturday morning, Kevin and I had a little burning ceremony of our farm clothes. They were holy and stained and not fit for the suburban life we'll be entering. Kevin burned his blue fleece that he's had for 26 years. I burned my red fleece that I've had 29 years, and a pair of shoes that I've had for 12 years. It was time to let go!! And we burned other old clothes, too, and it feels good to lighten the load. Burning our farm clothes a fitting symbol to commemorate the end of our time here.
For our last lunch, it seemed fitting to go over to Martin and Clara's restaurant where Quinn had fun catching my trout.
A word about Quinn: Quinn is an amazing 8-year-old boy!! We've spent many hours focusing on adult tasks and there's been very little time for him to explore as kids want to do. Hours at banks and government offices and not a peep, no complaints. Kevin and I have been so impressed. Quinn is very excited to be here and is even more excited to be Bobbie McGee's new buddy. Bobbie has taken to him without skipping a beat and it makes us feel good to know that she will be so well loved. A boy and his dog: what could be more lovely.
After lunch, Kevin and I spent the afternoon saying goodbye to our dear friends, Cindy and Larry. Yes, wine was consumed, and tears were shed.
We can't thank our friends enough for making this one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. We consider ourselves blessed.
I will no longer be writing this blog, but we're hoping Krista takes up the task because we're definitely interested to follow their adventure. It might take a little while until she and Dave settle in, but I encourage you all to keep checking www.hushvalleylodge.com site if you're interested, too.
For my personal friends who wish to stay in touch, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we turn over the website to Krista and Dave, our portion of the blog will be lost forever. It's impossible to transfer the site and retain the blog. It's just one of those things, which is unfortunate.
Thank you all for being so supportive and reading my blog for the last 5 years. I really appreciate it.
Keep following your tug!
Anne (and Kevin, of course)
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!