Like probably all gringos (US Citizens), I dreamt of living in Costa Rica by the beach, showing up to work in flip flops and experiencing the “Pura Vida” slogan so often used by Ticos (Costa Ricans). With a tiny bit of research, I realized that there were no jobs on the coast, and that I would have to suffer the pollution and unattractiveness of the capital, San Jose, in order to live on what I made teaching English as a second language. I also found out that personal presentation is really important in Costa Rica, so the flip flops were out. Although I ended up living in San Jose and Heredia for four years and saw that it wasn’t so bad, I still wanted to find a way to live closer to heaven, which for me, after traveling around Costa Rica by bus every weekend I got a chance, became Guanacaste.
I had pretty much given up on that idea, figuring I would stay in the San Jose area for some more time. But throughout 2010, some important people and peculiar circumstances all came together from their unconnected orbits to do something like align the stars and propel me into something I had never imagined doing: starting a language school in Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste.
Liberia, Ciudad Blanca: where people ride bikes (or sometimes horses) everywhere and gather in the warm evenings in the central park; where people greet each other heartily and take time to chat with friends when they meet on the street; where the weather is always warm and the beaches are a hop, skip, and a jump away; and where my boyfriend lived, which obviously made it a better place for me. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I had visited the city numerous times but had never considered living or working there.
I knew I had to start the school when I found out that there was a need for English schools for the population of 45,000 that depends heavily on tourism, and when I realized that I could supply that school with my extensive educational experience, both as a teacher and a director. And when I found the perfect location for the school—a historic house on the adorable Calle Real just a few blocks from that lovely central park—I felt that I had finally come to terms with my destiny.
So I have moved ahead with starting a school in Liberia, and I have felt confident and peaceful about this project—the project of my life—because the stars have amazingly continued to align, causing everything to fall into place. I still won’t be wearing flip flops to work, but I will be closer to Guancaste’s incredible beaches, not to mention volcanoes, national parks, and Nicaragua. And I will continue enjoying the thrill of living in beautiful Costa Rica.